Battery Park plans raise questions from neighbors
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, December 2004) Many residents attending a meeting for the proposed Battery Park development felt the city was bending over backwards to accommodate the developer but doing little to address the concerns of existing residents and businesses in the neighborhood around the development. Plans for the proposed Battery Park development on the former 13-acre Eveready plant site in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood were shared with the public at a meeting on November 9 th at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School Building on W. 70 th.
Chip Marous, representing Marous Development, told the 80 residents present at the meeting that the $80 million project would create 290 to 305 units of new housing on the bluff overlooking Lake Erie between W. 76 th and W. 73rd. Marous said he expects the project to be completed in three to five years depending on the pace of sales. Paul O’Neil, Director of Business Development for Marous Development, says the project will also include 24 apartments for a total of 325 projected units of housing in the new development.
The existing powerhouse would be renovated to create a community building that would include a kitchen, bar, fitness room, meeting and banquet space, dining room and a deli.
Marous said the construction would be completed in four phases. The new facility would contain a number of different housing styles: Chicago Style family homes, infill single-family homes, townhomes, and loft apartments. The development would also include two parks: one on the side by the lake, and one along the proposed Shoreway Boulevard .
The first phase of the development, says O’Neil, will include 16 Chicago style homes, three infill single homes, 26 townhomes and loft flats, five Lakeview town homes and 24 apartments. O’Neil says the second phase will include 92 units of housing, the third phase 78 units and the final phase 81 units. Marous says the different phases may overlap with some phases starting before earlier phases are completed. The pace of construction will depend on sales.
O’Neil said the entire project will be built on the former Eveready plant site except for one parcel on W. 74 th and Goodwalt which he says the city of Cleveland is negotiating with the property owner. He says the site is needed for the extension of a public roadway.
Asked how the infrastructure cost for the new development would be paid for, O’Neil’s response seemed to suggest that might be borne by taxpayers. He said the project is in line with Mayor Jane Campbell’s goal of increasing the amount of new housing stock in the city. “The city of Cleveland is very interested in pursuing ways to help with the infrastructure – roads, sewer, water etc., to help make the development successful”, he said, adding that the city would have to submit legislation to City Council to outline its commitment.
At the November 9 th public meeting, a Herman Avenue resident asked if the general public would have access to the community center. Marous replied there would be public access with a small fee.
Jeff Ramsey, Executive Director of Detroit Shoreway, assured residents that rumors that Snickers Restaurant would be taken by the development were not true. However, the development plans call for taking another private business, Team Environmental on W. 74 th, through eminent domain. (See related story.)
Jim Craciun, a W. 103 rd Street resident, noted the 15-year 100% tax abatement offered to the new homeowners and asked, “What does the development do for the city? City of Cleveland Law Department representative Andrea Lewis said the owners would pay taxes on the value of the land. She said the city would benefit from the payroll taxes from residents of 300 new households.
Cleveland Public Service Director Mark Ricchiuto said the neighborhood around the new development would benefit from the development through extra attention. He said “the city was not going to put up a brand new housing development and then have potholes in the surrounding neighborhood”. His comment irked some residents who said the city should be fixing potholes all the time, not just because a new development is coming.
Asked if there were any provisions for the city of Cleveland to reimburse the Cleveland Schools for the tax abatements from the proceeds of the payroll tax, city officials had no answer. They said the city follows state of Ohio rules for tax abatements as outlined under Senate Bill 19.
Residents were also concerned that their property taxes would go up as a result of the new development. Lewis said the new development project is considered its own neighborhood by the county for tax purposes. Taxes would not go up immediately. However, if houses in the neighborhood sold for a higher price because of the new development, then taxes would go up over time, she said.
Residents asked if the W. 76 th Street pedestrian tunnel would be restored as part of the development. Public Service Director Jim Ricchiuto said the tunnel takes an extraordinary amount of maintenance because of the topography. He assured residents their desire to have the tunnel reopened was well known. “It is a major topic of conversation.”
Councilman Matt Zone said city improvements to the tunnel include 20 new lights, new railings, new fence, painting about once a month, and redoing the cementing of the landing pads. He said the tunnel is seeping with water. In order to stop the leaking the area around the tunnel would have to be dug up so the tunnel could be sealed. He said the city has promised to come back to him with the cost for such improvements. He noted that if the tunnel is not refurbished, residents would still have access to the Edgewater Park through the new intersection at W. 73 rd.
Charlene Augustine of W. 65 th street asked if there was any program to assist neighborhood residents with a down payment to allow them to consider buying a home in the new development. Marous said National City Bank was offering a preferred rate to homebuyers with a 5% down payment.
Residents also complained about the dust from the development. Several noted that developers failed to place silk fencing around the site when demolishing the buildings. City officials urged them to call the Health Department director Matt Carroll at 664-2300 to complain about construction dust or to call Marous Development at 440-951-3904.
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