Tuesday, June 29, 2021

600 feet above the street: Sherwin-Williams sets HQ height

Sherwin-Williams' new global headquarters tower will be a signi-
ficant presence in downtown Cleveland's skyline. At just over
600 feet tall, only SHW's three neighbors on Public Square
will be taller than SHW's HQ (Ian McDaniel).

An executive-level committee at Sherwin-Williams (SHW) has made a critical decision -- the final height of its new headquarters tower just west of downtown Cleveland's Public Square. According to sources on the HQ design team, the height decided by SHW's Building Our Future Committee is 600 feet.

The tower's height may actually be a few feet over 600, depending on the size of rooftop fixtures and other related structures ordered. The number of floors also approaches 40 stories, but the number isn't easy to specify since there are planned lobby mezzanines and penthouse levels that can be counted or discounted based on preference.

Over the past few months, the SHW HQ design team digitally stretched and manipulated diagrams of the proposed 1-million-square-foot tower. They made floorplates larger or smaller, added or subtracted indents and terraces in the exterior, and altered the roofline in various ways. Each of those myriad of options was presented to the committee for review and elimination until only one was left.

Work crews were doing site preparation work last week in
advance of a winter groundbreaking for the new SHW
HQ that will join Cleveland's three tallest skyscrapers
seen here. From left, they are Key Tower, 200 Public
Square and Terminal Tower. SHW's HQ will be
 slightly shorter than 200 Public Square (KJP).

NEOtrans has asked for a copy of the rendering that was selected but sources are very concerned about being discovered. SHW has threatened to prosecute anyone who leaks information to media and others outside a designated inner circle. So only word descriptions and some briefing documents have been provided so far. NEOtrans is not sharing scans of the briefing documents at the request of sources.

With a final conceptual design selected, the design team will compose detailed blueprints of each floor and the exterior based on that concept and submit them to the city for approval. But it should be noted that the City Planning Commission and Building Department have been directly involved in the HQ's design.

So even though it will still be a month or two before those designs are publicly released, the city's review and approval process should move along very quickly. The city and SHW's design team have been in constant communication so neither is expecting any surprises from each other.

BOK Park Plaza tower in Oklahoma City, also designed by SHW
architect Pickard Chilton, has some similarities to what is envi-
sioned for SHW's HQ. This would be similar to the view look-
ing south on West 3rd Street from Frankfort Avenue. The park-
ing deck is at right, connected to the HQ tower by a skywalk
over an alley like Frankfort. In Oklahoma City, that low-rise
building at left is an auditorium designed by Pickard Chilton
for Devon Energy's HQ. It would be similar to but smaller
than SHW's proposed learning center (Google).

Here is an updated and thorough word description of SHW's new HQ complex:

  • The site plan (first revealed here on NEOtrans in January a month before the public release) continues to be divided into four basic parts: HQ office tower, learning center, parking deck and future development sites.
  • HQ office tower at 600+ feet tall will have an ultraviolet filter glass curtain wall exterior, square floorplates, and angled roofline similar to that of the twin Atria II or III office buildings in North York, Ontario, in suburban Toronto.
  • The office building will have two outdoor terraces (NEOtrans previously reported it would have only one) in the lower mid-section of the the tower, with one terrace overlooking Public Square and the other looking in the opposite, westerly direction.
  • The westerly terrace suggests no neighboring tower is anticipated by SHW in the foreseeable future as it would block views from the terrace.
  • Ultra-modern, efficient and environmentally benign design of HQ is a goal so that a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification can be sought from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system to be provided.
  • A small café will be on each floor and there will be a larger gym for employees.
  • SHW logos atop the tower will face east and west.
  • There will be no public uses on the ground floor of the office tower, only a lobby for employees and persons having business with SHW employees.
  • So far, the only public uses on SHW-owned properties will be leasable commercial spaces along the West 3rd Street side of the parking deck.
  • Frankfort Avenue, between the parking deck and tower, will be a service lane and loading zone for the SHW HQ. The city will vacate Frankfort, making it the property of SHW.
  • Overhead walkways from the tower, over Frankfort to the parking deck and over West 3rd Street to the learning center, remain in the plans.
  • Roughly 2.8 acres of SHW-owned land held for "future development" along West 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue will be used for trailers, equipment and materials staging during HQ construction. Afterwards it will return to use as surface parking and held for future expansion unless a developer or developers make worthwhile offers to SHW.
  • The learning center on Public Square will be two stories tall. It will be comprised of conference and training facilities plus a new Center of Excellence relocated from the existing HQ in the Landmark Office Building, 101 W. Prospect Ave.

One of many mock-ups of SHW's proposed HQ
office interiors set up inside the SHW's existing
HQ building on Prospect Avenue. The biggest
difference here is that the new HQ will have
floor-to-ceiling windows (contributed).

SHW hired Pickard Chilton to be the lead architect for the HQ including the exteriors. Vocon Partners LLC was chosen to design the new HQ's interiors. HGA Architects and Engineers, LLC is the base building architect for the HQ.

At a few feet over 600, SHW's new HQ will overtake Erieview Tower as the fourth tallest building in Cleveland. It will also be the sixth-tallest tower in the state of Ohio. According to WikiPedia, here are the tallest buildings in Ohio (not including antennas):

  1. Key Tower, Cleveland -- 947 feet -- 57 stories -- 1991;
  2. Terminal Tower, Cleveland -- 771 feet -- 52 stories -- 1930;
  3. Great American Tower, Cincinnati -- 665 feet -- 41 stories -- 2011;
  4. 200 Public Square, Cleveland -- 658 feet -- 45 stories -- 1985;
  5. Rhodes State Office Tower, Columbus -- 629 feet -- 45 stories -- 1973;
  6. Sherwin-Williams HQ, Cleveland -- 600+ feet -- 38-40 stories -- 2024.

Every floor in SHW's new HQ tower will have
a café for employees. Plus, there will be work-
stations for every employee, huddle rooms,
video conference booths, call rooms and
other contemporary features (contributed).

Sources on the design team continue to expect shovels will go into the ground this winter for SHW's new $300+ million global HQ complex. However, contractors were already on site last week and will continue to do work over the next few months relocating utilities and doing other site preparation work for the new HQ.

SHW employees this month also began touring mock-ups of potential offices in the new HQ to provide input on conceptual interior designs, lighting, furniture, paint and artwork. After employees tour the mock-ups, located inside the existing HQ, the HQ design team will send out surveys to employees for their feedback.

Some employees at the Breen Technology Center on Canal Road and the Warrensville Technology Center on Warrensville Center Road in Warrensville Heights will relocate to the new HQ. Also relocating will be all employees (about 25) at SHW's Chicago Metro District Office in suburban Schaumburg.

With those relocations and a corporate growth factor of 8 percent, the new HQ is being designed to accommodate about 3,500 employees, according to design team members who spoke to NEOtrans on the condition of anonymity.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Megaprojects tax credit doubles in size, duration

State lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a compromise two-year
budget bill tonight that included a provision to double the dollar
amount and duration of a new tax credit program to boost real
estate megaprojects in Ohio's largest urbanized areas (file photo).


Extension of a new tax credit program intended to boost major real estate developments primarily in Ohio's largest cities was included in the biennial budget bill passed by state lawmakers tonight. The extension was confirmed by Senator Kirk Schuring (R-29, Canton) who sponsored the original bill that created the tax credit. 

The provision was included in a two-year, $74 billion state budget bill hashed out by a six-person conference committee comprised of four Republicans and two Democrats. Both the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 110 by significant, bipartisan margins.

The new Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) tax credit program offers up to $100 million per year in tax credits over four years to offset as much as 10 percent of a real estate project's capital costs. Only projects of $50 million or more and that meet other conditions are eligible; no project can win more $40 million in tax credits.

The TMUD program was created by an earlier bill, Senate Bill 39 sponsored by Senator Kirk Schuring (R-29, Canton). It was passed and signed into law last December. That law, which took three years to pass, offered four years of tax credits, from 2020-23. With Ohio's fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30, the state's 2020 fiscal year was already over by the time the TMUD law was passed, leaving only three years of tax credits.

Stark Enterprises sought the TMUD tax credit program to boost
its nuCLEus development as well as other new-construction
projects in Cleveland's urban core. With the program maxi-
mized per tonight's vote by the Ohio General Assembly,
it remains to be seen in what form this long-discussed
project will be submitted for tax credits (Stark).

But in May, NEOtrans broke the news that rulemaking to implement the TMUD program would not be completed by the administering agency, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, in time to award fiscal year 2021's tax credits. That would leave only two years and half of the $400 million in tax credits remaining in the program.

In other words, up to $2 billion worth of complicated, costly yet beneficial real estate projects that couldn't proceed without the TMUD probably wouldn't happen -- unless the law was amended. The new state budget bill passed tonight shifted the four authorized years of the program as starting in Ohio fiscal year 2022 which begins July 1, 2021. The final year of the program is 2025 which ends June 30, 2025.

"We expect the (TMUD) program will launch in the first quarter of fiscal year 2022," said Todd Walker, chief communications officer for the Ohio Development Services Agency.

If that holds true, TMUD applications will probably start to be accepted by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority sometime between July and September. There are potentially dozens of projects just in Greater Cleveland that could be submitted for TMUD credits with dozens more statewide.

The 16-story Bridgeworks development in Cleveland's Ohio City
neighborhood is a likely candidate for a TMUD credit. Capital
resources for the large, transformative project don't yet cover all
of the construction costs, according to sources (Mass/LDA).

"So we now fulfilled the original goal of the original bill (Senate Bill 39) by offering the four years of credits," Schuring said in an interview with NEOtrans. "The very nature of it is that it's a new model, a new paradigm. It's a partnership with business. Government should receive a return on its investment."

The extension was hailed by real estate industry officials who said meeting the as-yet insatiable demand for urban core housing in Cleveland calls for access to the maximum amount of TMUD credits. This public funding will help investors and builders overcome Greater Cleveland's relatively high construction costs and low rents.

"A lot of projects need to bridge gaps in their capital stacks," said Zak Baris, president of Comprehensive Zoning Services, a real estate due-diligence firm. "There are investors sitting on the fence waiting for the chance to win a TMUD credit. More will have a better chance to win credits with the program extended to 2025."

He noted that a number of major downtown Cleveland projects are more likely to happen with the expanded TMUD program. That includes nuCLEus whose developer, Stark Enterprises, came up with the idea for the TMUD tax credits several years ago and was based on the historic tax credit that allowed obsolete office buildings to be renovated with housing, hotels and retail.

"This (historic tax credit) program has encouraged our urban areas to preserve their historic buildings, which is what gave our cities their character, and now we need to complement that character with a program that will allow our cities to set the stage for their futures,” said Steve Coven, Stark Enterprises’ vice president of real estate development.

Even some historic renovation projects like The Centennial at
925 Euclid are candidates for the TMUD program. The massive
scale of this project and its large amount of space that cannot
produce revenues makes it difficult for private lenders to fi-
nance. Yet its redevelopment with 868 workforce housing
units, retail and office space would be transformative
for downtown Cleveland (Millennia).

The TMUD program will also help developers overcome Cleveland's already high construction costs, made worse by recent rises in materials costs, namely lumber but especially steel.

"In Cleveland, as well as many Ohio communities, financial feasibility is typically difficult to achieve with our current lease/rent levels," said Tim Jackson, director of Integra Realty Resources – Cleveland. "Add in the rise in construction costs and it's really a double whammy for Northeast Ohio. These types of megaprojects can be a catalyst for surrounding development and really help improve the immediate area."

Another provision that would help redevelopment of polluted land, called "Brownfields," was included in the state's budget. It has $350 million for clean up of vacant industrial properties in urban areas like Cleveland. Without the funding to clean up brownfield sites, developers might simply look to develop clean-and-green land at the outer edge of metro areas instead.

State Senators Sandra Williams (D-21, Cleveland) and Michael Rulli (R-33, Salem) were sponsors of the Brownfields funding. Similarly, the budget bill passed by both the Senate and House has $150 million for demolishing blighted or nuisance buildings in Ohio. 

The state budget bill now goes to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature. The governor has line-item veto power but he is not expected to remove the TMUD, Brownfields or demolitions provisions as they have enjoyed broad and bipartisan support.


City Club Apartments tower sees delays

CBD Cleveland, a high-rise tower planned by Michigan-based
City Club Apartments, is reportedly having difficulties getting
shovels in the ground more than 10 months after it won city
approvals to secure building permits. The developer has
yet to apply for the permits or get site control (Vocon).

A 23-story apartment tower proposed to rise on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland has seen potential groundbreaking dates come and go, delayed by several factors. While most of the factors are largely beyond the control of Farmington Hills, MI-based City Club Apartments (CCA), some of the delays are reportedly the developer's fault.

It's been more than 10 months since City Planning Commission gave approval to final designs for CCA's planned 240-foot-tall tower called CBD Cleveland. The 300-unit apartment tower with ground-floor retailers/restaurants would rise at 720 Euclid Ave.

Currently a parking lot, the site prior to 1981 was the location of the Hippodrome Building that contained the famous Hippodrome Theater. Next door is the 1901-built City Club of Cleveland which coincidentally has a name similar to that of the planned apartment building.

Since the city's Aug. 21, 2020 approval of the apartment tower's design, major construction bidding publications like the Dodge Reports have posted groundbreaking dates of May 1 and again for June 1 for CBD Cleveland, only to see those dates come and go with few visible signs of progress.

On May 7, city crews completed work to relocate utilities from
below the sidewalk to under Euclid Avenue so that a construc-
tion tower crane for the planned City Club Apartments could
be placed on the sidewalk (Ian Meadows).

So far, the only signs of work were done by the city. In February, crews began relocating utilities from below Euclid's south-side sidewalk so the construction tower crane pad could be located there. That work was completed in early May, lending credence to the notion that construction on the tower was imminent.

But as of today, no construction permit applications have been filed with the city for the affected parcel. A search of permit requests under the names of City Club Apartments, its project-specific affiliate CCA CBD Cleveland, LLC or even the current property owner David Goldberg, doing business as GSK 720 Euclid, LLC, revealed no permit applications.

Even more troubling is that no property transfer or long-term leases were recorded by the county as of today for the affected parcel. CCA does not have site control at this time. Once CCA gets it, construction permit applications could be filed.

The half-acre plat on which the new tower is proposed to rise was carved out of a 2-acre property last November. Goldberg's original parcel extended from Euclid south to Prospect Avenue and includes a six-level, 540-space parking garage in the middle of the property.

Ground floor uses in the proposed CBD Cleveland offer a more
 activated street scene along Euclid Avenue, including a res-
taurant proposed to be called The Hippodrome, named
after a building that stood here until 1981 (Vocon). 

"The effect of the plat is to consolidate the 10 historical parcels and to split the approximately one-half acre parcel fronting on Euclid Avenue for sale to and development by CCA CBD Cleveland, LLC of the City Club Apartments project," wrote Mara Cushwa, partner and chair of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP's Real Estate practice group, in a Nov. 18, 2020 letter to the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office Department.

However, sources close to the project say CCA is pursuing a 99-year lease with Goldberg to gain the necessary site control. Those same sources say that CCA's founder, chairman and CEO Jonathan Holtzman has been extremely demanding and difficult to work with in getting deals done.

"He has unrealistic price expectations to the point where they've now selected non-union small-trades contractors and are trying to dumb-down the design to fit within the budget," said a source close to the project, but who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Designs being changed are interiors which presumably would not require the developer to submit revised plans to the planning commission which should help limit further delays. Instead, the developer reportedly is demanding interior furnishings and subcontractor outcomes based on cost formulas that are applied from project to project, city to city.

Other sources said that some subcontractors who were selected by general contractor Cleveland Construction Inc. are having trouble keeping up on their existing work demands. This is happening industry-wide, not just in Cleveland, according to subcontractors. They expect to be busy for the foreseeable future but are hiring to get more work done so new projects can begin.

Additional geotech drilling to gather core samples was conducted
by Frontz Drilling Inc. of Wooster at the request of GSK 720
 Euclid LLC, not by City Club Apartments or its contractors.
This work was done on March 2 below a parking lot at 720
Euclid Ave., site of the planned tower (Clifton Haworth).

Another factor redefining or delaying major construction projects nationwide is record-high steel prices. Yet, sources close to the CCA project have not specifically brought those up as a direct cause of delay for the Cleveland tower, even though the project has a tight budget estimated by Dodge Reports at $92.5 million.

That price tag is less than two other recent downtown Cleveland high-rise apartment developments -- The Beacon, a $95 million 19-story addition to the top of a 9-story parking garage and The Lumen, a $135 million 34-story apartment tower with a 540-space parking garage. Like The Beacon, CCA's parking will be availed by a nearby parking garage that is typically full during the day but underutilized at night.

Holzman could not be reached for comment and Cleveland Construction representatives did not respond to inquiries seeking clarification and more information.

Other sources who have discussed the CBD Cleveland tower directly with Holtzman said the third-generation real estate developer remains upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for delivering the Cleveland project.

CCA currently has four major projects in development, including the one in Cleveland. The others are a 17-story project in Chicago called the Lakeview, a six-story building in Detroit called the Midtown, and a 31-story redevelopment of the historic Union Central tower in Cincinnati. The first three projects involve new construction.


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Public Square's north side may be artists' canvas

A sample of what a light painting on the Old Stone Church could
look like. The program including music could run for up to four
evenings per week and for about 20-30 minutes several times
during each of those evenings. Downtown Cleveland Residents
is sponsoring the effort and looking for financial and volunteer
contributions to make the project happen by this time next
year, in time for FRONT International's Cleveland Tri-
ennial for Contemporary Art (Xavier de Richemont).

Two significant art installations could turn the north side of downtown Cleveland's Public Square into a bright, uplifting and active canvas. The canvas would be two historic buildings that may come alive with stories about Cleveland using not only imagery, but also light and sound on select nights.

Those two buildings are the Old Stone Church and the blank backside of The Standard apartment tower. The feature-less south side of The Standard, 99 W. St. Clair Ave. has cried out to be finished since the terra cotta structure was built in 1923.

Its 21-story wall was to have another building constructed next to and south of it but it never happened. Instead, it has gazed with a blank stare on Cleveland's geographic heart and central commons for nearly a century.

If anything, that empty canvas has only made the Old Stone Church (home to the 200-year-old First Presbyterian Society of Cleveland congregation) more noticeable to visitors. The 166-year-old Romanesque-style church is the oldest structure standing on Public Square.

Behind Mayor Tom Johnson (1901-09) stands the Old
Stone Church and The Standard, as well as 75 Public
Square which is undergoing renovations and conver-
sion from offices to apartments (KJP).

Together, the pair of historic structures could become a dynamic duo of contemporary art that tells Cleveland's historical, cultural and economic story, said Alan O'Connell, president of the nonprofit Downtown Cleveland Residents, a municipally recognized community relations board.

"I saw The Saga in San Antonio, Texas on a trip with my family and thought about how cool it would be to have something like that here in Cleveland," O'Connell said. "Then Ian (Meadows, assistant city planner at City Architecture) posted something online about activating that big blank wall behind the church. I connected with him, and we started down this road to make it happen."

O'Connell calls The Saga laser-light show and others like it a "light painting." The program in San Antonio lasts 24 minutes, is accompanied by music and is free to the public on the city's historic Main Plaza. It is projected onto San Angelo Cathedral which opened in 1750 and is one of the oldest continually operating cathedrals in the USA. Founded by a congregation at the urging of King Phillip V of Spain, its structure is 105 years older than Cleveland's Old Stone Church.

Leadership at both Old Stone Church and the First Presbyterian Society granted permission for the light painting project to appear on their church's façade, O'Connell said. Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack also reportedly supports the project. Next up, Downtown Cleveland Residents will seek approvals from the city's Group Plan Commission which oversees Public Square. That is where display equipment would have to be permanently installed.

Part of an ever-changing, 24-minute laser-light painting of the
270-year-old San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, TX,
that is accompanied by music (Wind Walk Travel Videos).

Xavier de Richemont, the artist who worked on the San Antonio project, has been engaged for the Cleveland project as well. He provided several mock-ups of what the light painting on Old Stone Church could look like.

O'Connell says the French artist fully immerses himself into the history and culture of a city before composing the artwork. Local musicians, including the Cleveland Orchestra, are desired. During the six-month to one-year development process, he would take several trips to Cleveland.

Based on O'Connell's conversations with the Main Plaza Conservancy, the San Antonio organization that oversees The Saga, the upfront costs for Cleveland's light painting will be somewhere around $1.25 million. Annual costs to run the show four days per week with three shows in each of those nights is about $25,000 per year.

In San Antonio, The Saga was funded almost entirely by local business owners and philanthropic organizations. The ongoing maintenance costs are paid for with tax dollars from the city and county.

A mock-up of what the Old Stone Church
could look like during a laser-light paint-
ing show (Xavier de Richemont).

The timing of Downtown Cleveland Residents' light painting project is desired to coincide with that of FRONT International's Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. The inaugural festival, held in 2018, featured 345 works by 129 global artists at 25 Northeast Ohio venues attracted 227,000 visitors. The $5 million project was funded mostly through private sources.

FRONT's next installment was originally scheduled to be held again this year. But in 2020, with uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the festival was postponed until July 16-Oct. 2, 2022.

A significant piece of that festival involves installation of a permanent mural on the blank south façade of The Standard. FRONT has reportedly engaged an international artist to compose the mural but their identity remains unknown. Ed Winstead, FRONT's director and cultural counsel did not respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking more information prior to publication of this article.

"The postponement will allow us to present the best version of FRONT that we can -- something we hope will serve as a beacon of hope at the end of this difficult time," said FRONT Executive Director and CEO Fred Bidwell in a written statement.

Another view of a possible scene in a laser-light painting of the
Old Stone Church and The Standard (Xavier de Richemont). 

FRONT partners in the Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art include the Akron Art Museum, Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Cleveland Institute of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Public Library, moCa Cleveland, Spaces and Transformer Station.

"We're still working out the details of the large blank wall behind Old Stone Church," O'Connell added. "I know there was a mural planned to go there and we are hoping to coordinate that mural with the light show somehow. Ideally it would be a beautiful mural during the day that acts as a sort of "stage" for certain scenes of the light painting show at night."

To help with fundraising and volunteering for the light painting effort, contact Alan O'Connell at 440-417-3807 or by e-mail at president@downtownresidents.org.

"I think this will be a really incredible, world-class attraction that all Clevelanders can be proud of," he said.


Friday, June 25, 2021

Kalina House gets early OK for Fairfax site

Kalina House is proposed to help people transition to a new life
after suffering the loss of limbs. Making that transition means
finding new housing, learning how to move around, and be
independent takes an enormous effort. Kalina House is
the place where that journey will begin (AODK).

Cleveland's City Planning Commission unanimously approved conceptual designs for a transitional housing facility for people who have recently lost limbs or the temporary or permanent use of their limbs. The facility, called Kalina House, is proposed to be located at 2055 E. 79th St., between Euclid and Carnegie avenues in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood.

Although the proposed building is small, the need is huge, said project backer Mark Kalina, Jr. who lost both of his legs and a pinky in a train-pedestrian accident in Columbus in October 2012. His story is told here by MetroHealth Medical System where he works as a senior analyst in The Center for Health Resilience and helps others adjust to a new life of independence without the use of their limbs.

When Kalina sees people in the hospital who have recently lost their limbs, he sees himself from nearly a decade ago. He also sees their challenges ahead -- independently living, moving about and working. Kalina realizes he was relatively lucky because he had a strong support group who helped him make the biggest adjustment of his life.

Located on the east side of East 79th Street, next to a CVS
Pharmacy and between Euclid and Carnegie avenues, the
Kalina House will be near major medical institutions
including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals,
St. Vincent Charity Hospital and MetroHealth
Medical Center (AODK).

"Over the last six years we have been developing a housing project to address a gap between hospital and home," Kalina told planning commission members on June 18. "Some individuals face tremendous obstacles in their recovery. This (new facility) is how we plan to fix that."

Kalina House is proposed to have 19 accessible housing units in a roughly 15,000-square-foot, single-floor building with offices, lounge and rehabilitation spaces for physical and occupational therapy personnel and resident activities, said project architect Greg Ernst of AODK Architecture in Lakewood.

"The middle of the building has an outdoor courtyard to bring more light into the units and to give a place to go outside," he said.

Just being around others recovering from a similar traumatic situation helps with one of the biggest challenges -- a feeling of isolation and loneliness. Residents will be able to see and talk with others going through the same challenges they are and thus provide an all-important support group.

This conceptual site plan and associated renderings were
unanimously approved by the City Planning Commission
on June 18. Now, more detailed designs will be drawn
and submitted to the city in the coming weeks (AODK).

"This is my neighborhood and it's nice to see that the missing teeth are starting to be filled in and obviously, the commitment to be in Cleveland goes without saying," said planning commission member August Fluker.

Kalina also started the Mark Kalina Jr. Foundation to offer a source of funding to help people acquire prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and other costly necessities that help people return to some semblance of a normal life. So not only will those experiencing life-altering trauma have a place to stay while they learn how to cope, they will be given the physical and emotional tools to adjust.

Helping with the real estate aspects of building Kalina House is David Grunenwald, vice president of development at Jacobs Investments, Inc. Jacobs developed much of the Flats West Bank along the river, including the FirstEnergy Powerhouse and Nautica Stage.
View looking north from Carnegie Avenue where a new Bank
of America branch is starting construction (AODK).

"You can't help but be inspired by a young fella whose life changes in a blink of an eye," Grunenwald said of Kalina in a recent online interview. "But he wants to help others."

Grunenwald of Hudson came to know Kalina, a Twinsburg native, through a neighbor who is related to Kalina. Together they toured potential properties located on the HealthLine bus rapid transit route and near Cleveland's largest medical facilities. 

"Sometimes you're just drawn to an area that makes sense," Grunenwald said. "That was true in this case. Eventually we came up with what I believe is a very good program, a very workable program. The facility works and it's in a good location. The city has been cooperative, contributing land from the land bank."
Another view of the Kalina House, looking northeasterly from
East 79th Street. The goal is to make the new facility feel
like a comfortable new home to patients who are trying
to recover from life-altering trauma (AODK).

Grunenwald said the project received a financing commitment from an organization that wanted to be involved in "impactful real estate." However he would not identify that organization.

"I had the easy part," he added. "Real estate is easy. Building buildings is easy. Making it work, making it do what Mark wanted, making it feel like home, that's the hard part. So we're getting there."

A more detailed level of drawings, called schematic design, will be presented to planning commission next. Any refinements will be added to the final design for the commission to approve, possibly by the end of summer. Construction could begin by the end of the year and be completed in a year or less. 


Friday, June 18, 2021

Cleveland Clinic advances its 'Big 3' projects

The Big 3 Cleveland Clinic developments include
the new Neurological Institute, expansion of the
Cole Eye Institute and the new Global Center for
Pathogen Research & Human Health. Those are
just the medical facilities. The Clinic jointly de-
veloping a mixed-use project with Fairmount
Properties near the pathogen center (Google).

Cleveland's largest employer is about to get even larger. While Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) is officially mum on expansion details, NEOtrans is hearing rumors from sources that one or more of their "Big 3" projects may be bigger than originally anticipated.

The Clinic's Big 3 are the new Neurological Institute, expansion of the Cole Eye Institute and the new Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health. Combined they will add 1 million or more square feet of new medical, research and office facilities to University Circle, Ohio's fourth-largest employment district. And that's just the medical stuff CCF is pursuing.

Recently, CCF made some moves to advance those three projects. The Cole Eye Institute expansion and the new Neurological Institute are farther along in the development process than the new pathology center. The latest news is that the Clinic responded to bids from prospective construction managers for the Cole Eye and Neurological buildings and chose who will oversee their construction.

"Whiting-Turner Contracting will provide construction management services on our Cole Eye Institute building and Turner Construction will provide construction management services on our Neurological Institute building," said Alicia Reale Cooney, CCF's senior manager of corporate communications.

The building at left is a conceptual sketch of the Cleveland Clinic's
new Neurological Institute, looking east from East 96th Street with
the Intercontinental Hotel at right and the Crile Building standing
at the end of the greenspace. The Neurological Center may
wrap around the East Mount Zion Baptist Church (CCF).

But Cooney wasn't prepared to disclose the size of those buildings even though CCF had previously released those parameters. Preliminary space needs were estimated at about 400,000 square feet for the new Neurological Institute at 9606 Euclid Ave. and 100,000 square feet for expansion of the 130,000-square-foot Cole Eye Institute at about 2030 E. 105th Street.

Rumors are swirling that one or both of those buildings may be larger than those early estimates, adding hundreds of additional jobs to Cleveland that weren't anticipated when they were first proposed.

"The design and pre-construction process are still underway," she said, not willing to disclose if any changes were being considered. "Additional information will be shared once more details are available."

The two new CCF buildings are due to see construction start this winter. Architects, civil engineers, construction subcontractors and others are being brought on board to conduct design and programming.

Last month, CCF issued a request for proposals for the third of its Big 3 new buildings -- the new pathogen center which is a result of the launch of the Cleveland Innovation District and was given priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The RFP contained a couple of specifics, such as an anticipated Spring 2022 groundbreaking, but also had some ambiguities.

East 105th Street at Cedar Avenue is likely going to look quite a
bit different in a few years as two big projects, the new pathogen
center as well as a planned mixed-use joint development with
Fairmount Properties, are in the works here (Google).

"Planning is in (the) 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," Cooney told NEOtrans shortly after the RFP was issued.

She could not identify a cross street along Cedar but said a general location would be in the area of "Cedar Avenue near Cleveland Clinic's main campus." Sources close to the project say the pathogen center would likely be near East 105th Street because CCF wants the pathogen center to connect to their existing research buildings in that area.

And those are "just" the medical buildings CCF is pursuing. The Clinic is also working with Fairmount Properties to jointly develop hundreds of thousands of square feet of mixed uses in phases, south of Cedar near East 105th.

In the 2000s, Fairmount joined with the Wolstein Group to develop Flats East Bank downtown. It then joined with DiGeronimo Companies to build Pinecrest in Orange Village which opened in 2018.

In the first phase of its partnership with CCF, Fairmount envisions 300 micro-unit apartments, several dozen townhomes and a 40,000-square-foot Meijer grocery store rising 5-10 stories above the southwest corner of East 105th and Cedar. A second phase of roughly equal size could follow immediately west of it. Financing for the project is still coming together, sources said.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Photos, details of Sherwin-Williams' new HQ interiors

Bright, open and modern office spaces are what
await Sherwin-Williams employees at their new
headquarters tower west of Cleveland's Public
Square. Features like this semi-circular video
conference booth mix collaboration and tech-
nology, a stark difference from the antiquated
rooms at SHW's old HQ (contributed photos).

At last, we have more illustrations showing the preliminary designs of the new Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters!

OK, they're photos of the proposed interiors rather than renderings of the exterior. But during employee tours of the interior mock-ups, HQ design team members confirmed the physical HQ descriptions NEOtrans has reported are accurate.

And considering that up to 3,500 Greater Clevelanders, plus many suppliers and customers will be seeing more of the HQ interiors than the exteriors, the design concepts are very important to attracting and retaining talent to SHW and Greater Cleveland.

So far, the early reviews from SHW employees who toured the new HQ mock-ups in the old SHW HQ indicate the design team is on the right track to shedding its stodgy, closed-office settings in its old building in the Tower City Center complex. SHW plans to invest at least $600 million in its new headquarters downtown and new research facility in suburban Brecksville. Sky-high materials costs may push that budget much higher.

By 2024, SHW employees will begin moving
into their new offices such as this one in what
apparently will be Cleveland's fourth-tallest
and Ohio's sixth-tallest building.

"This (interior design) makes me want to stay at Sherwin-Williams and (it) shows me someone somewhere is noticing a culture change has to be made," said a 20-something-year-old employee who left a progressive company in a modern building to work for SHW. He preferred anonymity as he is not authorized to speak for the company. "Between this and the permanent only-in the-office three-days-a-week schedule, I'm sold."

"They (tour guides) said the new building will have floor-to-ceiling windows which I'm personally thrilled about," said another SHW employee who was among groups of about a half-dozen people taking guided tours every 30 minutes.

After employees tour the buildings, the HQ design team will send out surveys to employees at the HQ on Prospect Avenue. Also to taking tours of the mock-ups and the follow-on surveys will be employees relocating to the new HQ from the Breen Technology Center on Canal Road and the Warrensville Technology Center on Warrensville Center Road in Warrensville Heights.

Work spaces in the new HQ will be divided among
"me" and "we" settings. The "me" settings like these
workstations offer some privacy but also the colla-
borative benefits offered by working in the office.

SHW hired Pickard Chilton to be the lead architect for the HQ including the exteriors. Vocon Partners LLC was chosen to design the new HQ's interiors. HGA Architects and Engineers, LLC is the base building architect for the HQ.

According to HQ design team members who spoke to NEOtrans on the condition of anonymity, they will be working on the designing interiors for many more months. In fact, they expected to be refining the HQ's interior plans even after shovels hit the dirt for the new HQ west of Public Square in downtown Cleveland in late-2021.

The 3,500-employee capacity of the new building may not be reached for a few years, design team members said. That workforce figure depends on an 8 percent rate of corporate growth plus the relocations from Breen, Warrensville and its Chicago Metro District Office in suburban Schaumburg.

Every floor in the new SHW HQ will have a
café where employees can get lunch, a snack or
simply exchange ideas over a cup of coffee.

Some other interior design features of the new HQ:

  • Very modern, efficient and environmentally benign design of HQ is a goal;
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of HQ to be sought from the U.S. Green Building Council;
  • High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system to be provided;
  • Ultraviolet filter glass curtain wall windows;
  • The theme among floor uses are "Me and We" spaces;
  • 10x12-foot offices, conference rooms and elevators/stairwell core will be near the center of each floor;
  • Workstations around the exteriors of each floor will be for individual contributors;
  • Every HQ employee will have a desk regardless of their work schedule;
  • Extra workstations will be provided for visiting employees from the new Brecksville research center, for field employees and workers from other sites;
  • There will be "huddle rooms" and "call rooms;"
  • A small café will be on each floor;
  • A larger gym for employees;
  • Furniture hasn't been decided but the winning vendor must use SHW coatings.
The biggest difference from this mock-up in the old
HQ is the new HQ will have floor-to-ceiling windows.

During the employee tours, the guides also described the new HQ's exterior design features. Many of those features were previously reported by NEOtrans.

During the tours, the guides confirmed the building will exceed 30 stories but wouldn't give an exact number as the height hasn't been finalized. NEOtrans has learned from design team sources that the number of floors will probably be near or reach 40.

In our most recent SHW HQ article, NEOtrans reported that the latest design of the HQ has an angled roofline that tops at or near 600 feet above the street. That would make the SHW HQ tower Cleveland's fourth-tallest.

A semi-private seating area for calls or messaging.

Most of the HQ tower will have square floorplates, as NEOtrans has reported that this will be a boxy (aside from the roofline) tower instead of curved or angular. An outdoor terrace cut into the lower midsection of the building overlooking Public Square is proposed to break up the façade and offer an amenity space for employees and corporate events. Lighted SHW logos will be atop the tower.

The building fronting Public Square will be three stories tall and serve as the welcoming facility to SHW, complete with a Center of Excellence relocated from the old HQ to provide historical and corporate progress exhibits to new recruits and VIPs. Also, this welcoming facility will serve as SHW's training center with meeting facilities and a rooftop amenity space for employees.

The HQ tower will be connected by elevated walkways to the Center of Excellence/training center on Public Square (over West 3rd) and to the parking garage (over Frankfort Avenue). City Planning Commission staff reportedly pushed back on the walkways but SHW has been adamant about them.

A more traditional office space with meeting table.

A liner building along the West 3rd side of the parking garage will be built to comply with the city's building code. The liner must hide the parking deck along its entire street frontage with at least 70 percent of that building comprised of active uses such as retailers, restaurants and/or other spaces.

Since the 1970s, SHW has grown steadily. Back then, it shared the 1930-built, 900,000-square-foot Landmark Office Buildings on Prospect with the headquarters of Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, Republic Steel and Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio). SHW bought the property in 1985 and now occupies about 90 percent of it.

Even before SHW acquired its rival Valspar in 2017, its Cleveland corporate offices had spilled over into the neighboring Skylight Office Tower as well as a flex office space on Hinckley Industrial Parkway in Cleveland.

Here are some additional photos of the mocked-up interiors:

Group meeting room with video screen and whiteboard.

A call room is the 21st-century phone booth. 

Another conference room, laden with technology.

A huddle room for quick conferences to address
problems or collaborate for opportunities.

The next thing many Greater Clevelanders hope to see from SHW and its HQ design team is exterior renderings of the new HQ. In order to start construction by the end of the year, a public release and city reviews of those plans will have to occur very soon.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Cleveland tops in U.S. for best home-buying power

Moving to Cleveland from 'superstar' cities has saved new arrivals
an average of nearly $200,000 in the value of their housing, a new
analysis shows. That's one result of the Great Reshuffling that's
allowing people to get more bang for their buck by working re-
motely in amenity-laden cities like Cleveland (alliecarr.com).

Once again, Greater Cleveland is No. 1 -- and this time it's a good No. 1 ranking, one that shows home buyers from other metro areas have more buying power here than in any other metro. The ranking also is a metric used to measure which metro areas may have benefitted most from the "Great Reshuffling."

The Great Reshuffling is a confluence of social, demographic and economic factors causing high demand for housing as Americans rethink where they live. A big driver of that change is Americans seeking to decouple their home location from their office location as telework opportunities grow.

According to an analysis by the web-based realty company Zillow.com, that has caused many Americans to look for larger homes in more affordable markets. Greater Cleveland is one of those affordable markets, yet continues to maintain big-city amenities originally provided when the city's and metro area's populations ranked in the top 10, nationally.

That's a motivating factor behind why Cleveland, one of the nation's most affordable markets, was able to attract residents from much more expensive markets. And that put Cleveland at #1 in Zillow's ranking for the greatest shift of movers from expensive to affordable cities. 

Cleveland ranks No. 1 among major metro areas in buying power as
measured by the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI). The online real
estate firm calls it a smoothed, seasonally adjusted measure of the
typical home value and market changes across a given region and
housing type. It reflects the typical value for homes in the
35th to 65th percentile range (Zillow).

That is reflected in the average reduction in the values of homes in the market they moved to versus where they moved from:

  1. Cleveland, OH -$197,369
  2. Oklahoma City, OK -$187,063
  3. Miami, FL -$144,164
  4. Pittsburgh, PA -$143,326
  5. Buffalo, NY -$140,212

"In 2020, movers to these five metro areas could expect much lower local home values, on average, than the areas they moved from," the Zillow report said. "For example, the typical home value in areas movers relocated to in Cleveland was $197,369 lower on average, than in the areas they moved from."

Nationwide, the average long-distance mover relocated to a ZIP code with home values nearly $27,000 less than where they came from last year. At the same time, U.S. movers in 2020 relocated to ZIP codes with homes 33 square feet larger than where they came from, on average.

The Cleveland data can be taken in one of two ways. On the negative side, Cleveland's low housing values are a reflection of low demand and low growth in the past. On the positive side, the fact that Cleveland is attracting people from much more expensive, growing cities is a good sign.

On the other hand, if you're moving to these five West Coast
metro areas, you're purchasing power was the worst in the
nation in 2020. More people moved from these cities
than moved to them in the Great Reshuffling (Zillow).

"Many movers can now move toward more-affordable locales, either seeking to save money or get more bang for their housing buck," wrote Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow.

"Cleveland is attractive to buyers currently living in larger and more prominent cities because we offer many of the same benefits and amenities they might have but at a more affordable cost of living," said Allie Carr, a real estate agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Cleveland. 

Tucker added that, over the longer term, this trend could contribute to homes prices leveling out across the nation, as people move away from the priciest cities and toward more-affordable areas. It may also spread out some of the spending and wealth-accumulation which had been increasingly concentrated in "superstar cities" over the last few decades.

"I think what it comes down to is that Cleveland is a bit of a well-kept secret," Carr added. "Prices have been increasing rapidly since the pandemic with buyers selecting to move here from larger cities as well as young professional renters living here (and) choosing to put down roots here. In spite of the price spike, we still offer tremendous value in comparison to larger cities with higher costs of living and similar amenities."

With new arrivals finding housing bargains in Greater Cleveland
compared to the more expensive cities they came from, Zillow
says housing prices across the country could level out. Others
 caution the housing market may return to normal with the
pandemic and government stimulus ending (Zillow).

In May 2021, Realtor.com reported the median list price of homes in Cleveland, OH was $109,000. That's a stunning increase of 21.2 percent vs. May 2020. The median listing price per square foot was $69. The median sale price was $125,000.

But realtor Emmanuel (Mike) Skantzos at Howard Hanna in Rocky River cautioned that it's too soon to know the long-term impacts of the Great Reshuffling on Greater Cleveland and if it will last much beyond the pandemic.

"Short term, yes it's positive," he said. "I don't know about the long term. The market's so crazy, who knows what's going to happen tomorrow? The market is slowing down a tiny bit but I expect it to slow down more next month. It's still going to be busy but not as busy."

He noted that the big run up in sale prices over the past year are topping out, buyer morale is running low due to the difficulty in finding what they want and for-sale inventory is increasing. And with federal stimulus benefits running out, there will be fewer incentives to support the real estate market.

Skantzos said he is curious to see how long it will take for property sellers to be convinced to reduce prices when the time comes. He also said it will be interesting to learn what will the market be like after people return from the summer vacations they've delayed since last year. Will there be more inventory by then, more people back in the office, fewer government incentives and less financial resources for buyers? 


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

George files development plan for Irishtown Bend land

On May 10, at a building at the southeast corner of West 25th Street
and the Detroit-Superior Bridge, crews paint over graffiti including
obscenities directed at the property owner Bobby George. With the
clock ticking down on sale negotiations with the city, George has
submitted a development plan for the site (Freethink).


As protracted negotiations with the City of Cleveland drag on toward a possible impasse over a critical piece of land, developer and restaurateur Bobby George on June 7 submitted development plans for that property. Interestingly, those plans were drafted more than a year ago.

The 0.41-acre property is located at 1435 W. 25th St., at the southeast corner of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in the booming Hingetown section of Ohio City. Set on that land is a decrepit, sometimes-graffiti-tagged small building and a really big billboard above it.

City officials have been trying to acquire the property for the 23-acre Irishtown Bend Park. All other properties for the park have been acquired or have purchase agreements except this one. And structures on all but one of those acquired parcels were demolished earlier this spring. Once the remaining residents are relocated from the old Front Steps, 1545 W. 25th​, it too will be demolished. A new Front Steps, called St. Joseph Commons, opened at 2554 W. 25th.

That leaves in the way of Irishtown Bend Park only a decayed, 15,689-square-foot structure and an apparently profitable billboard perched atop it. As the city was trying to acquire that property several years ago, it was instead snapped up by George via his Mortgage Investment Group LLC in 2018 for $248,200, according to county records.

Plans for Irishtown Bend Park would remove all existing structures
as they are located on an unstable hillside. Work to stabilize the
hillside, due to start later this year, cannot be completed until
the structures are removed (CMG Landscape Architecture).

Now, according to two sources close to the negotiations, George is asking the city to buy the property for $4.2 million. City officials have made several alternative proposals to George for a land swap as well as different locations for establishing electronic billboards. The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

One of the properties George sought from the city was the former 100th Bomb Group restaurant across Brookpark Road from Hopkins Airport. But the city had already leased it to a joint venture seeking to open a business called the Aviator Event Center.

With the city running out of options and time to appease George before the matter becomes an eminent domain case in probate court, the developer yesterday submitted plans to the city for a $4 million "wellness center." But those plans raise more questions than they answer, sources said.

First, a programming plan for the wellness center drawn up by Richard L. Bowen & Associates was dated April 10, 2019. And renderings by the same architectural firm were dated March 8, 2020. The plans apparently were not shared publicly until yesterday.

A proposal for a wellness center on West 25th Street (at lower left)
shows a 22-space parking lot on land owned by the West Creek
Conservancy which is acquiring land here not for development
or parking, but for the Irishtown Bend Park (Bowen).

David Bowen, the son of the founder of the architectural firm and one of its principals is also one of the two contacts listed on George's application to the city. Bowen is also chair of the City Planning Commission where he has served since 1997.

Neither Bowen or the firm's Director of Design Kyle Hulewat, listed as the other contact on George's zoning review application, responded substantively to an e-mail by NEOtrans seeking more information about the proposed wellness center project and its timing. However, Bowen did acknowledge receiving the e-mail which also asked its recipients if they could put NEOtrans in touch with George.

NEOtrans has yet to hear from George to learn more about the project, his progress in securing financing for it, and when he intends to start building repairs and renovations. That includes shoring up the foundation on a failing hillside that could collapse into the Cuyahoga River and block maritime traffic, according to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.

Sources estimate that stabilizing a small portion of hillside at a cost of about $5 million would be necessary before George's property could be redeveloped. Total cost of stabilizing the entire Irishtown Bend slope is about $44 million. After that work is done, construction on the park can begin.

Programming plan drawn in 2019 and submitted this week for
a building located at 1435 W. 25th St. in Ohio City (Bowen).

The city reportedly will not give George a building permit until the hillside is stabilized. The same sources said that the existing building would have to be demolished first to construct caissons necessary to stabilize the slope. In other words, the sources said George's building cannot be developed or saved.

Even if the building could be saved, the property cannot be developed due to parking. George's property is not large enough to accommodate the number of parking spaces to meet building and zoning code requirements. George would have to secure a variance from the city to offer less parking than the code allows. A variance is unlikely considering the city's adopted land use plan for that site is a park.

It is not clear what the property's proposed use would be classified as -- as retail, office or possibly a clinic/health/medical center. Those different uses require different amounts of parking spaces. The existing building is proposed to be redeveloped with 17,473 square feet of usable space.

Proposed uses include a yoga/flex room, juice bar/retail space, education corner, meeting room, treatment rooms, cryogenic therapy room, light therapy room, float tanks room, steam/sauna, co-working space, kitchenette, outdoor patio and rooftop deck, per documents Bowen submitted to the city.

George is co-founder of a popular wellness center nearby called LYV The Wellness Space, 1870 W. 25th. A source familiar with his businesses said the popularity of LYV has prompted George to seek expansion on the near West Side, downtown and other locations that are growing in population and income.

Renderings of a conceptual development located at the southeast
corner of West 25th Street and the Detroit-Superior Bridge. The
renderings were drawn more than a year ago according to the
date on the lower-right corner of the image (Bowen).

According to the city's building code, if the proposed use is considered office/co-working space, George would need to provide 35 parking spaces. If a retail use, 70 spaces would be needed. And if it's a clinic/health/medical center, George would have to provide 87 parking spaces.

A site plan shows 12 parking spaces on land George owns. A rendering shows 22 spaces on land George doesn't own. But that wouldn't be the first time George has offered parking at this location on land he doesn't own, the sources said.

After food hall/business incubator Ohio City Galley opened in October 2018, the business leased land across West 25th from George for parking. Unfortunately, George didn't own the land on which he leased out via a written agreement. Ohio City Galley closed in February 2020.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, Ohio City Inc. Executive Director Tom McNair and LANDstudio Executive Director Gregory Peckham were all contacted for comment on this situation but none responded to NEOtrans' requests.