January 12, 2021 [Thomas Jewell, special to cleveland.com]
SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Cuyahoga County Land Bank plans to move forward with the construction of two more infill homes on vacant lots in the city — both on Ludgate Road in the South Moreland neighborhood. These could bring the total number of new infill homes on Ludgate to four — upward of 10 citywide — with two homes in the $250,000 price range, which the county proposes will be built by Beachwood-based Orlean Company, owned by Shaker Heights resident Ken Lurie. Knez homes built and sold the first infill “spec” house there and now has plans for a second home once a buyer is found for that lot. City Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis told council last month that she has been working with the county for over a year since the focus was shifted from primarily demolitions to housing rehabilitations and new construction.
The goal has always been to have several different builders constructing new homes in the neighborhood. “It’s such a good point to reach, when you have a competitive demand for infill housing,” Lewis told council. “It’s very gratifying, because we’ve worked so hard to get to this point, in terms of the good infill opportunities that are in the offing.” Under the proposal, the two vacant lots would be acquired by the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. (CCLRC) for $1 apiece to build more spec homes. The land bank will also provide a subsidy of up to $30,000 if needed to make the project feasible, Lewis’ memo to council notes.
The actual construction costs are not known yet, with the design still needing to be completed. At the same time, there are 10-year, 100 percent tax abatements for owner-occupant buyers, dating back to the city’s 2015 Housing and Neighborhood Plan, which expressed the need to diversify the city’s housing stock and revitalize the Moreland neighborhood through creation of new housing. The CCLRC and the City of Shaker Heights have collaborated on several revitalization initiatives, Lewis noted, including rehabs in the southern Moreland neighborhood. “Most recently, they rehabbed and sold a house on Ludgate, and they have just completed a pilot condo rehab on Van Aken Boulevard,” Lewis said. Founded in 1954, the Orlean Company works in both residential and commercial real estate. Residential projects include Bluestone in Cleveland Heights, Rivercreek at Acacia, Edgewood Trace in Pepper Pike and Kenilworth Mews in Cleveland Heights.
The city also received an application for another infill project on Lee Road, while Lewis provided an update to council on an application approved in July for Keystate Homes Development of Pepper Pike to market a vacant lot on Fairmount Boulevard. “Keystate has a buyer,” Lewis said, having noted earlier that it was the city’s first application allowing a custom home builder to hold a six-month option to purchase while marketing a vacant lot — for a dollar, as well. It could be the company’s first home built in Shaker. The previous house on that lot was demolished in 2009. Keystate earlier anticipated a sale price of $300,000 for the new dwelling. Unofficially, there have now been as many as 10 vacant lots sold to builders for new homes — the previous two on Ludgate to Knez, two on Lomond to Rysar and three on Lomond to Zaremba. “In all these cases, they were spec homes — this is our first application to instead enter into an option agreement while the builder seeks a buyer for a custom home,” Lewis said earlier of the Keystate proposal.