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Easement may hinder luxury residential development

By Kevin Kelley

Fairview Park

Abode Living, the real estate development firm responsible for the 11 River luxury townhouses in Rocky River, wants to build similar upscale residences in Fairview Park. But a property easement dating from the 1920s may stop the developer.

Andrew Brickman, Abode’s managing partner, told West Life he has a purchase agreement for the Mandley-Vetrovsky Funeral Home property, located at 18871 Lorain Road, at the eastern end of Fairview Park just before the bridge to Cleveland. The property overlooks the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.

The purchase agreement has yet to be executed, Brickman said.

Brickman said his company is still working on the exact nature and number of residences he hopes to build. He said the proposed development would be similar in some ways to the 11 River project as well as Clifton Pointe, a luxury development in Lakewood that overlooks the Rocky River and Lake Erie. Abode broke ground for the Clifton Pointe project in June.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of success around the corner,” Brickman said of the 11 River and Clifton Pointe projects. Seven of 14 townhouses at Clifton Pointe have already been sold, he said, and only two of the 11 spots at 11 River are still available.

“We think there is demand for the type of product we are offering,” Brickman said. “We’d like to get a similar product done (in Fairview Park).”

A possible hindrance to the project is an easement held by Cleveland Metroparks on the Mandley-Vetrovsky property. Brickman declined to discuss specifics on how the easement would affect his plans, but said he’s hopeful that all parties can come to an agreement.

Fairview Park Development Director Jim Kennedy said the easement, which dates to the 1920s, limits use on 36,000 square feet of the roughly 2.1 acres on which Brickman plans to build. Kennedy said city officials have been working with Abode and the Metroparks to modify the easement.

Cleveland Metroparks spokeswoman Jane Christyson confirmed that any modification of the easement would require a vote of the Metroparks’ three-member board of commissioners. The board has yet to consider the easement issue.

At a Sept. 10 committee meeting of Fairview Park City Council, Law Director Sara Fagnilli said Brickman has a backup plan to build an office building on the Mandley-Vetrovsky property; however, construction of an office building would require the property, currently zoned as multifamily, to be rezoned for office use. An ordinance to place a rezoning measure before voters at a special election in February was placed on second reading at Monday evening’s council meeting.

Because the rezoning measure would likely be the only item on the February ballot in Fairview Park, the city would have to pay the costs associated with the special election. According to Fagnilli, the city is in discussions with Abode about its assumption of the costs of the special election, estimated to be about $48,000.

Paying the election costs is a possibility for Abode, Brickman told West Life.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to that,” he said.

Brickman said he has not set a timetable for deciding which project to pursue.

“I’m trying to keep my options open,” he said.

Kennedy said city officials are not favoring one use of the land over another.

“We would prefer a higher-end use that is doable,” Kennedy said of the funeral home property’s future.

However, he characterized the office building project as speculative, noting that in today’s market, few developers are constructing office complexes without tenants already lined up.

Kennedy also noted that Brickman’s company specializes in building luxury residences.

“That’s what he does,” Kennedy said. “We’re trying to help him do that.”

In addition to being a source of future property tax revenue for the city, the Mandley-Vetrovsky property is geographically unique, Kennedy said.

“It’s a very attractive site,” the development director said. “It’s the gateway to the city.”

 

 

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