Rivergate Park in Flats expands with land sale

The Flats Industrial Railroad Co. deeded an acre of property to Cleveland Metroparks and a pint-sized parcel to a neighboring landowner on Cleveland’s Columbus Peninsula.

The park district plans to restore the British Street site north of Columbus Road as high-quality green space and use part of the railroad to improve trail connections in the Flats, according to Jacqueline Gerling, director of communications for Metroparks.

The property adjoins Rivergate Park, the 7-acre urban riverfront park that has added kayak launches and recreational activities on the Cuyahoga River.

Metroparks paid $930,000 for the site on May 20. Gerling said the parks received an $834,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Conversation Fund to support the purchase and restoration of the site.

Separately, although the sale was registered the same day, a subsidiary of Integrity Realty Group of Beachwood paid Flats Industrial $70,000 for a tiny 3,479 square foot triangular parcel at the south end of British Street near French Street.

Dan Siegel, director of Integrity, said the company wanted the site to add space to several of its adjacent buildings that face 1776 Columbus Road. The site can provide additional parking if the structures or land they sit on are redeveloped, he said.

The railroad’s main customer was Grain Craft Inc., a flour mill in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which closed its Cleveland operation at 1635 Merwin Ave. in 2020. The high-level grain silos, which tower over a six-story structure, and the adjoining former factory buildings are offered for sale with Newmark.

A shortline railroad in operation since 1996 that was organized to provide last and first mile service from a former rail line, the Flats Industrial Railroad has a building and rail bridge at the 1757 Columbus. It controls a total of 3 miles of trail, much of it across the Cuyahoga River on the Scranton Peninsula.

Jim Haviland, executive director of local community development company Flats Forward, said the railroad owner was looking for a responsible way to dispose of his properties, particularly the bridge.

Metroparks bought two buildings near the park last year for $1 million.

The railroad did not return three phone messages and emails.

Beth Fournier, who signed the bills of sale for the plots as president of Flats Industrial, also did not return a phone message.