LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- When city officials look ahead, they often refer to Lakewoods second century.
For St. Clement Church, its next century on Madison Avenue may look different, as the parish is partnering with Liberty Development Company for the construction of 16 townhome units and shared parking on 1.25 acres of the parishs existing 2.25 acres. The church and rectory will remain.
We struck up a partnership with St. Clement, Father Workman and the parish probably about a year-and-a-half ago regarding 38,000 square feet of buildings vacant since 2005, Liberty Development Company Development Director Dru Siley said. They have a large parking lot, and its just too much excess building and space.
We were looking for a higher and better use that was appropriate to be next to the parish. We began investigating any potential adaptive reuse of the buildings. Those buildings are pretty far gone as far as their overall condition.
The Rev. Joe Workman said the parish has had a good relationship with Liberty Development Company over the years.
We worked together to overcome many obstacles, Workman said. Its going to be a good fit to repurpose the property and to have this part of Madison Avenue look more like a neighborhood than just a big building in the middle of the road.
Lakewood Director of Planning and Development Bryce Sylvester said St. Clements spent nearly a decade seeking an adaptive reuse for the church buildings, including a now-closed school.
They competed for tax credits to turn it into senior housing, and they just couldnt win, Sylvester said. It was a really good effort by the parish, but they needed to turn the page and figure out what could be there long term.
Once the buildings were condemned by Lakewood last year, the discussion turned to the development of townhomes, which tentatively have a price point around $300,000.
Weve had a couple of community meetings to talk to the neighbors, Siley said. Weve been grateful for their feedback and support as were figuring out this project.
Its an emotional thing for sure, because that school has been a part of that neighborhood for 100 years. We know its a big sign of trust from the folks in the parish and the folks in the neighborhood that theyre willing to let us do something special there," Siley said.
Liberty most recently completed the McKinley Place townhomes in Lakewood, which underwent a similar planned development rezoning process.
We had a nice success with our McKinley Place townhomes on the west end of Lakewood, Siley said. That went really well for us. Lakewood is a great community. The housing market is really hot, and were very excited about being some of the first new -- and maybe the first new -- market-rate housing on Madison Avenue in the last 50 years.
The proposed St. Clement project would introduce more than $4 million of new real estate value to Lakewood, and would generate new real estate taxes on property that has been exempt from taxes.
The St. Clement project requires the rezoning of the land from commercial to planned development. It must receive approval from the Planning Commission, Architectural Board of Review and City Council. If all goes well, Siley said demolition of the old school building will hopefully begin this winter.
Theres a lot of work we have to do there beyond taking down the building and structurally stabilizing some walls that are shared between the church and the school, Siley said. We also have to build new parking for the church. We have an ongoing shared parking arrangement with the church on part of their site.
Lakewood officials have pledged $300,000 of Cuyahoga County demolition funds to be contributed to the project.
Its kind of another sign of Madison Avenues strength, Sylvester said. This is going to be the first new residential construction on Madison Avenue in decades. Were excited about the process starting.
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