WOODMERE — After almost two years of negotiations with their insurance company, owners of AZ Management plan to tear down the southern wing of Beechmont Towers and rebuild it. The wing was damaged by a blaze in January of 2019 and the roof blew off the building during a storm soon after the fire.

The building is located at 27621 Chagrin Blvd. That wing has been unoccupied since it was damaged. Some tenants found new places to live and others were moved from Beechmont Towers into another apartment building that is managed by the same company. There are other AZ Management buildings in the region, including several in Shaker Heights and Beachwood.

“When my father built this building in 1960, 1961, these were considered luxury suites,” co-owner Randy Kertesz said at Woodmere’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Nov. 11. “After 50 years, almost 60 years, it’s time to make them a little nicer.”

Mr. Kertesz said that he plans to construct a temporary stair tower to serve as an emergency exit for the building before the south wing is torn down. When the new wing is completed, the temporary stair tower will be removed. The suites that are adjacent to the demolition area have also been vacated. He said that the plans have been bid out to two contractors and he would like to get started within the next 30 days.

Building Commissioner Rick Loconti said that if there are no problems with the village’s fire marshal, he will issue permits for demolition and the temporary stair tower. Mr. Kertesz mentioned that he already applied for a permit to take down part of the south wing, which is all that the insurance company agreed to originally. There have been further negotiations since then.

Mayor Ben Holbert said that this has been a “long, drawn out situation,” but he is glad to see that they are able to move forward with the renovation. He asked if the former tenants of that wing would be able to return when it is completed.

Mr. Kertesz said that this wing will be a “prototype” for the rest of the building, which will also be renovated. This new wing will be more expensive than the other units. For example, he said that he is considering adding a fifth floor to the wing so the fourth-floor units can be penthouses. These suites would have the common living spaces on the lower floor and the bedrooms on the upper floor. The rent will be higher than what tenants were previously paying, he said, but the management may contact former tenants to notify them of the renovation.

Mr. Kertesz also said that the footprint of the building will increase by 4 feet on either side to allow for more space for closets, a larger patio and heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. There are 40 suites in the wing now and that will remain the same.

“We’re anxious to restore the building and improve it and make it something that both the community and ourselves will be proud to present to the public,” co-owner Ronnie Kertesz said last week.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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