Cleveland, Ohio: Preservation Anchors Sustainable Community Development
St Luke’s Manor in Cleveland, Ohio recently received the 2012 National Trust/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. Built in 1927, the former hospital closed in 1999 and sat unoccupied for 12 years. Listed on the National Register of Historic Properties in 2005, most of the 390,000-square-foot building has been renovated to provide 137 affordable apartments for seniors. When construction is completed near the end of 2013, the remainder of the building will be occupied by an award-winning charter school and multigenerational wellness and education center. Saint Luke’s Manor is already a local landmark, anchoring a neighborhood revitalization effort.
Background and Context
In 2004, Neighborhood Progress partnered with community development organizations and foundations to engage residents of Cleveland’s historic Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood in a community planning process. Located about five miles east of downtown, Buckeye-Shaker had experienced significant physical deterioration, and it faced many needs related to its large population of youth and seniors. These issues, which included resident concerns about housing maintenance, elimination of blight, and safety, became important parts of an innovative, resident-focused community redevelopment plan that addressed community challenges through the lens of sustainability.
Based on that revitalization plan, the area became one of the first neighborhoods in Ohio to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) certified. LEED-ND establishes a national standard for sustainable neighborhood development that integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building design into a comprehensive planning and development framework. Although LEED-ND projects vary in scope and scale, the rating system prioritizes smart location and linkages, neighborhood pattern and design, and green infrastructure and building. With a traditional street grid, significant potential for infill development, and proximity to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s light rail service, the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood was an ideal candidate for certification.
Central to the community plan was the rehabilitation of the St. Luke’s site. The hospital had been a neighborhood institution for decades, until it closed in 1999. Extensively damaged by looting in recent years, the shuttered building loomed as an imposing reminder of the neighborhood’s decline and a hindrance to neighborhood revitalization. The structure’s preservation and adaptive reuse were viewed as a tipping point upon which the fate of the neighborhood could turn.
Adaptive Reuse and Program
In 2011, after several unsuccessful attempts to bring new life to the building, Neighborhood Progress partnered with developer Pennrose Properties to rehabilitate and repurpose the derelict landmark. The sheer size of the U-shaped building required an ambitious, three-phase approach to preserve and celebrate its historic elements while also accommodating its new uses. Work on the central and west wings was completed in Phases I and II, respectively.
The 137 new one- and two-bedroom apartments replaced patient rooms, administrative offices, and hospital storage areas located off the hospital’s original corridors. In many rooms, the original fireplace mantels were preserved, and marble flooring in common areas was uncovered and refinished. Restoration of the lobby in the central wing removed office partitions that had masked original finishes and obscured a large, formal room. The renovated wings also include a fitness center, a computer room, and additional space for supportive services.
The third phase of the project, scheduled for completion in late 2013 or early 2014, will rehabilitate the building’s 65,000-square-foot east wing, where The Intergenerational School (TIS) will anchor a combination of community services and resources. One of the most distinguished K–8 charter schools in the state, TIS has received local and national recognition for the quality of its education and health and wellness programs. TIS focuses on lifelong learning and integrates seniors and other community members directly into structured, intergenerational educational programs. Rigorous evaluation of participants in the TIS program has demonstrated such benefits as reduced stress, improved cognitive functioning, and an increased sense of purpose.
The hospital’s Prentiss Auditorium will be repurposed for the primary school’s needs. One of the most elaborate and ornate rooms in the building, the auditorium’s original plaster and moldings will be restored as the large space is converted into a cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium. The east wing’s upper floors will house the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland, along with new office space for the St. Luke’s Foundation and Neighborhood Progress.
Financing the $54 million rehabilitation involved a combination of public and private sources. Phases I and II received federal low-income housing tax credits, state and federal historic preservation tax credits, and funds from the city and Enterprise Community Partners. Phase III received approximately $3 million in federal and state historic tax credits and more than $5 million in federal and state new markets tax credits. An additional $4 million in foundation and private support played a critical role in securing TIS as the anchor tenant and making possible the $15 million final phase.
Sustainable Neighborhood Development
As a significant component of the LEED-ND plan, St. Luke’s Manor itself was designed to achieve a LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations Silver rating. Improvements include insulation blown into the walls, energy-efficient mechanical systems, and replacement windows that promote energy efficiency and comply with historic preservation standards. The apartments include energy-efficient appliances to help lower residents’ utility costs. Perhaps the greenest component of the project is inherent to the process of historic preservation. A 2012 report from the Preservation Green Lab found that retaining an existing building’s embodied energy in combination with energy-efficiency improvements is more sustainable than demolition and new construction over the life of the building.
The $54 million preservation and adaptive reuse project is a catalyst for the redevelopment of the surrounding Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood. The rehabilitation is part of $113 million in public and private funds invested within a half-mile of St. Luke’s Manor, including the Harvey Rice Learning Campus adjacent to St. Luke’s, which is home to a new elementary school and public library. Residential development north of the site provides new housing opportunities near the light rail station, which is undergoing a significant facelift to better connect with the neighborhood.
Other than from sources in hyperlinks, information is from internal documents provided by Neighborhood Progress and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.