By Kevin Kelley
Andrew Brickman, the developer behind the luxury condominiums proposed for the Mandley-Vetrovsky Funeral Home property at the eastern end of Fairview Park, said the residents will enjoys spectacular vistas.
“The views are going to be incredible,” he told West Life.
Brickman’s company, Abode Modern Lifestyles Developers, persuaded the Cleveland Metroparks’ board of commissioners to modify an easement on the Mandley-Vetrovsky property that had threatened the condo project. The easement, which dates to 1924, restricts development on the 20 feet from the top of the Rocky River valley. Abode has an option to purchase the Mandley-Vetrovsky property.
According to the minutes of a Nov. 14 meeting of the Metroparks’ commissioners, Brickman’s first proposal encroached upon the restricted area by 2,300 square feet, and was deemed unacceptable by Metroparks officials. Abode’s revised plan limited the encroachment to 530 square feet, and was agreed to by the trustees at the Nov. 14 meeting.
Existing structures on the Mandley-Vetrovsky property already encroach on 1,440 square feet of the restricted area.
The purpose of the 1924 restriction was to keep commercial and residential development from ruining the natural beauty of the valley, said Richard Kerber, the Metroparks’ director of park development and natural resources.
“It was mainly to preserve the vegetation on the slope and to preserve the view from the valley,” Kerber told West Life. Such easements are common to properties at the top of the valley, he added.
The modification to which the Metroparks commissioners agreed permits Abode to remove up to 177 trees on the Mandley-Vetrovsky property, and requires the developer to pay up to $17,700 to plant replacement trees elsewhere in the Rocky River Reservation.
After commissioners voted on modifying the 1924 restriction, Brickman asked for, in persistent manner, permission to cut down additional trees on Metroparks property. But Metroparks officials told him they would not go beyond what had been agreed upon by Abode and the Metroparks. Brickman then suggested that the project will not go forward if additional trees are not cut down to provide better views.
At the Nov. 14 meeting, Metroparks officials also expressed concerns about “slope stability” issues related to the condo development.
“Cleveland Metroparks staff remains deeply concerned about slope stability of this project given the close proximity of the condos to the edge of the ‘top or brow of the valley’ and Cleveland Metroparks boundary line,” the commissioners’ minutes state.
Metroparks officials said this does not mean they are worried that the condominiums cannot be built safely. Slope stability concerns are not unique to Abode’s proposed development but common to construction activity along the top of the valley, Kerber said. The concern is that construction at the edge of the valley will hasten erosion along the valley’s slopes. When erosion become problematic, the Metroparks is then expected to address it through costly measures, such as construction of a retaining wall.
The commissioners’ motion to modify the 1924 easement includes a statement that the Metroparks shall not be responsible for or financially contribute ro any future slope stability issues at the site. The motion also noted that the Metroparks staff has expressed its concern about slope stability issues to Fairview Park officials.
“We’d rather head that off early on rather than have our successors deal with it 20 years down the road,” Kerber explained.
Brickman told West Life that engineers will obtain soil samples from the funeral home property and then work to build a foundation system that anchors the condominiums into solid ground.
Abode’s other developments in the area — Eleven River in Rocky River and Clifton Pointe in Lakewood — were built in areas with slopes, Brickman noted. Those sites provide the best views, he explained.
Fairview Park officials, eager for the increased property and income tax revenue the condos are expected to bring, had lobbied Metroparks officials to modify the 1924 easement. Mayor Eileen Patton personally addressed the Metroparks commissioners on the Abode development’s importance to her city.
Debra Berry, the vice president of the Metroparks Board of Commissioners, recused herself from the vote on the modification. She is purchasing a home built by Abode.