Tuesday, March 12, 2019

New HQ may land on Scranton Peninsula

A corporate headquarters is now shown in the marketing materials
for Thunderbird, the 22-acre development of Scranton Peninsula
in Cleveland's Flats, after a 7.44-acre plot was put under contract
 to a new user. (LoopNet)(CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE)
With roughly 80 acres of land, Cleveland's Scranton Peninsula is practically a blank canvas for a developer to pursue their SimCity dreams along a navigable waterway in the heart of a major city. And someone has just planted a big flag on Scranton Peninsula, the largely vacated expanse of land nearly surrounded by the Cuyahoga River a mile south of Public Square.

Great Lakes Brewing Company planted the first and biggest flag, taking eight of 22 acres being actively marketed as "Thunderbird" by developers. The craft brewer will expand its brewing capacity and for a possible canning facility, tasting room and restaurant. Great Lakes has an option to buy two more acres to the west, along the river.

But it wasn't Great Lakes that took the next chunk of Thunderbird on barren Scranton Peninsula. Thunderbird is being marketed and potentially developed by an investor group including developer Fred Geis, a group of investor companies called the East West Alliance (led by attorney Matthew Weiner) and J Roc Development. After Great Lakes grabbed its parcel, there were three more plots of land to be had in the Thunderbird offering -- the 7.44-acre Lot A, 4.17-acre Lot B, and 2.04-acre Lot C.

The proximity of Thunderbird and Scranton Peninsula
to downtown Cleveland is evident. so is the new HQ
shown in this image, released March 11 (LoopNet).
The largest of those is now under contract for sale or lease to.....someone. That means there is an agreement to sell or lease it but because the transaction hasn't closed, it's still a mystery who it is. However, a couple of clues suggest a notable shift in the aspirational designs for this site.

First, the land area involved is more than 324,000 square feet. At this point, it doesn't appear to be for a land-gobbling warehouse or assembly plant -- if the new renderings being marketed in brand-new Thunderbird marketing materials are any indication.

Released on March 11, a new marketing brochure shows a glassy, 11-story, cube-shaped corporate headquarters rising next to the planned Great Lakes brewery, along cobblestone streets and overlooking the Cuyahoga River and Columbus Road peninsula. Three of the stories appear to be for parking, above a ground-floor level of retail and/or restaurants.

The headquarters building bears an obscure sign "Tenants Name" on the facade. And the marketing piece encourages a headquarters tenant to locate here, suggesting that an end user isn't the firm who is under contract for Lot A, but rather another developer or investor.

Views from the same vantage point, before (above) and after
(below) an unknown user agreed to buy or lease Thunderbird
Lot A for what is now shown as a corporate headquarters.
Previously, the aspirational design envisioned a possible
residential use for the same site (LoopNet).

Previously, in Thunderbird's listing on LoopNet, the building shown in the renderings for this site looked residential, complete with balconies. It was elongated, about half as tall, and built possibly of brick and other earthy colored materials.

While the identity of the company that is buying or leasing here is still a mystery, Thunderbird's newfound promotion of its inclusion in the Opportunity Zone program is not. The backers now tout it on the cover of the marketing brochure and with a full page inside explaining how the O-Zone program can benefit investors who choose to put their money into Scranton Peninsula.

This 135-year-old building at 1920 Scranton Rd. is due to be
demolished soon. It is next to the Lot A site that is now under
contract for development. This view is from 2016 (Google).
Most of the rest of Scranton Peninsula is not being actively marketed for development, but that may be starting to change. Scranton Averell Inc. owns most of the land on the peninsula. It has owned properties here through predecessors and ancestors since the 1820s.

Although Scranton Averell is not a partner in the Thunderbird project, it is cooperating with it by allowing its land to be shown bearing conceptual developments in marketing renderings. And Scranton Averell has agreed to pursue demolition of a collection of brick buildings at 1920 Scranton Rd., dating from 1884. These buildings are next to the Lot A parcel that is now under contract.

This graphic from the Thunderbird marketing tools show the
15.5 acres of land that are spoken for and the 6.2 acres that
are still on the market for lease or purchase (LoopNet).
Another development may also be moving forward, separate from both Thunderbird and Scranton-Averell. At the neck of Scranton Peninsula along Carter Road just east of Columbus Road, Lake Link LLC is requesting city approvals to build a 2,967-square-foot model home. It's the first of a dozen luxury, single-family homes that will carry a weighty price tag that's becoming more common in Cleveland's core city. The homes' list prices start in the $750,000 range according to a roadside sign.


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