Saturday, February 29, 2020

Rents, tours announced for Ohio's tallest residential tower

The Lumen, now without its construction
crane, looks almost complete from the out-
side as it towers over Euclid Avenue and Play-
house Square. A screen and a storefront will
be added to the facade of The Lumen's park-
ing garage at right (Clifton Haworth).
The construction crane for The Lumen apartment tower in Cleveland's Playhouse Square (PHS) came down last month as the skyscraper topped out. Starting next month, the curtain goes up for the marketing and leasing of Ohio's tallest residential tower.

Preliminary rents for 318-unit building were released via this week and public hard-hat tours of the 34-story, 396-foot-tall skyscraper start next week, with the first few tours already sold out. A temporary leasing office for The Lumen was opened at 1501 Euclid Ave., Suite 112, across the street from the tower that's located at 1600 Euclid.

The tours start March 3 and end July 21. They are offered Mondays through Thursdays most weeks. Each date sells out when the total number of people on each tour date reaches 10 persons. Participants will wear hard hats as The Lumen is still an active construction site until the latter half of the year, although residents may start moving in starting this summer.

People can book their hard-hat tours via this Eventbrite page.

Meanwhile, preliminary rents for The Lumen became known when a listing page for the building was published at However, The Lumen doesn't yet show up on's map or on other popular sites like or The rents aren't yet published on PHS's web page about The Lumen.

Although a new site for The Lumen is scheduled to go live this week, a Lumen Web site produced by Greystar Worldwide, LLC is already live. PHS Foundation hired Greystar to provide leasing and management functions for the apartment tower.
Downtown Cleveland's three tallest apartment towers are in
this January photo -- sort of. In the distance at center is The
Lumen. To the right of it is The 9. And the photo was taken
from the residents-only rooftop amenity deck atop The
Beacon apartment tower (Matthew Sexton).
"Next week our Web site is launching and we will begin our pre-leasing," said Matt McClung, senior community manager at Greystar for The Lumen.'s information shows that most one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments measuring from 601 to 912 square feet would rent in the $1,525 to $2,143 range. That's a price per square foot of $2.35 to $2.54.

Similarly, two-bedroom, two-bath apartments measuring from 1,113 to 1,236 square feet may be offered in the $2,572 to $2700 range. That means they could rent anywhere from $2.18 to $2.31 per square foot.

"Those prices are close to accurate," McClung said. "I think those prices got published by before we finalized prices."

There are six penthouse units in The Lumen measuring 1,211 to 1,932 square feet with rents within a few pennies of $3.80 per square foot, according to

Those preliminary figures put The Lumen's rents in the ballpark with The Beacon's, a 28-story, 350-foot-tall tower that officially opened in November 2019. The Beacon, at 515 Euclid, was the first new-construction, 20-plus-story apartment tower to open downtown since the twin 23-story Park Centre (now Reserve Square) towers were built in 1969, according to listing for The Lumen.
The Beacon's Web site shows one-bedroom, one-bath apartments measuring 800 to 1,031 square feet with prices in the $2,175-$3,524 range. That works out to $2.11 to $4.41 per square foot. Two-bedroom, two-bath apartments in The Beacon, measuring 1,164 to 1,498 square feet and priced from $2,674 to $5,193. That's a price per square foot of $2.30 to $4.04.

As of last week, salespersons at The Beacon say the building is about 50 percent leased despite it having among the highest rents downtown and it being available for occupancy for less than a year. That bodes very well for The Lumen.

One of the first apartment towers downtown to crack the $2 per square foot threshold was The 9, 2017 E. 9th St. Although The 9 opened in 2015, the 29-story, 383-foot-tall tower was built in 1971 as the headquarters for the Cleveland Trust Co., later Ameritrust. As an apartment building, it leased out in about a year. Its success aided the development of the Beacon and Lumen, according to real estate insiders.

The Lumen was built on a surface parking lot at the corner of Euclid and East 17th Street. Surface parking lots in downtown Cleveland are increasingly being targeted for significant developments including the new Sherwin-Williams headquarters, the City Club Apartments tower and more.

Another parking lot could be eliminated if The Lumen leases at a pace that meets or exceeds expectations of PHS Foundation officials. Two sources say PHS officials are considering building a second apartment tower on land owned by the foundation at the southeast corner of East 13th Street and Chester Avenue -- if The Lumen is a commercial success.

But Cindi Szymanski, assistant director brand marketing and communications at PHS disputed that rumor.

"There is absolutely no truth to the rumor you mentioned," she said.

PHS officials have said that increasing the number of residents in the theater district will make it a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood, increase economic vitality and foster a stronger destination in the heart of the city. These real estate investments also build a working endowment to help secure the future of PHS's eight theaters.


City Block project at Tower City faces challenges post-SHW

An artists' rendering of a new entrance for Tower City Center's
Avenue shopping center, after renovations convert it into City
Block, a business incubator. This is the proposed new main
entrance and public plaza on Prospect Avenue (Vocon).
One of the downtown properties in the running for Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters plus research and development (HQ+R&D) facilities was Bedrock Cleveland's Tower City Center.

But when SHW chose to put its HQ elsewhere downtown and its R&D facilities in Brecksville, Bedrock lost out on landing a major anchor tenant for its ambitious, multi-phase City Block development, located in and south of Tower City Center.

Two sources said that SHW's decisions have caused Bedrock to review its options about the City Block project, especially the riverside phase, and to suspend pre-development planning work.  It is not known if this applies to The Avenue shopping mall portion of Tower City.

The goal has been to redevelop the 350,000-square-foot retail portion of Tower City Center into a $110 million entrepreneurship hub where new and emerging businesses or people seeking to monetize commercial ideas could interact, get expert advice and more easily access capital. However, no leases have been signed for this portion of City Block either, sources said.

That would be the first phase of the City Block plan. Later phases envision an office building, hotel and apartment buildings between Huron Road and the Cuyahoga River, featuring lots of riverside greenspace. The SHW HQ and/or R&D would have served as the anchor for those plans. Without it, the two sources said Bedrock is no longer actively working on City Block pre-development activities.
The riverside phase of City Block, featuring a hotel, apartment
buildings, office building and public parks (Vocon).
But tech entrepreneur and City Block promoter Bernie Moreno disputed the rumors.

"100 percent not true," he said. "If anything, Bedrock is dramatically more engaged in making it happen than ever before."

Although Moreno declined to discuss specifics on leasing activities, including what tenants are being pursued, he said Bedrock's leasing efforts are active.

"Bedrock is working on that part," he said. "We have lots and lots of soft commitments. Signing LOIs (letters of intent) is the next step."

To underscore the case that City Block is an active project, the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) will relocate to Playhouse Square in 2021 after a 30-year run at Tower City Center. Presumably, the move was motivated at least in part by the pending renovation work of Tower City into City Block, although CIFF's press release makes no mention of it.

Ken Till, Bedrock's vice president of development could not be reached for comment.
The image shows conceptual interior renovations and redesign
of Tower City Center's Avenue shopping mall into a hub for
entrepreneurs while retaining some retail on site (Vocon).
Moreno is founder of BlockLand Cleveland the Blockland Solutions Conference and an advocate of blockchain technologies to safeguard and enhance business transactions, record keeping, sales and more.

He sold seven car dealerships in April 2019 to focus his business activities on blockchain technology as a way of securing the transfer of titles for cars but saw its value in other areas. Car dealership sale amounts were not disclosed but could be in excess of $100 million total.

The USA is lagging behind the rest of the world in blockchain development due to lack of standardization, unfamiliarity with the technology, lack of regulatory coordination and relatively slower transaction speeds.

Moreno announced the Tower City site for City Block last summer amid much fanfare. As SHW narrowed its list of potential HQ+R&D sites in October, Bedrock sold its casino businesses including selling off and leasing back its Cleveland-area casinos, raising $843 million in capital in the process.
Tower City Center's The Avenue has been
the hub of downtown shopping since its
conversion from the Cleveland Union
Terminal railroad station 30 years ago.
It retained the rapid transit station
but the retail components faded
away due to high rents, urban
sprawl and new technologies
affecting retail (KJP).
Much of that capital may stay with Bedrock's Rock Ohio Ventures rather than be used for any Bedrock investments outside of Cleveland. If so, Bedrock could use it to develop its Cleveland properties including Tower City/City Block or pursue other local opportunities.

"The combined efforts of our gaming properties together with the other Cleveland assets operated by our sister companies including the Cavs, Avenue Shops at Tower City and the May Company Building, have created a strong connection to the city and allows us to remain heavily committed to the Cleveland area," said Mark Dunkeson, CEO of JACK Entertainment, in an October press release.

JACK Entertainment, like Bedrock, is under Chairman Dan Gilbert's Rock Holdings umbrella.

"We will continue to invest significant capital into these properties which will have a lasting positive impact on the city and Cuyahoga County," Dunkeson added.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Fulton Road deadzone to be enlivened by trails, rails & housing

Property map of the deadzone between the Ohio City and Clark-
Fulton neighborhoods, showing some of the key sites that may
come into play in this area's re-activation (Cuyahoga County).

Between Cleveland's growing Ohio City and Clark-Fulton neighorhoods is a deadzone of railroad tracks, a 10-lane Interstate highway, scrap recycling businesses and two historic cemeteries. But efforts are gearing up to pump new life into this area.

Knez Homes is seeking approvals from the City of Cleveland to build one of its largest townhome developments in the city so far. As proposed, Fulton Row Townhomes would add 58 townhouses to vacant land the west side of Fulton Road, between the 180-year-old Willet Street Cemetery and the Norfolk Southern Corp. railroad tracks. Fulton's original name was Willet.

Through an affiliate Nascent Land Development, LLC, Knez bought 2.1 acres of land in 2017 for $135,000, according to county records. The low price reflects the decades-long lack of real estate activity in this tired-looking neighborhood of aging, modest wood-frame homes, underutilized light industries, vacant houses and empty lots. The Knez property previously was a car junkyard.

Knez and others aim to pump new blood into this area. The townhomes Knez proposes would be market-rate and measure about 1,700 to 2,000 square feet each, said Bo Knez, founder and president of Knez Homes.

"We purchased the property a long time ago, anticipating Ohio City's growth in that direction," Knez said. "We've built a lot of homes in Ohio City. With the demand that we have there, we don't have anything unfinished and unsold in Ohio City."

Just north of the Knez site and approaching Lorain Avenue, the old Tinnerman Building was acquired and will soon be redeveloped into 53 apartments by the Dalad Group of Independence. The Tinnerman Building, 2038 Fulton, was the home of the Tinnerman Steel Range Co. from 1880-1957 when it moved to a new plant on Brookpark Road.
Site plan for Knez Homes' Fulton Row Townhomes, off
Fulton Road in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood (Sixmo).
Comparably sized new homes within a half-mile of the Knez's Fulton Row Townhomes site are listing in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, according to But the listings show there aren't that many new homes available for sale in the immediate area -- for now.

Across Fulton from the Knez property is a 7.5-acre scrapyard owned by ScrapCom Real Estate Holdings Ohio, Ltd., formerly the American Can Co. factory. It is located at 3301 Monroe Ave. and next to the 13.6-acre, 202-year-old Monroe Street Cemetery.

The scrapyard property features 149,000 square feet of former can factory buildings. One of those is a two-story brick factory office building fronting the sidewalk of Monroe -- the type of building that developers have renovated into housing throughout Cleveland's 19th- and early 20th-century neighborhoods.

Three sources who agreed to speak off the record say Cleveland-based NRP Group, one of the nation's largest developers of apartment complexes, is considering doing just that. Also under consideration is redeveloping the rest of the large site with new-construction residential units and possibly other uses.

Taylor Brown, president of NRP Construction LLC did not respond to an e-mail seeking confirmation and additional information prior to publication.

For tax purposes, Cuyahoga County in 2019 appraised the ScrapCom property at  $370,000 compared to $821,700 in 1996. The property's low-point in terms of property values was $338,700 in 2013, county records show.
Vacant offices for the American Can Co. factory on Monroe
Street at Fulton Road are emblematic of this area -- untapped
potential. But investment could soon pour into this neglected
corner of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood (Google).
A mix of market-rate and tax-credit units are proposed, according to the sources. The tax-credit units are being sought as housing in Ohio City has become relatively expensive. So NRP Group reportedly would like to include affordable units in its project, although the number of units is not publicly known.

More details could become available when applications are submitted for the next round of Ohio Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Since the competitive 9 percent LIHTC is reportedly being sought -- as opposed to the non-competitive 4 percent credit -- the applications may not become public until February 2021. The credits help subsidize construction, renovation or property acquisition costs.

Two modes of transportation skirt along the south side of the ScrapCom, Knez and Norfolk Southern properties. One is the Red Line rapid transit tracks between the Airport-Downtown-Windermere. The other is the Red Line Greenway linking the Zone Recreation Center near the West 65th-Lorain rail station and the Cuyahoga River valley near the West 25th-Ohio City station.

Construction is underway on the Cleveland Metroparks' $13 million Red Line Greenway, comprised of a paved trail and linear park along the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's (GCRTA) Red Line tracks. Work on the greenway is due to be completed in March 2021.

The scale of NRP's proposed development is apparently large enough to prompt preliminary discussions with GCRTA about constructing an infill rail station at or west of Fulton. The station could also provide an access point to the greenway from Fulton. A new station could cost anywhere from $10 million to $20 million to build, based on other recent GCRTA station projects.
The southwest corner of Fulton and Bailey Avenue, where
Knez's Fulton Row will rise, is an overgrown lot today. This
view looks south toward Fulton's overpass of the Red Line
rapid transit tracks and the Red Line Greenway (Google).
"RTA confirmed that there were preliminary discussions with the NRP Group regarding a new station at that location," said GCRTA spokesperson Linda Scardilli Krecic in an e-mail. "RTA awaits further information from the developer to determine the viability of expanding service in that area."

An infill station was proposed here in the early 1970s west of Fulton, and not just because it's in the middle of the longest stretch of the Red Line without a station -- almost 2 miles. Under Mayor Carl Stokes, City Planning Director Norm Krumholz proposed the station and high-rise apartment buildings above a new rapid transit station next to Interstate 90.

Those efforts five decades ago progressed far enough to where GCRTA's predecessor, the Cleveland Transit System, acquired nearly 2 acres of land for the station and supportive development. But the work progressed no further. GCRTA still owns that land.

The ScrapCom property and the new Knez development aren't the only current/former scrapyards that may be destined for new uses. CBRE, the real estate broker for the Caraustar recycling facility on the south side of the tracks at 3400 Vega Ave., is calling for offers by March 6 to acquire the 5-acre property. Brick structures on site were built starting in 1873 for the Isaac Leisy & Co. Brewery.

Knez was asked about the possibility of a Red Line station at Fulton and said he was supportive of the idea.

"I don't know if our 58 (townhome) units would be enough to support it," he said. "It would be great for getting downtown and to the airport or University Circle. I'm a big believer in mass transit."


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Building for-sale housing in downtown Cleveland is a test

Phase two of Knez Homes' Avenue Townhomes along the north
side of Superior Avenue between East 14th and 15th streets is
due to start construction this spring. Knez is building the first
for-sale housing downtown since the Great Recession ended.
Other developers have noticed the success that Knez is having
with its pace of its sales and price points. (City Architecture).
Developers are facing tests and building tests as they try to address the long-standing lack of for-sale housing in downtown Cleveland. To address that shortcoming in this local and national market, developers and investors have endured a test of wills and finances.

So, in turn, it has required them to create their own kind of test -- like a toe in the water. Those tests have begun and could soon reap some intriguing results, including more for-sale housing projects.

The lack of for-sale options in multi-family developments built since the Great Recession is a national situation. The reason why downtown Cleveland has such a small for-sale housing inventory is because downtown Cleveland had a small overall housing inventory to begin with, and it's still playing catch-up to national averages among big cities, studies and industry experts say.

Cleveland's game of catch-up is happening in the post-Great Recession era in which builders nationwide are adding 20,000 to 30,000 new condominiums per year in the 2010s versus 60,000 to 70,000 per year in the decade before.

For-sale, multi-family housing is more expensive and complicated to build than apartments. Materials have to meet higher standards and financing is harder to get. Insurance costs are also greater because of the risk of lawsuits over construction defects.

Builders can make more money with apartments because they usually keep the building after they build them. They don't turn ownership of the property over to a condo association when they're done, said real estate consultant Zak Baris, president of Comprehensive Zoning Services.

"The for-rent market downtown is more of a guarantee right now," Baris said. "With downtown residential occupancies in the 90s (percentile range), you're pretty much guaranteed (that) your building is going to fill up if you build it well and price it right."

He noted that nascent efforts in the 2000s to develop condos in and near downtown Cleveland -- Pinnacle, the lawsuit-plagued Stonebridge and Avenue District developments and the never-built District Park on West 9th Street -- never recovered from the Great Recession. It's an enduring post-recession story for the nation and especially for downtown Cleveland.
District Park condominiums was a three-phase develop-
ment on West 9th Street between the Bingham and the
Archer apartment buildings. To be built by Marous
Brothers Construction, pre-sales had already started
when steel prices skyrocketed and the project was
canceled in 2004 (
Because of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules established during the Great Recession, lenders require that developers get 50 percent pre-sales for owner-occupied units before they will approve financing for a condominium project. Although FHA relaxed some condo financing rules since then, the 50 percent pre-sale requirement remains.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a market for for-sale housing in the heart of Cleveland's central business district (CBD). Baris and others believe there is, despite tight-fisted lenders.

"There's almost nothing (housing-wise) in the central business district market to buy and, where there is, there's no abatement in it," Baris said. "Abatements on the condo buildings built before the recession are expiring. A big factor to living downtown is the 15-year property tax abatement. Would you rather pay $20,000 a year in property taxes or zero?"

To break the ice in the downtown for-sale housing market requires a test project. It requires someone who is willing to build small at first and/or spend their own cash to build a for-sale housing project to prove to lenders that the CBD market is ready for condos and townhomes after a decade-plus hiatus.

First to break the for-sale housing ice downtown was Knez Homes. It is finishing work on 12 attached residences at Superior Avenue and East 13th Street in what is called the Avenue District. All but three have sold, commanding sale amounts of near $500,000 or $250 per square foot, according to Knez's Web site as of Feb. 23.

Knez is gearing up for a spring groundbreaking on the next phase of his Avenue District development -- 27 units of attached townhomes just east of the first phase. The four-story, for-sale residences will range in size from 1,900 to 2,800 square feet. Prices aren't listed yet but are likely to be similar to those in the first phase.

The Avenue District first hit the headlines 15 years ago as an ambitious, multi-block project led by the Zaremba Group. The plan featured a mix of multi-story apartment and condo buildings as well as clusters of townhouses.

The 100-year-old real estate firm with a strong track record of development built a 62-unit, 10-story condo building on St. Clair Avenue at at East 12th Street. The building opened in 2008 just as the nation was slipping into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Avenue District townhouses built by three different developers
at different stages of maturation for the downtown Cleveland
real estate market are represented here. At the upper left are
the first townhouses built by the Avenue District's original
developer, Zaremba Group, prior to the Great Recession.
At top are the for-rent Milton Townhomes built by Brent
Zimmerman in 2016. And near the bottom-center are the
for-sale Avenue Townhomes built by Knez Homes. The
open site at center-right is where Knez's next phase will
see construction this spring (Paul J. Heney).
Banks refused to make loans so few condos sold. Contractors filed a foreclosure suit over non-payment and potential condo customers evaporated. Only five of the 62 condos sold. It cost $25 million to build the tower in 2006, according to documents with the Eighth District Court of Appeals of Ohio pertaining to Zaremba's oversight of the project.

Last year, Geis bought for $15 million the 10-story Avenue District multi-family building at the northeast corner of St. Clair and East 12th, county records show. The Avenue District condo tower was converted to rentals.

Knez's success in selling townhomes downtown at price points upwards of $250 per square foot has been an encouraging situation. But is Knez encouraged to consider building more for-sale housing downtown?

"We are but I can't say what it is or where," said Bo Knez, founder and president of Concord-based Knez Homes. "But downtown is a big focal point of our efforts."

One developer encouraged by Knez's success is Geis Companies of Streetsboro. When Geis acquired the 10-story Avenue District building, it included a foundation for a future building next door, at 1325 E. 12th, just south of Hamilton Avenue.

That's where Geis began construction in January for 12th+AVE, a five-floor, 31-unit condo building at the edge of the CBD. It measures about 70,000 square feet and, at current construction costs for a high-end condo building, likely represents a $16 million to $18 million development.

That's a significant cash outlay by Geis to reignite the downtown condo market but it was obviously a necessary move in order to get around lenders' 50 percent pre-sale requirement for condo sales.

All the units at 12th+AVE have balconies and high-quality finishes. The building has attached parking, a fitness center, dog park, concierge, a courtesy driver, business center, rooftop deck, grille, fire pit, bocce court and more. Condos range in size from 1,147 to 2,495 square feet with list prices from $300,000 to $685,000. An August move-in date is projected.
This may be a test of the downtown Cleveland condominium
market and it's called 12th+AVE. This condo development is
located in The Avenue District, just across East 12th Street
from the 40-story Erieview Plaza tower (GLSD).
It's too soon to judge sales yet at 12th+AVE. But if most of the condos sell at a pace and at prices that meet or exceed expectations, look for Geis to pursue another condo project in the CBD. There has been some speculation as to where.

Several e-mails and text messages were made to Geis representatives requesting comment for this article. None were returned.

Two other former Avenue District properties were acquired from Zaremba for future development. Under the name St. Clair Parking Lots LLC, Weston Group acquired one parcel each on either side of St. Clair, between East 12th and 13th.

Two sources say Weston plans to build a mid-rise apartment building on the south side of St. Clair at East 12th. Weston CEO James Asher did not return a phone call seeking confirmation and comment prior to publication.

Developer and businessman Brent Zimmerman said he tried to no avail to convince Weston officials to develop the south side parcel with for-sale residences such as brownstones to attract more wealthy residents to live downtown.

Zimmerman, through an affiliate company Jobu Needs A Refill LLC, built in 2016 for-rent townhomes along the east side of East 15th Street, between Superior and Rockwell avenues. Called The Milton Townhomes, they are managed by Geis Residential Management LLC. It took a while for them to lease out.

"They are full now," Zimmerman said. "Unfortunately they were behind schedule and we started renting them out in February. So it was slower than we wanted."
Construction has started on Geis' 12th+AVE condominiums in
the Avenue District and across East 12th Street from the
 Erieview Plaza tower. The first condos will be ready
for occupancy as early as this August (CZS).
Another place where for-rent townhomes are proposed is on the lakefront development site north of First Energy Stadium. Cumberland Development CEO Richard Pace said he can't offer for-sale housing there because he can't sell homes set on city-owned land. Cumberland has a 99-year ground lease with the city for the lakefront site.

The for-sale restriction was disputed by Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack who represents downtown.

"Not true," he said. "I've never heard that before. The for-sale housing issue downtown is not one of government regulation. It's a banking and finance issue."

So, for those wanting a for-sale, tax-abated home downtown, the efforts by Knez and Geis appear to be the only ones on the table for now. But that could change soon.

"It's taken pioneers to build for-sale housing downtown," Baris said. "There's a lot of interest so far in what these developers are doing. After Sherwin-Williams gives a firm date for building its new headquarters downtown, with the stability of the real estate market and the recent growth in jobs, we might see others try to enter the for-sale market downtown."

It's not for a lack of awareness about the lack of for-sale housing.

Crain's Cleveland Business wrote in 2015 about downtown's lack of for-sale housing. The Plain Dealer wrote about it two years later. The following year, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) noted in a 2018 study that Downtown Cleveland was late to the residential boom happening in big-city downtowns nationwide.
The "backyard" of Geis' new 12th+AVE condo development
on East 12th Street features a dog park and surface parking
above an underground, attached parking area (GLSD).
While other cities' downtowns were growing, the Brookings Institution said downtown Cleveland's population fell from 9,078 in 1970 to 7,261 in 1990, before recovering to 9,599 in 2000, for just a 5 percent gain for the last three decades of the 20th century. Downtown Cleveland's population finally took off in the 21st century, more than doubling since 2000.

Despite Cleveland trailing other Midwestern and Northeastern peer cities in total downtown population, it fared better than its Ohio's peers Cincinnati and Columbus. Their downtown populations fell 8 percent and 52 percent respectively 1970-2000 but have grown significantly since, according to Brookings.

Bruce Katz, an urban researcher at Brookings, is one of many urbanists who argue that a healthy downtown needs to be home to at least 2 percent of the surrounding metropolitan area's population. He calls it the 2 Percent Solution.

It's a "solution" because it leads to other positive outcomes for downtowns -- more restaurants, cafes, shopping, amenities, hotels, transportation and so on, he noted. Those features also make downtowns more attractive to potential office tenants, too. All of those services need low-skill workers and downtowns invariably are the hub of their regions' public transit systems to tap low-skill labor.

Downtown Cleveland still has much more room to grow to reach the 2 percent solution. It is at or near 20,000 residents which is just 1 percent of Greater Cleveland's population of 2 million. The 2018 DCA study said that there was a market for 6,800 new housing units downtown, 3,000 of which were under construction or planned at the time of the study.

Another 3,800 housing units would need to be built to satisfy the downtown housing market, as known in 2018. That translates to the equivalent of another dozen residential towers downtown the size of The Lumen (318 units in 34 stories) tower.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

University Circle is becoming Cleveland's "other downtown" again

A 24-story high-rise by a partnership of Chicago and Cleveland
developers will become the tallest building in University Circle
in a couple of years, adding to the skyline of Cleveland's "other
downtown" (FitzGerald). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

In a couple of years, the skyline of University Circle is going to look quite different. Not only will it be taller, but it will be more active at street level. And the economic and investment impact resulting from this booming district is spreading beyond the Euclid Avenue spine including into some long-troubled neighborhoods.

Cleveland's University Circle has been the second-largest employment center of Greater Cleveland for decades as Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and other institutions and business spin-offs have grown. Today, it is the fourth-largest employment center in Ohio, trailing only the downtowns of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Now that growth is becoming more visible at a distance. In September 2018, the first 20-story tower in the district was formally opened -- One University Circle, 10730 Euclid Ave. It was also the first residential high rise of 20 stories or more to be built in Cleveland in more than 40 years. It has heralded a boom of residential towers locally -- a gift that keeps on giving.

Since September 2018, the 29-story Beacon opened and the 34-story Lumen will open this fall. Both of those are downtown. So is the next residential high-rise -- the 23-story City Club Apartments that will start construction this summer.

But starting construction shortly afterwards, on or about July 1, will be the 24-story Circle Square tower. When it tops out in two years at nearly 300 feet tall, it would become the tallest tower in University Circle.
University Circle's two tallest buildings are visible in this view
looking east along Euclid Avenue from East 105th Street. At
right is Cleveland Clinic's 16-story Walker Center built in 1984.
Beyond is UC's current height champion, the 20-story One Uni-
versity Circle apartment tower, built in 2018 and already 95 per-
cent leased. At the left is Fenway Manor. In front of it is the site
for the planned, 11-story Library Lofts building (Google).
If that doesn't sound heady enough for you, consider that these next two apartment towers are being spearheaded by out-of-state investors. City Club Apartments is a chain based in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Circle Square's as-yet nameless skyscraper would rise on land locally owned by Midwest Development Partners and supported by Midwest's Cleveland ally, Ponski Capital Partners. But the tower itself is being designed and built by the Chicago-based team of White Oak Realty Partners and FitzGerald Associates Architects.

A real estate industry insider who spoke off the record said White Oak Realty representatives were considering putting up a high-rise apartment tower on Midwest-owned land across East 9th Street from Progressive Field  in downtown Cleveland. The property includes the three-story, 1880-built Utica Building.

Instead, that property is being sold to GBX Group, a company that specializes in redeveloping historic structures. White Oak Realty was looking at other sites downtown, too, the insider said.

But White Oak Realty considered University Circle more of an untapped market for modern high-rise housing. One University Circle, a 276-unit luxury apartment building that opened less than two years ago is already 95 percent full, said Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle Inc. (UCI).
The scale of Library Lofts is best appreciated when compared
to surrounding buildings, like the 13-story, 153-foot-tall Fen-
way Manor apartment building that was renovated in 2019 for
$16 million. Construction of Library Lofts is due to start on
or about July 1 of this year (Bialosky).
Construction on the new 24-story is due to occur simultaneously with Midwest's 11-story Library Lofts development, 10553 Euclid. However, city officials want Library Lofts to start first because its first two floors will contain the new MLK Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

It will replace the 50-year-old MLK Branch Library next door which will be closed and demolished in two years after the new library opens. The old library property will then become part of a future phase of the Circle Square development

"The city asserted that Library Lofts will start first," Ronayne said. "But it could be that they put shovels in the ground for Library Lofts on one day and perhaps the high-rise tower starts the next day. Midwest says there's economies of scale by doing both projects at the same time."

Library Lofts is one piece of Midwest's vision for its 5-acre Circle North development. It will add 207 apartments while the Circle North skyscraper will contribute another 298 apartments. In total, the 505 units could bring another 700 to 800 residents to University Circle and attract more restaurants, cafes and retailers to the area between MLK Boulevard/Stearn Road and East 105th Street.

Two demolitions occurred in December and January for the two new apartment buildings. A former police station at Chester and East 107th was razed for the new skyscraper. Meanwhile a small business, All Auto & Tire, 10541 Euclid, made way for Library Lofts.
Midwest Development Partners' vision for its Circle Square
development, as of summer 2019. The scale of Library Lofts
is accurately portrayed in this massing, but the southwest
corner of Chester Avenue and East 107th Street is not. A
short building is shown where White Oak Realty plans to
build its 24-story tower. Two more towers are proposed
between East 107th and MLK Boulevard (Bialosky).
Future phases of Circle Square could involve new construction on the site of the existing MLK Library, as well high-rise towers between East 107th and MLK Boulevard. That latter will require closing streets that county records show are already under the ownership of Midwest. The city sold the land in 2017.

Decades ago, the land was the site of the Elysium, built in 1907 as the largest indoor ice skating rink in the world. After World War II, the rink was converted to a used car dealership before it was acquired by the city in 1951 and demolished for high-speed turning lanes for Chester.

University Circle, especially the Doans Corners area where Euclid intersected with East 105th, was considered Cleveland's second downtown for a century. Doans Corners hummed with activity from five vaudeville/movie theaters, multiple mid-rise residential hotels, 24-hour restaurants and shopping plus the intersection of two of the city's busiest streetcar lines. The area decayed and was completely demolished by Cleveland Clinic in the 1960s and 1970s.

Additional developments are brewing in and near University Circle, including a potential expansion of Finch Group's Innova development on the north side of Chester, west of East 105th. Innova features 177 apartments, 23,000 square feet of retail and a 160-room Residence Inn hotel.

Finch is reportedly assembling land north of Innova for future development while preserving the historic Newton Avenue district. The development that Finch is pursuing will primarily be residential but could include some office or retail in it as well. It could push north to near Hough Avenue where Signet Real Estate Group's 163-unit Axis At Ansel apartment building is under construction.
Demolition of the police station at 10600 Chester Ave. was
underway on Jan. 11. A 24-story apartment tower is due to
be built in its place. In the background is Fenway Manor
and, at left, One University Circle (DownWithCtown).
Finch recently proposed two 11-story residential buildings in University Circle. One was a narrow 20-unit condo building on land the company owns at 10570 Park Lane next to its Park Lane Villa apartments. That project is on indefinite hold.

The other is a development dubbed Infinium on the site of a former Centers for Dialysis Care facility, 11717 Euclid, now owned by UCI. The project's original design as an 11-story building with significant ground-floor retail surrounded by 32 townhouses may change. Ronayne described the development site as a "hot iron" but couldn't disclose details as negotiations are still continuing.

There are 25 buildings that are 100 feet tall or taller in University Circle right now, including One University Circle, the district's tallest. See the list following this article that briefly describes each of these of buildings and ranks them according to their height in feet.

"The skyline is continuing to rise in University Circle," Ronayne said. "There's only one way to go and that's up because land is getting scarce."


Thanks to Cleveland Skyscrapers, Emporis and GoogleEarth for information for this list of University Circle buildings that are 100 feet tall or taller:

1. Circle Square tower - 2022 (planned)
Fitzgerald Associates Architects
24 floors - Approx 280 feet
Chester Ave. at East 107th St.

2. One University Circle - 2018
Dimit Architects
20 floors - 234 Feet
10730 Euclid Ave.

3. W.O. Walker Center - 1984
Collins Gordon Bostwick
16 floors - 208 feet
10524 Euclid Ave.

4. Church in the Circle (Epworth Euclid Methodist Church) - 1928
Bertram Goodhue/Walker & Weeks
200 feet
1919 E. 107th St.

5. Crile Building, Cleveland Clinic - 1985
Cesar Pelli and Associates
15 floors - 198 feet
2049 E. 100th St.

6. G Building, Cleveland Clinic - 1986
van Dijk Westlake Reed Leskosky
12 floors - 192 feet
2062 Clinic Dr.

7. Abington Arms - 1978
Unknown architect
14 floors - 181 feet
11501 Mayfield Rd.

8. Ambleside Towers, CMHA - 1978
Unknown architect
14 floors - 181 feet
2190 Ambleside Dr.

9. Tudor Arms/Cleveland Club - 1931
Frank Meade
12 floors - 180 feet
10660 Carnegie Ave.

10. James A. Garfield Memorial - 1890
George W. Keller
180 feet
12316 Euclid Ave.

11. InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center - 2003
Brennan, Beer, Gorman
13 floors - 176 feet
9801 Carnegie Ave.

12. Judson Manor/Wade Park Manor - 1922
George B. Post & Sons
11- floors 175 feet
1890 E. 107th St.

13. Seidman Cancer Center, University Hospitals - 2011
Cannon Design
9 floors - 172 feet
11100 Euclid Ave.

14. Lerner Tower, University Hospitals - 1997
Payette Associates
13 floors - 155 feet
11100 Euclid Ave.

15. One Triangle Place apartments - 1987
Unknown architect
12 floors - 155 feet
11457 Mayfield Rd.

16. Carnegie Tower at Fairfax/Antioch Towers - 1976
Unknown architect
12 floors - 155 feet
8920 Carnegie Ave.

17. First Church of Christ, Scientist Bell Tower - 1931
Walker & Weeks
155 feet
2200 Overlook Rd.

18. Fenway Manor apartments - 1923
Unknown architect
13 floors - 153 feet
1986 Stokes Blvd.

19. Clarke Tower, CWRU - 1967
Unknown architect
11 floors - 142 feet
1596 E. 115th St.

20. Library Lofts - 2022 (planned)
11 floors - Approx 140 feet
10553 Euclid Ave.

21. Commodore Place Apartments - 1926
Unknown architect
12 floors - 133 feet
1990 Ford Dr.

22. Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion, Cleveland Clinic - 2008
10 Floors - 130 feet
9500 Euclid Ave.

23. Richard F. Celeste Biomedical Research Building, CWRU - 1992
Payette Associates, Inc.
10 floors - 130 feet
2109 Adelbert Rd.

24. Staley House, CWRU - 1967
Unknown architect
10 floors - 122 feet
2365 Murray Hill Rd.

25. S Building, Cleveland Clinic - 1932
Unknown architect
12 floors - 121 feet
2026 Clinic Dr.

26. Amasa Stone Chapel, CWRU - 1910
Henry Vaughn
121 feet
10940 Euclid Ave.

27. Holiday Inn - 2016
Unknown architect
9 floors - 115 feet
8650 Euclid Ave.

28. Peter B. Lewis Building, CWRU - 2002
Gehry Partners
5 floors - 110 feet
11119 Bellflower Rd.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Burke Lakefront Airport ready for take off

Burke Lakefront Airport's proximity to
downtown Cleveland could beneficial to
more business travelers if Burke hosted
more flights. That's the goal, according
to a federal filing submitted recently by
a well-capitalized start-up airline (KJP).
When closet urban planners consider open land for development in Cleveland, their attention often is directed at Burke Lakefront Airport. That isn't the only thing they direct at Burke. They also direct ridicule, scorn and even outright hatred for that 450-acre plot of former lakefront landfill that opened as an airport in 1948.

The reasons are many: Burke flight operations are down to fewer than 100 flights per day on average, a 60 percent drop compared to 20 years ago. It costs the city several million dollars per year to keep Burke open and operating. And its service as a reliever airport for Hopkins International Airport isn't justified when Hopkins' flight operations are down to a daily average of 350 flights vs. 500 in 2013 -- the last year of United Airlines' hub operation here.

That has led some to suggest reimbursing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for roughly $10 million in capital improvements made at Burke in the 21st century and closing down the airport. Then the airport could be repurposed with a mix of real estate developments and public parks along Cleveland's most precious natural resource.

But what if someone wanted to actually use Burke for, say, an airport?

It's starting to happen with more air operations planned.
Prior to boarding, Ultimate Air Shuttle's morning flight to
Cincinnati Lunken Field sits on the tarmac at Burke Lake-
front Airport. The public charter operator will expand its
Cleveland-Cincinnati flight schedule in March (KJP).
The only airline serving Burke right now is Ultimate Air Shuttle -- a hybrid commercial airline and public charter operator that operates on published schedules. That's how passengers are able to avoid the security screening at larger airports handling common carrier airlines. There's also no checked baggage, which isn't really needed anyway since most customers are business travelers making same-day or, at most, overnight stays in their destination city.

Ultimate Air Shuttle is growing. It's based at Cincinnati's Lunken Field, once the city's main airport before Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) opened during World War II. CVG saw its first commercial flight in 1947, an American Airlines DC3 from Cleveland, of all places.

Starting in 2009, Ultimate Air Shuttle has grown to offer five routes out of Cincinnati Lunken, including a twice-daily (weekdays only) schedule between Cleveland and Cincinnati. That service has grown so popular that it is starting a third daily Cleveland-Cincinnati flight on a midday schedule on March 16.

But the most exciting prospect is yet to come.

That prospect is coming in the form of a new start-up airline called Breeze Airways based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jet Blue Airlines founder David Neelman has requested an Air Operating Certificate with the FAA and has identified airports it would like to serve. Reports are that Breeze would make T.F. Greene Airport in Providence, RI its hub.
Artist's rendering of a Breeze Airways Airbus A220-300 (Breeze).
On a map of prospective routes, it shows Providence flights to Orlando-Sanford, FL, St. Petersburg, FL, Oakland, CA, San Jose, CA, Contra Costa, CA, Orange County, CA, Burbank, CA, Ontario, CA and McClellan-Palomar north of San Diego, CA, Phoenix Mesa, AZ, Rocky Mountain Airport near Denver, CO, Concord near Charlotte, NC, Fort Worth’s Meacham Airport, TX, Baltimore-Washington, MD, Trenton, NJ, Stewart, NY (halfway between New York City and Albany), Republic Airport on Long Island, NY and Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.

Ironically, Breeze has no plans to serve its home-base city of Salt Lake City. Some of the reporting on Breeze's plans seem to be vague on whether the new airline will serve cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or Gary, Indiana to tap into Chicagoland.

Neeleman filed two applications to the FAA -- one in 2018 for an airline called Moxy which conflicted with a Marriott Hotel brand. That withdrawn application apparently didn't have Cleveland on it. But the 2019 application for Breeze did have Cleveland on the map.

The airline's goal is serve markets abandoned by the major airlines and many of the mid-size markets like Cleveland that were identified in Breeze's application certainly fall into that category. The airline plans to start this with regional flights in the Northeast. No start-up date or routes have been announced.
The proximity of Burke Lakefront Airport plus its 6,600-foot-
long runway and underutilized terminal to a fast-growing
downtown Cleveland, along with the neglect of some
Cleveland-oriented travel markets, has caught the
attention of Breeze Airways executives (KJP).
“There’s just a lot of scraps that the big guys have left,” Neelman told The Points Guy on Breeze’s network plans. “They’ve left a lot of city pairs, they’ve left a lot of other things untouched. I think we can fill that void nicely with the two aircraft types that we have coming.”

The aircraft types include a fleet of 28 120-seat Embraer 195s leased from Azul Brazilian Airlines, one of Neeleman’s five start-up airlines. The planes are due to arrive after April of this year. With $100 million in start-up capital, Breeze has ordered 60 Airbus A220-300s with up to 150 seats each; they are due to be delivered in April 2021.

What's interesting about the fuel-efficient A220-300 is that they have the range to link East Coast airports with many Western European ones. From the Providence hub, everything along and west of a Copenhagen-Frankfurt-Geneva-Barcelona line is within range of this aircraft.

Interestingly, so are places like Lisbon, Portugal and Dublin, Ireland within range of Cleveland by the A220-300. There is some speculation that Breeze will link up with other airlines owned by Neeleman, including TAP Air Portugal whose hub is in Lisbon. However, unlike Dublin, there is no U.S. Customs pre-clearance at Lisbon.
Flying into downtown Cleveland could soon become more
commonplace if a new start-up airline realizes its plans to
begin service to Burke Lakefront Airport. This is a view
from Ultimate Air Shuttle which offers the only public
flights in and out of Burke today (KJP).
Unfortunately, there is no formal Federal Inspection Services facility at Burke. Customs and Immigration clearance is conducted at Gate 4 of the terminal building but it requires a two-hour notice as no border patrol staff is assigned to Burke.

While it is unlikely there would be direct international service to Cleveland offered by Breeze, Neeleman is trying to fill in gaps in existing airline services. And direct flights between Cleveland and Europe is a known gap. One can hope.

But the possibility that Burke Lakefront Airport could again host a common carrier airline again is a potential boost to neighboring downtown Cleveland. It harkens back to the heady days of Wright Airlines, that was based at Burke from 1966-84.

At its peak, Wright served 17 destination airports, from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. That's the same area that Breeze apparently wants to start with, too. Keep an eye on Breeze and Burke. They soon may give Cleveland business travelers and local tourism a lift.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Ohio City's Church+State rising to be a Hingetown hub

Church + State rises above Detroit Avenue in the Hingetown
section of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. The project
aims to be a focal point of Hingetown's residential, retail,
cultural, art, social and nightlife activities (KJP).
After the first few minutes of talking with Graham Veysey, it's apparent that he appreciates cities and their primary purpose of causing personal interaction. In his businesses and neighborhood initiatives focused on the Hingetown section of Ohio City, he has attempted to spur more and different ways for people to interact.

Promoting opportunities for interaction abound in the design and construction of his latest and largest real estate development: Church + State.

The $60 million real estate investment is a partnership among Grammar Properties, Hemingway Development of Cleveland, Cedar Street Development of Chicago and Turner Construction. It is located near the intersection of Church Avenue and West 29th Street. West 29th was State Street before 1906 when Cleveland's north-south streets were given numerical names. Grammar Properties is a partnership of its own, between Veysey and his architect wife Marika Shioiri-Clark.

Leasing starts Feb. 22 for the 158 apartments in the two-building development. The leasing coincides with the Brite Winter Music & Arts Festival to be held Feb. 22-23 on the Flats West Bank where Church + State will be promoted.
Views from atop Church + State of downtown, Lake Erie and
surrounding area can be had from both State (11-story building)
and Church (six-story building) from the fourth floors up (KJP).
The 11-story building is called State, opening in August; its six-story neighbor is Church, opening in June. Between them is Church + State Way, a public, open-air atrium measuring 10,000 square feet. Veysey said it's larger than Market Square Park across West 25th Street from the West Side Market.

Church + State Way's public accessibility is exemplified in that Ohio City Inc.'s Clean and Safe program, funded by the neighborhood's special improvement district, will oversee this public space, Veysey explained.

The atrium, where interaction is encouraged by design, has lots of interactive features sought by young people. It has everything from a 10-spout water park/fountain, sitting steps for performers, a 17-foot red corkscrew spiral slide and a six-story-tall rock climbing wall on Church to be managed on weekends and holidays by Cleveland Rocks that's redeveloping the old Masonic Hall nearby on Franklin Boulevard.
Between Church (right) and State
(left) is the tower crane which was
jumped up to its highest level this
week, rising from the Church and
State Way atrium (KJP).
Above the atrium will be one of the largest public art installations in the region, Veysey said. Measuring over 600 linear feet long and two stories tall, the mural will wrap two levels of elevated parking deck in the middle floors of State.

"We've gone out to 20 artists from around the world with an RFP (request for proposals) that's due on Valentine's Day," Veysey said.

He said the arts component is one of the things his partners are most excited about is amplifying the work that is being done by neighbors in Hingetown. That includes the Transformer StationFRONT Triennial, Spaces, Bop Stop and the Intermuseum Conservation Association.
Graham Veysey shows off the 200-bike storage room in
Church, just off the atrium. The bike room and adjoining
shower is for tenants, be they residents or workers at
at Church + State (KJP).
"You've got both the hub of activity in Hingetown with great bars and restaurants. Then you've got these cultural spots where you can take in a world-class art show and that's some of the stuff we're trying to continue the momentum with," he added.

Veysey takes pride in Hingetown's role in local history, too. It was the center of Ohio City when it was a separate municipality from Cleveland. And it remained a neighborhood gathering spot until the new, larger West Side Market opened in 1912, replacing its smaller, 72-year-old predecessor across the street.

Examples of Hingetown's early importance are found near Church + State, including the city's oldest consecrated building, St. John Episcopal Church, opening in 1838. Veysey's first efforts at revitalizing Hingetown started in the 1854-built fire station on West 29th where he and his wife first set up living quarters. Their revitalization efforts have attracted national attention.
The apartments in Church + State aren't much to look at right
now. But they do make for an abstract expression of art
with four to six months of construction to go (KJP). 
More examples of the project's emphasis on community interaction extend from the ground-floor lobby to a rooftop event space. Their facilities will be publicly available by an app-based reservation and pass system that will roll out in April, Veysey said.

The lobby in State will feature a fireplace, conference room and fitness center, all publicly accessible. The public parking, totaling about 40 spaces, will be in the middle levels of State. The rest of the 214 total parking spaces are underneath the entire site. The rooftop event space called The Lantern will be above Church where weddings, receptions, birthday parties and other gatherings can be held.

Plus, there will be 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and the largest bike garage on the West Side, capable of accommodating up to 200 bicycles for residents and retail workers, enhancing Church + State's community attraction.
A rooftop event space in Church is called The Lantern because
it is visible from the lake like the light atop a lighthouse. It will
be available to the public by an app-based reservation system.
So will a conference room and fitness center in State (KJP).
It has also attracted partners like Michael Panzica who joined forces with Grammar Properties while with Hemingway Development. He's starting his own firm M. Panzica Development to focus on multi-family, mixed-use and single-tenant development projects in Northeast Ohio while he's wrapping up his work with Hemingway.

Panzica and Grammar are pursuing a follow-on development called Bridgeworks on the former Cuyahoga County Engineer's property at the northeast corner of West 25th and the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

Bridgeworks will feature one or two residential buildings with a maximum height of 10 stories. Planning for Bridgeworks is moving forward simultaneously with construction coming down the home stretch for Church + State.
On the bare concrete wall, behind
the construction worker, will be a
six-story rock-climbing wall that
will be available to the public on
weekends and holidays (KJP).
"I'm very excited about this project," Panzica said, referring to Church + State. "We're going to have unobstructed views from the fourth floor up."

The 11-story State is the tallest building to rise in Ohio City since the 19-story Lakeview Tower, 2700 Washington Ave., was built in 1973. It is on the other side of the West Shoreway from Church + State. The 15-story Riverview Tower, 1795 West 25th, was built in 1964.

Panzica also points out that Church + State has received the first U.S. Housing & Urban Development loan for new construction in Cleveland going back as far as he could find. It's a $43 million, 40-year loan at a below-market interest rate. The project also received a $2 million, 15-year loan from Cuyahoga County.
Lake Erie is visible from the fourth floors and higher in
 Church + State. Lakeview Tower is on the right. Church +
State is the tallest development to rise in Ohio City since
Lakeview Tower opened in 1973 (KJP).
"We had to get creative on our financing," Panzica said. "Development projects are getting easier in Cleveland but construction costs and land costs are going up and they're outpacing the increases in rent."

He noted that Church + State's exterior will feature materials not typically used in Cleveland developments, such as Spanish slate and extruding planes made from white aluminum planks.

"We spent years designing this," Veysey added. "Part of our measure of success with this project will be our ability to over-deliver on the final product."
The taller State building and Church just
beyond loom over the intersection of
their namesakes Church Avenue and
West 29th (formerly State) Street (KJP).
But the ultimate success will hinge on whether the Church + State creates a greater sense of community in Hingetown through greater interaction.

"We want to make this an amenity not just for the residents but for the neighborhood where it's a place to gather," Veysey said. "It's a place to find community. That community goes way beyond the 158 apartments and its residents."


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Sherwin-Williams, Stark, Realife & the fate of an historic Superblock survivor

The Realife Building, 1350 W. 3rd St., at the bottom-center of
this view, stands alone at the edge of the Superblock of parking
lots where Sherwin-Williams proposes to build its new head-
quarters. With a new, land-hungry neighbor and a foreclosure
case pending, the fate of 1350 W. 3rd is in doubt (Google).

Downtown Cleveland's largest parking crater, the so-called "Superblock" where Sherwin-Williams (SHW) plans to build its new headquarters, has a sole survivor among its once vast building stock.

That monolith is set off to one corner of the Superblock, named because its sea of parking is actually spread among two blocks, separated by the one-way alley Frankfort Ave. The surviving building is the former Stark Enterprises headquarters that now belongs to 1350 W6 LLC, an affiliate of Realife Real Estate Group.

And the building may not be long for this world. There are two reasons why the building at 1350 W. 3rd St. is endangered. Ultimately, both reasons are apparently attributable to Realife which bought the building in the final days of 2018.

One is that Realife appears to want to sell the building, possibly to be associated in some way with SHW's HQ. The other reason is that Realife allegedly hasn't been making mortgage payments and may be forced to sell the building at a foreclosure auction.

According to a source, Realife reportedly had a potential tenant recently for 1350 W. 3rd. An Austin, Texas-based eCommerce firm named Zilker Technology was apparently intending on signing a lease here for its first Midwest office. But on or about Jan. 20, Zilker walked away due to some unfavorable stipulations in the lease.
The building at 1350 W. 3rd in 1964 was a soot-covered but
architecturally ornate, Victorian-era structure that served some
of the many printing companies in the neighborhood. Today,
the modernized structure awaits its fate amid a sea of parking
in the Warehouse District (CPL/Google).

"The language allowed for the lease to be terminated at any point, a result of developing situations with a future neighbor,” the source said. The future neighbor he referred to was SHW's HQ.

Turning back the clock to Dec. 24, 2018, affiliates of Stark Enterprises and Realife entered into a mortgage in which Stark lent $1,650,000 to Realife and awarded a deed to the property at 1350 W. 3rd. Per the mortgage, Realife must make regular payments to Stark of $11,052.74 and get Stark's permission for any improvements, demolitions or any other changes made to the property.

According to Stark, Realife has failed to make payments on the mortgage when due. On Jan. 23, Stark Enterprises filed a complaint on a cognovit promissory note against affiliates of Realife Real Estate Group. A cognovit promissory note favors the lender. It was agreed to by Stark and Realife as part of the mortgage, according to a copy of the mortgage on file with Cuyahoga County.

Realife representatives acknowledged the accuracy of the cognovit complaint and didn't wish to appeal it, according to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court docket. On Jan. 27, Common Pleas Judge Joseph D. Russo rendered a cognovit judgment of $1,671,782.25 plus 14 percent interest against Realife and associates.

A cognovit refers to a judgment entered after a written confession by the defendant without the expense of ordinary legal proceedings.

Despite Realife's apparent lack of making regular payments on the Stark mortgage, the company has acquired $33 million worth of Greater Cleveland properties since it took title to 1350 W. 3rd, according to a Feb. 2 article in Crain's Cleveland Business. And since 2015, Realife has acquired at least 55 properties  throughout Greater Cleveland. It has received complaints that it has not maintained some of those properties.
First page of Stark Enterprises' complaint for
foreclosure against Realife and affiliates filed last
week (Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court).
Stark on Feb. 6 filed a complaint for foreclosure against Realife et al, requesting that the Common Pleas Court preserve the property at 1350 W. 3rd, that Stark's mortgage be the first lien on the property and that the property be sold by the county with Stark paid by proceeds from the sale. Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams is overseeing the case.

Angelo Russo, attorney for Realife principal Yaron Kandelker, an Israeli citizen, did not return a phone message seeking comment prior to publication of this article.

The property in dispute is at the northeast corner of the Superblock, at the southwest corner of West 3rd Street and St. Clair Avenue. Despite its 1960s-era cladding in an attempt to modernize it, the building is 132 years old. It measures five stories and 18,000 square feet.

It's all that's left of a diverse collection of 19th-century and early 20th-century ornate warehouses, offices and other commercial structures that covered the nearly 6 acres of Superblock. Clearance of the Superblock, bounded by West 3rd and 6th streets, plus St. Clair and Superior avenues, began in the 1950s as highways began to intrude into the urban core.

The Superblock saw its last demolition in 2011 at the opposite corner, at West 6th and Superior. That's when a parking deck wrapped around a check-cashing business was knocked down. Few knew that behind the modernized facade of the check-cashing business was a small brick structure that dated to the 1830s. It was used as a factory for everything from cigars to eyeglasses, but served as a restaurant for most of the 20th century.
Looking across the sea of parking in the Jacobs (right) and
Weston (center) lots is 1350 W. 3rd. The Superblock is the
two blocks of parking in the center, divided by Frankfort
Avenue. Sherwin-Williams proposes to build it global
headquarters on these parking lots (Google).
As for the 1350 W. 3rd building, the Cleveland City Directory shows its original address was 182-184 Seneca Street prior to the city changing north-south street names to numbered streets based on their distance from Public Square. It was called The Gilman Building, according to building preservation consultant Steve McQuillin.

The Gilman Building was designed by anarchist/socialist architect John Edelman, mentor to the famous architect Louis Sullivan, who credited Edelman with the concept of “form follows function,” McQuillin said.

Built in 1882 for the A.S. Gilman Printing Co., it later had tenants like the Ingraham Brush Works and the tobacco firm G.H. Mack & Co. It also had a billiards hall on the ground floor, according to Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of the late 1800s. More printing companies filled the building into the 1900s in a neighborhood once filled with printing, bindings and publishing companies.

Neighbors included the early addresses of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (southeast corner of Bank [West 6th] Street and Frankfort) and the Cleveland Press (on Seneca [West 3rd] just north of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway's offices that were at the northwest corner of Seneca and St. Clair.

Next door to 1350 W. 3rd on the St. Clair side was a dilapidated livery stable for storing wagons and re-shoeing horses. To the south, along Seneca/West 3rd was the Northern Ohio Fair Building to which the A.S. Gilman Printing Co. relocated. Gilman's most notable effort was its publishing of the weekly American Sportsman.