Mass timber project in Cleveland could be nation’s tallest

The Intro development will have 298 units and be built with mostly wood

New York Weekend Edition /
May.May 30, 2020 09:00 AM
A mass timber project in Cleveland is now under construction and could be the nation’s tallest when completed. Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors’ Intro development will rise nine stories with 298 residential units (Credit: Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors)

A mass timber project in Cleveland is now under construction and could be the nation’s tallest when completed. Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors’ Intro development will rise nine stories with 298 residential units (Credit: Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors)

What will be the country’s tallest wood building is headed skyward in Cleveland.

Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors is building the 298-unit, nine-story building dubbed Intro with mass timber throughout much of it, including load-bearing sections. The firm closed $144 million in financing in March and construction has now started, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Intro is one of a handful of mid- and high-rise mass timber projects proposed or under construction in the U.S. An affordable housing developer in Los Angeles is planning a 14-story mass-timber project in Downtown L.A.

Katerra is also utilizing mass timber materials, although it has had some trouble with warping of wood that it had shipped from one climate to another.

Building with mass timber is considered more environmentally friendly than using steel and concrete, which is standard in the vast majority of large structures in the country. The manufacturing process for steel and concrete has a carbon footprint about twice that of the process for preparing wood for construction.

There’s some concern that deforestation could be accelerated if mass-timber construction grows in popularity, though. Supporters say timber construction sequesters carbon in the buildings rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. An 85-foot-tall timber building in Portland, Oregon, claims to be as strong as a concrete building but one-fourth the weight. A planned 11-story, $29 million wood building in the same city was granted building permits but ran into financial problems in 2018 and was never built.

Because mass timber is not widely used, it can be hard for developers to get their hands on it. The wood beams and floors for Intro are being manufactured in Austria and shipped to Cleveland by boat, according to the Journal.

The Alphabet-owned development company Sidewalk Labs released plans for a mass-timber high-rise for Toronto earlier this year, but the fate of that program is uncertain now that the firm has scrapped a large development planned in the Canadian city. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch


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