SPONSORED CONTENT 10 SHAKERONLINE.COM | FALL 2017
The Sun ShineS on the townhomes of Van aken
By Michael Peters
Surprisingly to many, the highly visible site on Van Aken Boulevard
between Onaway and Sutton roads has never been built on…until now,
where the 33-unit Townhomes of Van Aken development is taking
shape. It is Shaker’s first new residential construction project of this
scope in nearly a decade.
As the first two of the five buildings take their place in the wellestablished
Moreland neighborhood – part of a project known as
Transit Village – Vintage Development Group of Willoughby is
adding a housing choice that is quite familiar to them. Vintage built
the acclaimed Battery Park townhomes near the Gordon Square Arts
District, helping to cement Detroit Shoreway as one of Cleveland’s most
“Battery Park was a huge risk,” says the Detroit Shoreway Community
Development Organization’s Jenny Spencer. “The developer, Chip
Marous, had to have a vision few others could see.”
The success of that project led to several years of collaboration between
Shaker Heights and Vintage to bring a similar sense of excitement
combined with the planning and design refinements for which the
city is known. Shaker commissioned a market study to determine
the feasibility for the site. As Vintage’s Chip Marous explains, “We
quickly came to a meeting of the minds. A residential, for sale, attached
townhome product was the vision that both the City of Shaker Heights
and Vintage Development Group had for the site.”
From public meetings to tours of Battery Park, the project worked
its way through reviews by the city’s Planning Department, the
Architectural Board of Review, the City Planning Commission and the
Building Department before a shovel hit the ground. An award-winning
Shaker architectural firm, RDL Architects, designed the units.
One of the collaborative efforts between the city and Vintage was
getting pre-approval for rooftop solar panels on the homes, which will
be offered to buyers as an upgrade. “The city is actively encouraging
all residents to consider solar panels,” says City Council member Sean
Malone, who chairs the Sustainable Shaker Task Force.
The emphasis on renewable energy was vital to the review process,
given Shaker’s long-term plan for the neighborhood as a whole. As the
premier development site within Transit Village, the Townhomes of
Van Aken is envisioned as a showcase for contemporary transit-oriented
development – quality housing that is integrated into a walkable
neighborhood and located within a quarter-mile of efficient public
transportation, in this case the RTA’s Blue Line Rapid.
Moreover, the architects carefully formulated the design to
complement the surrounding homes rather than mimic a more
traditional or revival style.
“It’s a transitional design that blends traditional forms and scale with
contemporary detailing,” says RDL’s Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells.
Dreyfuss-Wells describes the location as “the gateway to the Ludlow,
Onaway, and Moreland neighborhoods,” but the Townhomes of Van
Aken also sits between Shaker Square and the new Van Aken District
on the rapidly evolving Van Aken corridor. With new apartment
Natural light bathing open-plan living spaces make the perfect backdrop
to gather family and friends.