by Ryan Bonds
(Plain Press, May 2017) Several factories that lined the railroad tracks along the Shoreway near Edgewater Park are being replaced by over 300 new luxury apartments and 24 townhouses.
The massive Edison Project developed by the NPR Group will feature just over 300 apartments. It is slated to be completed in 2017 in the area between Breakwater and the railroad tracks from W. 65th to W. 58th except for Southwest Corner of that area on which another developer is building 24 townhouses to be called Breakwater Bluffs.
Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone thinks new building projects like The Edison are going to bring back Clevelanders and new faces to the now thriving area. In addition to young millennials and professionals migrating to the complex, there will be people who return to the city.
“You’re going to get empty nesters. People who spent their adult years, their married years, living in the ‘burbs, who now are empty nesters,” he said. “They don’t have any kids or their kids are moved out and they want a higher quality of life so we’re starting to see, with not only development patterns but migration patterns, where now you get ‘boomerangers’ who grew up in the neighborhoods of Cleveland, moved out to raise their family because of schools or safety matters [and are coming back].”
Currently, Cleveland’s population decrease is beginning to level out after losing roughly 200,000 residents over the past twenty years. Overall, the past three to five years have only seen a marginal decline in population, while expansions like The Edison and various other apartment complexes are attracting new residents. Eventually, the steady decline could become steady growth.
The Gordon Square Arts District in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood is home to the new massive apartment complex. The arts district is growing in diversity and has a thriving theater district.
The $10 million apartment complex will be priced at market rates, which would still bring a major influx of wealth to the already established businesses, according to the NPR Group, the developer of the project.
The Edison will offer different options for residents. Some cheaper apartments will be available at $1,000 per month and there could be townhouses that rent for more than $2,000 a month.
According to Zone, the complex is being built on the ten-acre lot that used to house Westinghouse, Hill Acme and other buildings have been abandoned for more than a decade.
Before construction could begin on the Edison complex, the factories had to be torn down and the land cleared and cleaned of potential contamination. Construction should take about 20 months to complete.
These new developments are going up on land that some 90 years ago was the home of the Hill Clutch Machine and Foundry Co. and the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company.
Westinghouse, which was founded in Pittsburgh in the 1880s, created some of the greatest marvels in electricity and various other ventures.
Hill Clutch Machine and Foundry, also known as the Hill Acme Co., had its roots on W. 65th Street in 1906. The company focused on manufacturing vehicle parts through the 1950s and supplied the Chevy and General Motors factories.
After absorbing another company in the 1930s, Hill Acme CO. expanded the line of products it manufactured to garden equipment and aviation parts. Unlike Westinghouse, Hill Acme CO. still exists in Canada. All, or parts of these buildings, will be gone by stage four of the build.
Companies like these used to be the backbone of Cleveland’s infrastructure.
“Manufacturing is really important and that’s kind of what built us out and developed and built out our neighborhood,” Ward 15 Councilman Zone said. “Most of the factories in that area were over 100-years-old, the manufacturers, the titans. As deficiencies came with operations of basic manufacturing, the multi floor buildings that had multiple people working on them were a really inefficient way of buildings things.”
With the flight of manufacturing and businesses to suburbs, it has taken years to rebuild, but projects like the Edison point to a rebirth in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Zone welcomes the Edison project but also notes that it joins efforts to support more modest housing so the Gordon Square Arts District retains its diversity and doesn’t become too expensive.
“We knew that we had a pretty solid master plan for the neighborhood moving forward and if we were going to be successful with our capital campaign on creating the Gordon Square Arts District, I was always very cognizant of the fact that I did not want the neighborhood to gentrify,” he said.
“We’ve worked extremely hard at doing quite a bit of in-fill housing. From about 2004 to about 2014 we bidded about $40-million worth of historical and low income tax credit projects that yielded about 300 units of affordable housing, ensuring that there would be long-term affordability built into the neighborhood.”
According to Zone, there has been an economic and business renaissance in his West Side ward over the past decade.
“Since 2007 we’ve opened 94 new businesses in Cleveland,” he said, “which have created over 700 full-time jobs and contributes mightily to the local economy in that area.”
The new jobs make housing options like The Edison more feasible and possible. Without a strong economy, places to go and a variety of accommodations for new residents, it wouldn’t make sense for anybody to come into the city, not just the people who will be living in luxury apartments next summer.
Losing historical pieces of Cleveland’s history is bittersweet, but as the city evolves, new developments like The Edison Project are pushing Cleveland forward.