Friday, January 31, 2020

Up to 1,000 HQ jobs may come to downtown Cleveland

UPDATED Feb. 3, 2020
Four buildings facing Superior Avenue, between East 21st and
22nd streets, on the east side of downtown Cleveland could be-
come the new headquarters for CrossCountry Mortgage with up
to 1,000 office jobs in the coming years (Google).
More than 650 headquarters jobs could be on track to move to downtown Cleveland with hundreds more possible resulting from future growth. But in this instance, it's not from the paint/coatings firm that's known for covering the Earth. Instead, this news is about another fast-growing Greater Cleveland business that has outgrown its existing HQ.

According to two sources who spoke off the record, Brecksville-based CrossCountry Mortgage Inc. is taking some of the first steps necessary to renovate a handful of historic buildings along Superior Avenue between East 21st and 22nd streets on the east side of downtown.

Those properties, previously owned by the Chilcote Co., were bought Dec. 28, 2018 for $849,500 by an investment team, incorporated as CC Superior Holding, LLC and led by CrossCountry CEO Ron Leonhardt and Kohrman Jackson Krantz LLP's Managing Partner Jon Pinney.

BEK Developers LLC of Beachwood is also part of the partnership and serves as the group's real estate developer. BEK is the initials for three members of the Risman family, Bob, his wife Eleanore and their daughter Kathy. The Risman family reportedly is one of Cleveland's wealthiest.

Chuck Andes, BEK's vice president of operations and director of development, confirmed that the group is potentially looking at both offices and residential, given the size of the historic buildings and the amount of property involved. A mix of renovation and/or new construction is also possible,

There are four buildings facing Superior and the project could possibly involve the buildings farther south along East 21st and 22nd toward Payne Avenue. Some of the smaller buildings south of those facing Superior could be demolished for parking or future residential development.
An investor team has reportedly gone out to
bid and is seeking historic tax credits for the
old buildings facing Superior (KJP).
"We're possibly looking at offices but we've done some analysis for residential as apartments," Andes said. "Some of the buildings are not at the density we would need to make it (residential) profitable."

The partnership could decide the office/residential mix in about 3-6 months, Andes said.

"We're still in pre-development," he said. "Nothing is written in stone."

CC Superior Holding is initiating steps to pursue historic tax credits from the state to renovate the Superior-facing buildings. They total about 160,000 square feet and were built in the 1910s. Andes said a single-story warehouse built in the 1990s south of the Superior-facing buildings could be retained.

The Superior Arts District, from East 18th Street to the Inner Belt, was designated as an historic area nearly 20 years ago to aid in the renovation of the Tower Press Building, 1900 Superior.

In an article last month in Smart Business Network, Leonhardt said his investment team hadn't decided if it would be for his firm's HQ or for housing.

“I’m looking for a new headquarters,” Leonhardt said in the article. “Brecksville has been great, allowing me to park across the street. So we’re looking at maybe building across the street on the VA site or doing something between Superior and Payne. The idea is to figure out which one’s going to work out best long term. But we plan on developing the Superior and Payne property. It’s either going to be our new headquarters or some type of housing.”
CrossCountry's existing headquarters on Miller Road in Brecks-
ville is overcrowded and the mortgage firm continues to experi-
ence rapid growth as it has for the past decade (Google).
The two sources said Leonhardt leaning toward putting his headquarters on Superior to capitalize on the urban location and attract more and younger talent to his company. When contacted last week by e-mail that included several questions, Leonhardt acknowledged receipt of the e-mail but didn't comment on it.

CrossCountry, founded in 2003, is currently located in a 1969-built, 50,400-square-foot building at 6850 Miller Road. County records show the building was remodeled in 1997. CrossCountry bought the property in 2010 for $2.1 million.

Ten years ago, the company issued a half-billion dollars in mortgages and had $10 million in revenue. In 2019, it funded more than $15 billion in mortgages and had revenues approaching $600 million for the year. Today, the firm has nearly 3,000 employees nationwide.

“When we moved into this building, we had 40 people,” Leonhardt says of the Brecksville location in the Smart Business Network article. “Now, in Northeast Ohio, we have like 650. So we’ve outgrown the building.”

On the same day that CC Superior Holding acquired 16 properties between Superior, Payne, East 21st and 22nd, five of those properties on the east side of East 22nd were then transferred over to another company, 2130 Superior Avenue, LLC, that lists to GBX. It owns multiple buildings in the Superior Arts District and is a buyer and seller of historic tax credits.

Andes couldn't comment on the December 2018 property acquisitions and CC Superior Holding's property trading with GBX as he didn't start working with BEK until February 2019.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

CWRU plans $72+ million dorm expansion, more coming

Development of new residential halls could start next year on
Case Western Reserve University-owned parking lots at the
intersection of Murray Hill and Adelbert roads. Renovation
of Fribley Hall is due to start this year. The addition of 600
beds will help the university cope with a growing enroll-
In most years, Case Western Reserve University's (CWRU) freshman classes get bigger. And each year, CWRU looks for ways to accommodate the growth of its enrollment that has surpassed 12,000, compared to 9,600 students in 2000. Their expansion options have involved building new dormitories as well as making it easier for more upperclassmen to live off campus.

But it's been five years since CWRU built a new dorm. That's due to change soon in the South Residential Village where Murray Hill and Adelbert roads intersect. There, two new dorms totaling 600 beds are due to see construction start next year and be completed in 2023, according to administrators and architects who made an on-campus presentation to students this week.

The construction will follow completion of renovations to the neighboring Fribley Hall and surrounding commons which are scheduled to start this year, said Christopher Panichi, director of planning, design and construction at CWRU, at Tuesday's presentation.

In June 2018, CWRU hired the Albert M. Higley Co. as its general contractor for the renovations to 1964-built Fribley Hall and commons, according to a notice of commencement filed by CWRU on Oct. 31, 2019. Higley's project commission expires Sept. 1, 2021, the notice shows. Fribley Hall was last renovated in 2000 but that was limited to the cafeteria.
The north side of Fribley Hall will be opened up with more
glass, facing a renovated commons and where the planned
South Village residence halls will rise. Murray Hill Road is
at right, seen from the Adelbert Road intersection (CWRU).
Then, on CWRU parking lot No. 5 next door to Fribley Hall, the university plans to construct two residence halls costing $72.46 million. They represent phases one and two of the South Residential Village expansion and total up to 185,000 square feet of new facilities, according to CWRU planning documents. These two new buildings will be for second-year students.

Plans for the new residence halls show one-bed rooms would measure 105 square feet and two bed rooms would measure 170 to 171 square feet. Furnishings are proposed to include one or two bed/dressers, wardrobes and desks per room. Students provided input on the layout, decorations and furnishings at Tuesday's meeting.

Between Fribley Hall and the new residence halls will be a new outdoor dining area and expanded Fribley Commons. A loading area for Fribley Hall will be demolished to make way for the expanded commons and to open up the north side of the hall with more glass.

A third phase proposed across the street could follow the construction of the first and second phases. Conceptual plans for the third phase show two connected residential buildings on CWRU parking lot No. 44 between Fribley Hall and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's Cedar-University Red Line rail station that was renovated in 2014. There is no estimated cost yet for the third phase.
This photo taken of a display board at the student input
meeting this week shows the site of a renovated Fribley
Hall, phases one and two of the proposed new residence
halls at right, and the third-phase residence halls at the
top of the image (CWRU/contributed photo).
The timeline for phase three could be accelerated based on enrollment growth, said Panichi and CWRU Director of University Housing John White. The university's long-range plans suggest that construction of new buildings for the South Residential Village could allow CWRU to demolish dorms at the top of the hill in Cleveland Heights.

The land at the top of the hill could then be used for recreation or sold for redevelopment, according to the long-range plan. But given the university's growing enrollment, that plan may be delayed.

The architect for the new South Residential Village dorms is William Rawn Associates of Boston. The firm's portfolio has one local project -- Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Center, 10201 Carnegie Ave. No other housing expansions are planned by CWRU even though additional off-campus leasing of apartments is difficult to secure absent new inventory.

Construction of additional off-campus housing could happen soon with the start of Midwest Development Partners' four-block-large Circle Square development. Although technically the project began with the recent renovation of Fenway Hall at Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street.
Midwest Development Partners' proposed Library Lofts
apartment building at 10553 Euclid Ave. is due to start
construction later this year. It will include a two-story
MLK Branch Library at the building's base (Bialosky).
The first new-build phase of Circle Square is Library Lofts, a planned seven- to 10-story apartment building at 10553 Euclid Ave. above Cleveland Public Library's planned two-story $10 million MLK Branch. That project could see a groundbreaking toward the end of this year.

Under an affiliate Library Lofts LLC, Midwest Development Partners purchased two parcels Jan. 2 from University Circle Inc. for $325,000, according to county records.

The MLK branch library would relocate from a neighboring parcel to avail that site for a future phase of the Center Square development. The old Third District Police Station on Chester Avenue was recently demolished for another, as yet unannounced phase of Circle Square.

Minutes from a recent meeting of the Cleveland Public Library's board of trustees noted that the library has received a letter of credit from Midwest Development Partners. It states that the developer is able to fund the entire Library Lofts project. Most of the funding for the apartments portion is from equity partners, according to the minutes.
Construction is nearly complete on 1609 Hazel Apartments
that will add 110 apartments to the University Circle area for
all interested renters, including CWRU students (CIM).
The last dorm that CWRU constructed was the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Residence Hall, located in the campus' North Residential Village at 1576 E. 115th St., just south of Wade Park Avenue. The upperclassmen hall houses 290 students in 106 apartments.

That doesn't include residential buildings constructed by two other University Circle-area institutions -- the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) and Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). CIA opened the 191-bed Euclid 117 Residence Hall in 2018 exclusively for CIA students.

And, CIM and NewBrook Partners are nearly finished building 1609 Hazel Apartments, which are due to open this year. Although instigated by CIM, anyone can rent one of the 110 apartments there, including CWRU students.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Sherwin-Williams seeks Bedrock site for R&D

A conceptual massing of Bedrock's CityBlock riverfront
site, viewed from the vicinity of Sherwin-William's (SHW)
Breen Technology Center along Canal Road. This is where
SHW is now focusing its efforts to secure land for its new
research center. Also proposed to be in CityBlock's river
front is a hotel, apartments and a significant amount of
public greenspace along the Cuyahoga River, aided by
the removal of part of Canal Road (Vocon/3rd party).

It seems that Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) new research and development (R&D) facility may not wander far from home after all, according to three high-level sources who asked not to be identified.

In light of SHW executives wanting the new R&D facility to be built as close as possible to their company's new headquarters (HQ), the global coatings giant is reportedly in negotiations with Bedrock Cleveland and its lawyers at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP to secure land for its R&D site.

That site, which SHW had previously considered as the runner-up for its expanded and consolidated HQ facilities, is located between Tower City Center and the Cuyahoga River. It was previously considered for Bedrock's phase two casino but Bedrock has since been exiting the casino business.

There, on 19.6 acres of land it owns, Bedrock plans to build the riverfront phase of its CityBlock development featuring a mix of offices, a hotel, apartment towers and possibly SHW's R&D facility.

The first phase of CityBlock is due to start construction this year with a $110 million re-purposing of the existing Avenue portion of Tower City Center as a business incubator. Vocon was hired as Bedrock's architect for CityBlock. It's the same firm that SHW hired for its HQ+R&D project.

The proposed R&D site is next to SHW's existing, primary Cleveland R&D facility, the John G. Breen Technology Center, 601 Canal Rd. Breen, comprised of a 1948-built lab and a 1993-built addition, measures 140,000 square feet and houses about 400 jobs, according to SHW.

SHW has already chosen its HQ site. It has a purchase agreement with the Jacobs Group to acquire the 1.17-acre parking lot on the west side of Public Square for its new HQ office tower. And SHW has a purchase agreement with the Weston Group to acquire the 5.65 acres of parking lots west of the Jacobs lot for potentially shorter office buildings and hundreds of thousand of square feet of parking structures. SHW has spent a great deal of money on the Jacobs/Weston lots in recent months.

The office component of SHW's new HQ would total up to 1.45 million square feet, consolidating as many as 5,000 jobs compared to 3,500 SHW HQ jobs downtown currently. Construction could start early next year.
An overview of various HQ+R&D downtown
Cleveland sites for SHW, be they current, pro-
posed or discarded (Google-KJP).
Compared to the new HQ, finding a site for the R&D facilities has been more problematic for SHW. Sources said the R&D search has delayed the public announcement for both the HQ+R&D.

A public announcement by SHW may be made in mid-February, assuming the company secures the site for its R&D facilities by then. Those facilities would measure 350,000 square feet and consolidate about 1,000 research jobs from several locations in Greater Cleveland and Minneapolis.

A joint venture of the Welty and Gilbane building companies, incorporated last October, could not secure for SHW approximately 9.4 acres of apparently polluted land on Scranton Peninsula owned by Scranton Averell Inc. Welty/Gilbane JV, LLC is leading SHW's efforts to build its new HQ+R&D facilities. Welty/Gilbane previously joined forces in building Goodyear's world HQ in Akron.

The Scranton Peninsula site had been favored by SHW because it was near the new HQ site, offered SHW the opportunity to build the R&D horizontally in a campus-like setting and provide less expensive surface parking (vs. structured parking).

Those efforts shifted to the other side of the river, next to where SHW was founded in 1866. For a large, global, Fortune 500 corporation, SHW is surprisingly sentimental about its history. That includes where SHW was founded and the business principals of its founders that guide the firm to this day.

But while a vertical headquarters might easily fit onto Bedrock's riverfront site, a horizontal R&D "campus" might not. The reason is that Canal Road divides the SHW and Bedrock properties, giving them less elbow room.

So discussions have reportedly been underway for weeks between city, state and Bedrock officials about vacating a portion of Canal Road to provide more depth to the site and potentially integrate the riverfront with a public park, boardwalk and/or walkway, two sources said. The discussions also involve utilizing the existing, 9.2-acre Breen site and whether Bedrock and/or SHW can expand onto that property.
In 2007, prior to Bedrock Cleveland buying Tower City
Center, or planning CityBlock or the phase two casino
before it, Forest City Enterprises offered to build the new
convention center as the Riverview Phase of Tower City
Center. It included building the center over Canal Road
and a station for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
The convention center was rebuilt below the malls (KA).

The reason why city and state officials are involved in the discussions go beyond deciding whether to vacate Canal. There's an increased cost due to the topography and logistics of the Bedrock site that city and state funding would need to defray to make this location economically competitive with less costly yet less-connected alternatives.

Unlike the rejected Scranton Peninsula site that is open and flat, the Bedrock site involves a nearly 50-foot descent from the Tower City parking lot between Huron and Canal roads to the Bedrock parking lot between Canal and the river.

But if SHW chose that site for development of its 1,000-employee R&D facility, it would bolster Bedrock's CityBlock plans for the rest of the riverfront. And Bedrock has significant capital -- potentially $843 million -- to deploy from the recent sale and leaseback of its Cleveland-area casino properties.

CityBlock would also greatly enhance physical interaction between two of downtown's prime public spaces -- the riverfront and Public Square, as well as between SHW's HQ+R&D. Employees could walk between them using outdoor sidewalks or mostly indoor passageways via Tower City Center.

CityBlock was originally proposed as an incubator for digitally based technology start-up firms. Now, its purpose is being broadened to all start-ups. But the original purpose is ironic in light of SHW's R&D facility possibly being part of the riverfront phase. Why is it ironic?

Market research firm Frost & Sullivan recently issued a report showing how the use of digital technologies is transforming the coatings industry, including R&D, sourcing, marketing and even using digital itself as an alternative to traditional paints and coatings.

Lastly, SHW apparently is no longer giving serious consideration to locating its R&D facility in Brecksville. Breckville Mayor Jerry Hruby informed Crain's Cleveland Business reporter Stan Bullard that he hasn't had any conversations with SHW or anyone working on its behalf about locating a SHW facility in his suburb.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Ohio's largest metros are carrying the state's economy

Rays of employment hope shine brightest on Ohio's largest
cities. Without them, Ohio would have lost 18,000 jobs in
the past five years. With them, Ohio gained 227,000 jobs.
And the job growth momentum in Ohio's largest cities,
especially the 3Cs, appears to be increasing (KJP file).
When it comes to describing Ohio's economy, there's the 3Cs and then there's everyone else. With a few exceptions, if you want to find a job in Ohio, the best place to look is Ohio's three largest metropolitan areas -- Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Consider that, since the start of 2015, Ohio has gained 227,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 3Cs accounted for 216,000 of those new jobs.

But it gets more compelling than that. If you add in the employment data from Ohio's next three largest metro areas -- Dayton, Toledo and Akron -- the employment in the state's six largest metro areas grew by 245,000 jobs.

In other words, Ohio would have lost 18,000 jobs in the last five years if it wasn't for Ohio's largest metro areas. It's safe to say that Ohio's six largest metro areas and especially its three largest are carrying the state's economy.

And the 3Cs are sustaining their near-decade-long momentum based on the job growth numbers displayed in the charts posted at the bottom of this article. I began to research that momentum when I wrote an article last month about Cleveland's documented $1.25 billion growth in individual taxable incomes since 2016.

But Cleveland's newfound job growth (after the prior decade's job losses) was doubled by that of Columbus and Cincinnati. All three cities are seeing billions of dollars of real estate investment pouring into their urban centers.

And it's not limited to their downtowns. Long-neglected neighborhoods like Cleveland's Hough, Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine and Columbus' Olde Towne East are seeing investment unlike any era since the 19th century.
Billions of dollars in new investment are pouring
into Ohio cities from local, national and interna-
tional investors. Cleveland has been no exception
as more than a dozen new high-rises are planned
downtown. Plus, numerous mid-rises and single-
family homes and rapidly expanding businesses
are enjoying new investment (APhotoshopman).
In contrast, Ohio's smaller metro areas, smaller cities and rural areas aren't doing as well as their big brothers. Their job growth has slowed, stopped or reversed course in recent years.

While demographers have coined the term "Fifth Migration" to describe the flood of Millennials and, to a lesser extent empty-nesters into America's larger urban centers since before the 2010s, it appears there is another demographic contributing to this ongoing migration pattern more recently.

The new urban migrant is the former small-town and rural resident who is fleeing conditions ranging from stagnant or declining job prospects, to the agglomeration of agribusiness, to the closing of small-town/rural hospitals, to the relatively poorer quality of Internet connections.

The Fifth Migration was detailed in a 2016 report by The Center for Population Dynamics at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University (CSU).

To put this migration into context, the CSU report said the First Migration was the pioneers that settled North America; the Second Migration from farms to the factory towns; the Third Migration to the great metropolitan centers like Cleveland; and the Fourth Migration to the suburbs of these centers.

With the apparent movement of rural Ohioans to its larger cities (and to other cities nationwide), this migration pattern has much in common with the second and third migrations from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

Another factor in this migration pattern that has not been seen in past decades (at least, not since the early 1800s) is the movement of employers and residents from more expensive coastal cities to large, albeit less expensive cities in Ohio. NEOtrans documented this in articles in early 2018 and again in late 2018.
Large and small employers are moving into Ohio's biggest
cities to attract more talent, especially the young, creative
kind. Among those desiring to move in is Cross Country
Mortgage, currently in suburban Brecksville. This fast-
growing employer will reportedly renovate and move
into historic buildings in the Superior Arts District
on the east side of Downtown Cleveland (KJP).
Ohio's 3Cs have big-city amenities without the expense of the coastal cities. As a visitor to Ohio once remarked, "Cleveland is the smallest big city I've ever visited and Cincinnati is the biggest small town I've ever visited."

Ohio's declining small-city, small-town and rural employment situation along with its growing larger metro areas has some important political considerations locally, statewide and nationally as well.

While Cleveland has always been a center of strength for the Democratic Party, Columbus and Cincinnati were not. That is changing. Today, more Democrats are getting elected to municipal and county positions in Greater Columbus and Cincinnati.

But, as more rural residents move to Ohio larger cities, will these cities change the views of these new arrivals or will these migrants change the electorate's voting patterns in Ohio's larger cities? And it remains to be seen how these changes will affect statewide issues like gerrymandering, education and transportation investments or national matters like future presidential races.

Here is a summary of Ohio's employment situation, shown first in numbers and then in charts. Here is the change in employment in Ohio's metro areas over the past five years when Ohio's largest metros increased their employment momentum and all other parts of Ohio either stagnated or declined:


Ohio +227k

Columbus +88k
Cincinnati +85k
Cleveland +43k
Dayton +17k
Toledo +7k
Akron +5k

Wheeling +3k
Canton +2k
Lima +1K
Mansfield 0
Springfield -1k
Huntington -3k
Steubenville -3k
Youngstown -9k

Here are charts showing the changes in employment in Ohio's metro areas in the past decade:


Friday, January 24, 2020

New downtown courthouse tower, nearby jail campus comes into focus

Planning is advancing on four options for rebuilding and/or
replacing downtown Cleveland's massive, undersized and
decaying Justice Center complex. A steering committee
overseeing the planning voted for the four options with
a new courthouse tower downtown plus a new jail
campus somewhere in Cleveland gaining unani-
mous support from the committee (Google).
One of Greater Cleveland's largest real estate development projects is coming into focus. And no, it's not just the Sherwin-Williams headquarters and research facilities. But both are what real estate professionals call "whales."

The other whale is the new 1.7-million-square-foot-plus Justice Center. And based on votes this week by a steering committee of Justice Center stakeholders on how to address the poorly built, crumbling and overcrowded jail, courthouse tower and sheriff's offices, there's going to be a new jail and probably will be a new courthouse tower.

Among nine conceptual options for addressing the inadequate Justice Center which saw its construction begin 46 year ago, only one option received unanimous support from among the 12-person committee. That vote was to build a new downtown courthouse tower and a new, low-rise jail campus probably somewhere in the city of Cleveland.

But three other alternatives also won enough support, albeit not unanimous, for advancing into more detailed study to refine programming as well as operating and construction cost estimates for comparative purposes. These are the options that will be subjected to further refinement, listed from most popular at the top to least popular:

  • New low-rise jail campus and new high-rise urban courthouse;
  • New low-rise jail campus and expand/renovate existing courthouse;
  • New low-rise jail and new mid-rise court on campus site;
  • New Jail 1 next to renovated Jail 2, expand/renovate existing courthouse.

These are the four primary structures at the existing Justice
Center campus, with north to the left (Cuyahoga County).
The existing 2.3-million-square-foot Justice Center opened in 1977 on 7 acres of land between Ontario and West 3rd streets, Lakeside and St. Clair avenues. The planning team that's studying its renovation, expansion or replacement is led by Cleveland-based Project Management Consultants LLC managed by Jeff Appelbaum.

One of the most notable findings by the Justice Center planning team is that a new, more modern and efficient jail combined with central booking and diversion/treatment programs for drug abusers could save the county about $27 million per year in operating costs.

That savings, if used to help service the issuance of construction bonds for the new 800,000-square-foot jail, could pay for 56 to 68 percent of the jail's construction costs, planners said. A new jail campus is projected to cost anywhere from $700 million to $800 million to build. The operating cost savings from a new jail could pay for $392 million to $544 million of the jail's construction costs.

A new Cuyahoga County Sherriff's Department headquarters is estimated to measure just shy of 100,000 square feet, the planning team said.

The Justice Center's 25-story, 420-foot-tall, 600,000-square-foot courthouse tower is in very poor condition. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate it, and by the time that work is done, it will still be a 50-year-old, poorly-built building, planners said. And that cost doesn't take into account expanding it for the domestic relations and housing courts plus other county court-related offices located in other buildings.

Planners said that the courthouse tower needs to measure 877,000 square feet to address overcrowding. A new courthouse could grow by roughly 200,000 square feet if the Eighth District Court of Appeals and the Cuyahoga County Probate Court are also relocated into a new courthouse tower, pending further study.
For those wondering if there is 15 acres available near down-
town Cleveland for a campus-style jail complex, the answer
is a definite "yes" as the vacant land shown in red is owned
by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The blue parcel
is owned by Cleveland Black Oxide Inc. and the narrow,
green parcel is a trench owned by the Greater Cleveland
Regional Transit Authority for its rapid transit rail lines.
If combined, that site alone would suffice for a new jail
campus beyond the edge of downtown (Google/KJP).
If a new courthouse tower were built downtown with its parking in a neighboring structure and the courthouse's floorplates averaging about 25,000 square feet (they're about 29,000 square feet currently), it could be a 35-story building.

If the appellate and probate courts were included, the courthouse tower could rise to about 43 stories tall. If less square footage per floor is planned, the tower could easily eclipse 50 stories.

Cost of a new courthouse tower wasn't provided. But based on the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse Tower built in 2002 and adjusted for inflation, it could range from $400 million to $600 million, depending on the site. No site has been identified, but steering committee members said they want a new courthouse tower to stay as close to the existing Justice Center as possible.

Because the planning team was asked by the steering committee to further study renovating and expanding the existing jails and courthouse, it will add another 60 days to provide detailed cost answers.

Further study of that planning option came at the urging of committee member Brendan Sheehan, administrative judge at the Common Pleas Court. He said the other judges wanted to know the costs involved with that renovation option to compare with the new-build options.

And because all steering committee members acknowledge that the existing Jail 1, built in 1977, is completely inadequate and the Jail 2 at least needs to be renovated, the planning team hoped to begin searching for sites for a new jail campus. That will have to wait until after the refined programming and cost data is developed for the renovation option, perhaps in August.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sherwin-Williams HQ+R&D site news may wait until next month

Sherwin-Williams' consolidated 1.45-million-square-foot head-
quarters will reportedly land on the west side of Public Square.
But the site for a 350,000-square-foot research center remains
undecided and is delaying the HQ announcement as well other
facilities progress. This is an unofficial massing of a proposed
HQ shown as yellow buildings at the center (Geowizical).
A curveball thrown at Sherwin-Williams (SHW) regarding its favored research and development (R&D) facility development site has forced the global coatings giant to postpone announcing where it will put its R&D and headquarters (HQ) facilities.

That's according to sources who spoke off the record because they are not authorized to speak publicly about SHW's efforts to pursue new HQ+R&D facilities.

They said SHW had been preparing to publicly announce the HQ+R&D sites this week. But when SHW's favored site for its 350,000-square-foot R&D facility on Scranton Peninsula turned sour, it began discussions with owners of alternative R&D sites.

It also meant having to delay any public announcements. It is possible that the delay could be until sometime after SHW's annual sales meeting, to be held Feb. 10-12 in Orlando, FL.

The alternative R&D sites were not identified, but sources provided reminders that SHW's C-suite executives prefer to have the R&D facility near its HQ, meaning in or near downtown Cleveland. That preference has been reported in this blog over the past year.

A site in Brecksville, as mentioned here in NEOtrans, remains a possibility but reportedly doesn't rank as highly as sites in the city of Cleveland which SHW has called home since 1866.

Multiple sources say SHW has identified the site for its 1.45-million-square-foot consolidated HQ as the 6.82 acres of parking lots owned by the Jacobs and Weston groups just west of Public Square.
As seen from the Carter Road bridge to Scranton Peninsula,
Sherwin-Williams' Breen Technology Center is in the fore-
ground and its global headquarters is in the background, in
the Landmark Building at the upper right (Iryna Tkachenko).
The site was selected because it is large, clean, level, undeveloped, available and located in the heart of a major city's central business district. It is close to transportation, restaurants, supportive business services and increasing numbers of short-term lodging, extended-stay lodging and residential options.

SHW's HQ+R&D facilities will be developed by a joint venture between Welty Building Co. and Gilbane Building Co. that was incorporated as Welty/Gilbane JV, LLC on Oct. 24, 2019. Welty picked Gilbane on Oct. 8 after soliciting requests for proposals months earlier. Welty was hired by SHW to oversee its HQ+R&D process.

But SHW executives understandably want the facilities situation settled as soon as possible. As noted in SHW's only written, public statement about the HQ+R&D site search, Chairman and CEO John Morikis said that the company has a "a less than optimal configuration of headquarters, offices and R&D facilities across multiple locations."

SHW made that lone public statement Sept. 12, 2019, nearly one year after NEOtrans began reporting on the news that SHW was pursuing a new HQ facility and provided updates on the progress that followed.

Addressing that situation will allow the company to function more efficiently. And the sooner the facilities situation is resolved, the sooner that thousands of SHW employees and, indeed, all of Greater Cleveland can rest easier.

Unfortunately, SHW has not provided since September any official, on-the-record progress reports into its HQ+R&D process for its many interested parties. It's a process that SHW employees and Greater Clevelanders want and even deserve to know about. Nature abhors a vacuum.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Return of the Roaring 20s: downtown Cleveland development

The Lumen apartment tower will be downtown
Cleveland's first skyscraper completed in the
2020s. But it certainly won't be its last. Up to
13 more skyscrapers are in various stages of
planning. See the Cleveland skyline compari-
son photos below to see how much the down-
town skyline could change in the Roaring 20s
Most Downtown Cleveland's skyscraper builders took a nearly 20-year nap between 1992 to 2010. That was after they finished Key Tower and the Fifth Third Bank (formerly Bank One) Tower and they started the Ernst & Young Tower at Flats East Bank.

In that two-decade span, workers built only one building downtown of 20 stories or more -- the 23-story, 430-foot-tall Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse Tower on Huron Road next to Tower City Center.

In the 2010s, they were quite a bit busier building skyscrapers. Their work included the 21-story Ernst & Young tower in 2012, 32-story Hilton Hotel in 2016, 29-story Beacon apartments in 2019 and the 34-story Lumen apartments that were topped off before the 2010s ended. Although The Lumen won't be completed until the end of this year.

Entering the 2020s, early as next year and likely continuing for at least several more years, it's looking more likely that downtown Cleveland will have as many skyscrapers under construction simultaneously as were built in the entire decade prior. Of course, this depends on the local and national economies. It could be a return of the Roaring Twenties for Cleveland.

Nearly a dozen skyscrapers are planned downtown, along with several more buildings in the 10-19 stories range, and a handful of shorter new buildings. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to happen. Even the most well-thought-out plans go awry for the craziest of unanticipated reasons. Some of these are early on in their planning but already have some meaningful financial backing.
The photo above was taken from Lake Erie in 2011, showing
downtown Cleveland when the first of the 2010s skyscrapers
was being built (Ernst & Young tower, at right). Compare that
to what downtown could look like (below) by the end of the

These planned towers are listed in order of the earliest approximate date when they could see groundbreaking:

City Club Apartments (mid- to late-2020): Proposed by the Michigan-based chain City Club Apartments as a 23-story mixed-use tower with 310 apartments and two-story retail/lobby base at 720 Euclid Ave.

Unidentified tower 1 (late-2020, early-2021): plans for residential skyscraper submitted to city for review but cannot be publicized yet.

Unidentified tower 2 (late-2020, early-2021): plans for residential skyscraper submitted to city for review but cannot be publicized yet.

Sherwin-Williams HQ tower (early- to mid-2021): Potentially a 30- to 35-story, 450- to 500-foot-tall global headquarters tower on the Jacobs Group-owned parking lot on the west side of Public Square.

Sherwin-Williams Superblock (early- to mid-2021): Potentially a 5- to 20-story office building, possibly above a multi-level parking deck and/or mixed-use base located on the Weston Group-owned Superblock immediately west of the Jacobs lot.

The Sherwin-Williams headquarters (shown in yellow in the
foreground) just west of Public Square represents one of the
biggest potential skyline changers in the 2020s. It is possible
that two buildings of more than 200 feet (with one approach-
500 feet) could result from that one development. This is an
unofficial massing of the headquarters site (Geowizical).
Unidentified tower 3 (early-2020, mid-2021): plans for a 16-story hotel/residential tower in Flats were submitted to city for review but cannot be publicized yet.

Unidentified tower 4 (mid-2021): plans for office building not yet submitted to city and cannot be publicized yet. May or may not be more than 10 stories, however.

Unidentified tower 5 (mid-2021): plans for office building not yet submitted to city and cannot publicized yet.

Flats East Bank Phase 3 (late-2021): Proposed as a 12-story mid-rise/tower apartment building over shops, restaurants and a theater at Main Avenue and West 11th Street but cash-flow problems experienced by project partner Wolstein Group have delayed this project.

nuCLEus apartment tower (late-2021): Originally proposed in 2014, lead developer Stark Enterprises inability to secure capital especially from public sources has delayed this project, especially its office tower. Project may depend on the Ohio General Assembly's passage of a Transformational Mixed Use Development tax credit which could happen this spring or summer.

nuCLEus office tower (late-2021): As with the apartment tower listed previously, this would be a 24-story tower built atop a pedestal of parking and retail on East 4th Street between Prospect Avenue and Huron Road. But the office tower would be 40 feet taller owing to the higher ceilings in an office configuration.

Lumen Act II (early- to mid-2022): Depending on the progress of leasing (yet to start) at The Lumen that's due to complete construction in late-2020, this second apartment tower for Playhouse Square could rise at the southeast corner of East 13th Street and Chester Avenue. Its proposed height isn't yet known.

Justice Center Courthouse Tower (early to mid-2022): At this time, this may eclipse the Sherwin-Williams HQ tower as the tallest building now being considered for downtown Cleveland based on its projected space needs, estimated today at 877,366 square feet. In a tower with floorplates averaging 25,000 square feet, that could result in a tower of more than 35 stories. It's proposed location, assuming that it is actually built, isn't yet known.
The next skyscraper likely to rise in downtown Cleveland is
the City Club Apartments on Euclid Avenue west of East 9th
Street. Construction could start by the end of 2020 (Vocon).
Now that we've ventured into the future, let's see what got us here. Even the nearly skyscraper-less two decades between 1992-2012 weren't devoid of downtown construction.

Workers were busy downtown building the baseball stadium and basketball/hockey arena at the Gateway complex until 1994, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995, Great Lakes Science Center in 1996, 18-story Crittenden Court Apartments in 1996, 14-story Hampton Inn in 1998, Cleveland Browns stadium in 1999, 11-story Hilton Garden Inn in 2002, 10-story Avenue District condos in 2008, plus lesser projects.

And while the 2010s saw four new-construction high-rises built downtown, it doesn't come close to describing how much construction had occurred there in the last decade. The reason is that most of that construction was actually renovations/conversions of old, obsolete commercial buildings into residential ones.

Consider that, among downtown Cleveland's 37 residential buildings 100 feet or taller, 21 of those were built as residential or were converted into residential since 2010. Only two of those involved new construction.

The supply of historic yet obsolete commercial buildings available for conversion is dwindling yet the market for more housing downtown remains strong. A recent market analysis shows another 6,800 downtown residential units are needed by 2030. To meet that demand would require building the equivalent of another 21 Lumen-sized apartment towers.

Cleveland's recent job growth and dwindling supply of obsolete commercial buildings is timely. It coincides with new financial tools like the Opportunity Zone tax breaks or that real estate investment trusts are willing to take lower, longer-term returns. And if Ohio approves the Transformational Mixed Use Development tax credit, the floodgates of megaprojects may open up.

So it should be of little surprise that new construction is taking over from what the renovations/conversions started. There would have been more than 20 construction cranes above downtown Cleveland in the 2010s if there wasn't a large inventory of obsolete commercial buildings to convert into residential.

Now that this supply is running low, the arrival of the Roaring 20s means the arrival of the downtown Cleveland construction crane is at hand.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Cleveland & Brecksville vie for Sherwin-Williams R&D after deal dies

Scranton Peninsula is a blank canvas waiting for developers
to make their mark. That is starting to happen on the 22 acres
of the Thunderbird site in the foreground. But another 60 acres
belong to Scranton Averell and lack any development plans.
Nine of those acres were sought by Sherwin-Williams for its
new research center but that deal is now dead (Aerial Agents).
Three sources confirm that a deal for Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) favored site in Cleveland for a consolidated research and development (R&D) facility is dead. Now, the question is where will the facility staffed by about 1,000 scientists, engineers and researchers land?

City and state officials, including Mayor Frank Jackson, met with SHW executives at least twice in the past week upon learning that the planned new R&D facility was at risk of leaving Cleveland, two of the sources said. But there is no word that any new sites in Cleveland were of interest to SHW.

The clock is ticking, however. SHW executives reportedly want to announce their new headquarters (HQ) and R&D facilities in the coming week.

It is worth noting that this uncertainty doesn't extend to SHW's HQ. The massive, 1.45-million-square-foot HQ will be on the parking lots owned by Jacobs and Weston groups west of Public Square in downtown Cleveland, multiple sources say. The HQ will consolidate up to 5,000 employees from multiple offices throughout Northeast Ohio and even from other states.

The site SHW wanted for its new 350,000-square-foot R&D facility is on about 9.4 acres at 1840-1888 Carter Rd. on Scranton Peninsula in the Flats. It's a floodplain across the Cuyahoga River from Tower City Center that has been home to foundries and mills since before the Civil War.

And the site reportedly has lots of environmental problems wrought by 170 years of industrial activity. Toxins from that activity remain in the soil and must be cleaned and/or covered by new, clean fill dirt before new uses can be built there.

Landing a company with deep pockets and a thousand well-paid R&D employees seemed like a wonderful motivation to finally get that land cleaned and redeveloped after languishing for decades.

As seen from the Carter Road bridge to Scranton Peninsula,
Sherwin-Williams' Breen Technology Center is in the fore-
ground and its global headquarters is in the background, in
the Landmark Building at the upper right (Iryna Tkachenko).
But two sources said the land owner, Scranton Averell Inc., appears content collecting leases from tenants like a truck terminal and a boat storage facility. Not everyone agrees those are the highest and best uses for a downtown riverfront in a city trying to move forward in the post-industrial era, however.

A well-known Cleveland developer who agreed to speak off the record confirmed that the SHW deal with Scranton Averell was dead and put the onus on Scranton Averell President Thomas Stickney.

Another real estate source said that, while he would have liked to have seen SHW's R&D facility on Scranton Peninsula, he said that there are other developers who are pursuing many smaller-scale projects on numerous Flats properties nearby.

But when asked if that included Scranton Averell's other properties, he wrote "No...not at all LOL ...everything except their land." He described Scranton Averell's board meetings as being "like family reunions" and not held often.

An e-mail seeking comment from Stickney, sent to his Rocky River law firm's main email, was not responded to prior to publication of this article. The e-mail also included a read-receipt, to which there also was no response.

In fairness, Scranton Averell probably wasn't going to profit by spending millions of dollars to clean its land prior to a sale that might yield a similar amount. SHW probably wasn't going to spend that money either, not when cleaner alternative sites exist elsewhere in the city and even more in the suburbs.

That means that the city, county and state would have to come up with the cleanup funds. Ward 12 City Councilman Tony Brancatelli who chairs council's Development Planning & Sustainability Committee said the city has offered business development incentives to SHW but would not comment on the substance of discussions with SHW at this time.
Valor Acres is the former Veterans Administration Hospital
site in Brecksville, located in southern Cuyahoga County.
Planned are hundreds of thousands of square feet of offices,
restaurants, shops and parking (DiGeronimo Companies).
Cuyahoga County has hired Ulmer & Bern LLP to finalize a framework of as yet unidentified incentives pledged to SHW for its new HQ and possibly its R&D facility as well.

Last spring, a representative of the DiGeronomo family said they were in contact with SHW about locating its R&D facility and possibly the HQ at Valor Acres in Brecksville, set in southern Cuyahoga County.

Valor Acres is the former Veterans Administration Hospital that was closed in 2011 and relocated to Cleveland's University Circle. The VA Hospital land was donated to the City of Brecksville.

DiGeronimo Companies won the rights to develop the 103-acre VA site. The company also spent million of dollars over the last two years to clear and clean the property so that it is development-ready.

The DiGeronimo representative would not comment on whether SHW has chosen Valor Acres for its R&D facility.

That facility would consolidate 400 research jobs out of SHW's John G. Breen Technology Center on Canal Road in downtown Cleveland, up to 400 former Valspar Corp. R&D jobs out of Minneapolis, and potentially several hundred research jobs from SHW's Automotive and Performance Coatings groups in Warrensville Heights.

David Ebersole, Cleveland's director of economic development, also would not comment.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Two new jobs that could change Cleveland's landscape forever

Cleveland State University's $48 million, 100,000-square-foot
Center for Innovations in Medical Professions Building that
opened in 2015 was a toe in the water for the university. It is
taking a deeper dive into health care research and education
that, along with another new bit of news, could transform the
region's economy (CSU). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE
The creation of two jobs can change a region in a significant way. Cases in point are two medically related positions -- one that was just filled and the other that was recently advertised.

Yesterday, Cleveland State University (CSU) hired a new employee that will probably be a game changer for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. It could ultimately lead to thousands of new jobs. Yes, thousands.

And, weeks ago, Canon Medical Research USA Inc. posted a job listing for a new position at its Cleveland-area offices -- director, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research and development (R&D). It could also lead to thousands of new jobs in the future.

First, let's delve into the more immediate news that CSU has hired Forrest Faison III, former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral and served as the 38th Surgeon General of the Navy and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from 2015 to 2019.

He was named senior vice president for research & innovation/chief healthcare strategy officer at CSU. According to a CSU press release, he will oversee the broad effort to unify and expand the university's educational, outreach and scholarship efforts in all aspects of health care, while spurring the continued growth of Cleveland as a center for medical innovation.

Consider that there is only one publicly funded medical school in Northeast Ohio -- the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) way out in Rootstown, between Akron and Youngstown.

CSU recently partnered with NEOMED to create the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health, which has its physical presence in the 2015-built Center for Innovations in Medical Professions Building at the southwest corner of Euclid Avenue and East 22nd Street.
With the hiring of Forrest Faison, CSU is launching a bold
and ambitious effort to position itself as one of the nation's
notable medical and health care research centers (Google).
The 100,000-square-foot, $48 million building also houses CSU's College of Sciences and Health Professions as well is the CSU School of Nursing. The first medical students to graduate from NEOMED-CSU were in 2018. And the program is small -- only 35 students. Consider that effort a toe-in-the-water for a grander vision that CSU has in mind.

Yes, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) has a medical school but it's not a publicly funded school. Its tuition is beyond the reach of some potential applicants who end up in state schools in other cities.

While Cleveland Clinic gets medical students and interns through CWRU, University Hospitals Health System (UHHS) and the MetroHealth System have to import most of their medical students from outside the region.

That's part of what Faison will seek to address. He will develop new pathways and strategies designed to enhance the university’s status as a nationally recognized urban research university. Faison's national and even global stature immediately puts CSU on the medical education map.

Some potential outcomes?

Look for significant new medical school and research buildings constructed on CSU's downtown Cleveland campus in the coming years, said a source closely connected to this effort, but who was not authorized to speak publicly yet on it.

The new medical school and research facilities will likely feature thousands of students and research jobs and be a magnet for many millions of dollars of state and federal funding for education and research.

Not only will CSU's effort provide a steady and voluminous supply of students and interns for UHHS and MetroHealth, but it will likely strengthen the region's already robust healthcare research scene, the source said.
Cranes tower over MetroHealth's new $1.2 billion campus on
West 25th Street in Cleveland. It is probable that a similar
scene will soon exist on CSU's campus as the university
greatly expands its medical education and health care
research presence in Cleveland (UrbanOhio).
“(Faison's) leadership will also be critical to further our efforts to create the health care programs, technologies and workforce that will improve the lives of people throughout the community and enhance the continued advancement of the regional economy,” said CSU President Harlan Sands.

"Welcome to Cleveland, Forrest," said Akram Boutros, president and CEO of MetroHealth on Twitter. "All of us at MetroHealth look forward to working with you and your team at CSU."

Simultaneously yet independently, Canon Medical Research USA's desired hiring of a director of MRI R&D could also have significant future ramifications for Greater Cleveland's economy. First, let's consider where Canon is coming from.

Canon, long known for cameras and copiers, has wanted to expand its presence in the medical imaging business in a big way. So in 2016 they acquired industry giant Toshiba Medical Systems for $6 billion. Underneath Canon Medical System's big umbrella is tiny Canon Medical Research USA, based in Greater Los Angeles.

And last fall, Canon acquired Quality Electrodynamics LLC (QED) of Mayfield Village. Canon has designated its medical business as a new business that will expand and drive future growth for the company. The acquisition of QED furthers this strategy.

“This new relationship is a tremendous opportunity for QED and its 175 associates to continue to add new customers and products and will further drive QED’s growth and employment levels in northeast Ohio,” said QED Board member Albert B. Ratner in a written statement.

Canon's goal is to develop its research arm so that it isn't tiny anymore. Indeed, they want it to be a giant in medical imaging and an expanded R&D program will get them there. Interestingly, between Canon Medical Research USA's two principal R&D locations -- Chicagoland and Greater Cleveland -- the site where this director of R&D will be based is in Greater Cleveland.

That's a great sign for the potential expansion of this significant R&D activity. And, when combined with CSU's commitment to medical education and research, as well as CWRU's and Cleveland Clinic's established medical research capabilities, it's a sign that Greater Cleveland is on a path to strengthen its global position in this growing field.