When Multifamily Executive approached Cleveland-based RDL Architects about designing a fictitious adaptive-reuse project for our annual Concept Community project, we didn’t expect what they’d come back with.
Rather than base its design on an imaginary structure, RDL found an existing adaptive-reuse building in a historic Cleveland neighborhood. And the timing couldn’t have been better: That neighborhood’s community development arm is in the midst of a broad initiative to breath new life into the area.
The following provides some background on the neighborhood of this year’s Concept Community, and the “before” status of an abandoned industrial building that RDL will virtually transform into a new community. The grand reveal of the renderings will be Sept. 23, during a special keynote presentation at the Multifamily Executive Conference in Las Vegas.
Welcome to the Neighborhood
On the east side of Cleveland lies the St. Clair neighborhood, a historic Slovenian community dating back to the 1880’s. Due to its unique location as a local commuter route along Cleveland’s I-90, it’s considered a prime area to become the next up-and-coming neighborhood. Community leaders plan to turn it into a walkable, amenity-rich haven that has appeal for both Millennials and Baby Boomers. This effort is dubbed “Upcycle St. Clair’.”
A year into the “Upcycle” program, the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation is focusing on enhancing the community by celebrating the “maker” culture of the neighborhood. The Cleveland Flea, a public market that launched in the neighborhood in April of last year, “provides vendors and artists a central market through which to sell their items, focusing on vintage finds, architectural salvage, handmade goods and a range of delicious foods.” The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation also recently launched the Upcycle Parts Shop, “a creative reuse art center where waste is repurposed into art supplies.”
The city has other projects in store to revitalize the community, with plans to transform the old, unused trolley lanes down the middle of St. Clair into protected bike lanes called “The Midway.” If successful, the bike lanes can potentially span the entire city.
The community development corporation has also recently partnered with a local initiative for reclaiming abondoned housing in Cleveland. The effort, called the design/REbuild studio, is a collaboration between Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and College of Architecture and Environmental Design.
Cleveland has recently begun to see some new demographic trends emerge, as both Millennials and Baby Boomers flock back into the city. And this migration provides a unique opportunity for communities like St. Clair. Millennials who may not be able to afford the more expensive Cleveland downtown area will find the area’s unique charm and walkability appealing.
The structure on which the Concept Community will be based is an approximately 30,000 square-foot building at 1030 East 62nd Street just off of St. Clair road in the heart of the old industrial section of the neighborhood. And it witnessed the most disastrous fire in Cleveland’s history when, in 1944, an East Ohio Gas holding tank exploded nearby, lighting about one square mile into flames.
The following was our starting point for the 2014 Concept Community: Stay tuned for a virtual transformation, which will be unveiled Sept. 23.