developer purchases southworth building, plans 18 new downtown apts

Developer Rich Cicerchi of Cicerchi Development Company was scouting for an investment opportunity downtown when he met Matt Howells, owner of the Park Building and the Southworth Building. The two developers stayed in touch, and Cicerchi later purchased the vacant Southworth building from Howells. Now he plans to convert it to 18 high-end apartments that will add to downtown's rental housing boom.

Cicerchi's interest in downtown goes back to when he was a kid. "I remember going downtown with my dad,” he says. “I'd grab his big hand in my two little hands and he'd swing me from one sidewalk line to the next, having a good old time. He was twice my height, and I'd look past him at all the big buildings, all the activity and people. That's what got me enamored with downtown."

Cicerchi, who is primarily a residential developer, watched downtown's decline and resurgence and decided that he wanted to be a part of the efforts to improve Cleveland's urban core. In 2006, he purchased the Krouse building on East Fourth Street and converted it to apartments.

The Southworth Building is located at 2013 Ontario, across from Tower City and the casino. Built in 1850, the four-story building will be converted to nine one-bedroom and nine two-bedroom apartments. The plans call for an atrium to be constructed in the center of the building to bring in natural light, Cicerchi says. On the lower level, there are two retail spaces that house a Subway and an Indian restaurant. Parking will be a short distance away in the May Company garage.

Perhaps the coolest feature, other than the suites themselves, will be the roof deck overlooking Public Square and downtown.

Cicerchi plans to preserve the building's historic features wherever he can, including refinishing existing wood floors that can be salvaged. High-end features likely will include granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The suites will have a lofted look, with exposed spiral ductwork and high ceilings. One bedrooms will be about 750 square feet, two bedrooms about 1,100 square feet. The building also will boast many green, energy-efficient features. Tri-State Capital will soon provide financing for the $4 million project.

The first suites should be completed by early 2015, the developer says.

"I always look at properties with the eyes of potential," says Cicerchi. "I saw a great way to add more downtown living and integrate it with the downtown community."

Read more articles by Lee Chilcote.

Lee Chilcote is a journalist, essayist and poet whose work has appeared in many regional and national publications. He is Managing Editor of Fresh Water Cleveland and Editorial Director of Issue Media Group. He has earned Master's degrees in English/Creative Writing and Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Originally from Cleveland Heights, he lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood with his family.
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