Monday, August 3, 2020

Cleveland Clinic, Fairmount seek Meijer grocery store, apartments

Sites outlined in red are reportedly favored by the Cleveland
Clinic Foundation for a mixed-use development featuring a
Meijer Neighborhood Market grocery store, apartments
and a multi-level parking deck (Google/KJP).

After months of planning, a mixed-use development is gaining traction on Cleveland Clinic Foundation-owned land on the Opportunity Corridor. The development is an effort to capitalize on the $306 million transportation investment, support the Greater University Circle Initiative and serve a growing residential population nearby.

To that end, two sources say the Cleveland Clinic is reportedly partnering with Fairmount Properties of Orange Village to develop underutilized parking lots owned by the health system on East 105th Street, between Carnegie and Cedar avenues.

Although very early in the development process, the conceptual plan is to build apartments, a parking deck and a small-format/urban Meijer grocery store. This would be Meijer's first store of any kind in the city of Cleveland.

Meijer, a Michigan-based chain, has grocery stores throughout the Midwest. However it didn't enter the Greater Cleveland market until last year when it opened stores in Stow, Mentor and Avon. None of those are located in Cuyahoga County. Its first Cuyahoga County store isn't due to open until next year -- on the site of a former Kmart in Seven Hills.

Meijer has plans to build at least six small-format "Neighborhood Market" stores in revitalizing Midwest urban neighborhoods by 2021. Two have opened so far -- one in Grand Rapids, MI and another in Royal Oak, MI, a Detroit suburb. A third is due to open in Lansing, MI later this year.
The $40 million 600 Block development in downtown Lansing
will open later this year with a hotel and apartments above a
37,000-square-foot urban format Meijer grocery store called
the Capital City Market (Gillespie Group).

A fourth is under construction on East Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit. The Detroit store was originally planned on the ground floor of a 213-unit apartment building but will instead be a stand-alone store due to cost and financing challenges.

A site on East 105th between Carnegie and Cedar is desired for several reasons. First, the Cleveland Clinic would control the land. Second, traffic counts on East 105th are about to greatly increase with completion of the Opportunity Corridor's final section in fall 2021.

Lastly, numerous large residential developments were recently completed or are about to get underway nearby. They include Innova, One University Circle, North Park Place, Ascent at the Top of the HillCircle Square, the first phase of Innovation Square and others.

Normally, Meijer's full-service "Supercenter" stores measure in the 150,000 to 200,000 square foot range. Their Neighborhood Market stores are quite a bit smaller -- about 35,000 to 45,000 square feet.

Even at that smaller size, a Meijer Neighborhood Market might not fit on a 0.6-acre Cleveland Clinic-owned parcel on the southeast corner of East 105th and Carnegie. That parcel translates to about 26,000 square feet.
The original plan for a $60 million downtown Detroit project
had an urban format Meijer store topped by 213 apartments
with an underground parking garage. But the cost proved too
much. Instead, a stand-alone Meijer store with surface park-
ing saw construction start this year (Prime Development).

Yet survey crews were poking and measuring this plot of land on June 19-20, suggesting that development was being considered for it. Sources also said this property is in play for at least part of the proposed mixed-use development.

Apparently a development here would not involve a neighboring surface lot owned by an affiliate of MRN Ltd. and used for the historic Tudor Arms Hotel. The hotel is operated by DoubleTree by Hilton.

In an e-mail, Ari Maron, a principal at MRN, disputed rumors about the possibility that the proposed mixed-use development might expand on to and/or somehow include the hotel parking lot property.

"No truth at all," he replied.

Sources said a parking deck would also be included in the Fairmount Properties/Cleveland Clinic development, although the sources did not know the deck's placement within the development. It could be built adjacent to the new mixed-use building. Or, it could be sandwiched above the new grocery store and below the apartments.

The same sources said that the adjacent, 3,000-space, 794,077-square-foot parking garage that Cleveland Clinic built in 2015 on the northeast corner of East 105th and Cedar Avenue may not be directly involved in some or all of the development.

But the massive parking deck does have an enclosed pedestrian walkway that intrudes on the potential development site as it crosses over Wilbur Avenue and makes a right angle above East 105th to reach the Cleveland Clinic's Tomsich Pathology Laboratories building.
Survey crews on June 19-20 were assessing a Cleveland Clinic
property at the southeast corner of Carnegie Avenue and East
 105th Street for a potential development (OriginalJBW).

Two other Cleveland Clinic-owned parking lots could come into play in the health system's development visions as well. One is a 1.8-acre piece of land, most of which is parking lot, at the northwest corner of East 105th and Cedar. The other is a 1.6-acre parking lot at the northeast corner of East 100th Street and Cedar.

A 40,000-square-foot, stand-alone neighborhood market built on the northwest corner of East 105th and Cedar would leave enough room on the remaining parking lot for 80-130 cars, depending on its layout. And there's the neighboring parking lot at East 100th and Cedar. 

Cleveland Clinic was asked in an e-mail about the proposed mixed-use development, including the Meijer grocery store and Fairmount Properties reported involvement. Angela Smith, the health system's senior director of corporate communications, said she was unable to provide more information.

"We don’t have any additional details to share at this point beyond the statement we made earlier this year," Smith wrote. "If that changes, we’ll let you know."

In March 2020 and in response to an inquiry by NEOtrans, the Cleveland Clinic confirmed that it was looking at developing its underutilized properties in response to the Opportunity Corridor project.

“Now that the northern section of Opportunity Corridor is open, we plan to further develop the southeast part of our campus. We look forward to working with our community partners on future opportunities that will help accelerate the Fairfax neighborhood reinvestment plan. More information will be shared as details become available,” the Cleveland Clinic said in its March statement.

The southeast corner of East 105th and Carnegie is open for
development. It is next to the Cleveland Clinic's 2015-built,
3,000-parking-space garage and the 11-story Tudor Arms
Hotel and parking lot in the background (Google).

An e-mail seeking more information and sent to three media relations staffpersons at Meijer's was not responded to prior to publication of this article. Although Frank Guglielmi, Meijer's senior director of communications, and Christina Fecher, Meijer's external communications manager, acknowledged receiving the e-mail.

E-mails were also sent to Adam Fishman, a principal at Fairmount Properties, Denise VanLeer, executive director at Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp., and Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc., without replies.

Last winter, Cleveland Clinic organized focus groups of neighborhood residents, property owners and others to determine how to develop the edges of its campus, including the southeast corner near the Opportunity Corridor Boulevard.

The Ohio Department of Transportation project includes 2.25 miles of new roadway between the end of Interstate 490 at East 55th Street and Quincy Avenue at East 105th. It also includes 0.75-miles of widened East 105th roadway from Quincy to Chester Avenue plus an expanded Red Line rail station at Quincy-East 105th.

It may be a while before any construction occurs on the mixed-use development. Sources said Cleveland Clinic has put major capital projects on hold until 2021. By that time, the health system apparently hopes that it no longer has to contend with the most significant, negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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