Historic Hessler Road townhomes are becoming modern-day living apartments

As president of Berusch Development Partners, Russell Berusch has more than 20 years of experience in urban development. In particular, he converts college campuses into neighborhoods that are convenient and accessible for the typical college student, such as University Circle’s Uptown neighborhood and Euclid 116 student apartments.

Now Berusch is taking on an historic neighborhood on Hessler Road in University Circle. Known best for the Hessler Street Fair each summer, the area is rich in neighborhood pride, historic homes, and soon, Hessler 113 Townhomes (11319-11327 Hessler Road).

Berusch is converting five connected townhomes, built in the early 1900s and ranging from about 2,100 to 2,500 square feet, into rental units. Following the trend in student housing—and like Berusch’s Euclid 116 development that opened last summer—Hessler 113 Townhomes will be rented by the bedroom, and each of the 25 total bedrooms will rent for $850 to $875 a month. All utilities and high-speed internet are included in the rent, as well as basement storage.

However, demand is hot for Hessler 113. Berusch says he has already leased or has applications for all 25 rooms: “They went like hotcakes.” The first tenants are expected to move in by July of this year.

Each townhome features five large bedrooms and two-and-one-half bathrooms on three levels. They come equipped with energy-efficient stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and microwaves. The homes will feature quartz countertops, wood cabinets, and carpeted bedrooms. Each bedroom has a bed, a study desk, and a dresser. Students can rent a bedroom individually, team up with friends to rent all five bedrooms, or use Berusch’s roommate matching program.

“All you have to do is move right in,” says Berusch.

The historic nature of Hessler Road drew Berusch in to his latest project, designed by RDL Architects. But with history comes renovation and restoration work. “The townhomes are on a street the time forgot,” he says. “They’re old and lovely, but they’re neglected. I bought them because of the location is stellar. And the townhomes have good bones.”

American Preservation Builders is currently working on the renovations. Berusch also worked with the Cleveland Landmarks Commission for the project. “We elected to preserve and restore the key elements,” says Berusch. He says the properties were vacant when he bought them and suffered from water damage and neglect. While he is installing new heating, air conditioning, and electrical, he is also preserving the original windows and hardwood floors.

But there is one feature that appeals to Berusch more than anything else. “My personal favorite aspect, I suppose, are the generous front porches that stretch along a good length of Hessler,” he says. “People hanging out on those porches feels especially neighborly and takes me back in time. For me personally, the porches take me back to when I was a kid sitting on my grandmother's porch in the Heights, where many people also hung out on their outdoor porches. Remember life before air conditioning?”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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