Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sherwin-Williams may not move into new HQ until 2025

The interior of Sherwin-Williams' new headquarters in downtown
Cleveland could be similar to that of Qualtrics Tower in Seattle.
The interior designer at SHW HQ architect Pickard Chilton
recently worked on the Seattle project. But SHW workers
won't see the finished product until after they move in
sometime in 2025, sources say (Centrel Imagery).

There's a mix of good and bad news coming out of the development team working on Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) new headquarters (HQ) in downtown Cleveland. Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

At the current rate of progress by the development team, SHW employees probably won't be able to move into the new HQ until sometime in 2025. That's nearly a year later than a revised schedule announced publicly last September. And even that was a revision from an earlier goal. SHW executives initially had hoped they would be able to move into their new HQ in late-2023.

The delayed move-in date is due to delays in the project's design. Only now is SHW's HQ development  team getting a better sense of a site plan. The HQ is planned to rise on a portion of 6.82 acres of SHW-owned land now used as parking lots on the west side of Public Square.

Now SHW's HQ development team has to lay out the programming of the structures starting with the base HQ tower. There won't be any renderings of the new HQ for internal review until this fall. And any designs may not be submitted to the city for public review until early 2022, sources said.

This reportedly is the site plan that SHW's HQ development team
is working with. Potentially comparable buildings designed by
Pickard Chilton, located in Oklahoma City, were used as
temporary placeholders here (KJP/Google).

They said that points to site preparations and foundations being dug in mid- to late-2022. Steel for the buildings will start going up in 2023. Although SHW employees wont be moving in until 2025, the sources said the HQ parking garage should be finished a year before.

But there's good news to share, too. Development team members informed NEOtrans that the new HQ is being designed to accommodate 3,500 employees. That's 500 more employees than are currently based in SHW's existing HQ (even though many are still working remotely for a little while longer).

SHW's total headcount will reportedly come from four locations/sources:

  • About 3,000 workers from SHW's existing downtown Cleveland HQ offices in the Landmark and Skylight office buildings,
  • Relocation of roughly 140 employees from SHW Automotive Division offices in Warrensville Heights,
  • Relocation of 25 workers from SHW's Chicago Metro District Office in Schaumburg, IL, and
  • Addition of approximately 240 employees through an 8 percent corporate growth factor.

On the upper floors of the Pickard Chilton-designed Qualtrics
Tower in Seattle, the offices are designed to foster interaction
while providing some privacy as well. Such concepts may
be incorporated into SHW's new HQ (Centrel Imagery).

These numbers may take the sting out of SHW's decision to move the John G. Breen Research Center from Canal Road in downtown Cleveland to Brecksville. The existing R&D center has about 300-400 jobs. Roughly 250 research jobs are being relocated from Warrensville Heights to Brecksville, too. Warrensville Heights is taking the brunt of SHW's corporation relocation decisions.

SHW's February 2020 press release initially proposed their employment at the new HQ and R&D facilities would be a total of 3,500 workers. So downtown Cleveland will actually see more jobs gained at the new HQ than it will lose from the relocation of SHW's R&D center.

A number of SHW facilities in Greater Cleveland will not be moving to either the new HQ or the new R&D center, according to development team sources. The facilities staying put include:

  • Engineering Robotics Lab (Parma)
  • Mock Store for training (Berea)
  • Hinckley Parkway flex offices (Cleveland)
  • Credit office (Brunswick)
  • Midwest Division (Strongsville)
  • PCG and East Area Office (Garfield Heights)
  • Exposure Site (Medina) 
  • Specialty Aerosols (Bedford)

The 22,000-square-foot Devon Energy Center Auditorium located in
downtown Oklahoma City reportedly is a comparable structure,
albeit smaller, to SHW's proposed Center of Excellence on
downtown Cleveland's Public Square (ArchDaily).

NEOtrans has reported on recent sample works of exterior designs by SHW HQ architect Pickard Chilton, namely in Oklahoma City. But little has been said here about the potential interior designs of the SHW HQ. Pickard Chilton recently finished up work at the new Qualtrics Tower in Seattle and the interior design staff from that project will be working on SHW's HQ, sources said.

SHW executives have directed the HQ development team to keep the interior aesthetics simple. The executives reportedly prefer an open floor plan for office staff with a lot more cubicles and a lot less enclosed offices. Although SHW wants to incorporate lots of color in the offices, executives don't want the building to exude arrogance either.

As reported previously, the 1-million-square-foot HQ tower will be a modern glass box, bearing a similarity to the exterior design of the 700,000-square-foot, 27-story BOK Park Plaza in Oklahoma City.

SHW's tower will be a little larger in terms of floorplates and height, reportedly reaching about 30-35 stories with about 14 to 15 feet per floor. Final height will depend on the interior design which is only getting started. Sources said the tower will rise on the northwest corner of Superior Avenue and West 3rd Street.

A modern glass box, similar to the BOK Park
Plaza tower in Oklahoma City is reportedly a
comparable building to what SHW wants in
downtown Cleveland (Pickard Chilton).

But the HQ tower will not have any "active uses" (ie: publicly accessible retail, restaurants or other commercial uses) on the ground floor, said HQ development team sources. The reason is that SHW is very security conscious. There will be a coffee shop and cafeteria on the second level of the HQ but will be for employees only.

Similarly, SHW's proposed new 50,000- to 80,000-square-foot Center of Excellence (CoE), to be located on the lot closest to Public Square, probably won't be open to the public either, the same sources said. Instead, it will be limited to SHW corporate meetings, training and tours by invitation only.

The CoE's so-called museum which illustrates SHW's 155-year history measures only 6,000-square-feet in SHW's current HQ on 101 W. Prospect Ave. It will likely retain that scale in the new CoE and continue its existing purpose -- for tours to job seekers, clients and VIPs.

SHW interviews 2,000-3,000 people per year for jobs. During their HQ visits, they are given a tour of the existing CoE. And when elected officials like mayors and governors visit, they are also given a CoE tour.

There apparently will be a publicly accessible part of the new HQ, but only because the city's building code requires it, sources said. The HQ's parking garage, to be located northwest of the Frankfort Avenue-West 3rd intersection, will have a store front on the ground level facing West 3rd. There will not any active uses along Frankfort which SHW's HQ development team considers to be an alley.


Monday, February 1, 2021

Cleveland's lakefront may get boost from new stadium, trains, ships

Several underutilized resources appear here. In the distance is Lake
Erie. Then there's First Energy Stadium that is used only about 10
times each year. The light-rail Waterfront Line ends in a parking
 lot and has yet to achieve its potential. And the Amtrak station
sees only scheduled nighttime trains. Here, a chartered train is
ready to take Cleveland Browns players and staff to practices
with the Buffalo Bills in Rochester, NY, August 2015 (KJP). 

Lots of pieces are coming into place that could greatly impact downtown Cleveland's lakefront in a very positive way. There are many challenges to be sure, but it seems that the planets are aligning for good things to happen.

These good things center on three basic ingredients -- trains/transit, shipping and development.

First ingredient -- Let's talk about lakefront development. There is a rumor going around that the Haslam Family (owner of the Cleveland Browns) want to build or rebuild a new multi-purpose stadium by the time the Browns' First Energy Stadium lease with the city expires in 2029.

There are several sites being considered for a new stadium, with the least problematic being the former Intermodal Yards site on the other side of Interstate 90 from Progressive Field. Norfolk Southern Corp. had its truck-to-train intermodal yard here until 2001 when it moved to a larger site in Maple Heights.

Today, the 48 acres next to downtown is owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation. While the site has been rumored for use as a professional soccer stadium, it could potentially be used for both soccer and football, as well as other functions especially if it is built with a dome or retractable roof.

At left is the lakefront with First Energy Stadium and, at right, is
the lakefront with the stadium replaced with a simple street grid
and development borrowed from parts of Cleveland's Arbor Park
on the East Side and Battery Park on the West Side (Google).

Word is that the Haslam Family wants to develop the lakefront site and use the revenues from it to help finance the construction of a new stadium or even reconstruction of the existing stadium. The stadium is a dead zone 355 days a year.

If the stadium is razed, it could be replaced with 38 acres of mid-rise housing, offices, restaurants and shops next to a publicly accessible waterfront promenade. If the stadium is reconstructed with a roof, the 18 acres of land north of it could still offer a significant development.

The timing is perfect as Congress and the Biden Administration are considering a $10 billion program to remove or at least de-emphasize some divisive urban highways and reconnect the fabric of urban centers and neighborhoods.

That could offer more funding to convert the Shoreway highway downtown into a boulevard, as has been long-planned by city officials. Another lakefront barrier, the railroad tracks, may be the subject of a land bridge to better unite the lakefront with downtown. A similar but larger project called the Rail Deck Park is planned in Toronto.

Second ingredient -- Speaking of trains, Amtrak is reaching out to state and local leaders to notify them of their desire to start five new routes in Ohio. Four of them would end in Cleveland, making the city a mini-hub for up to two dozen trains per day.

Crowds of passengers board one of 16 daily Amtrak trains at Down-
town Milwaukee's Intermodal Station which is also served by The
Hop streetcar, plus buses operated by Greyhound, Jefferson Lines,
Lamers Bus Lines, Indian Trails and Burlington Trailways. Maybe
Cleveland could someday have such a busy transit center (MIPRC).

Proposed routes include Cleveland to Toledo, Detroit and Chicago, Cleveland to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City, Cleveland to Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and New York City, and Cleveland to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati (3C Corridor).

At the outset, most trains would operate at 79 mph although they would travel at 110 mph in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania thanks to their state-led infrastructure investments. A decade ago, Ohio gave back $400 million in federal funds to start the 3C Corridor because of false concerns that the trains would be too slow or that Ohio would have to subsidize the trains at a paltry $17 million per year.

The timing is perfect for two reasons. First, Amtrak, Congress and the Biden Administration may pass by spring a new rail development program that supports Amtrak rather than states to pay for new routes. That includes 100 percent of the construction costs and, for the first two years, 100 percent of the operating costs. Amtrak's share would diminish each year until the sixth year when the new route matures and becomes the state's responsibility.

Second, CSX Transportation, which owns the Columbus-Cleveland tracks, has rerouted freight traffic off the south half of the route, south of Galion. CSX may be willing to sell that part of the line, opening up an opportunity to upgrade it to 110 mph or even faster for passenger trains. The Commonwealth of Virginia is acquiring active and inactive CSX routes to develop 79-110 mph train services on multiple travel corridors around the state.

When there's no pandemic, Amtrak puts four trains a night and more than 600,000 riders each year through Cleveland. To put that passenger count into context, this equates to more than a dozen sold-out Boeing 737s coming to or through downtown Cleveland on average, every day -- er, night.

Twenty years ago, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
proposed the North Coast Transportation Center as part of an exten-
sion of the downtown malls, descending to a boulevard that would
have replaced the Shoreway. Also proposed was a lakefront hotel,
parking garage, shops and streetscaping (WSP).

That's just two middle-of-the-night routes. Now add four more routes -- with daylight services. If Ohio's General Assembly gives the Ohio Department of Transportation a green light to work with Amtrak, then I think we're going to need a bigger train station, Cleveland.

Twenty years ago, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) developed an attractive plan for a North Coast Transportation Center. Several years ago, the city restarted planning such a multimodal station with Greyhound and GCRTA included. Behind the scenes and with the Haslam Family, the city may still be planning the station as part of a land bridge over the tracks. If not, Amtrak's plans should spur them into action.

And who knows, maybe someday GCRTA will consider extending its Waterfront Line as a Downtown Loop so it actually goes somewhere other than a parking lot. Right now, only one-third of downtown's real estate is within a 5-minute walk of a GCRTA rail station. Depending on the route, a Downtown Loop could put anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of downtown's jobs and residents within a 5-minute walk of the Rapid.

Third ingredient -- Climate change is causing a world of losers but also a few winners. Cleveland could be one of the winners, but not for the reason (climate migration) that the New York Times wrote about a couple of times lately.

Instead, the opportunity comes not just from people moving up from the south, but from ships coming from the north. A recent article at The Maritime Executive wrote about the climate change opportunity for Great Lakes ports coming from the opening of shipping lanes from Asia through the Arctic Ocean.

Two "salties" were in the Port of Cleveland during a rain storm
June 23, 2020. The Aujaq of the Netherlands was departing for
Burns Harbor, IN while the BBC Leda of  Antigua Barbuda was
loading containers for Antwerp, Belgium. Cleveland's global
cargo link will likely become more prominent in the coming
decades as a short Arctic Sea route to Asia warms (YouTube).

A year-round Arctic route will cut shipping distances from Asian ports to Great Lakes and East Coast ports by thousands of miles. Consider that a Shanghai-Cleveland shipping route is more than 14,000 miles whether it is via the Suez or Panama canals. A Shanghai-Cleveland route via the Arctic could be as little as 9,200 miles, knocking a week off the transit time.

It is already physically possible to operate year-round through parts of the Arctic Ocean with ice-breaker escorts but those are costly to shippers. And low shipping rates make year-round container shipping via the Arctic impractical until costly ice-breakers are no longer needed. That could occur in only about 20 years, according to a BBC article.

That may also be true of Great Lakes shipping which is generally closed from December to March, also due to ice. Closure of shipping during winter plus the slower transit time via the St. Lawrence Seaway is a deterrent to Great Lakes container shipping. But that may soon change. 

New mega-ships that can't travel via the Panama Canal (but can via the Suez Canal) will soon be bound for a planned mega-ship container terminal at Sydney, Nova Scotia, where containers will be divvied up among smaller ships for delivery to ports on the East Coast and on the St. Lawrence Seaway-Great Lakes. That will reduce costs for consumer goods in the Great Lakes and East Coast regions.

The most recent expansion plan for the Port of Cleveland was
this one, dating from 2008. It proposed to relocate the port off
the downtown lakefront to a larger site built from lake/river
dredging deposits at the foot of East 55th Street (CCCPA).

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is pioneering Great Lakes container shipping to/from Antwerp, Belgium. It is less time-consuming and costly to ship containers to Cleveland via an East Coast port like Newark, NJ, including a transfer to train or truck. Yet increased port congestion on the East Coast is making Cleveland increasingly attractive.

With a direct route to the Great Lakes and more ships crowding East Coast ports with the opening of an Arctic route, Cleveland is going to be an even more desirable destination for shipping companies. They are going to want to deliver loaded ships closer to the heart of America for distribution of containers by truck and rail to consumers.

Cleveland (metro population of 3.5 million) already has a leg up on Toronto and Chicago with its container port capabilities and experience. Eventually, Toronto (6.4 million people) and Chicago (9.7 million) are going to attract their share of container shipping.

But Cleveland could retain more than its share by further establishing itself as the mid-American gateway for containers due to its geographic location and port capabilities. Whether it can hold on to its leadership position will depend on whether it continues to improve its capabilities to handle more containers and increased transloading to truck and rail.

If it can, Cleveland may be in a great position geographically and economically in the coming decades.


Monday, January 25, 2021

Looking into the Cleveland Innovation District's past, future

The New Economy Neighborhood and Innovation Square could
be the site of significant spin-off investment resulting from the
 Cleveland Innovation District initiative. But the initiative is
less about location and more about investment in Cleveland's
economic engines to foster job growth (Fairfax Renaissance).

For more than a year, there have been rumors of a major research and development initiative aimed at University Circle and downtown Cleveland and the health care and educational institutions located there.

But the full breadth and scale of the initiative wasn't publicly revealed until today, culminating in the announcement by Gov. Mike DeWine and others regarding a Cleveland Innovation District fostering up to 20,000 jobs over the next 15 years. The state, led by JobsOhio, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) will put up $565 million to get the district off the ground in a big way.

"It's going to have an even bigger impact than what we're talking about today," said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted at today's announcement broadcast live on The Ohio Channel. "This has the pillars of economic growth -- innovation, talent and investment."

He also referred to the Cincinnati Innovation District, the first innovation district undertaken by JobsOhio. Like Cleveland's, Cincinnati's unites multiple players in that city to foster economic growth. But Cleveland's version will differ.

"The Cleveland Innovation District has a chance to be bigger than this (Cincinnati district)," Husted said. "For one reason, it's a bigger investment. 2021 is the year of recovery and this is the prescription that the doctor ordered."

The district is envisioned to be an effort where private sector resources are united and organized by local partnerships and state incentives to invest in health-care services, products, jobs and related outcomes. About 10,000 jobs will be a direct result of the state-sponsored initiative. Another 10,000 spin-offs are projected to be created in the community, at hotels, restaurants, stores and other businesses.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine joined state and local leaders Jan. 25 in
announcing the Cleveland Innovation District (The Ohio Channel).

Resources by the public and private sectors will be invested in and by each local partner -- Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth System, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University.

The investments will be attracted by increased college graduations and certifications, new jobs created from the commercialization of ideas nurtured by hospitals and educational institutions, plus sponsored research and urban redevelopment, said Tom Mihaljevic, CEO and president of CCF.

"It's the largest research effort in our 100-year history," Mihaljevic said. "COVID-19 reinforces the urgency of this work."

"Right now, this is more of an innovation initiative rather than a real estate development initiative," said Jeff Epstein, director of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, an umbrella effort to attract innovative health-tech and high-tech businesses to the area. "This much money coming into Cleveland for research and innovation is great."

There is an early real estate outcome resulting from the Cleveland Innovation District. That is a new $500 million, 1,000-employee Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health to be constructed by the CCF at the southeast corner of its campus, near Cedar Avenue and East 105th Street. The exact location hasn't been revealed.

CCF solicited construction management assistance for this "significant research building" starting last fall with the goal of seeing construction get underway in the next 2-3 years, according to a real estate industry source. While the size of the structure is not yet known, consider that Sherwin-Williams is planning to build a 680-employee, $250 million research center measuring 480,000 square feet in suburban Brecksville.

While the Cleveland Innovation District is primarily about supporting
innovation, a long-term outcome will likely be the transformation of
neighborhoods near the main campuses of the Cleveland Clinic, Uni-
 versity Hospitals, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve
University and Cleveland State University. This future view looks
south on East 105th Street near Cedar Avenue (City Architecture).

Not all of the $500 million will go for bricks and mortar. The actual cost of construction isn't nailed down yet. Much of the funding will go toward research activities at CCF's new and existing facilities.

And some of the funding for the new pathogen center will be used to create new start-up technology companies in the Cleveland Innovation District and/or attract major employers here. The goal is to add 1,000 new jobs at Cleveland Clinic by 2029 and another 7,500 jobs in Ohio by 2034.

In recent weeks, CCF also reissued requests for proposals for its new 400,000-square-foot Neurological Institute at 9606 Euclid Ave. and for nearly doubling the size of its 130,000-square-foot Cole Eye Institute. The added building will be located at 2030 E. 105th St. Both expansions were put on hold during the pandemic. Together, the new buildings will add hundreds of new, permanent jobs.

CCF also held focus group meetings of community stakeholders during the winter of 2020. Their goal was to determine what neighborhood services were desired in and near the CCF campus, especially the southeast corner, and how best to partner with real estate developers on creating them. More employee housing within walking distance of campus, a full-service grocery store and public spaces were among the community's desires.

That resulted in CCF partnering with Fairmount Properties to develop up to 300 micro-unit apartments, several dozen townhomes and a 40,000-square-foot Meijer grocery store. The city is seeking a $9 million noncompetitive federal loan to help build the grocery store.

Those would be developed on 3 acres of land at the southeast corner of East 105th and Cedar Avenue. And that's just the first phase. Fairmount plans a second phase of roughly equal scale on the block immediately west, bounded by Cedar, East 103rd, East 101st Street and Wain.

More jobs resulting from the Cleveland Innovation District means
more places for people to live, work, shop and play. One of the lar-
gest proposed developments is the Circle Square development be-
tween Euclid and Chester avenues on Stokes Boulevard (Bialosky).

Just south of Fairmount's development, Fairfax Renaissance hopes to break ground this spring on the $12.75 million first phase of Innovation Square, an 85-unit apartment building at 2258 E. 105th. Roughly half the units will be affordable; the other half market-rate. A ground-floor commercial space will be marketed.

Others in the real estate industry were aware of the major announcement coming, too. Midwest Development Partners' planned Circle Square megaproject actually got bigger as they learned last winter of the scope of the Cleveland Innovation District. The first new-construction phases of the project aim to get underway this spring.

In need of more land for the Cleveland Innovation District, CCF added more property to the northwest side of its campus, acquiring and demolishing the ORCA House structures last August, south of Chester Avenue near East 90th Street.

Those property acquisitions prompted more real estate developments along and north of Chester, including the East 90th Apartments by Inspirion Group, the Arpi Apartments by Arpi Development LLC, and Chester75 apartments by the Famicos Foundation. Together, at full buildout, these developments could add 438 apartments.

Not to be outdone, Signet Real Estate Group acquired nearly 6 acres of land in October for $2.4 million and is seeking to demolish several structures on its property for a mostly residential mixed-use development.

One of those endangered structures is the 134-year-old Allen-Sullivan mansion, 7218 Euclid. Signet is reviewing the feasibility of relocating the house across Euclid or rescuing architectural pieces of it in accordance with city design-review laws. Sources said the historic Italian-American hall behind the house cannot be saved, however.

Cleveland State University's $48 million, 100,000-square-foot
Center for Innovations in Medical Professions Building that
opened in 2015 was a toe in the water for the university. CSU
is taking a deeper dive into health care research and education
that, when combined with Cleveland Innovation District
funding could transform the region's economy (CSU).

Another factor possibly benefitting the Cleveland Innovation District is the new Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) tax credit. In Cincinnati, real estate investors are hoping to use the TMUD credit to develop a 20-acre property near hospitals and universities to capitalize on the innovation district over the coming decades. The TMUD tax credit could come into play in Cleveland as well.

As new jobs and real estate investments are occurring in anticipation of the Cleveland Innovation District activities, educational and health care institutions have been taking steps to support the innovation district going back more than a year.

In January 2020, Cleveland State University hired Forrest Faison III as senior vice president for research & innovation/chief healthcare strategy officer. Faison is a former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral and served as the 38th Surgeon General of the Navy and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from 2015 to 2019.

He will oversee the broad effort to unify and expand the university's educational, outreach and scholarship efforts in all aspects of health care, while spurring the continued growth of Cleveland as a center for medical innovation.

As a result of his hiring and the formation of CSU's new campus masterplan, look for significant new medical school and research buildings proposed for CSU's downtown Cleveland campus in the coming years. These facilities could feature thousands of students and research jobs and be a magnet for many millions of dollars of state and federal funding for education and research.

Private sector growth is likely too. Camera and copier giant Canon is expanding its presence into the medical imaging business. In 2016 it acquired industry giant Toshiba Medical Systems for $6 billion.

And last fall, Canon acquired Quality Electrodynamics LLC (QED) of Mayfield Village. Canon has designated its medical business as a new business that will expand and drive future growth for the company. The acquisition of QED, staffed locally by nearly 200 employees, furthers this strategy.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sherwin-Williams HQ site plan, buildings come into focus

According to sources on Sherwin-Williams headquarters develop-
ment team, this is the approximate layout of the HQ site in down-
town Cleveland, west of Public Square. The designs of proposed
buildings shown here are approximate examples based on exist-
ing works by SHW's architect Pickard Chilton (KJP/Google).

A site plan for the Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters (HQ) in downtown Cleveland is coming into focus. And what the HQ lacks in height, it might make up for in street presence especially along West 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue.

SHW-owned properties along those two streets are proposed to be developed by others. Last summer, SHW acquired the Superblock (bounded by Superior, West 6th, St. Clair, West 3rd) from the Weston Group as well as the Public Square lot from the Jacobs Group. The 6.82 acres of land is used entirely by surface parking lots.

That will change a year from now when SHW begins constructing a global HQ for upwards of $300 million. Planning is still very early in the process, currently consisting of programming, flow and general square footage requirements. So while things can and probably will change, sources in the SHW HQ development team say the site plan consists of the following:

BOK Park Place, the headquarters of the Bank of
Oklahoma, is the model for Sherwin-Williams
proposed new headquarters. But SHW's build-
ing will likely be about a half-dozen stories
taller and a little bit wider (Pickard Chilton).

  • A 1-million-square-foot office tower at the northwest corner of Superior Avenue and West 3rd Street. As reportedly earlier, the modern glass box tower will reportedly look similar to Pickard Chilton's (also SHW's HQ architect) 27-story, 700,000-square-foot BOK Park Plaza in Oklahoma City.

But SHW's HQ will reportedly be a little taller (about 30-35 stories) and have slightly larger floorplates (nearly 30,000 square feet vs 25,000 at BOK). Average floor heights above the lobby reportedly will be only 14 or 15 feet, suggesting a building 450 to 500 feet tall.

The design of Sherwin-Williams atrium, called the Center for
Excellence, in its existing HQ, is unknown. But sources said
a comparable, albeit smaller structure could be Devon Energy
Center's Auditorium in Oklahoma City (Pickard Chilton).

  • A new Center For Excellence (may have a new name) measuring about 50,000 to 80,000 square feet on Public Square featuring a conference center for employee training and corporate meetings, a small company museum (their existing museum is only 6,000 square feet) and possible retail space. A comparable structure may be Pickard Chilton's smaller, 22,000-square-foot Devon Energy Center Auditorium, across the street from the BOK Park Plaza.

A more aspirational structure may be found in the 120-foot-tall, 12,522-square-foot (of usable space) Devon Energy Center Rotunda. Either way, the Public Square center will be connected to the HQ with an enclosed walkway above West 3rd.

There are two parking garages for BOK Park Plaza. The north
parking deck is this one, featuring 700 parking spaces and
leasable commercial spaces on the ground floor. SHW's
version may be a little wider and taller (Google).

  • SHW may have only one parking structure, located on West 3rd, north of Frankfort Avenue from the base HQ building. The BOK Park Plaza has two parking decks totaling 1,500 spaces. SHW's deck may be similar to BOK's 700-space north deck, albeit larger and have ground-floor commercial spaces.

The north edge of SHW's deck apparently will stay about 100 feet south of St. Clair so it won't necessitate demolishing or notching around 1350 W. 3rd. It isn't known if this deck will be designed to accommodate a future tower atop it. Geotech drillers measured the depths to bedrock below this and other SHW lots.

The biggest unknown at this point is how future development
partners might design the east side of West 6th Street and the
south side of St. Clair Avenue. Five years ago when Weston
Group owned this land, it proposed mostly residential uses
over stores and restaurants. This conceptual image looked
north on West 6th toward St. Clair (Weston).

  • Last but not least is the roughly 2 acres of SHW-owned land left over along the east side of West 6th and the south side of St. Clair. SHW will apparently not be developing this land for its HQ, now or in the future.

Instead, according to SHW HQ development team members, the goal is to partner with real estate developers to expand Warehouse District eateries, shops, structured parking and add new lodging south and east along the edges of the new SHW campus. The goal is to expand the district's street life and to create an urban campus desired by the young talent that SHW is trying to attract.

Although specific designs for SHW's buildings aren't yet completed, examples of Pickard Chilton's finished products are found worldwide. But it seems that many of SHW's inspirations are being drawn from the BOK Park Plaza and its surroundings. That may be due in part to SHW's conservatism if not outright stodginess. 

This image provided by the SHW design team shows an early
placeholder design to show what the BOK Park Plaza would
look like if built on the northwest corner of Superior Avenue
and West 3rd Street (contributed rendering).

Curiously absent from the HQ's spatial discussions is the relocation of several hundred SHW employees from a 128,000-square-foot flex-space office that SHW leases at 4770-4780 Hinckley Industrial Parkway in Cleveland.

This office space was opened after SHW acquired Minneapolis-based Valspar and ran out of space for more employees at SHW's offices in downtown Cleveland -- its HQ at 101 W. Prospect Ave. and the Skylight Office Tower, 1660 W. 2nd St.

Yet SHW said it intends to relocate to its new HQ downtown the offices for its Automotive Finishes Corp. located in Warrensville Heights. The research functions from the automotive unit will move to the new research and development (R&D) center in Brecksville.

SHW's existing R&D facility, the John G. Breen Technology Center, 601 Canal Rd., was donated by SHW to the City of Cleveland last July. The donation includes the 140,000-square-foot R&D center and 5.7 acres of land. City officials haven't revealed what they intend to do with the land, however the land is next to the newly extended Towpath Trail and the planned Canal Basin Park.


Friday, January 22, 2021

Bedrock considers Tower City Riverview TMUD project

In 2019, Bedrock Real Estate Services commissioned this
conceptual rendering as part of planning for Tower City's
Riverview area below Huron Road and above the
Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland (Vocon).

With the news breaking this week that Quicken Loans' affiliate Rocket Mortgage may add at least 700 jobs over the next few years, many are asking where would these new jobs be located.

Meanwhile, Bedrock Real Estate Services, one of the many Dan Gilbert-owned partner companies of Quicken Loans, has ramped up the hiring of development subcontractors to conduct due-diligence activities in Cleveland. That's according to two sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about those activities.

Those activities are being focused on a narrow strip of land owned by Bedrock partner Rock Ohio Caesars Cleveland LLC, below Huron Road and above the Cuyahoga River. Within that strip yet split by Canal Road are two parcels owned by Rock Ohio -- the 8.5-acre, 678-space Tower City Riverview Parking public lot and the 11-acre, 1,330-space Tower City Riverview South employee parking lot.

Over the past two years, Bedrock has contracted with Cleveland architectural firm Vocon Partners, LLC to explore ways to use that land. Their vision involves a potential Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) including an office building, a high-rise apartment building, a hotel and recreational public spaces along and above the river.

According to one of the two sources, Bedrock has extended its agreement with Vocon. The other source said Bedrock has also hired design and engineering firm IBI Group of Toronto to provide construction and engineering services. Both sources said the due-diligence work at this stage is very preliminary and consists of geotechnical and environmental analyses.

Location of major real estate features in this article (KJP/Google).

Thus, the sources say it is unlikely that Quicken Loans or Bedrock have made any decisions about where Rocket Mortgage will be located in the future. Ken Till, senior vice president of development at Bedrock, did not respond prior to publication of this article to a LinkedIn message.

"I'm not sure where they will go," said Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack who represents downtown. "But obviously it's very, very good news for downtown and the City of Cleveland. That's 700 brand-new, well-paying jobs."

According to a News5Cleveland.com interview of Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, he estimated the new employment at "700 to 1,000 jobs." Council is reviewing an ordinance that would provide a $975,000 Job Creation Incentive Program grant from the city to Quicken Loans.

The Detroit-based lending firm's local office and its 400 employees relocated in 2016 from the former main post office between Prospect, Huron, West 3rd and West 6th street to 81,000 square feet of space in the 90-year-old Higbee's Building, 100 Public Square.

Since then, Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage added another 300 jobs in the Higbee's Building. That brought its footprint in the building to about 150,000 square feet. More than doubling existing employment by adding another 700-1,000 jobs could exceed the remaining available office space in the Higbee's Building.

In 1990, Forest City Enterprises envisioned a major real estate
development to follow its Tower City project (KJP collection).

According to Jones Lang LaSalle's (JLL) 2020 Cleveland Skyline Report, there's only about 130,000 square feet of office space not yet leased in the Higbee's Building. Of the total 815,000 square feet of space in the 13-story building, 527,000 square feet is used for offices; the rest is the Jack Casino. Floors four, six, eight and nine are fully leased with offices, JLL's report says.

Even if the Higbee's building had room for the lending firm's expansion, there's another reason why it may move. A Gilbert-owned firm no longer owns the Higbee's Building and has also sold the casino operations.

Gilbert's Rock Ohio sold the building and the Thistledown Racino property in a lease-back deal in October 2019 for $843 million to Vici Properties. The casino operations sold this month and will move its headquarters and about 90 jobs from Detroit to Cleveland. 

Those sales plus a newly created TMUD tax credit to support real estate megaprojects means that Bedrock Cleveland has the resources to move forward on developing properties under Gilbert's Rock Holdings' umbrella.

After the sale, Rock Holdings said it "will continue to invest significant capital into these (Cleveland) properties which will have a lasting positive impact on the city and Cuyahoga County."

A diorama showing another vision by Forest City Enterprises for
the Riverview phase of its Tower City development (KJP collection).

There are several other matters affecting potential development of the Riverview properties. One is the apparently reactivated $110 million proposal to convert most of The Avenue at Tower City into a technology hub called CityBlock.

Another are the post-2024 departures of Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) headquarters in the Landmark Building, 101 W. Prospect Ave., to the west side of Public Square and the coatings firm's John G. Breen Technology Center, 601 Canal Rd., to Brecksville.

When SHW vacates and sells the 91-year-old Landmark Building, the 900,000-square-foot structure may be converted to housing. That could leave several of its tenants in the lurch, however.

SHW occupies about 800,000 square feet of the Landmark Building. The remaining spaces are filled by the offices of three law firms -- McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., Weisman, Kennedy & Berris Co. and Reminger Co. -- plus Century Federal Credit Union. It isn't known yet if or where those tenants of the SHW-owned building may relocate.

Lastly, along the riverfront is SHW's Breen research facilities, set on 9.2 acres of land. SHW donated nearly 6 acres of this property to the City of Cleveland in July 2020 including the land on which the 140,000-square-foot research center sets.

Most of Breen's land is used for surface parking and greenspace but the entire site could be converted to a park. The city, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metroparks and Canalway Partners are developing the Canal Basin Park and Towpath Trail nearby.


Friday, January 15, 2021

More surprises in Sherwin-Williams' emerging HQ design

Sherwin-Williams is focused on refining the design of its base
HQ building, but not the location of it which is proposed to be
at the northwest corner of West Superior Avenue and West 3rd
Street -- not immediately fronting Public Square. Instead, the
proposed use for the former Jacobs Lot is that of a company
museum, retail store and conference center (KJP/Google).
At first, a contributed rendering posted here at NEOtrans looked like it contained an oversight. But with more information coming in like drops of paint, a site plan for Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) new headquarters (HQ) is gaining more color.

The rendering published in NEOtrans' previous SHW HQ article shows the base HQ building (represented by SHW's inspirational prototype -- the BOK Park Plaza tower from Oklahoma City) plopped down west of Public Square.

But the specific location being considered right now for SHW's main HQ building is one block west of the West Roadway of Public Square. The HQ's front door wouldn't open out on to Public Square from what was previously called the Jacobs Lot, according to a source on SHW's HQ development team. The source requested anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak publicly about the HQ planning work. 

The 1.17-acre parking lot, previously owned by the Westlake-based Jacobs Group, was the proposed site for various skyscrapers. The proposals ranged in height from a 21-story mixed-tenant office building floated in 2008 to a 62-story, 1,198-foot Ameritrust HQ in 1991. SHW considered putting its new HQ tower here in 2014-16 before its acquisition of rival Valspar caused the company to shelve those plans.

SHW's Center for Excellence is the public entry to its existing
headquarters on Prospect Avenue. This entry and reception
area features exhibits about the company and flags of the
countries in which SHW does business. A much larger
center is contemplated on Public Square (SHW).

A tower may not be what SHW has in mind for the ex-Jacobs Lot. Instead, SHW's HQ development team is looking at constructing a different kind of front door for the global coatings giant. Its inspiration is 700 miles south in the Peachtree City.

Across the street from Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park is the 92,000-square-foot World of Coca-Cola museum. This interactive museum in Coke's HQ city attracts 1.2 million visitors per year compared to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum's 500,000 annual visits.

SHW is considering a similar corporate interface and attraction for its HQ. It would be similar to but much larger than its Center for Excellence, a 6,000-square-foot point of entry for all visitors to its headquarters since 1930 in the Landmark Building, 101 W. Prospect Ave.

There, visitors can learn about the company's 154-year history, its products, their uses and ideas for the future. On Public Square, the center would be within range of a paintball shot from SHW's first business address at 118 Superior St.

SHW's Public Square center could also feature other uses including a retail store, conference center, board room and more. Thus, its scale is not yet known and no formal designing has been done for the ex-Jacobs Lot yet, the source said.

SHW's base HQ building would be located one block west of
Public Square, as shown here. However, this unofficial ren-
dering shows the BOK Park Plaza from Oklahoma City
inserted. The actual SHW HQ building will likely be
a little bit taller than 27 stories (contributed).

That's why drilling to bedrock below this and other lots throughout the entire 6.8-acre SHW-owned HQ site is being undertaken. Much is not yet known where other HQ uses -- parking decks, training center, lodging, etc. will be located let alone how they will be designed.

The exception is the base HQ building. SHW and its development team are reportedly comfortable with the basic style -- a modern glass box tower similar to the aforementioned 27-story, 700,000-square-foot BOK Park Plaza designed by SHW's HQ architect Pickard Chilton. The multi-tenant office building houses the headquarters of the Bank of Oklahoma.

But after HQ development team meetings this week, SHW may be willing to put all of their HQ offices in this tower, totaling 1 million square feet. If the already large, 25,000-square-foot floorplates in the BOK Park Plaza model aren't widened, SHW would bump up its building height from the previously reported 27 stories, to possibly 35-38 stories. At an average of about 16 feet of height per floor, that could push the HQ's height to nearly 600 feet, making it Cleveland's fourth-tallest skyscraper.

Refining the design of the base HQ building currently is the focus of the development team, the source said. Then the team will zoom in on the design of the museum/conference center on Public Square. After that, the rest of the HQ site will be addressed.

This shows that the design of the project is not as far along as previously reported. Yet, sources say SHW wants to start construction about one year from now. SHW said in public announcements that it would like to move into the new HQ in 2024.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Sneak peak at what the Sherwin-Williams HQ might look like

Sherwin-Williams' proposed new global headquarters will fea-
ture several structures, the largest of which will rise one block
west of Public Square. This is a contributed rendering of that
building which may see a few more floors added to it after a
design meeting held earlier this week. But the basic style of
the building will reportedly appear as shown, based on a
tower recently built in Oklahoma City and designed by
SHW architect Pickard Chilton (contributed image).

After last week's NEOtrans articles about the height of Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) base headquarters (HQ) building on Public Square, a rather important meeting was held this week. The subject? The height of the proposed SHW base HQ building, according to a source on the HQ development team.

NEOtrans reported that the SHW base HQ building just west of Public Square would top out at 27 stories and about 410- to 440-feet tall. That apparently triggered some feedback, if not outright pushback to the HQ development team by some influential SHW persons not on the development team. 

So in the team meeting this week, participants debated the height of SHW's base HQ building. The outcome was that a few floors will be added to the base HQ tower. That extra height will come either by subtracting square footage from a secondary office building proposed on the other side of West 3rd Street or perhaps from slimming down the base HQ building.

At 15 to 17 feet per floor, that could result in the base HQ tower approaching 500 feet in height, putting it's height ranking between that of No. 5 One Cleveland Center (450 feet) and No. 4 Erieview Tower (529 feet). That would make the new SHW HQ tower Cleveland's new fifth-tallest building.

SHW's base HQ building will reportedly appear
very similar in design to the 2018-built BOK
Park Plaza in Oklahoma City (Pickard Chilton).

What apparently isn't up for debate anymore is the style of the building -- a modern glass box. And according to the development team source, there is a building elsewhere in the USA that is nearly identical to what is being considered for the SHW base HQ building.

BOK Park Plaza in Oklahoma City, built in 2018 and designed by SHW architect Pickard Chilton, is SHW's inspirational prototype. This multi-tenant building has the headquarters of and naming rights by Bank of Oklahoma.

This 27-story, 430-foot-tall building has about 700,000 square feet of space. It was developed by Hines Interests Limited Partnership. BOK Park Plaza was built across the street from another Pickard Chilton-designed tower -- the 52-story, 844-foot-tall Devon Energy headquarters that some Cleveland urbanistas apparently hoped would be SHW's inspirational prototype instead.

SHW's HQ development team reportedly likes the BOK Park Plaza because of its reflective, shimmering and transparent qualities. It's a conservative style for a conservative company. Some on the team called it a sleek, elegant design. The tower has a unique parallelogram-shaped footprint owing to its angled siting, with identical parallelogram floorplates continuing up through the entire building.

Outside the front door of BOK Park Plaza is this outdoor public
space facing the intersection of West Sheridan and North Hudson
avenues as well as the Myriad Gardens. In downtown Cleveland,
a very similar tower would face in the direction of Public Square.
The Oklahoma City building is sited at an angle with respect to
the nearby 90-degree-angled intersection. From directly above,
 the building appears as a parallelogram (Pickard Chilton).

Glass boxes are often embraced by corporate America to provide a visual connection between the inside and outside worlds. They allow nighttime observers to see inside just as the building's occupants can see out. Such buildings are one with their environments as they reflect the sky and surrounding buildings.

As more companies strive for ecological sustainability and healthier work environments, glass boxes can address both, according to the Paladino Blog. The proximity to and arrangement of windows, called fenestration, can offset the need for artificial lighting to provide a psychologically healthy connection to the outdoors, called the biophilic effect. And it also reduces energy consumption which helped BOK Park Plaza earn a LEED-CS GOLD energy label.

Although the approximate height and style of the base HQ building are now known, what isn't known is how the rest of the 6.8-acre SHW HQ site will be developed. A second HQ office building of about 20 stories was reported by NEOtrans last week.

So was the likelihood of one or two massive parking decks to accommodate up to 2,000 cars for SHW employees and to replace1,000 existing spaces lost to the SHW HQ development. A training center and possibly an on-site hotel could round-out the development site, as could a couple of spaces next to or on top of the parking structures for future HQ expansion. However the layout and styles of these structures aren't yet known.