The Great Recession killed plans in 2008 to build million-dollar homes at the former Cleveland Quarries property south of Amherst.
Now Industrial Realty Group is ready to resurrect its vision, environmental manager Justin Lichter told the News-Times.
“We still love the area, we love the location, we love the community,” he said.
The market has rebounded enough to make home-building at the 900-acre quarry site viable again. Lichter said it’s in preliminary stages, but IRG has re-started talks with Amherst Township, South Amherst, and Lorain County officials.
South Amherst mayor David Leshinski said 45 single-family homes are planned within the village limits, with a small hotel and spa just inside the Amherst Township border.
The first phase calls for quarry-front homes on the water. Lichter said prices will fall in a higher range.
He envisions hiking and biking trails, conservation spaces, non-motorized boating, and a beach. “People just want to go and relax. It’s like a retreat,” he said.
If all goes well, IRG could even pre-sell some residential lots before the snow flies this winter.
“I don’t think our intentions are to put up 700 or even 100 homes in a year. I think we’re talking about taking our time and building it out the right way,” Lichter said, adding, “What I’m thinking for now is to start small and take a mult-phase approach.”
IRG will try to build homes that fit in with the community and don’t “stick out like a sore thumb.”
Lichter said none of the plans are as ostentatious as the once-touted plans by Trans European Securities International. In 2004, the Britain-based firm announced it would buy the quarries from American Stone Company for $27.5 million and build a $1.25 billion resort with hotels, high-end shopping, a glass-capped beach, and indoor ski slope.
Two years later, after county officials rushed to create a $300 million tax-sharing district encompassing the quarry land, American Stone walked away from stalled negotiations with Trans European.
California-based IRG purchased the defunct Ford plant on Baumhart Road in Lorain. In 2007, it added to its Lorain County portfolio by buying the quarry land for $22 million, eschewing the resort concept in favor of small mansion-style homes.
Over the course of about 10 months, IRG cleared a great deal of debris from the sandstone pits to prepare for a housing development it called The Quarries at Beaver Creek.
Before the recession, the company had planned to make a $500 million investment anchored by a 111,000-square-foot lodge on Quarry Road. It included a 40,000-square-foot spa, 80-room hotel, marina, equestrian center, swimming pools, restaurant, trap and skeet club, gym, and water park.
DiBenedetto Fine Homes of North Olmsted was tapped to build nearly 1,100 Frank Lloyd Wright-style homes, townhouses, farms with private stables, cluster homes, and four-story condominiums.
Condos were to start at $300,000 with single-family homes ranging from $750,000 to $1.5 million.
Lichter said some of those plans still have merit, but he’s figuring out what the market will support.
Local officials are supportive and excited. Leshinski and Amherst Township trustee Dennis Abraham both said they expect property values to jump significantly due to development.
Quarry construction will also include sanitary sewers, which “might be a catalyst for not just us in South Amherst to follow suit but for the entire western part of Lorain County,” said Leshinski.
“We’re very hopeful and very positive about this happening. It’s good to see that a very special piece of property is going to be used and developed in that way,” said Abraham.
While the first phase primarily targets the village, he expects the project to grow and expand into the township portion of the quarry land in coming years.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.