tremont lane shows custom home market is strong in some neighbs

What's it take to sell a swank new home in Cleveland these days? It helps if you can offer fresh, contemporary design, a sought-after Tremont address, and a 29-foot-wide great room that's filled with light even on the cloudiest of North Coast days.

At least, that's what David Sharkey, one of the principals of Civic Builders in Tremont, has to say. This year, Sharkey and his partners broke ground on a new three-unit development at West 8th and Starkweather called Tremont Lane. With the first unit now nearly completed, the team is hoping to secure additional contracts and complete the two remaining units next year.

"These units are different from anything else out there, because they have a big, wide great room and lots of windows and light," says Sharkey, who also is president of Progressive Urban Real Estate, the firm selling Tremont Lane. "There's still a market here, because there's a lot of confidence in Tremont."

Tremont remains a strong market for custom and semi-custom home building, he adds. "You look at the national numbers on new construction and they're horrible, but in Tremont, people are still willing to pay a lot of money for rehabbed homes or custom homes," he says. "Custom homebuyers have a different mindset; they're not just out there looking for a house, they're creating it themselves."

The custom home market has a pulse -- albeit a weak one -- in a handful of Cleveland neighborhoods, Sharkey says. These include Tremont, Little Italy and along Lake Erie. Sharkey does not expect the new construction housing market in Cleveland to dramatically improve anytime soon, yet he believes that custom homebuyers will continue to seek out -- and create -- their dream homes.

"There's always a time for those buyers," he says. "They know what they want, and they're willing to pay for it."

The first unit at Tremont Lane is expected to sell for about $250,000, including upgrades. Other custom homes in Tremont have transferred for significantly higher sums, and rumor has it that a contemporary, new home going up at West 11th and University may near the $1 million mark when it is completed.

Source: David Sharkey
Writer: Lee Chilcote