Thursday, September 30, 2021

University Circle inks property deal with developer

Brent Zimmerman, a real estate developer and co-founder of Saucy
Brew Works, signed a ground lease today with University Circle Inc.
that opens the door to a planned multi-story, mixed-use development
on Stokes Boulevard. This is an old rendering of the proposed deve-
lopment which Zimmerman pledged will be at least as dense as this

On his second-to-last day as president of University Circle Inc. (UCI), Chris Ronayne signed a ground lease agreement with real estate developer Brent Zimmerman Development LLC for a proposed mixed-use development. The lease includes a triangular piece of land measuring about 2.2 acres and bounded by Stokes Boulevard, Cedar Avenue and East 107th Street. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lake-Detroit site bought by Rochester, NY developer

This high-profile property at Detroit and Lake avenues in Cleveland's
Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood just sold to a Rochester, NY develo-
per with deep pockets and an interest in developing the vacant site.
And it's not the neighborhood's only property in play. There are mul-
tiple developments in the works within a few blocks of here (Google).

A vacant property at a high-profile intersection on Cleveland’s West Side recently sold to a Rochester, NY developer with deep pockets. Although a decision hasn’t apparently been made on what will be developed at the corner of Detroit and Lake avenues, housing is the preferred use. It’s the latest of several potential developments within a few blocks of this site that could offer a mix of housing choices, retailers and jobs in a walkable, transit-friendly setting near Edgewater Park.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Cleveland & Columbus to field nearly all of the TMUDs

Will Cleveland dominate the list of Transformational Mixed Use Develop-
ment applicants and winners statewide, resulting in a forest of construction
cranes across the city in the next year or so? Or will Cleveland projects get
 left out of this first round of tax credit awards, only to watch other Ohio
cities dominate? What Cleveland projects will be submitted and how
likely are their victories? What is their competition? (Brivar) 

Cleveland and Columbus are shaping up to field most of Ohio’s Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) projects. Cleveland is where the TMUD was originally brainstormed and where its authorizing legislation was drafted. And it’s apparently where most of the potential TMUD projects lie in wait.

For those who don’t regularly follow this blog, a TMUD is a mega-project. It’s a real estate development that’s big, complicated, expensive and difficult to do with just private dollars and conventional public subsidies.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

nuCLEus may lose its largest pledged tenant to Key Tower

This is the most recent proposed version of One nuCLEus
Place, a 24-story office tower atop a podium of parking
and retail planned in downtown Cleveland. This proposal
spurred the creation of a new state program to support the
development of large, complicated projects that could posi-
tively transform their communities. But the largest announ-
ced tenant for nuCLEus appears to be courting a new land-
lord and could further frustrate long-standing efforts to
develop this project (Stark).

One the eve of submitting applications for a new state tax-credit program to aid transformational real estate projects, the project that instigated the program is facing a major stumbling block. However, NuCLEus, announced seven years ago, is still alive but in what form isn’t publicly known.

One of Cleveland’s largest law firms, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, is reportedly considering moving its offices and hundreds of employees to Cleveland’s tallest and most prestigious skyscraper — Key Tower, 127 Public Square.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Data shows downtown residential is hot

Downtown Cleveland’s residential market has proven resilient in
the face of recent crises. Now it is on course to break through the
30,000 population ceiling by the end of the 2020s which should
attract more employers and neighborhood-style retailers, perhaps
even some regional retailers as well (LoopNet).

 If you spend too much time on social media, you might encounter a few folks who are under the false impression that parts of downtown Cleveland burned to the ground during the nationwide racial unrest last year. But while downtown’s commercial market is still recovering from the ongoing pandemic, the residential market is hot. You might even say it’s on fire.

Three data sets confirm this. One is downtown’s population, which is now above 20,000 people using the only resource that matters — the U.S. Census. Another is a recent CoStar report that says downtown apartment demand is on pace for a record-breaking year. The third data set comes from a unique source.


Monday, September 20, 2021

Flats East Bank plans reveal $84 million project

Plans were shared with NEOtrans today for Kenect Cleveland, the
proposed next phase of development of downtown Cleveland's Flats
East Bank. This conceptual rendering by Goettsch Partners for de-
veloper Akara Partners, both of Chicago, shows a wide-angled view
looking generally east from the intersection of Front Street on the
left and West 11th Street on the right. Currently occupying the site
is a 173-space, 2.45-acre surface parking lot (GP).

The next phase of development at Flats East Bank has undergone some refining in the last couple of years as the pandemic and technological advances have affected the real estate market. Although the plan was always to build a mixed-use but residential-focused structure, this next phase (dubbed by some as Phase 3B), has been pruned somewhat.

With an early construction cost estimate of $84.4 million and a project size of 213,376 square feet, Kenect Cleveland is still a significant project. The seven-story building is proposed to have 229 market-rate apartments above three levels of parking with 229 spaces, plus 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a leasing office of 5,000 square feet.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Cleveland Indians may buy garage for ‘ballpark village’ development

With an office-like façade along Huron Road, the massive Gateway East Garage extends
south along the East 7th Street alley and then west along Bolivar Road, behind Progres-
sive Field’s scoreboard. The Cleveland Indians/Guardians may acquire the 1994-built
city-owned parking garage in 2024-25 and sell or partner with a real estate
investor to redevelop it (GoogleEarth).

As part of its ballpark renovation plan, the Cleveland Indians may acquire one of the largest parking garages in downtown Cleveland. The city-owned, 1,650-space Gateway East Garage, 650 Huron Rd., might then be sold to a real estate investor who would demolish some or all of the structure for redevelopment, according to two sources.

Both sources spoke off the record to NEOtrans and outlined the Major League Baseball (MLB) team’s vision for financing $435 million worth of proposed renovations to the 1994-built Progressive Field. The Indians (to be called Guardians after this season) in August signed a public-private partnership deal with the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio to remain at Progressive Field for at least another 15 years after the club’s current lease expires following the 2023 season. Two optional five-year lease extensions are included.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bedrock riverfront joins downtown lakefront in mega-planning

A multi-decade vision was announced today by Detroit-based
Bedrock for riverfront development in downtown Cleveland. It
depends on securing federal dollars for infrastructure improve-
ments which will take many years to carry out (Bedrock).

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A century ago, the city of Cleveland was eager to work with the private railroads to replace its undersized, outdated lakefront train station with a glamorous new downtown terminal. The new lakefront station would be a key component of its ambitious Group Plan designed by Daniel Burnham to remake the central business district into a setting of beautiful public buildings built along a park-like mall.

But two brothers from the eastern suburbs began developing Shaker Heights, rapid transit lines and a $1.8 billion (in today's dollars) downtown station complex for railroads, public transportation, office towers, luxury hotel, department store and post office. Both plans were achieved, although the Group Plan was built without the railroad station. The Van Sweringen brothers' Cleveland Union Terminal was constructed instead, crowned by Terminal Tower.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Court orders Little Italy housing construction halted

Thirteen four-story townhomes would line the east side of
Coltman Road in Cleveland’s Little Italy and block views
of a four-story apartment building from the west. Another
four townhomes would rise on East 123rd Street located
south of the apartment building that is a source of dis-
content for two nearby residents who are trying to
block construction work now under way (SixMo).

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael J. Russo issued a preliminary injunction yesterday against parties involved in the development of the long-vacant and neglected Woodhill Supply site, 1862 E. 123rd St. in Cleveland’s Little Italy. The development is a $15 million mix of townhomes and an apartment building. However construction continues as terms of the injunction have apparently not been met.

For Russo’s order to take effect, two complainants initiating the case would have to first file a $200,000 bond with the court. The bond had not been filed as of midday today, court records show. NEOtrans also visited the development site today and noticed that construction appears to be continuing.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Gateway live-work apartments planned, more possible

This basic massing shows the concept of what developer Somera
Road would like to build in the 1000-1100 block of Bolivar Road
just east of East 9th Street and Progressive Field. Proposed is
a four- to five-story apartment building built atop a two-level
parking garage with retail fronting Bolivar (Desmone).

New York City-based real estate firm SomeraRoad is proposing a big addition to several downtown properties it acquired two years ago along Bolivar Road east of East 9th Street and Progressive Field.

According to documents submitted to the city prior to seeking conceptual approval from Cleveland City Planning Commission, SomeraRoad wants to construct a seven-story apartment building with 203 units. The project would consist of a two-level parking garage with ground-floor retail and topped by the new apartments.

"We are in the conceptual stages of discussing a potential mixed-use development at our property on Bolivar Road with the City of Cleveland," wrote Andrew Donchez, vice president of development at SomeraRoad, in an e-mail to NEOtrans.

"Given the great location, proximity to the great sports, entertainment and dining options in downtown Cleveland, we believe a high-quality, mixed-use and residential development would be complementary to our renovation of the historic office building at 1020 Bolivar that we recently completed," he added. 

Although these massings make it appear as if the apartment building
would be built atop both existing parking garages on Bolivar. In-
stead, the single-level deck that's closest in this view would be
demolished for a new, two-level garage that's a bit shorter
than the 1971-built garage that will be kept (Desmone).

That office building, the westernmost structure on the site, is a former Ohio Bell Telephone Co. operations building. Later, it was the offices for the Ohio Means Jobs employment agency that moved to 1910 Carnegie Ave. The four-story building, with ground-floor parking, was recently renovated with a modernized lobby, tenant lounge and rooftop deck.

The next two structures east on the property will meet different fates, pending city approvals that include a zoning variance or a change of use as the site is zoned as semi-industry.

Through its Cleveland-based affiliate Core Construction Services, SomeraRoad plans to demolish the easternmost parking garage, a one-level facility built in 1926. It is located in a designated historic district.

By contrast, the owner intends to retain and refurbish a two-level parking garage built in 1971 located in the middle of the site. It is between the renovated office building and the 1926 garage. On the site of the demolished garage, five stories of apartments will be built above the new parking deck; four stories would rise above the existing garage.

Cross-section views from the north (Bolivar Road) side and south
 (Erie Court) that helps better explain how the new apartment
building, new parking garage and 1971 garage will fit to-
gether in this proposed development (Desmone).

The new, two-level parking structure would have two retail spaces -- one 1,267 square feet and the other 1,491 square -- a residential lobby and a 1,081-square-foot fitness center. All of those ground-floor uses would face Bolivar.

Vehicular access will be off Bolivar and Erie Court, the street south of the site that's along the Erie Street Cemetery. The 1971 and new parking structures will also be connected internally so vehicles can travel between them without going outside.

"The goal of the project is to contribute to the 'live-work-play' environment of the Gateway District and to activate the street, creating a more vibrant pedestrian experience and support Bolivar Road and Erie Court as a connection between Playhouse Square and the Gateway Stadiums," according to a project brief supplied by SomeraRoad.

"The design is to respect the existing historic context of the area while introducing materials to support a modern industrial aesthetic," the developer's brief continued. More detailed renderings and designs will be provided if the city grants conceptual approval.

Existing conditions as seen looking generally west along Bolivar
Road, with the 1926-built garage in the foreground, the 1971-
built garage just beyond, and the recently renovated, four-
story office building barely visible at right (COSTAR).

Above the 1971 garage, a plenum space for air circulation topped by four stories of apartments are proposed to be built. But it won't be two apartment buildings. It will be a single, continuous building over both parking structures and measure 272,705 square feet. In total, the 1971 garage and the new deck will add 254 vehicle parking spaces and 10 bicycle parking spaces.

To achieve the city's sustainability goals, the developer notes that the project will reuse an existing parking garage and provide a minimum amount of bicycle parking. It will also offer electric vehicle charging stations, green roof areas with native landscaping, reflective white upper roof, daylighting, operable windows and LED lighting.

"I would be happy to chat and provide more details in the future as we progress with the project," Donchez said.

The new building will top out at 80 feet tall -- high enough so that the upper floors will have views of baseball games at Progressive Field and of downtown's central business district nearby. But views could increasingly be obstructed in coming years.

This view from atop SomeraRoad's recently renovated office building,
the former Ohio Bell operations center, is a low-level example of
the kind of views that could be had from the proposed, taller
apartment building behind the photographer (COSTAR).

The reason is due to potential development surrounding the planned $435 million renovation of Progressive Field. That renovation may depend on revenue from the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district around the ballpark to capture the increase values from significant developments within that district, according to a source familiar with the vision.

Three potential groups, one local and two out-of-town, are pursuing a minority ownership stake in the Cleveland Guardians to position themselves at the front of the line to acquire the team whenever the current owner Paul Dolan decides to sell. The source declined to identify the three groups.

Major League Baseball and all three potential ownership groups are heavily pushing the proposed TIF district for development, replicating the ballpark villages in Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, Washington DC and St. Louis.

Potential development sites include nuCLEus, the Caxton Building parking lot, the parking lot south of the garage City Club Apartments will use for residents' parking, Carnegie-East 9th and East 9th-Bolivar. The last site was put on the market last month by Geis Companies which is apparently hoping to catch this rising tide.


Monday, September 6, 2021

Seeds & Sprouts XX -- Downtown moves signal project, Morgan Stanley shrinks office & more

This is the Twentieth edition of Seeds & Sprouts - Early intelligence on Cleveland-area real estate projects. Because these projects are very early in their process of development or just a long-range plan, a lot can and probably will change their final shape, use and outcome.

Dave's Cosmic Subs and Souper Market will move in the coming
months from the Baker Building on East 6th Street to The Standard
on West St. Clair Avenue (LoopNet,

Downtown moves may signal historic renovation project

In the coming months, look for two downtown Cleveland tenants to switch addresses. And they're moving from one historic to another historic building, according to a tweet last week by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Dave's Cosmic Subs and Souper Market will both move from the Baker Building, 1900 E. 6th St., to the Standard Apartments, 99 W. St. Clair Ave. At the Standard, they will join Simply Fresh Market CLE, a small grocer offering fresh and prepared foods. The Standard was renovated in 2018 for $60 million by the Weston Group into 287 apartments with ground-floor retail.

Other Baker Building tenants have moved or closed in the past few years. They include Moriarity's Pub which closed in December after 100 years in business and Sapporo Sushi which moved to Lakewood. The 11-story Baker Building was constructed in 1919 as the Fidelity Mortgage Building

The moves, according to a source who spoke off the record, are to get out of the way of a pending renovation and conversion of the Baker Building. The Baker Building was acquired in early 2020 by Walton Enterprises of WalMart fame.

The most recent reports are that the Baker Building could be converted into a boutique hotel, possibly a 21c Museum Hotel. However, no building permit or other applications have been submitted to the city for any work on the structure. The building is roughly 50 percent occupied by office tenants.

There is an application for federal historic tax credits pending for the Baker Building. No progress has been made to advance them to final approval since Walton Enterprises updated the owner of record for the property in March 2020, public records show.

Morgan Stanley is the latest tenant in 200 Public Square to reduce
its office size and give back floor space to the landlord (Google).

Morgan Stanley giving back downtown office space

In a sign of the times, investment banking giant Morgan Stanley is cutting back on its Cleveland branch office space by nearly one-half. Due to increased remote working instigated by the pandemic, the firm is reducing its space needs at 200 Public Square downtown.

In terms of floor area, Morgan Stanley intends to reduce its space by 11,776 square feet. The New York City-based global company has occupied the entire 26th floor of the Cleveland skyscraper. Floors in the main part of the 45-story tower measure about 24,440 square feet of usable space, leasing documents show.

Morgan Stanley is renovating its remaining space and adding partitions to give back space to the building's landlord, an investor group led by New York-based DRA Advisors called G&I IX Public Square LLC. For the renovations and partitioning work, Morgan Stanley is spending $225,000, according to a filing with the city by project consultant HSB Architects + Engineers.

In the same building, accounting powerhouse Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP (PwC) recently notified the city it is giving back to the landlord 8,040 square feet of space on the 18th floor. On that same floor, PwC will retain 9,334 square feet of office space.

A 1950s-era office building in Kamms Corners will be modernized
and expanded vertically with new apartments and amenities (Fischer).

Kamms medical building to add 2 floors, apartments

An unusual proposal to rebuild a vacant, one-story medical building in Kamms Corners with renovated offices and a restaurant topped by apartments and crowned by a swimming pool won final approval from Cleveland's City Planning Commission Sept. 3.

SSA CLE, LLC plans to convert the 1954-built, 7,300-square-foot Riveredge Medical Building, 17730 Lorain Ave. into a mixed-use structure over the next year. The building is located across Lorain from Fairview Hospital. SSA CLE acquired the property in 2019 for $375,000, county records show.

Project architect Gary Fischer of Lorain said the owner of SSA CLE, Samer Al-Aish, intends to reside in the largest of four apartments that fill out the newly added second floor. That apartment, according to schematic designs submitted to the city, would measure about 4,600 square feet. It will have three bedrooms, three full baths, a lounge, game room, study, large dining room, two living rooms and a fireplace, plans show.

The other three apartments will be a studio and a pair of two-bedroom units with two full baths. All units will have balconies. Above them will be an indoor pool and rooftop patio for tenants only, public records show.

On the ground floor will be four medical offices with higher ceilings than before, advanced technology connections and floor spaces per unit ranging in size from 1,157 to 1,874 square feet. At the west end of the first floor will be a deli/restaurant space measuring 840 square feet that will have a 196-square-foot outdoor patio along Lorain.

"The offices are not rented but we're getting requests for them," Fischer said.

The project also garnered support from the West Park Kamm's Neighborhood Development Corp. and Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife.

"I think that there's a lot of older medical buildings of this era in town," Slife said. "So I hope that this is the beginning of a precedent to bring some new life to some of these buildings which really have lower ceilings and aren't well suited to modern medical equipment."

Cherie Wine Bar will join two other new arrivals, Cocky's Bagels
and ESPN Cleveland, in the vacant ground-level storefronts seen
at left in downtown Cleveland's Flats East Bank (Google).

Wine bar to open at Flats East Bank

Building permits were submitted to the city of Cleveland Aug. 31 for the development of a new restaurant and wine bar to be located in a ground-floor space at Flats East Bank facing the Cuyahoga River. Cherie Wine Bar will occupy a 3,000-square-foot space next to Beerhead by early next year.

About $270,000 will be invested to fit-out the space with owner-supplied equipment, decorations, overhead door/entrance plus interior and patio furniture. The existing spot is vacant. HSB Architects + Engineers is overseeing the design work.

Cherie's will be next to a space where Cocky’s Bagels is opening a second location, in addition to its North Olmsted establishment. It will also join ESPN Cleveland which is relocating its broadcast studios and corporate offices from the Galleria at Erieview to Flats East Bank by the end of this year.

The L-shaped green patch of land is
the subject of a development plan by a
partnership led by The Orlean Co. (Google).

Partnership seeks to finish Rysar's Southington Manor

In 2006, Rysar Properties began constructing a 20-unit townhome development at 3120 E. 135th St. in Cleveland's Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood. But the housing crash of 2008-10 halted the project after only five townhomes were built. The rest of the property totaling nearly 1 acre has remained vacant and undeveloped ever since.

But in July, a partnership of Christopher and Charles Ficklin, organized as CNT Construction Co., bought the undeveloped land for $20,000 from Southington Manor Development LLC. The latter firm is listed as the applicant for a building permit submitted to the city on Sept. 1 for a 71,000-square-foot multi-family residential development.

Southington Manor is what Rysar called its 2006 development. And the LLC still lists to Rysar founder Kenneth Lurie who is now chief operating officer of The Orlean Company. Orlean is a well-known urban infill developer in Cleveland which currently has numerous homes under construction.

The proposed development will be much more dense than the 2006 development which totaled only 8,247 square feet with each of the five units ranging in size from 1,482 to 1,913 square feet. The number of units isn't identified in the pending building permit and Lurie couldn't be reached for comment.

So even if units in the new development averaged 1,500 square feet like those in the 2006 development, the 71,000 square feet would equal 41 homes. If apartments are planned, averaging a typical 1,000 square feet per unit, the proposed development would equal about 71 apartments. It will be interesting to see the details of what is planned for this site south of Shaker Square.

Tyler Kapusta contributed to this article.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Large office building in the works for Cleveland's Midtown

Outlined in red with the text "parking garage" added, this site plan
for the MidTown Innovation District shows the location of a large
office building and parking deck planned between Euclid and
Chester avenues at East 66th Street (Merritt Chase).

What may prove to be the largest office building ever built in Cleveland's MidTown corridor is advancing toward a potential construction date early next year.

Wexford Science & Technology, LLC of Baltimore is moving forward in developing a 150,000-square-foot office building and multilevel parking deck at the northwest corner of Euclid Avenue and East 66th Street. The building could house anywhere from 700 to 1,000 office and research workers and add to the city's Health Tech Corridor.

Conceptual renderings of the project drawn up by Vocon Partners LLC of Cleveland show a five-story building with ground-floor retail/café spaces along Euclid. Behind the new office building would be a parking deck along East 66th and extending north to Chester Avenue. A source was unwilling to share the renderings with NEOtrans because the source was not authorized to do so.

But the designer's intentions were reportedly to emphasize Euclid as the pedestrian-oriented, transit-oriented setting as exemplified by the ground-floor retail-café spaces facing Euclid. A modern, windows-heavy façade along Euclid is also proposed. A HealthLine bus rapid transit station is right out front of the office building site.

Euclid Avenue at East 66th Street is a quiet setting except for the
construction work underway at far right on the new Cleveland
Foundation headquarters. Wexford's planned office building
would rise on the far corner of Euclid and East 66th, next
to a station on the HealthLine bus rapid transit (KJP).

Similarly, architects wanted to emphasize Chester, which is a fast, multi-lane roadway, as the car-oriented setting for the 700-space parking garage. The garage would measure about 175,000 square feet, making it larger than the office building in terms of square footage. But the garage's footprint would cover more ground. Thus its height would be about three levels.

No dollar figure was given by the source for the project. But given the space needs identified at this early stage, it could be a $50 million to $70 million development project.

The office building is planned to be built on land acquired in April 2020 by Lassi Enterprises LLC, the real estate arm of MidTown Cleveland Inc., a nonprofit community development corporation. The parking deck would rise on land acquired in December 2020 by the Cleveland Foundation.

"It's in the works but I can't discuss the details publicly yet," said MidTown Executive Director Jeff Epstein of the planned office building. "The types of tenants will be technology, innovation, entrepreneurial-type tenants. This project will add to the density and vibrancy of the area."

An early conceptual rendering, looking north up East 66th Street
from Euclid Avenue, shows the new headquarters for the Cleve-
land Foundation at right. At left, it also shows an early vision
of the proposed office building Wexford is pursuing (Vocon).

Wexford develops research and office facilities for institutional, corporate and community clients. The real estate developer generally does not move forward on projects unless it has at least 50 percent of the project leased before starting construction.

Wexford was selected by MidTown, the Cleveland Foundation and JumpStart Inc. to develop an innovation district around the Cleveland Foundation's new headquarters. This is Wexford's 16th innovation district it has developed in the USA.

The Cleveland Foundation is building a 54,000-square-foot, three-story headquarters for $21.8 million on the northeast corner of Euclid and East 66th. It will relocate its nearly 100 employees from its current office downtown when the new building is completed later next year.

Public realm improvements are also planned for the area, including the Dunham Tavern Museum and its surroundings. The area around the 1824-built tavern is being proposed as a "central park" for MidTown

A wider view of the Euclid Avenue-East 66th Street intersection,
taken from the eastbound HealthLine station in front of the
Gallucci's grocery store. Construction of the new Cleve-
land Foundation headquarters is seen at right (KJP).

That also includes an east-west public garden that is planned between the office building and parking garage to span multiple blocks. However, MPC Plating, Inc. is located immediately west of Wexford's proposed office building.

Numerous office buildings have been added in recent decades in MidTown to capitalize on its location between downtown Cleveland and University Circle -- Ohio's first- and fourth-largest employment districts. High-quality office inventory has been added either by new construction or renovation of older structures.

The largest office development in MidTown in recent decades was the MidTown Tech Park building at 6700 Euclid. Constructed by former Geis Companies affiliate Hemingway Development in 2012 for $20 million, the two-story building measures 128,000 square feet. It is part of Geis' 13-acre campus in which another 90,000 square feet of office space was carved out of historic commercial buildings in the 2010s.

This overhead view from 2017 shows
the abandonment of MidTown which
had become a pass-through between
downtown and University Circle. But
new developments are turning it into
a place to live-work-visit (Google).

Hemingway also developed another nearby, new-construction office building called Link59, a 61,000-square-foot structure it opened in 2017. Located at Euclid and East 59th Street, it is next to the new University Hospitals' Rainbow Center for Women & Children and a new Dave's Supermarket.

Just north of those structures, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) is relocating its headquarters, classrooms and work-study areas to a Cleveland Metropolitan Schools building. The former Margaret Ireland School, measuring 56,560 square feet, is at Chester and East 61st Street.

The last office building built in MidTown that was comparable in size to the one Wexford is pursuing was Applied Industrial Technologies' suburban-esque corporate headquarters. It was completed in 1996. But even Applied's 145,000-square-foot headquarters is slightly smaller than what Wexford is planning.


Friday, September 3, 2021

700 Lake tops off, and tops the metro area in condo sale price

Lakefront views, high-end finishes and a rock-solid community
combined at 700 Lake to yield Greater Cleveland's most expen-
sive condominium sale ever. Sales and construction work
continues at the Rocky River development (Brickhaus).

As 700 Lake's development and sales team celebrated the structural topping off of their $35 million lakefront development in Rocky River this week, they had another reason to smile.

At the Sept. 1 topping-off event, the project's leading development principals Brickhaus Partners and the Carney family, plus real estate agent the Kim Crane Group at Howard Hanna announced they had sold a penthouse in the development for $3 million.

It was the priciest condominium sale in Greater Cleveland's history, they said. The project's partners are touting the building as offering the finest in lakefront living between New York City and Chicago.

View of the 700 Lake fdevelopment as seen from Lake Avenue,
with the condo building structurally topped-off in the back-
ground. Meanwhile structural work was getting under-
way on the eight townhomes in the foreground (KJP).

The project has a 5-story, 25-condo building perched above the Lake Erie shoreline, set behind eight, first-phase townhouses along Lake Road. Construction started on the condo building last year and on the townhouses this past summer. Each are due to be completed in the first quarter of 2022, said Brickhaus spokeswoman Corinne Kelly.

She also noted that, of the 33 total condos and townhomes now under construction, 19 have sold so far with condo prices starting at $1.2 million. Kelly said reduced, pre-construction pricing would end soon. Howard Hanna's property search engine shows all eight townhomes as available with list prices ranging from $900,000 to $1.9 million.

The development team received construction financing in April 2020 just as the economic shutdown from the pandemic was getting underway. To win the financing, the group had to pre-sell one-third of the condos. Project lenders include Erie Bank, Heartland Bank, CF Bank and Brown Gibbons Lang & Co.

Eastward view this week from the penthouse level of 700 Lake (KJP).

Brickhaus owns several properties to the east of 700 Lake along Breezevale Cove but Kelly said there are no plans for a second phase. The development is in the far northwest corner of Rocky River, between the Bay Village city line and Bradstreet's Landing.

"Each of the residences feature cantilevered balconies for private outdoor entertaining," Kelly said. "They overlook the infinity pool, the outdoor kitchen and private firepit at the lake’s edge."

Brickhaus is led by Andrew Brickman and Alexandra Yonkov. The Carney family is led by John J. Carney and his sons John M. Carney and Michael Carney. Architectural and interior design services were provided by ENV of New York City and Sapphire Pear of Rocky River.

This rendering of the ground-level view shows the lakefront patio
with pool and other outdoor amenities for 700 Lake (Brickhaus).

The 700 Lake development is located on 2.5 acres of land. The condos range in size from 2,200 to 3,600 square feet. Each offers three bedrooms, private outdoor spaces and lake views from every residence. There will be indoor and outdoor parking for condo residents and visitors.

Townhomes will offer three bedrooms and measure from 2,100 to 2,800 square feet. They will have terraces ranging from 650 to 750 square feet and individual, indoor garages entered from behind, according to real estate listings.

Residences will have ceilings 9-foot-6 high, high-end interior finishes, over-sized windows, high-end appliances, Italian cabinetry, wide natural oak flooring, luxury designer tile, solid core Cofic doors, luxury plumbing fixtures and smart home technology. The 700 Lake building will have virtual concierge services, underground parking, pre-wiring for electric cars, lakefront pool, parcel drop-off area and storage lockers.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Cleveland: growing faster than the national average, and shrinking

Sometimes living in Cleveland is a walk in the park. Census data
shows more adults are choosing to live here as its economy
is producing more output per capita than the average among
106 of America's largest cities studied in a recent analysis.
And Clevelanders' wealth grew by $2.1 billion between
2017 and 2019 but dipped during the pandemic (KJP).

In the simpler days of Census data, population numbers for a given metro area either went up or down in lockstep with that region's economic output. There were few wrinkles in the data to pull apart and analyze. Now, there's tons of data to grapple with, offering multiple story lines.

The local media has looked at several of those story lines. One of them is Greater Cleveland's growing diversity and an increase in occupied housing units in the city of Cleveland, even though its population went down.

Here's another story line — the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are growing and shrinking at the same time.

Urban planning consultant Pete Saunders wrote for Bloomberg News a syndicated opinion piece titled "The 'best places to live' may not be the best places to live" noting that coastal juggernauts and long-booming Sun Belt cities are running low on economic fuel. The subhead read "The link between the popularity of cities and economic growth has been severed. Some of the most vibrant metropolises in the U.S. are actually shedding people."

Care to guess which urban areas he counted among the most economically vibrant -- as measured by rates of per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth above the national average -- that were also losing population?

Cuyahoga County's fastest growing Census tracts
were in the city of Cleveland; as were some of its
fastest declining. That tale of two cities was one
of the reasons why it grew its adult population
but lost in terms of overall population (KJP).

"Most surprisingly, a handful of Rust Belt metros — Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, among others — outpaced the average per capita GDP gains yet actually lost population," he wrote.

A minor correction — the five-county Cleveland metro area actually grew in population, adding 11,000 people over the past decade. As recently as 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau was estimating that Greater Cleveland would lose 25,000 people between 2010 and 2020.

How could Cleveland and Cuyahoga County be producing more economic output while still losing population?

Easy. Look at where we're growing — and shrinking. 

Cuyahoga County saw its 18-and-older population — aka the adult working population — grow 2 percent from 989,534 people in 2010 to 1,008,892 people in 2020. Yet, total population in the county fell 1.2 percent from 1,280,122 to 1,264,817.

The same thing likely happened in the city of Cleveland too, based on the increased number of occupied housing units but with a 6 percent decrease in population since 2010. Look at downtown, for example. When it comes to demand for apartments in Greater Cleveland, downtown was king. After a hiatus in 2020, downtown was back in power in 2021, accounting for one-third of all apartment demand in Greater Cleveland.

Population growth in the city of Cleveland and a reversal of the
region's no-growth urban sprawl depends on construction of
more housing in the city. This year, downtown Cleveland
accounted for one-third of all demand for apartments
in the Greater Cleveland area (NorthShore647).

Joanna Ganning, associate dean and associate professor of urban planning at Cleveland State University, noted the growth-decline paradox in a recent tweet. She said the number of households in the city increased 6.3 percent just in the six most recent years of available data, from 2012-18, even as population fell.

"So much subtext to those simple stats," she wrote.

One takeaway of course is there's been a decrease in household size — a trend that's been continuing in the USA for hundreds of years. And it has taken a sharper turn since our parents and grandparents were raising families of three, four, five or more children per household. Not anymore. In 2010, 77.3 percent of Cuyahoga County residents were 18 years and older. Last, year that number jumped to 79.8 percent.

Increasingly, Americans aren't getting married until later in life and we aren't having as many kids as our parents or grandparents did. In fact, we aren't having enough babies to replace deaths of older Americans. The only reason why America is gaining population anymore is because of immigration.

One reason why Cleveland and Cuyahoga County aren't growing in population is because they aren't attracting families and immigrants like they did decades ago. But they are still becoming more diverse. Cuyahoga County's number of Latinos more than tripled, the multi-racial population nearly tripled and the population of Asians grew by one-third, according to a recent report.

Cleveland's "best of times and worst of times" is evident in this
map showing population change in each Census tract during the
2010s. Cleveland accounted for the fastest growing and some of
the fastest declining Census tracts (Cuyahoga County GIS).

Census data also shows a new phenomenon — the number of white people increased in Cleveland, now comprising nearly 40 percent of the city's population, up from 37 percent. Meanwhile, the black population dropped, falling from 53 percent of the city's share to below 49 percent. Latino residents grew from 10 percent to just shy of 12 percent of Cleveland's population.

Those are reflective of Cleveland in general — where it was the best and worst of times. No city in Cuyahoga County saw census tracts with more growth and decline than those in Cleveland. In and near downtown, population grew 45 to 185 percent in eight Census tracts since 2010. There were only 13 other Census tracts in the rest of the entire county achieving such population increases of more than 45 percent.

At the same time, there were 12 Census tracts in Cleveland that lost 25 percent or more their population since 2010. All of them were on the city's East Side. In the suburbs — actually only one suburb, East Cleveland — had any Census tracts losing 25 percent or more of their population. That city had four of those big-loser tracts.

While the percentage of black residents dropped in Cleveland, it increased in 28 out of 37 municipalities in Cuyahoga County. The data strongly suggests black people, probably with children, moved out of Cleveland — especially from the troubled East Side — and moved to the suburbs or elsewhere.

As for Cleveland's average GDP gains per capita, Saunders noted that Rust Belt cities have stopped focusing on saving their old-school manufacturing jobs and instead are diversifying their economies. In the 1950s, shortly after Cleveland's population peaked, one-third of its jobs were in manufacturing. Now it's just 11 percent.

Cleveland has a number of unique economic strengths, including
its global port facilities. They could become more prominent as
direct, year-round sea lanes open up to Asian ports -- one of the
few bright spots of climate change (Marinerong Turagsoy).

Since then, Cleveland and other cities are "investing in knowledge sectors such as tech, finance, and 'eds and meds' to match today’s economic landscape. That’s led to productivity gains even without adding more people," Saunders wrote.

Today, the eds and meds sector comprises 20 percent of Cleveland's employment. The epicenter of that sector is in and near Cleveland's University Circle. There, developers are estimating that there's a demand for up to 10,000 housing units in the next 5-10 years that would require at least several dozen large apartment buildings plus hundreds of townhomes to satisfy that demand.

And while lower-income and working-class families are moving out of Cleveland, they appear to be replaced by professional singles and couples. Those middle- to upper-class arrivals are usually without children, as noted in this NEOtrans analysis from late-2019. This gentrification is reflected in city income tax data.

Even before a 2016 income tax rate increase, Cleveland was getting wealthier from the back-to-the-city movement. It continued unabated until the start of the pandemic in early 2020. For people living and working in Cleveland, their wealth grew by $2.1 billion, or 13.6 percent from the start of 2017 to the end of 2019, based on city of Cleveland income tax collections.

City of Cleveland income tax revenues grew from $389 million in 2017 to nearly $442 million in 2019. It dropped in 2020 to $410 million due to the pandemic. Revenues aren't expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to conservative city estimates. Even last year's numbers, albeit unaudited, were far higher than 2017's.

Two of Ohio's largest employment districts are visible here -- with
downtown Cleveland at the west end of the Health Tech Corridor
and University Circle at the east end (Cleveland Clinic).

So while Cleveland and other large, affordable Rust Belt cities were diversifying their economies with wealthier economic activities, Saunders said popular Sun Belt cities like Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Dallas, Las Vegas and Phoenix saw their average per capita GDP gains rise less than the overall average for the 106 largest metros he studied.

"The places we’ve traditionally thought of as 'winners' — the big coastal cities (New York, Los Angeles, etc) and Sun Belt metros — may soon face problems," Saunders wrote. "The former are rapidly becoming unaffordable and driving out middle-class families. The latter could suffer from a glut of under-skilled workers in an environment that increasingly demands high-skilled labor."

By contrast, he said Cleveland and other cities in the middle of the country are beginning to generate real economic opportunity while remaining affordable and livable, he said. Cities like Buffalo and Cincinnati saw their first population gains since 1950.

Cleveland, while losing population overall, saw a moral victory in the growth of its working population. And its better-than-average growth in GDP per capita is real and important, even though it won't be captured in Census data. It could be just what's needed to draw more new arrivals seeking a high quality of life at an affordable price.

"If they (Rust Belt metros) haven’t started drawing new residents yet, they will soon," Saunders said.