Luxury housing development enhances Moreland Hills landscape

By Carlo Wolff

Photo / Moreland Commons / Howard Hanna

Several years ago, Armin and Sydell Green were walking and talking along the Orange High School track. Armin told Sydell that if anyone ever developed then-vacant land across Chagrin Boulevard, they would move there. 

That’s exactly what the Greens did.

Sydell is a retired social worker, Armin a retired physician. Over time, the Greens’ 4,000-square-foot home in Pepper Pike began to feel too big. So two years ago, the couple, who attend The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, moved to Moreland Commons – a rapidly growing collection of single-family homes and townhouses off Chagrin between Lander Circle and SOM Center Road in Moreland Hills.

Moreland Commons homes, many with a mansard roof as a signature, are a creative architectural blend of mass and gracefulness. They range from 2,368 square feet to 7,000 square feet and come in a variety of styles, several evoking the Colonial and the Empire. They share a common footprint, but how tall they are and the way they are configured inside is up to their owners. So are the exterior materials and looks.

Photo / Moreland Commons / Howard Hanna

The Greens love their home, a residence of about 3,000 square feet with three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half-baths. “It’s fresh and new, and it’s a very easy house to live in,” Sydell says.

Inside the development

Developed by the Axiom Development Group of Beachwood, Moreland Commons consists of 41 units on 21.3 acres. Single-family homes start at $1.1 million, townhouses at $850,000. 

Realtor Adam Kaufman of the Howard Hanna office in Pepper Pike says Moreland Commons is exceeding expectations, with “up to 25 units sold,” each for more than $1 million. He expects the project to take another two years to complete. 

Kaufman, the development’s exclusive marketing agent, says he is happy with it so far.

“We’re getting a lot of families who are downsizing, but we also have some families with young children,” says Kaufman, who attends Park Synagogue in Pepper Pike. “It’s a wonderful combination. It’s nice that there’s a wide range of people who are moving in. A lot are coming from the Chagrin Valley and from other places.”

The key competitor is Sterling Lakes, a gated residential community in Pepper Pike, Kaufman says. Residences there are similar in size and price to the ones at Moreland Commons, he adds.

Realtor Donna Rondini, a member of Kaufman’s team, notes that even though the single-family homes have a standard floor plan, each is customized, and no two are alike. Most are three stories – basement, first and second floors. And there is one of about 7,000 square feet, which has an elevator. 

The draw is the landscape, Rondini suggests during a recent walk around the development. The foliage is attractive, there’s a ravine to explore, the terrain is varied. The homes occupy their natural setting, naturally.

In addition, upscale touches like crown moldings, high ceilings, concrete driveways, quartz countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, and 9-foot-high basements with plumbing set for a full bathroom are part of the package. So are a tankless water heater, hardwood floors, and a choice of a wood-burning or gas fireplace. Ten hours with an architect and 20 hours with an interior decorator are part of the deal.

Photos / Moreland Commons / Howard Hanna

Under a limited-maintenance fee agreement with the Moreland Commons homeowners association, Axiom takes care of the mowing, landscaping, snow removal, streets and trash. 

“You’ve got some standard floor plans, but everybody’s customized them, so this is not a cookie-cutter neighborhood,” Rondini says. “And the exteriors are hands-down the best; you either get stone or brick, stucco or the fiber-cement siding known as HardiePlank.”

Bob Williams, production supervisor for Chardon-based Payne & Payne Builders, says his team has installed custom built-in cabinets, mitered the edges of countertops to beef up their look, and decorated ceilings with special beam work. Brian Brennan, a former wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, has such beam work in the great room in his Moreland Commons residence, Williams says.

Challenges and accomplishments

Getting Moreland Commons going wasn’t easy, suggests Bryan Stone, principal at Axiom Development.

“The biggest challenge of the project was its introduction to the community,” says Stone, whose two sons attend Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike. “It is the first project of its type in the area, and as you would expect, there was concern that what we would be doing there would not fit with the character of the community.”

With guidance from former Moreland Hills Mayors Susan Renda and Daniel Fritz, who died March 15, throughout the zoning and entitlement process, Stone says “significant outreach within the community to help people understand our vision and what we were trying to accomplish” was necessary.

“We have been excited with the way in which the community has embraced the project as it has come out of the ground and come to life,” Stone says. The development, after all, adds to the village’s housing stock.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the roll out of the project, which broke ground in June 2019? 

“The biggest impact COVID-19 had on the project related to the construction of the development itself,” Stone says. “We were building during the height of lockdown and had to work really hard to work through supply chain issues, labor shortages and the general unknown that was associated with the pandemic to pull off what we were trying to accomplish.”

Pride of place

Luxury housing developments have many things in common: high-tech appliances, environmentally sensitive construction, the latest building materials, emphasis on landscape preservation and enhancement, and a special look. What makes Moreland Commons unique?

“The quality of the construction and the architectural integrity of the neighborhood,” Kaufman says. “It’s just a beautiful neighborhood and the architectural guidelines (are rigorous) – people have to stay within a certain framework – so you’ve got a neighborhood that just flows seamlessly.”

“We have always believed in the community and the vision behind the project,” says Stone, “but seeing the project come to life since we started has been a real pleasure. The speed with which we have been able to grow the community and the quality of the residents and the homes they are building has been outstanding.”

One of those residents is very happy she and her husband left their Shaker Boulevard home for the leafier environs of Moreland Commons. 

“The builder was wonderful,” Sydell Green says, noting Payne & Payne built the couple a greenhouse, and an extension to accommodate a treadmill. As for the neighborhood itself, residents respect each other’s privacy, yet “everyone’s very friendly, very nice.”  

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