While Hessler Coalition balks at any new building, talk of moving the Hessler Hall of Fame and Museum
By Lee Batdorff
Hessler Coalition members jointly sent a letter to the City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission firmly opposed to any development in the backyard of 1975 Ford Drive. “We want the garage to stay where it is and the backyard to be used as a backyard for 1975 Ford as it was intended,” said Charles Hoven, a Hessler home owner. “We envision a yard with some picnic tables for the students and also trees and flowers.”
As the April 15th City of Cleveland Planning Commission’s Euclid Corridor Design Review meeting began, Ward 6 councilman Blaine Griffin said he was pleased with the downsized version of the development and was happy to approve it.
The disposition of the garage that harbors the Hessler Hall of Fame and Museum was put into play by Karl Brunjes, secretary of the City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission, after a 7 to 2 vote by the Euclid Corridor Design Review committee on April 15 gave conceptual approval to the proposed Hessler Road micro-unit apartment project— a 12 unit version down from 23.
“There has been a lot of talk about the garage,” said Mr. Brunjes of the landmarks commission. “While approval of this project would include demolition of the garage some people say move it. Rotate it behind the houses where the (larger) parking lot was originally proposed (by developers Rick Maron and Russell Berusch). (There it can be used as) the street fair’s home.”
Mr. Brunjes was not alone in bringing up the situation confronting the garage—a structure designated as historic in a City of Cleveland Historic District.
Earlier in the meeting Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Incorporated, introduced the subject of the garage. “I’m hopeful the Hessler Street Fair comes back some day,” he said. “We’ll do everything we can to support the community to take the garage and do something with it before it is ‘demo-ed’. I’m all for it. My guess there might be some places in proximity (to place it).
“It’s if there is a will, there is a way, (type of thing),” added Ronayne. “Taking it off site…we (UCI) are all for it,” said Ronayne. “We are not standing in the way (of such a move of the garage that is the HHoF&M).”
The only possible place in proximity that Mr. Ronayne might have referred to is a land locked parcel owned by Ari and Jori Maron, sons of Rick Maron. They own the adjoining Uptown II parking garage and building as well as this “landlocked’ property.
After Mr. Brunjes spoke, Rich Maron said, “Nobody has approached us on this. This is the first I heard of this. This would be putting it on someone else’s property that I have nothing to do with.”
While most of the parking lot in the originally proposed plan has been removed, Maron’s project still requires five parking spaces on the landlocked parcel owned by his sons. He has something to do with this parcel.
“I’ve not heard anything about this,” Mr. Maron repeated. “That’s kind of out of the blue.”
Before Brunjes spoke, Maron actually proposed the landlock parcel to be of use to the community. He volunteered an idea of working with the owner of the two family home (Alpha Apartments) directly next to the proposed apartment building, to remove their garage to make a “two lane highway” back to the landlocked parcel where street fair activities could occur.
Two members of the Euclid Corridor Design Review committee voted against approval. “This will be the only rear entry building on Hessler,” said Pat Holland. “I find it troubling that the entrance can’t be seen from the street. Even with more lights and security cameras.”
“We plan on that being a more active area than it is now,” said Maron. Earlier in the meeting architect Daniel Sirk said that most people enter 1975 and 1980 through their back doors.
Maron also volunteered the small yards around 1975 Ford Dr., and the 15 by 60 foot yard between the apartment windows of 1975 and 1981 Ford as “a gateway” to the Hessler Street Fair. We’ll be more than happy to work with the neighborhood on this.” This is the second time Maron offered the idea.
A close observer of things Hessler these days wonders if this is actually a plan to replace the historically accurate grass and trees with rounded gravel, as Russell Berusch has done at 11319-11327 Hessler Rd.
The Hessler community is more than longtime residents and homeowners living on Hessler now. There is a diaspora of lovers of Hessler—as a result of staging half a century of street fairs.
An outreach to this group encouraging the writing of email letters to all five members of the City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission.
These are: Karl Brunjes and Donald Petit, Cleveland Landmark Commission; Cleveland Planning Director Fred Collier; Cleveland Chief Planner Kim Scott; Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin.
It will be interesting to witness how the Cleveland Landmarks Commission will react to calls to not approve this development until Russell Berusch has made amends. He renovated a five-row-house building at 11319-11327 Hessler Road while paying not enough attention to maintaining historic authenticity in the front yard and sidewalk of this historic property. (More about this here.)
Apparently he did not apply for a ‘certificate of appropriateness’ with the City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission on the rowhouse building. Since Mr. Berusch is one of the developers of this apartment building proposal, in the view of many, at the least, he first needs to take care and meet Historic District law in his 11319-11327 building before building anew on Hessler.
Set your reminder for the 9 a.m. April 22, 2021 City of Cleveland Landmarks Commission YouTube live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB8ql0Jrhm_pYIR1OLY68bw