Thursday, May 27, 2021

Gordon Square apartment project may fill visible corner

The Krueger Group would like to build this 27-unit market-rate apartment
building on the southwest corner of West 58th Street and Breakwater
Avenue in the Gordon Square area. This rendering view is from appro-
ximately the front door of the Parkview Nite Club (Dimit). 
 

A Cleveland-based developer and construction contractor is broadening its horizons by getting involved in more multi-family buildings. To that end, The Krueger Group proposes to build a 27-unit, market-rate apartment building at the southwest corner of West 58th Street and Breakwater Avenue in the Gordon Square area.

To read the rest of this story, see NEOtrans' new site at https://neo-trans.blog/

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Forgotten Triangle forgotten no more

All phases of the Woodhill Homes redevelopment can proceed now that the program has received the maximum $35 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Only phases one and two had the green light and are now under construction (HUD).

Cleveland received the best news possible today for the redevelopment of one of the city’s oldest public housing sites. The Woodhill Homes redevelopment won the largest possible federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Last year the project was a finalist for HUD’s $35 million Choice Neighborhoods grant but came up just short.

To read the rest of this story, see NEOtrans' new site at https://neo-trans.blog/

Monday, May 24, 2021

Millionaire’s Row mansion down to the 11th hour

City Planning Commission is due to hear a demolition request in June
for the historic Allen-Sullivan mansion, 7218 Euclid Ave. In its place,
  Signet LLC of Akron proposes to build a 160-unit residential complex on
6 acres extending south to Carnegie Avenue (ClevelandHistorical.org).

Unless someone with deep pockets comes through in this 11th hour, the 134-year-old Allen-Sullivan mansion, 7218 Euclid Ave., will be the subject of a demolition request next month. According to a city official who did not want to be named publicly, a demolition permit application submitted on behalf of Signet Real Estate Group is scheduled to be heard June 4 by the City Planning Commission’s Design Review Committee....

To read the rest of this article, see NEOtrans' new site at: https://neo-trans.blog/ 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Library Lofts, MLK Branch Library to amplify UC's boom

Designed to look like well-stocked bookshelves, Library Lofts
and the ground-floor MLK Branch Library could start construc-
tion in August after City Planning Commission approved final
designs for the project today (Bialosky, SO-IL/JKURTZ).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

With final approval secured today from the City Planning Commission, developers of the Library Lofts apartment building, 10541 Euclid Ave., and its ground-floor Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library hope to start construction in August.

The 11-story, 207-unit apartment building and Cleveland Public Library branch will be one of many large structures likely to be under construction at this time next year in University Circle. One of those is already underway -- the Artisan, a 24-story apartment tower at 10600 Chester Ave. that will be the tallest building in the nationally renowned cultural district.

That tower adjoins the site where Library Lofts will rise. Both are in the Circle Square development -- a $300 million to-do list of new towers between Euclid and Chester avenues, plus MLK Boulevard and East 105th Street.

Library Lofts' fa├žade is designed by Bialosky + Partners Architects, LLC to look like fully stocked bookshelves. Panzica Construction Co. is the general contractor. Different architects, SO-IL of Brooklyn, NY and JKURTZ Architects of Cleveland, designed the new MLK Branch Library.

The first two buildings in Circle Square are projected by developers White Oak Realty Partners of Chicago and Midwest Development Partners of Cleveland to add about 750 residents among 505 market-rate apartments. Future phases are planned to add another apartment tower roughly as tall as Artisan, a hotel and an office tower, most with neighborhood-oriented ground-floor retailers, plans show.

Library Lofts, at left, is just one building in a much larger deve-
lopment called Circle Square. Euclid Avenue is along the bottom
of the image with MLK Boulevard at the far right (Bialosky).

To make that possible, it will require changes to roadway infrastructure that was redesigned in the 1940s and 50s. University Circle's main thoroughfares were redesigned from being pedestrian- and transit-oriented 100 years ago to become "vehicular cattle chutes," as described by University Circle Inc.'s President Chris Ronayne.

Initial improvements include removing the high-speed turning lanes from Chester east to Stokes south to create a 90-degree angle, thus slowing down vehicular traffic and making walking safer again. That work is underway, coinciding with the Artisan's construction.

But nearly $8 million more in public funding is needed to remove high-speed turning lanes from Chester east to MLK Boulevard south, as well as a short stretch of Liberty Boulevard between MLK and Stokes. Reconstructed/added roads/lanes and the utilities below them are planned along Chester between Stokes and MLK, along MLK southbound and counted into a rebuilt Reserve Court.

Some new infrastructure doesn't involve roads. It involves two new public spaces. One is Library Plaza, envisioned between Library Lofts/MLK Library and Fenway Manor Apartments. The other is University Circle Plaza. The latter would restore part of the old traffic circle that gave this urban district neighborhood its name, but would do so as a pedestrian plaza in front of a proposed office tower.

"We always thought University Circle and the Cleveland Clinic campuses would eventually become one," Ronayne said. "Circle Square is the linchpin that brings them together as one place. This project changes the game. This infill development is knitting it together."

Interior of Cleveland Public Library's new, two-level MLK Branch
Library, on the ground floors of Library Lofts (SO-IL/JKURTZ).

The traffic circle named University Circle used to be a walkable, transit friendly place with Uptown at Euclid and East 105th to the west and the 195-year-old Western Reserve University plus Case Institute of Technology to the east. Ronayne and others have called it Cleveland's second downtown.

"It had vibrant walkable streets and great transit service but became an auto district," he said. "The roadway infrastructure divided University Circle and Cleveland Clinic."

He said disinvestment from surrounding neighborhoods like Hough and Fairfax combined with suburban investment and outmigration turned University Circle into a place that people either sped through or briefly visited. Few people lived there even as Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and other "eds and meds" employment grew quickly in recent decades.

"The institutions stayed through divestiture," Ronayne added. "We didn't lose them to outmigration.  Much is owed to them. They're why the neighborhood has come back around. Library Lofts is turning a place out of a parking lot."

He said construction on Library Lofts and the MLK Branch Library is due to start in late summer, as early as August. The new building will measure about 184,000 square feet and cost about $55 million to build. Of that, the library will be about 28,000 square feet and $18 million. It will replace the 51-year-old, 18,200-square-foot MLK branch library which will be demolished when the new library opens.

How Library Lofts and the new MLK Branch Library will look
from a planned new Library Plaza on the east side of the new
building, next to Fenway Manor (Bialosky, SO-IL/JKURTZ).

Thanks to a 2017 levy, Cleveland Public Library is in the midst of a 10-year, $100 million facilities improvement program to renovate or build new 27 branch libraries throughout the city. That work will be followed by a $65 million renovation of the Main Library downtown.

"We're happy to fulfill our promise to the community," said library Chief Operations Officer John Lang in a written statement. "We're creating more modern, accessible and inclusive spaces that will benefit the community for years to come. Each branch will pay homage to its neighborhood through design and public art."

Steve Rubin, a principal with Midwest Development Partners, did not respond prior to publication of this article to an email seeking comment and additional information.

By this time next year and within a few blocks of East 105th, between the Veterans Administration Hospital and East 105th/Quincy Red Line station, construction should be under way on the following major projects of 100,000 square feet or more among all phases:

+ Artisan --10600 Chester Ave., 24-story, 342,805-square-foot apartment tower over structured parking and ground-floor retail, White Oak Realty Partners; construction began in April 2021.

+ Addis View Apartments -- 1870 E. 90th St., a four-phase development totaling 400 apartments on both sides of East 90th started with a 93,000-square-foot, 141-unit first phase, The Inspiron Group; construction began May 3, 2021.

How East 105th Street south of Cedar Avenue looks now might bear
little resemblance to how it could appear a year from now. By then,
multiple construction projects will likely be visible here. And there
will be more traffic with the completion of last segment of the Oppor-
tunity Corridor Boulevard through to Interstates 77 and 490 (KJP).

+ Innovation Square -- 2258 E. 105th St., a three-phase mixed-use development totaling 223 housing units starting with an 80,000-square-foot, 85-unit first phase, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp.; groundbreaking is due spring 2021.

+ ARPI Apartments -- 1866 E. 93rd St., a two-phase development expanding over to East 90th Street totaling 160 units but starting with 42 apartments and 40,000 square feet in phase one, ARPI Development LLC; groundbreaking due in early summer 2021.

+ Library Lofts/MLK Branch Library -- 10541 Euclid Ave., an 11-story, 184,000-square-foot apartment tower over public library, Midwest Development Partners; groundbreaking due in August 2021.

+ Cedar-105 mixed-use development -- 10408 Cedar Ave., a 5-10 story, roughly 150,000-square-foot development with 250-300 micro-unit apartments and urban-format Meijer grocery store, Fairmount Properties and Cleveland Clinic Foundation; groundbreaking possible in late 2021.

+ Cleveland Clinic new Neurological Institute -- 9606 Euclid Ave., a 5-10 story, 400,000-square-foot hospital building, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; groundbreaking possible in winter 2021-22.

+ Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute expansion -- 2030 E. 105th St., a 4-6 story, 100,000-square-foot hospital building, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; groundbreaking possible in winter 2021-22.

+ Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health -- vicinity of Cedar Avenue and East 105th, a 5-10 story, 400,000 square feet office and research facility, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; groundbreaking possible in Spring 2022.

END

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New pathogen center heralds start of Innovation District

Joining other research buildings near the intersection
of Cedar Avenue and East 105th Street will be the new
Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health.
With construction due to start one year from now, the
new structure will be one of the first tangible results
from the new Cleveland Innovation District (KJP).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Earlier this year, state and local officials announced the launch of the Cleveland Innovation District and the availability of $565 million in public funds to get it rolling.

Not wasting any time, Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to firms to design and build a research campus led by a new Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health. The RFP provides a little more clarity on what CCF has in mind for the research campus and pathogens center.

Groundbreaking for the new $500 million, 1,000-employee pathogens center is anticipated in Spring 2022, said Alicia Reale Cooney, CCF's senior manager, corporate communications, in a e-mail sent in response to questions posed by NEOtrans.

"Planning is in early stages but Cleveland Clinic’s Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health, part of the Cleveland Innovation District, will include approximately 400,000 square feet of additional research space to be located along Cedar Ave. for the growth of research operations and training and innovations," she said.

Seen at left in this conceptual rendering, Cleveland Clinic's planned
new Neurological Institute will measure about 400,000 square feet.
That's the same size as the proposed new pathogen center. However
no renderings are available yet of the new pathogen center (CCF).

Cooney did not have a cross-street to identify where along Cedar the pathogen center would be located. She added that a more general location would be in the area of "Cedar Avenue near Cleveland Clinic's main campus."

Construction industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said CCF didn’t provide a map or detailed location information in the RFP. But they were told by CCF representatives the clinic wants the pathogen center to connect to their existing research buildings.

That would put it in the vicinity of Cedar and East 105th Street, in the midst of IBM Explorys Solutions, Tomsich Pathology Laboratories, Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center and Brooks Life Sciences' biorepository.

The RFP also didn't specify how the 400,000 square feet of space should be provided -- be it in a horizontal or vertical building.

Looking north up East 105th Street toward the Cedar Avenue inter-
section shows the available land for development that could soon
arrive at this northeast end of the Opportunity Corridor (KJP).

But the scale of the building and the diminishing amount of land near the intersection of Cedar and East 105th suggests a structure similar to that of the new, 400,000-square-foot Neurological Institute at 9606 Euclid Ave. Conceptual renderings show that facility could top out at seven stories.

The pathogen center will also be the first phase of a larger research campus containing multiple smaller buildings with different focuses, sources said. Sizes of the individual buildings are not yet indicated by CCF. They will be determined by the winning design-construction team and based on program needs.

"We can share more information once details are available," Cooney said. "We hope to have more details soon." 

Some of the funding for the new pathogen center will be used to foster new technology companies in the Cleveland Innovation District and/or attract major employers here. The goal is to add 1,000 new jobs at Cleveland Clinic by 2029 and another 7,500 jobs in Ohio by 2034, state officials said in January.

Tucked away on Arthur Avenue, east of East 105th Street, are these
surviving, decaying houses. They are due to be replaced by a new
research campus resulting from the Innovation District announced
in January. New housing is planned west of East 105th (KJP).

Also last winter, CCF reissued requests for proposals for its new Neurological Institute and for nearly doubling the size of its 130,000-square-foot Cole Eye Institute. The added Cole Eye building will be located at 2030 E. 105th St. Both expansions were put on hold during the pandemic.

Additional development is coming to the area of Cedar and East 105th. On 3 acres of land at the southeast corner of that intersection, CCF is partnering with Fairmount Properties to develop up to 300 micro-unit apartments, several dozen townhomes and a 40,000-square-foot Meijer grocery store. Financing for the project is still coming together.

Fairmount is considering a second phase of roughly equal scale on the block immediately west, bounded by Cedar, East 103rd, East 101st Street and Wain. Both phases could rise to about 5-10 stories each, sources said.

END

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Detroit-Superior subway deck is on a new path

Redevelopment of the long-closed subway deck of the Detroit-
Superior Veterans Memorial Bridge into a pedestrian and bike
path is gaining momentum. But it continues to have challenges
too as the City of Cleveland is not yet at the table. Also, nearby
stakeholders would like to look at possibly adding parking in a
portion of the former streetcar subway (CUDC).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Transportation officials are seeking to begin formal planning and design work for a multi-purpose pathway on the long-closed streetcar subway deck of the Detroit-Superior Veterans Memorial Bridge. The bridge over the Cuyahoga River valley links downtown Cleveland and the Hingetown section of Ohio City.

Cuyahoga County Public Works Director Michael Dever acknowledged in a recent phone interview the county's desire to start the project which he said might cost about $18 million in 2024 dollars. That year is significant, as it indicates when Dever hopes major construction will be underway on the project.

"Our desire is to convert the underside of the bridge to a pedestrian walkway," Dever said. "In conjunction with the development of Irishtown Bend Park, this will be a great link between Ohio City and Downtown Cleveland."

The path's final design has yet to be undertaken and county funding has yet to be allocated to the bridge project. Dever says the reason is that the assignment of maintenance responsibilities of the proposed pathway remains unresolved.

Brent Kovacs, public information officer at the Ohio Department of Transportation's (ODOT) District 12 office, said ODOT is a partner in the discussions about the subway deck path with the county, city and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). However, he said there is no timeline yet for moving forward.

The Detroit-Superior bridge is one of Cleveland's most iconic
structures and, thus, one of its most photographed (KJP).

"The project needs to be developed further to determine possible funding," Kovacs said in an e-mail to NEOtrans. "NOACA is working with all parties mentioned above to set up a future meeting for discussion. In general when it comes to the Detroit-Superior bridge, ODOT funding would be for construction and long term maintenance. The city is responsible for routine maintenance."

A source who does not wish to be identified said the planning process has been slowed because Cleveland Public Works Director Michael Cox and other Jackson Administration officials have yet to respond to requests to participate in the project. Cox did not respond to e-mails from NEOtrans seeking comment.

Dever said the county's vision for the pathway is based on a 2013 conceptual study funded by eight partners led by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and conducted by a design team led by Kent State University's (KSU) Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC).

CUDC's vision was to convert the center axis of the bridge's streetcar subway into the pathway, leaving the south side of the bridge for utilities. The north side of the bridge was to see a mix of uses. Portions would remain unused. Other spans of the 13-span viaduct would feature permanent or temporary art exhibits.

The Detroit-Superior bridge was opened to roadway and rail traffic in 1918. It replaced the 1878-built Superior Viaduct which had a swing span over the Cuyahoga River to let large boats pass. The newer bridge was tall enough so the largest ships could travel below it without affecting road and rail traffic on it. The subway deck was closed to rail traffic in 1954 and has been largely unused ever since.

Conceptual plan from 2013 for reusing the subway deck of the
Detroit-Superior bridge. The basic concept from this report is
being considered today by Cuyahoga County and other trans-
portion planning bodies. But instead of having the pedestrian
and bike pathway run down the middle of the lower deck, it
would instead run along the bridge's south side (CUDC).

The county's vision for reusing it is to put the pathway along the south side of the subway deck where utility lines now run, Dever said. Those utility lines would be removed. The pathway's alignment would allow the northern two-thirds of the bridge's subway deck to remain for other uses. The bridge's center axis is currently used by service vehicles to inspect and make occasional repairs to the roadway deck above.

The subway stations -- one at West 9th Street at the east end of the bridge and the other at West 25th Street at the west end of the bridge -- would remain vacant. The pathway would bypass each station, ramping up and down from the subway deck outside of box-like structures containing the stations in each end of the bridge.

At the west end of the bridge, the path was proposed in the CUDC study to emerge from the south side of the bridge and ramp up to street level next to a derelict building owned by developer and restaurateur Bobby George. He acquired it in 2018 for $248,200 as planning advanced for the adjacent Irishtown Bend Park. Sources said he is apparently asking $7.2 million for the 0.4-acre property.

In the years since the CUDC study was done, the Lakefront Bikeway Connector was built to reach Gordon Square and Edgewater Park. The Detroit-Superior subway path could connect to it via a public space proposed as part of the planned 16-story Bridgeworks tower, 2429 Superior Viaduct, said Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Inc. Ohio City Inc. was a collaborator in the CUDC study in 2013. 

"This path is the type of thing that gives pedestrians more choices," he said. "The county has been looking at moving this (subway path) forward for some time. It influenced us to look at things around it. There's lots of projects around it. The big challenge is how to prioritize those projects and integrate those projects with the bridge."

One of many streetcar subway tours over the years was held July 6,
2013 by Cuyahoga County Public Works with the support of the City
of Cleveland and the Ohio Department of Transportation (KJP). 

In the CUDC report, it showed the path at the east end of the bridge would both rise and descend from the subway deck. The rising path would climb to the southwest corner of Superior and Huron Road. The descending path would use switchback ramps to drop to the valley floor and the planned Canal Basin Park where it would connect with the Towpath Trail.

Although the bridge sets on county-owned land, responsibility over maintenance of the bridge rests with the city; much of the funding comes from ODOT. The bridge carries the route designations for State Route 3 and U.S. Routes 6, 20 and 42.

The complex mix of responsibilities for the bridge is reflected in the approvals process for self-guided subway deck tours hosted by the county. The tours, occasionally held on major holiday weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, must be approved by both the city and ODOT, Dever said.

There won't be any subway tours this year and not just because of the pandemic. Dever said ODOT is funding major concrete repairs to the underside of the bridge. The repairs are projected to cost $16 million and continue until October.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack expressed his support for developing the subway deck. He also has been convening stakeholder meetings on developing Superior Viaduct into a linear park. That could involve moving up to 150 parking spaces from the viaduct to an unidentified parking structure.

A massing image for Bridgeworks when it was proposed as an
18-story building. It was since reduced to 16 stories but conti-
nues to show pedestrian/bike access to the Detroit-Superior
bridge's subway deck and a parking garage (Mass/LDA).

The Bridgeworks development has a 200+ space parking structure included in its plans that were approved by the city's Landmarks Commission in April. But the development is either too expensive as designed or doesn't yet have enough financing to start construction, according to two sources who spoke off the record. Reducing the amount of parking or finding a new, cheaper place to put the parking could make the project feasible. 

Mike Panzica, part of Bridgeworks development team with Graham Veysey and others, did not comment on the project's finances or the neighborhood's parking situation. He said his team intends to move forward with the plan as approved by the city.

"We intend to demolish the county (engineer's) laboratory building for the parking garage," Panizca said. "Our goal is to break ground (on the tower) later this year."

Bridgeworks is designed to add 170 apartments and 130 hotel rooms, the latter offered by an as-yet unidentified hotel chain. There will also be ground-floor restaurants/cafes and retail, as well as an 11th-floor restaurant.

"Potentially, there's a real opportunity to have (parking) spaces that are used by residents in the evening that can be used during the day for office tenants nearby," McNair said of Bridgeworks' proposed parking deck.

The Detroit-Superior bridge and its subway deck dominate the
view from the Stonebridge Condominiums (KJP).

A neighbor of the Bridgeworks development has been shopping another idea on how to address a worsening parking shortage in the area -- use part of the Detroit-Superior bridge's subway deck.

Terry Coyne, vice chairman of the Cleveland office of real estate broker Newmark Knight Frank, owns an historic, three-story office building at 2401 Superior Viaduct. Its largest tenant, a 102-employee video streaming company called BoxCast, is growing fast.

Coyne said BoxCast needs more parking or the company may move. Even with the planned pathway in place, the Detroit-Superior bridge's subway deck has more than 80,000 square feet of unused space west of the span directly above the Cuyahoga River. If converted to parking, it could accommodate up to 250 parked vehicles.

"I would be happy to pay for access to that space," Coyne said. "It would solve a lot of parking issues."

"After I lived in Spain for two years, I became a big supporter of transit-oriented development," McCormack said. "It's not hard to see this area of the Flats and Ohio City has a serious parking problem. So I'm looking for creative solutions."

Potential uses for the subway deck at the west end of the Detroit-
Superior bridge, in addition to the proposed pedestrian/bicycle
path, could include up to 250 parking spaces (Google/KJP).

According to county records, the bridge's subway deck west of the river span has three sections with different conditions that would have to be addressed before parking could be added to it. The middle section, accessible from the Bridgeworks site, appears to be the most parking-ready. It has a solid floor and fewer columns supporting the overhead roadway deck, allowing more room for cars to maneuver and park.

The section east of it also has fewer support columns but the northern side of the bridge has no solid floor; that floor would have to be added. Each arching bridge span may be strong enough to handle the added floors plus dozens of cars and SUVs. The reason is the bridge was designed to support much more weight than it does now on as many as six streetcar tracks. Only four tracks were actually provided, however.

Two-car trains of streetcars in 1918, like those designed by Cleveland Railway Commissioner Peter Witt, weighed 142,000 pounds without any passengers. That weight is roughly equal to 28 full-size SUVs. And, as designed, six of those trains could be simultaneously traversing any one span of the bridge.

The farthest west section is the old West 25th subway station. Although the western section has a solid floor, cars cannot easily maneuver in there let alone park. There are many support columns that would have to be removed and a new overhead roadway deck added, supported by long-span beams. The sides of the subway station and its street-side access points could be refurbished to their original, 1918 glory.

But converting a significant portion of the former subway deck to parking seems ironic, if not unfortunate, McNair said.

"Tenants are growing and looking for parking space," he acknowledged. "We're really big proponents of alternative modes of transportation and not over-burdening our built environment with cars. We want to engage the community to find solutions."

END

Sunday, May 2, 2021

45 Erieview Plaza has a buyer and a plan

Mixed-use is in store for the former headquarters of the
Ohio Bell Telephone Co. on East 9th Street and Lake-
side Avenue in downtown Cleveland. After several
years of sitting empty, the office building property
is being acquired by an out-of-town buyer (KJP).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

According to sources who spoke off the record, the former Ohio Bell Telephone headquarters now called 45 Erieview Plaza has a buyer with a plan. While the details of the project are still being developed, it reportedly will be a mixed-use development with 280 residential units, a couple floors of offices and some retail.

The buyer's name was revealed by the sources but asked that it not be publicized for the time being. However, the buyer is from out-of-state, showing the growing interest by outside investors in Cleveland real estate.

News of the purchase is tacitly confirmed by the commercial real estate site LoopNet which hasn't been advertising the property for sale or lease since news broke about the project in January. The sale includes a neighboring 348-space parking garage. There are also 32 parking spaces under the building, located at the southeast corner of Lakeside Avenue and East 9th Street.

Terms of the sale weren't fully disclosed, but the sale price of the property has been going down with each transaction. It was first sold in 1984 by developer Erieview Third Corp. for $61.64 million. Ohio Bell Telephone Co. sold it for $53.17 million in 2007 to MB Cleveland Erieview LLC, county records show.

Wide banks of curving windows would be an attraction to potential
future residents of a converted 45 Erieview Plaza (CBRE).

New York City-based private equity firm Somera Road bought 45 Erieview Plaza, dubbed The Ellipse, for $36 million in 2016. It tried in vain to find a large office user to fill most if not all of the 492,864-square-foot office building.

There are smaller office users moving into downtown Cleveland but none wanted to be the first to occupy a now-completely empty, cavernous building. Somera Road put up the building for auction last summer with a starting bid of $9 million.

There was an unidentified winning bidder different than the current buyer who had a $14.9 million offer, according to another source familiar with the sale. But the buyer walked away during the due-diligence period prior to taking title. It is not known why the purchase did not go through.

A low sale price will help free up capital for the project's conversion. The capital could include a Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) tax credit. Based on the TMUD law, the building exceeds the minimum requirements of 15 stories and 350,000 square feet to be eligible. Whether the redevelopment price tag exceeds $50 million -- the minimum investment under TMUD -- remains to be seen.

The ground floor of 45 Erieview Plaza lends itself to potential
restaurant/cafe and neighborhood-oriented retail considering
that the site is farther away from existing downtown residen-
tial areas and the retailers that support them (CBRE).

The target property is an interesting one for several reasons.

First is its relative modernity. All of the obsolete commercial buildings in downtown Cleveland that have been converted to residential and/or hotel over a retail/restaurant ground-floor use were more than 50 years old -- the minimum age to be eligible for state and federal historic tax credits. Many downtown office and department store buildings that were converted were much older than that.

The 45 Erieview Plaza property would offer the youngest office building to be converted to residential or other non-office uses. At 38 years of age, it's too young to be eligible for state historic tax credits. Those credits require buildings to be at least 50 years old.

But it could become eligible for federal historic tax credits now that the surrounding area was declared Feb. 1 by the U.S. Department of the Interior as the Erieview Historic District. That area is bounded by Lakeside, Chester Avenue, East 9th Street and East 12th St.

The views of Lake Erie from 45 Erieview Plaza will be a winning
attraction for any potential future resident (contributed image).

If a building contributes to the character of the surrounding designated area, it can be considered historic. That contribution may come from the architect of 45 Erieview Plaza -- Norman Perttula. He contributed to the urban renewal efforts of the Erieview plan, including with the 1960s- and 1970s-era Park Centre along East 12th between Superior and Chester avenues. Perttula passed away Dec. 27, 2020 at the age of 93.

One of the factors of the building that has discouraged its reuse is its large floorplates - most of the office floors measure about 37,000 square feet. That worked well for Ohio Bell's call center but not for most office users who want floorplates less than 25,000 square feet.

That lends to an interesting question as to how those large floors might lend themselves to residential, since a residential building typically has floorplates smaller than those for office users. That may point to creating an open-air atrium in the center of the building, much like what Bedrock and Geis Companies did with the conversion of the massive May Company department store into apartments.

END