recently completed footbridge townhomes bring new life to hidden valley in tremont

In 2009, things were looking bright for the Footbridge Townhomes, located at 2868-2882 West 11th Street. Construction was well under way and one of the four units was pre-sold.

"When we started the project, it was kind of a precarious time in real estate," says Progressive Urban Real Estate president David Sharkey. "We needed that pre-sale to get the project moving."
 
The precarious state of things turned into what Sharkey calls the "real estate depression" and the presale went south.
 
"The whole thing fell apart," recalls Sharkey. "That is what really stalled the project out."
 
To make matters worse, all the naysayers had something to gloat over.
 
"A lot of people thought (the project) was a mistake," says Sharkey. "They didn't think it would succeed. For a while it kind of seemed that way."
 
While he admits being an advocate of the area was a challenge, Sharkey is quick to offer a view of it through more forgiving eyes, pointing out the lush greenery, stunning views of the neighboring industrial valley and access to area parks and entertainment via the arching footbridge that spans Interstate 490 (which will soon be open to the new West 12th Street Neighborhood Pathway). The unique pocket is at once secluded and urban. With all that going for the project, he didn't give up.
 
Working with Tremont West Development Corporation and the city of Cleveland, the team was able to secure federal funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Approved earlier this year, the funds covered the remainder of construction financing and a 20 percent forgivable second mortgage for buyers.
 
All four units have sold.
 
They range from 1,238 to 1,373 square feet and sold for between $140,000 and $168,000. They have open floor plans, second floor decks with views, large windows and rear courtyards set in the hillside. The creatively-designed homes take advantage of the slope. Construction is finishing up, but Sharkey feels confident the homes should all be occupied within four or five weeks.
 
Civic Builders (affiliated with Progressive Urban Real Estate) owns more than 16 other lots in the area, with most of them along West 11th and a couple on West 12th. Plans for those are not yet in place.
 
"We're trying to figure out our options," says Sharkey, noting that additional townhomes or a custom home project are possibilities. In any event, he sees the Footbridge project as a harbinger of good things to come for this underappreciated part of town.
 
"We have been determined to see it through to the end—and we have. It's a big deal," says Sharkey. "It took some creativity. Without the city of Cleveland coming through and working with us on the NSP funding, I'm not sure it would have happened. But in the end it is succeeding and it's going to be a catalyst for great things to come down there."
 

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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