Saturday, August 28, 2021

Seeds & Sprouts XIX -- Cleveland apartment demand soars, downtown expansions & more

This is the Nineteenth 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.

From Ohio City to downtown Cleveland and beyond, people are
renting Greater Cleveland apartments in record numbers so far
this year. Nowhere is that more true than in downtown Cleve-
land which accounted for nearly one-third of all rental
activity in Greater Cleveland (Adam Greene).

CoStar report: Cleveland apartment demand set to break records

International real estate research, marketing and analytics firm CoStar released a report this week showing that demand for apartments in the Greater Cleveland market is on track for a record-breaking year.

So far in 2021, more than 2,500 apartments have rented in Greater Cleveland, keeping pace with 2015 which holds the most recent record. The pandemic was a dominant factor in this year's performance. After a sharp drop in demand in 2020, CoStar cites "a return to the office and to downtown living are fueling demand in the market."

One-third of all apartment demand in Greater Cleveland in the first half of 2021 was generated by downtown activity, the report showed. Downtown vacancy remained higher compared to historical trends as the pandemic combined with the addition of several large new apartment buildings to reduce demand and increase supply.

The largest of those projects was the 34-story, 318-unit Lumen Apartments tower in downtown's Playhouse Square District. Leasing at The Lumen began in early March 2020, only days before the economy was virtually shut down by the pandemic.

Leasing at The Lumen started slowly but soon took off; about 85 percent of the apartments are now leased and at monthly rents of $1,400 for a studio to more than $7,000 for a penthouse, according to leasing agent Greystone Properties. See more about The Lumen later in this Seeds & Sprouts under "Retail spaces in two new Cleveland buildings are gaining tenants."

This year, the combination of a slowdown in construction activity and a sharp rise in demand have pushed Greater Cleveland apartment vacancy to an historic low of 5.1 percent. Vacancy in downtown Cleveland in the third quarter was dropping quickly below 14 percent, down from its peak of more than 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, CoStar's report said.

CoStar predicted that demand should remain healthy for the foreseeable future despite multiple large downtown apartment buildings that are due to see construction in the coming months, including City Club Apartments, The Centennial, 55 Public Square, 45 Erieview and the Rockefeller Building. Those and other projects represent 60 percent of the planned apartment units in Greater Cleveland and may keep downtown vacancy rates above historical averages.

Growth is growth, pandemic or not, and the
downtown money management firm Clearstead
needs to add more office space to accommodate
its double-digit employment growth (FindGlocal).

Clearstead to expand downtown Cleveland office by 40 percent

To accommodate its continuing growth, a prominent financial management firm is significantly expanding its office space in downtown Cleveland. Clearstead Advisors, LLC will increase its presence in the 21-story Oswald Centre, 1100 Superior Ave. by expanding from the seventh floor into the sixth floor, according to building permit applications submitted to the city this week.

Monica Fletcher, senior associate of marketing at Clearstead, confirmed the expansion. She said the institutional and independent investment consulting advisory firm will grow from 24,546 square feet it currently leases to 34,415 square feet.

The reason for the additional space is that Clearstead has grown from 80 Cleveland employees in April 2020 to 93 today and expects to add at least four more employees after the office expansion. Company-wide, employment has grown from 85 people in 2020 to 101 today, Fletcher said.

"Clearstead has had double-digit growth in the past few years and having a downtown location has been important to its growth," Fletcher said in an Aug. 27 e-mail to NEOtrans.

Overseeing the expansion and office retrofit work is Ullman Electric Co. of Cleveland. Much of the work focuses on installing new electrical fixtures, receptacles and breakers, according to the building permit application. Cost of the renovations was estimated in the application at $56,400.

International real estate information firm CoStar reported this past week that office leasing velocity in the Cleveland market remains healthy despite the lingering pandemic. Downtown properties remain attractive despite some firms reducing their office spaces and/or subleasing those spaces with the growth in remote working.

Local Development Partners is proposing to develop
vacant land along the east side of West 44th Street,
just south of Lorain Avenue. It is one of many
new developments in the growing south-
western part of Ohio City (CoUrbanize).

Ohio City grows southwest with Harbor 44 phase 2, The Clermont

Two proposed developments would respond to the growth of population and demand for higher-quality urban housing in the southwest part of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. But unlike many new housing units built in Ohio City, these two developments propose to offer a mix of market-rate and affordable units.

Local Development Partners, LLC's (LDP) of Cleveland is proposing both. The larger of the two is Harbor 44 project-phase two. The 22,000-square-foot first phase was entirely commercial -- offices over retail spaces -- at the southeast corner of Lorain Avenue and West 44th Street. The building has nearly filled up all spaces.

"Building upon the success of the first phase of Harbor 44, this development will build new residences -- both for-rent apartments (called Harbor Flats) and for-purchase townhomes (called Harbor Row) -- along two vacant blocks of W. 44th Street," LDP's Principal James Asimes wrote.

Just south of the first phase will be Harbor Flats, a 12-unit apartment building with studios plus one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites. Each apartment will have a private terrace or balcony space. Harbor Row will offer 11 for-sale townhomes. Seven larger townhomes will front West 44th, each with a garage and terrace. Along West 43rd Place will be four smaller townhomes, known as mews, with an eye towards affordability.

"We've been trying to come up with more small, for-sale products," Asimes said. "This (the mews) is a good way to accomplish that. We want to roll out more of these (mews)."

Nearby, a dozen Horton-Harper-designed townhome-style apartments are planned to replace two existing houses at 2222 Fulton Road. Called The Clermont, named after Robert Fulton's first steamship, each unit will have a large living room, modern kitchen, full bathroom, plus a washer and dryer. First-floor units will have a front patio with more outdoor space for all residents in the rear of the building.

"The Clermont is designed to provide a more affordable new apartment -- with price points that better appeal to the budget of a teacher, nurse, or civil servant compared with other new apartments in the area," according to a project brief published on CoUrbanize.

Seven off-street car parking spaces and bike parking will be behind the building and the developer has an agreement with an adjacent property owner for three additional off-street car parking spaces, or 10 total. Removing the existing curb cut on Fulton Road will open up additional street parking. The Clermont is located on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's frequent Nos. 22 and 45 bus services.

An artist's rendering showing only the First National Bank of
Pennsylvania's proposed ground-floor bank branch in The
Lumen apartment tower. None of the 34-story building
above the bank branch is shown (David Fuller).

Retail spaces in two new Cleveland buildings gain tenants

Two new buildings that opened in the past year in highly visible locations are gaining ground-floor retail tenants that will likely increase the foot traffic and enhance the vibrancy of those locations.

One retail addition is First National Bank (FNB) of Pennsylvania which is leasing 804 square feet of space in The Lumen apartment tower in downtown's Playhouse Square. The Hermitage, PA-based financial institution is investing $165,000 to remove interior walls and construct a new bank branch, according to a permit application filed yesterday.

In keeping with the district's unique and sometimes theatrical lighting, the branch will feature several LED-illuminated marketing displays. They include a ticker-like ribbon above the glassy façade, plus an LED wall and 65-inch digital monitor inside the bank branch, as noted in planning documents submitted to the city.

Since 2013, FNB has had a regional headquarters and bank branch in the 55 Public Square building which is undergoing renovation into a mix of apartments and upgraded office spaces. While the Playhouse Square branch will help provide an alternative banking location during 55 Public Square's construction, the new branch is far enough away and in an area of strong population growth that will allow it to remain permanently.

Playhouse Square Foundation and Houston-based Hines Interests included two retail spaces at The Lumen. With this space leased, it leaves 1,135 square feet of ground-floor commercial space available in Ohio's tallest residential tower, according to a LoopNet listing.

The other addition is AT&T which is opening a store in the Euclid3 apartment building that was completed last year in the Uptown section of University Circle. City records show AT&T will be taking a 1,610-square-foot ground-floor space in Euclid3 at 11601 Euclid Ave. and invest $75,000 to build-out the space.

The global telecommunications firm will join a local merchant that opened up earlier this year in the new 49-unit apartment building developed by Bluewater Capital Partners, LLC. New Millennium Studio, a small chain of beauty salons, leased 1,211 square feet, leaving about 580 square feet available on the ground floor.

Site plan for the new home for MedVet Cleveland West,
to be located on EmeraldParkway, just north of the
Interstate 480-Grayton Road interchange (M+A Architects).

Animal emergency hospital to relocate from Brook Park to Cleveland

Responding to growth needs, MedVet Cleveland West, a 24-hour animal emergency hospital, plans to relocate from a small, difficult-to-find facility in Brook Park to a new, much larger building on Emerald Parkway in Cleveland.

MedVet Cleveland West is located in a cramped, 11,700-square-foot building at 14000 Keystone Pkwy. on a dead-end industrial street that ducks under Interstate 480. The hospital would like to hire more staff to handle more patients but it simply doesn't have the room.

So the hospital's parent company, Southlake TX-based Cleveland Healthcare I, LLC, plans to invest $6 million to build a new animal hospital that's triple the size of the existing one, according to documents submitted to the city. The 35,000-square-foot facility would rise on a 4-acre site at 1234 Emerald Pkwy., near Interstate 480's Grayton Road interchange and Hopkins Airport.

MedVet is a chain with more than 30 animal hospitals located across the United States. It has three locations in Northeast Ohio -- Cleveland-Brook Park, Akron-Copley and Youngstown-Girard. A fourth location in Mentor recently closed.


Friday, August 27, 2021

Sherwin-Williams HQ plans offer busy 2 weeks of review, debate

Sherwin-Williams new headquarters will join the family of downtown
Cleveland skyscrapers after construction starts early this winter. It will
be the fourth-tallest tower in Cleveland's skyline once construction is
completed in 2024 (

For Clevelanders who love to "ooh" and "ahh" over photo-realistic renderings of proposed skyscrapers, the first two weeks in September are going to unwrap an early Christmas present for them. That's when a joint committee of city planning review panels will receive and review more detailed designs for the new Sherwin-Williams (SHW) headquarters.

How will the committee react when it reconvenes Sept. 14? And how might these detailed designs compare to the broad-brush concepts that were conditionally approved by the city in July? Will the designs appear to them as a shiny diamond gift or a lump of coal that needs more pressure to become the diamond?

City Planning Commission will receive schematic-level plans Aug. 31 from SHW's HQ design team, led by SHW's Building Our Future Committee and the architectural firm Pickard Chilton. SHW is eyeing an early-winter groundbreaking for its 1-million-square-foot, $300-million-plus global headquarters on the west side of downtown's Public Square.

NEOtrans learned from sources on the SHW HQ design team that they acquiesced to few of the city's conditions it made July 20 in approving the HQ's conceptual plans. Rather than yield to the conditions, SHW offered compromises instead, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the project.

A conceptual rendering of the first phase of Sherwin-Williams'
new global headquarters, including the four basic components
of the $300-million-plus phase-one complex (SHW).

Much of the city's concerns were centered on how the new HQ would relate to the streets, sidewalks, pedestrians and Public Square. The city was concerned about blank walls and a lack of public interaction with the new HQ. It urged more ground-floor retail spaces, rooftop cafes/restaurants open to the public, landscaping, public art/screening along sidewalks and the like.

Last month, the city urged SHW to demonstrate via the use of designs the street-level experience of the entire site, especially the temporary parking lots at the western and northern edges of SHW's property along West 6th Street and St. Clair Avenue. The city also recommended SHW enhance the experience for pedestrians along Frankfort Avenue between West 3rd and West 6th that was recently vacated by the city. And the city urged SHW to adopt a retail strategy for the HQ site.

SHW will offer landscaping between the parking lots and sidewalks along West 6th and St. Clair. Those parking lots are considered temporary by SHW as it weighs their future use. Proposed uses include a phase-two SHW office tower roughly 20 stories tall at West 6th and Superior Avenue and future development by others around the west and north flanks of a new 920-space garage for SHW employees.

While the company recognized Frankfort is an important pedestrian route between the Warehouse District and Public Square, it was unwilling to add retail spaces to the HQ tower's base or to the proposed employees' parking deck along Frankfort. SHW considers Frankfort to be its HQ service lane accessed by trucks and where cars entering the parking deck will line up each morning.

Site plan of Sherwin-Williams' HQ property, located to the west
of Public Square in downtown Cleveland (SHW).

As a compromise, SHW's design team is proposing some streetscaping features to Frankfort including vegetation and artistic screening along the walls. Additionally, SHW proposes aesthetic storefront display windows on the Superior-facing podium of the HQ tower, similar to the Euclid Avenue side of the PNC Tower to see how the city will respond.

Design team members also appear willing to add a small retail space to the Superior side, sources said. And there will likely be a second-floor, employees-only outdoor lunch area above this area, also facing Superior.

Members of the city's joint planning committee, comprised of the Cleveland City Planning Commission, Cleveland Landmarks Commission, Downtown-Flats Design Review Committee and the Warehouse Historic District Design Review Committee, also urged SHW to consider adding public roof access to and increasing the height of a glassy, two-story, nearly 50-foot-tall pavilion facing Public Square.

SHW considered it and rejected it. The global coatings giant is extremely security conscious especially when it comes to industrial espionage and does not want any public access to any structure within its new HQ complex. If it weren't for design standards in the city's building code, SHW presumably would not have included a bare-minimum retail space on the West 3rd side of its planned parking garage.

Site plan showing all phases of the proposed Sherwin-Williams HQ (SHW).

Again, as a compromise, SHW is proposing to expand the pavilion's second-floor private terraces that face Public Square. The pavilion will be the HQ's cultural hub, offering a learning center, conference facility, a barista and retail store possibly open to the public and a Center of Excellence to showcase the company's history and achievements to VIPs and new recruits.

And while the committee urged a height increase to the pavilion, SHW reduced its overall square footage, originally proposed to be 50,000 square feet. The goal is to allow for a larger landscaped area with a water feature in front of the pavilion, just across West Roadway from Public Square.

Although the city expressed its displeasure at the HQ's inclusion of two pedestrian skybridges, it has no legal authority to block them. The city's building code does not prohibit them for downtown buildings. SHW proposes a short skybridge over Frankfort, from the parking garage to the HQ tower, and a longer skybridge over West 3rd between the HQ tower and the pavilion.

Last month, the city's joint committee embraced the conceptual design of the 616-foot, nearly 40-story HQ tower. So, few schematic changes were made to its basic form. As has been reported here at NEOtrans since January, the tower will have a glass curtain wall exterior. Above the lobby, the tower's glass will have a blueish tint, as is common in buildings designed by Pickard Chilton. The lobby's glass windows will be clear, design team sources said.

A 3-D model showing all proposed phases of the Sherwin-Williams
HQ complex, including a second-phase office tower about 20
stories tall at Superior Avenue and West 6th Street (SHW).

The tower's V-shaped crown will have some illumination, separate from any illumination in the rest of the tower. Some design alternatives showed illumination of a vertical design feature to break up the middle of the curtain wall on the tower's east and west sides.

Sources also said some earlier renderings have had company logos facing east and west, located near the top of the tower. But signage is not a part of the design requests being made of the city at this time. Often, a new building project's signage applications are submitted much later, sometimes well after construction starts.

Cleveland's City Planning Commission has a three-step design review and approval process for proposed new or renovated building projects. Conceptual plans are submitted first, followed by much more detailed schematic designs.

If the schematic designs are approved, with or without conditional changes, the applicant returns weeks or months later for final approval. But at final approval, the applicant will have made design changes to address the city's conditions. SHW's HQ project is on a schedule that would have it appear before Planning Commission for final approval on Nov. 30.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Why Cleveland Construction's new office is an amazing sign for downtown

Crews install a sign for Cleveland Construction Inc.'s new field
office on Prospect Avenue in downtown Cleveland. The sign is
a visible indication about the current and future opportunities
for the Mentor-based construction firm (Jordan Abbott).

Sometimes a sign about the future prospects of downtown construction is just that -- a sign. And what better place to put that sign about future prospects than on Prospect Avenue?

Crews this week were working inside and out while renovating a 3,160-square-foot storefront at 645 Prospect Ave. for Cleveland Construction Inc. which signed a three-year lease in June for a ground-floor space in the parking deck for K&D Group's Residences at 668 on Euclid Ave. Among the renovations is a sign for the Mentor-based construction firm, affixed above the storefront.

The renovations, according to plans submitted to the city and a building permit issued in June, are for a field office for Cleveland Construction. It is the general contractor (GC) for multiple downtown projects that are planned or underway.

Currently, it is the GC for Millennia Companies' 75 Public Square that's already underway. And it's the GC for several big upcoming projects including K&D Group's 55 Public Square, Roy Group's Art Craft Building in the 2500 block of Superior Avenue and the next project of Farmington Hills, MI-based City Club Apartments.

Floor plan for Cleveland Construction Inc.'s new field office in
downtown Cleveland, with the Prospect Avenue entrances
visible at the top of the image (Cleveland B&H).

That project is CBD Cleveland, a 23-story apartment tower due to rise at on a surface parking lot at 776 Euclid Ave. Final designs for the project were approved by City Planning Commission a year ago. Aside from the relocation of sewers below Euclid and its south-side sidewalk, no visible construction has occurred.

The first permit for City Club Apartments was issued July 14 for catch basins, storm/sanitary sewers and a grease interceptor. But the "big permit" is being issued now. That is for the building's foundation and utilities, plus an earth retention system and protection of neighboring structures.

"This office will house our project teams managing the construction of the new City Club Apartments, the historic restoration of 55 Public Square and the upcoming renovation of the ArtCraft Building in the first quarter of 2022," said Shawn Zbasnik, marketing director at Cleveland Construction. "The new office location reflects our dedication to supporting our current projects and the restoration and growth in downtown."

Floor plans submitted with the application show eight offices identified as a "CCA Team Office" and a meeting room marked as "CCA Conference Room." CCA is an abbreviation for "City Club Apartments."

City Club Apartments' 240-foot-tall CBD Cleveland project on
Euclid Avenue is just one of many potential developments in
and near downtown's Gateway District (Vocon).

The field office will also have a reception and waiting area, data and document submittal areas, plus two other offices and a conference room for an unidentified purpose identified as "BD Office" and "BD conference room," apparently referring to "Business Development."

The 300-unit apartment CBD Cleveland (CBD means Central Business District) apartment building will connect to the existing parking garage behind, have balconies for some of the units, pool, fitness center and ground-floor retailers/restaurants.

One of the restaurants may be called The Hippodrome, a nod to the building and its ornate theater which stood on the site until 1981. Next door is the 1901-built City Club of Cleveland which coincidentally has a name similar to that of the planned apartment building but is not affiliated. Construction of the roughly $100 million tower could take about two years.

"Cleveland has been in our name for over 40 years," Zbasnik said. "For the past 15 years, we have developed an extensive portfolio of work in downtown Cleveland using only temporary jobsite offices. We're excited that our management teams now have a permanent downtown office location to collaborate as we continue building and evolving our services in the city."

K&D Group is starting work on the renovation and partial conver-
sion of 55 Public Square, a 1958-built Modernist office tower. The
top half of the 22-story building will offer 105,000-square-feet of
renovated office spaces with 156 apartments, tenant amenities and
a new restaurant on the lower floors. Cleveland Construction is
the renovation project's general contractor (Costar).

A field office on Prospect offers a strategic location for Cleveland Construction potentially for years to come. The provision of the business development offices/conference room with a separate street entrance shows that work can be carried out on more than one project at time.

More opportunities could come as early next year when construction may finally start on Stark Enterprises' long-awaited nuCLEus development, between Prospect and Huron Road, just east of East 4th Street. Stark first proposed nuCLEus in 2014. Cleveland Construction is the general contractor of that project too.

Stark has sought a creative public financing component for its mixed-use nuCLEus project. That financing, called the Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) tax credit, is due to become available in the next month or so. If nuCLEus fails to win a TMUD credit, Stark will reportedly pursue development of a smaller version of nuCLEus.

Cleveland Construction is also reportedly well aware of the potential redevelopment 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.

A view of the original proposal for the nuCLEus project, as seen
from Prospect Avenue where Cleveland Construction is put-
ting its new downtown field office (Stark).

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 apparently put up for sale by Geis Companies two weeks ago to take advantage of the ballpark village opportunity.

Cleveland Construction's new field office location could position itself to capitalize on those opportunities in the coming years. And it has a flashy new sign on Prospect that signifies the potential of those coming projects.


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

More apartments breaking ground in Hough, more coming

With the Cleveland Clinic Foundation's growing campus as a backdrop,
developer Richard Arnstine addresses his development team and com-
munity leaders at today's groundbreaking ceremony for The Lumos
apartments on East 93rd Street. From the left are State Rep. Ter-
rence Upchurch (D-10), Arnstine's development partner Zach
Pinkert, Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones (Ward 7),
Arnstine, Jaishawna Bares along with The Lumos' principal
investors Agostino Pintus and Kenny Wolfe (KJP).

As shovels went into the ground today for a new apartment building in the Upper Chester section of Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, the project’s partners were already looking to the future.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held today for The Lumos, 1866 E. 93rd St., an $8.8 million investment in the community that will add quality housing, add more population and support the expansion of more businesses and jobs in the neighborhood.

The Lumos will offer 42 market-rate apartments including studios, one-bedroom units and a small number of two-bedroom homes priced to attract workers from booming University Circle that’s within a short walk or bike ride away.

“Lumos” is the Latin meaning for “To have light” and which is rooted in Greek mythology.

Looking south on East 93rd, The Lumos will add residents to the
Upper Chester section of Cleveland's Hough neighborhood that
is seeing an increasing amount of investment due to its proxi-
mity to University Circle (GLSD).

"I am thrilled to share with you our excitement about The Lumos and the impact that we believe it will have on Cleveland and the Upper Chester neighborhood," said Richard Arnstine, Chairman of ARPI Development, LLC which he founded with his son-in-law Zach Pinkert.

As a life-long Clevelander and Ohioan graduating from Cleveland Heights High School, The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry, Arnstine has been a part of the Cleveland community his entire life. He studied real estate early in college but now, as a retired orthodontist, he has gone back to his earlier interest.

“To be able to play a significant role in the revitalization of Cleveland and see it once again taking its place as one of America’s great urban centers is a lifelong dream of mine," he said.

“I want to give a huge thank-you to Councilman Basheer Jones for providing the opportunity for us to become a member of the Ward 7 community,” said Arnstine. “From the onset, Councilman Jones has been a willing partner that made this project possible.”

Dignitaries dig in at the groundbreaking ceremony for The Lumos
apartments. To make way for the new development, the vacant
house visible in the background will be demolished as will
another house just north of it (KJP).

“Affordable housing is critical to strengthening communities and growing local economies,” said Councilman Jones. “Every person in Cleveland needs and deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, and this latest development is making that a reality.”

“ARPI wants partner with our neighbors. We intend to revitalize and stabilize the local community; by supporting families, creating walkable neighborhoods where people feel safe children can play outside and businesses want to be located,” Arnstine added. “We’re looking at additional developments in the Upper Chester-University Circle area.”

Arnstine said construction of the four-story building will take about 10-12 months. Studios will measure about 576 square feet, one-bedroom apartments 718 square feet and two-bedroom units approximately 1,000 square feet.

All apartments at The Lumos will have first-floor patios or upper-floor balconies to enhance a greater sense of community. There will also be an on-site gym, rooftop patio and community room. A 28-space parking lot is planned behind the building.

Site of The Lumos apartments development on East 93rd Street.

The Lumos came together relatively quickly, primarily because of people he met along the way including Tania Menesse, Linda Warren and Justin Fleming at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.

One of the first people Arnstine met was Zak Baris, President of Comprehensive Zoning Services Inc. Baris put him in touch with Conrad Geis and Brandon Kline, both principals at Geis Companies a leading one-stop-shop design-build-management enterprise.

He also worked with attorneys at McCarthy Lebit and Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP. Those connections, in turn, put Arnstine in touch with investors Agostino Pintus, Founder of Akron-based Realty Dynamics Equity Partners LLC, and Kenny Wolfe, President of Dallas-based Wolfe Investments LLC.

“Our team has been looking forward to the kickoff of construction for months and we can’t wait to deliver a successful project for this dynamic neighborhood,” Pintus said. “This project is a game changer for Upper Chester and it is only a small part of the changes ahead. We look forward to making this quite a beautiful building.”

Looking northwest from East 93rd Street, The Lumos apart-
ments' height will be consistent with most of the houses in the
Upper Chester section of the Hough neighborhood (GLSD).

"It’s been amazing to see this neighborhood change for the better,” Wolfe observed. “You can see the direction this part of Cleveland is being led and it’s all positive. We’re very excited to be a part of this continued improvement and are committed to bring a quality asset with quality service to the residents here."

“I'm very happy that we can bring the density back to these neighborhoods as it once was,” Baris added. “We’re making more viable neighborhoods from vacant lands. This is about repopulating Hough without taking away from the neighborhood feel. We have many more investments coming up in the neighborhood in the near future. This is just the start of one of many efforts based on a larger vision to bring this community back.”

Ultimately, Arnstine said The Lumos is about what everyone wants – a brighter tomorrow for ourselves and for our children.

“That light is where The Lumos comes from,” he said.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Plans are refined for new Cleveland Police HQ

Looking from the northwest corner of East 75th Street and the new
Opportunity Corridor Boulevard, this is the planned façade for the
city of Cleveland's new central police headquarters. (JMT).

Architects designing the new $108 million Cleveland Police Department (CPD) headquarters have further refined the proposed plans including how the new office building would be placed on the site.

The CPD HQ is proposed to be built on 10 acres of city-owned land at the northwest corner of the new Opportunity Corridor Boulevard and East 75th Street. Proposed is a building that would have a significant glassy façade opening up toward East 75th rather than face the Opportunity Corridor. 

That's based on graphics presented at the Web site of JMT Architecture, one of two design firms hired by the city of Cleveland for this project. JMT has three principal offices -- Cleveland, Baltimore and Philadelphia. The other design firm is Dewberry of Fairfax, VA.

The conceptual plans have yet to be reviewed by the City Planning Commission so no action has yet been taken on advancing the design beyond this early stage. Construction isn't likely to begin until sometime in 2022 with work to be completed in 2024, according to city officials. The Opportunity Corridor itself is due to open to traffic in 2022.

Looking generally north from the Opportunity Corridor Boulevard
to the new police headquarters. East 75th Street and the Orlando
Baking Co.'s plant is seen at the right side (JMT).

In a written statement, JMT notes that the CPD HQ will be the first major project along the new Opportunity Corridor in southeast Cleveland. The planned, 170,000-square-foot facility will house all major police administrative functions that are currently located in a variety of locations around the city and will also serve as a community center for the neighborhood.

Up to 700 police officers and civilian employees will work at the new CPD HQ. The conceptual site plans show about 360 parking spaces will be provided in surface parking lots rather than in a multi-level garage to save money. Approximately 30 of those spaces would be for public parking.

It is assumed that many HQ employees would commute by public transportation. Two rail stations, both on East 79th Street, are located within about a 15-minute walk of the CPD HQ site.

One is a newly rebuilt station on the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's (GCRTA) Red Line linking the airport to Windermere. That station is the closest of the two rail stops to the new police station. GCRTA opened the new East 79th Red Line station in March after an $8 million reconstruction project.

Looking generally south from the Red Line tracks, the size of the
proposed public spaces around the new police station are more
visible. The publicly accessible area of the police headquarters
is at left, along East 75th with the secure parking for police
department employees is on this image's right side (JMT).

The other East 79th station is one that's overdue for rehabilitation, located on GCRTA's Blue/Green lines between the downtown Cleveland waterfront and Shaker Heights. GCRTA is rebuilding the Blue/Green lines tracks in stages, with the second phase to be completed in October. Also, along East 79th, GCRTA's No. 2 route bus links Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, Slavic Village, Newburg Heights, Steelyard Commons and Tremont.

The conceptual design of the new CPD HQ actually shows two entrances -- one for the for the public facing East 75th and the other for employees facing the ecure parking lots north of the new building.

Relocating the new central police station out of downtown and putting it into the neighborhoods is intended to make the facility more accessible. The proposed building design is intended to make the building feel more accessible and open. Public input into the proposed design will reportedly be sought.

"Effective communication between senior leadership within the police department, city administration officials and community members will be transformative for bridging the gap that currently exists between local residents and the police department," the statement from JMT says.

A half-dozen large facilities exist or are planned within a few
blocks of the intersection of the Opportunity Corridor Boule-
vard and East 79th Street. More details may become avail-
able in the coming months about these facilities (KJP).

"Design excellence in civic architecture and thoughtful programming will provide an environment that welcomes residents, improves community safety and ensures police security," the written statement added.

Although Dewberry is the project's architect-of-record, JMT will be responsible for community engagement activities to work with the City Planning Commission and to gather public input. JMT says it will also administer construction of the new CPD HQ.

Within a few blocks of East 79th, this section of the Opportunity Corridor has a half-dozen proposed new facilities in the works, not just the new central police station. It is already the home of Orlando Baking Co.'s plant.

That has set the theme for additional developments, centered around food production and distribution. Through an affiliate Project Boron LLC, Weston Group, one of Northeast Ohio's largest commercial developers, wants to build a 205,000-square-foot facility here called the Northeast Ohio Food Hub.

The CPD HQ's next newest neighbor could be the Northeast Ohio
Food Hub, a massive cold-storage warehouse whose first phase
alone would be larger than the CPD HQ (CPC).

A second phase for this massive cold storage facility could add another 70,000 square feet to it. The first phase would front the Opportunity Corridor with the second phase built south of the first phase. Also proposed are 235 car parking spaces and 41 truck/trailer parking spaces, closer to West 75th.

In May, the city approved rezoning for the NEO Food Hub while adding Urban Form Overlay zoning to preserve a narrow strip of land along the west side of East 79th, north of the Blue/Green Line rail station.

In that strip, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. (BBC) plans multi-family residential above retail and other neighborhood commercial uses. The goal is to put affordable housing within walking distance of the new job sites planned along this section of the Opportunity Corridor. It will also provide a more comfortable walking experience for transit riders using the rail station, BBC officials said.

On the east side of East 79th, owners of the nearby McTech Inc. construction company won design approval today from Planning Commission for its planned Construction Opportunity Institute of Cleveland. The owners would lease the 8 acres of land from the city with an option to purchase.

Originally, they had intended to include asphalt and concrete plants as part of the institute, but representatives of the neighborhood and nearby businesses said the smell from those plants would hurt the area's further growth as a food hub. Instead, a 48,000-square-foot training facility is planned on a small part of the property. An athletic facility, library and dormitory could be added in later phases.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Cleveland works to welcome Afghanistan refugees

On a peaceful summer evening in downtown Cleveland, people
from all sorts of backgrounds gather at Public Square. It's a
world away from war-torn Afghanistan right now but soon
such places won't be for thousands of Afghan refugees.
They're being airlifted to Cleveland and 18 other U.S.
cities by the State Department so they can start
new lives in a peaceful setting like this (GPC).

With Cleveland being listed by the U.S. State Department as one of 19 cities suggested for resettlement of Afghan and Iraqi refugees, numerous local organizations are ramping up efforts to attract as many as possible in light of the crisis in Afghanistan.

But they need your help as soon as possible.

This evening, representatives of the local organizations and charities who aid new refugees and immigrants to Greater Cleveland are meeting to design their offer to the State Department. The more help that Greater Cleveland can pledge now, the more Afghans and Iraqis can resettle here.

NEOtrans is a real estate, business and construction blog, so it might seem surprising that we're covering this story. But Cleveland and its economy was built by risk-taking immigrants, many of them fleeing difficult situations elsewhere in the world.

Cleveland needs more jobs, and immigrants start more new businesses than natives. And since Cleveland needs to reverse its decades-long population slide, attracting more immigrants is essential. Immigration is economic development, especially when the immigrants possess desired skills.

Cleveland's diversity is evident in many places,
but perhaps nowhere more than in the West Side
Market. It is a favored location of long-time re-
sidents and new immigrants who co-mingle on
any given day, Tuesdays and Thursdays excep-
ted of course, when the market is closed (KJP).

The local organizations' offer to the State Department could be delivered as early as tomorrow, so the pledges of affordable housing, clothing, food, jobs and donations need to be made promptly, said Joe Cimperman, president of Global Cleveland.

"The State Department says we have to meet three criteria -- willingness to accept refugees, a capacity to accommodate refugees, and what kind of community do we have to support refugees," Cimperman said. "We already have a strong Muslim community in Cleveland with a strong support network here. Will we welcome and support and love them here? I think the answer is yes."

Being able to answer those questions will determine how many Afghan refugees will find their way to Cleveland. So organizations in Cleveland are looking for pledges of housing such as affordable apartments, granny flats and other accommodations that are within walking distance of basic necessities and public transportation.

To identify housing, Global Cleveland is working closely with the Cleveland Chapter of The Council on American-Islamic RelationsCatholic Charities of ClevelandUS Together, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and ImmigrantsRefugee Response, Asian Services In Action-Ohio, and Building Hope in the City. All are collecting offers of temporary or permanent housing, food, clothing, furniture and financial donations. Contact each for details on how to donate. Prospective landlords will be pre-screened.

"We're going to give a report to the State Department tomorrow to show that we've got our act together," Cimperman said.

Asian students chat over the noise of traffic in the bustling Uptown
area of Cleveland's fast-growing University Circle (KJP). 

He said Afghan families have already begun to land in the USA at two Air Force bases. Tens of thousands more are being air-lifted out of Afghanistan to U.S. bases in Germany, Hungary and France. Once they are out of harm's way, security-screened and interviewed to determine whether they will enter the USA as refugees or as Green Card holders with immediately marketable skills.

The State Department selected Cleveland as one of 19 cities it is recommending for resettlement of Afghan and Iraqi refugees under Special Immigrant Visas. However, refugees who already have family or friends in the USA may opt to resettle with them.

"These (19) locations have been identified by the Resettlement Agencies as locations with reasonable cost of living, housing availability, supportive services and welcoming communities with volunteers and resources," the State Department explained.

The State Department will give three months of free rent and six months of food stamps to refugees. After that, they're on their own. So the State Department wants to see refugees relocate to lower-cost markets like Cleveland to make the aid go farther.

"Unless you have close relatives or friends in these areas who are able to provide financial support and housing until you find employment that covers your living expenses, it is best to allow a resettlement agency to choose a suitable location for you," the department continued.

Sunrise along Cleveland's Lake Erie shore. In the coming weeks,
thousands of Afghan refugees will find their way to America's
shores, with some starting a new life in Cleveland (KJP).

Cimperman said recent migrations have kept Cuyahoga County's population from falling farther than the 1 percent it dropped since 2010. In fact, Census data shows Cuyahoga County's adult population actually rose 2 percent in the same period.

"Had we not had the influx of immigrants, it would have been far worse," he said. "In the next three to five to 10 years, we'll see an increase in population because of this."

He noted that the resettlement of Jews during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union 30 years ago brought 40,000 immigrants to Greater Cleveland. Many of them settled in the eastern and southern suburbs where they opened shops and started other businesses.

After the war in the former Yugoslavia 25 years ago, thousands of Albanians came to Lakewood and Cleveland's West Side while Kosovar refugees settled in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. The Serbian population grew in the southern suburbs. Lebanese, Iranians and Iraqis settled primarily on the city's West Side.

"The first Ethiopian restaurant in Ohio, Empress Taytu on St. Clair (Avenue), was the result of refugees fleeing African hunger," Cimperman said. "Shopping districts in Beachwood and the Heights are active due to thousands of Soviet Jews coming here. Immigrants bring life to our communities. Afghan refugees can, too."


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Demolitions requested for Bridgeworks high-rise

Developers of Bridgeworks, a proposed 16-story tower at the north-
east corner of West 25th Street and the Detroit-Superior Bridge, are
seeking demolition permits for one structure, parts of another, plus
parking lots and a sidewalk at the Ohio City site (LDA/Mass).

UPDATED AUG. 19, 2021

It's generally a good sign for a proposed development when demolition work is getting organized to make way for that development. But it doesn't guarantee construction will start soon -- or ever -- for the project or appease concerned neighbors.

A request for a demolition permit was submitted to the city today by Cleveland-based LDA Architects Inc. on behalf of developer Bridgeworks LLC. It is seeking to build a 16-story tower with 130 hotel rooms, mid-building restaurant, plus 170 apartments over ground-floor retail at the northeast corner of West 25th Street and the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

Bridgeworks is a project-specific joint venture between Grammar Properties and M. Panzica Development who previously collaborated on Church+State nearby in the Hingetown section of Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood.

Their two-building, $60 million development, with its 11-story State tower and 6-story Church companion, has leased 86 percent of its 158 market-rate apartments and nearly all of its ground-floor retail spaces just one year after the entire complex opened, according to And that was during the worst pandemic in a century.

This is a basic overview of the Bridgeworks site and the proposed
demolitions prior to construction of the 16-story tower and associ-
ated parking garage with north toward the top of the image (LDA).

That success has the developers desiring to set the stage for an encore. Their application for a demolition permit targets the former Cuyahoga County Engineer's property, to which Bridgeworks LLC took title on June 30. Bridgeworks paid the county $4.15 million for the 2.5 acres of land, easements and on-site structures, county records show.

According to today's application, the developers will expend about $320,000 to raze the 57-year-old, 22,395-square-foot Engineer's laboratory/office building and remove other site features. They propose to remove parking lots on the west and east sides of the site, pull up the sidewalk from the property's frontage along old Superior Viaduct/Vermont Avenue, and do selective demolition or removal and storage of features from the 80-year-old Art Deco-designed garage.

Items to be tagged, removed and stored include the garage's time-worn stone veneer from the north and west sides of that building. Salvageable stone will be restored and reattached during Bridgeworks' construction. Some interior and exterior furnishings and features from the 13,649-square-foot garage will be removed and discarded. They include garage doors, windows, partitions, casework, slab floors and roof structure, plans show.

Developer principal Michael Panzica said he had no update regarding a potential groundbreaking date for Bridgeworks. A source close to the developers said they do not have all of their layers of financing in place to begin construction. The developers reportedly want to get the demolitions out of the way so they could start construction as soon as they finalize their financing, the source said.

An aerial view of the Bridgeworks site showing all of the struc-
tures, parking lots and neighboring features -- including the
future site of the Irishtown Bend Park above the Cuyahoga
River seen at far right (

That same source said a big piece of that financing is desired to be a Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) tax credit. The TMUD program doesn't yet exist and has run into multiple delays in implementing its rulemaking and program administration.

Todd Walker, chief communications officer for the Ohio Development Services Agency, told NEOtrans the Ohio Tax Credit Authority hoped to launch the new TMUD program by the end of September and begin accepting applications for tax credits as large as $40 million. Bridgeworks' height and construction cost would meet or exceed the TMUD program's 15-story and $50 million minimums.

The TMUD program is expected to be very competitive. There are potentially dozens of projects just in Greater Cleveland that could be submitted for TMUD credits with many more statewide. For example, developers of the half-billion-dollar Centennial project downtown said they are seeking the maximum $40 million TMUD tax credit. Up to $80 million will be available in each of the next four years for eligible projects within 10 miles of Ohio's six largest cities.

"It is my understanding that the Bridgeworks project is holding out and plan to apply for a TMUD tax credit," confirmed Michael Rogalski, chair of the Waterfront District Block Club which represents the neighborhood's residents. "Until there is a yes or no on the tax credit, I don't believe Bridgeworks will proceed or change in scope of what it is as a project. The neighborhood is generally supportive of development, if done well and done respectfully."

Most of the county engineers buildings are visible in this aerial view
 looking north with the Detroit-Superior Bridge visible at the bottom.
The lab/office building is at the right, the Art Deco-styled mainte-
nance garage in the center, and a portion of the long-closed sub-
way station entrance building is at the left in the trees (Allegro).

Demolishing buildings for a proposed development that isn't fully secured may bring back bad memories for some Clevelanders. In 1989, the Jacobs group proposed the AmeriTrust headquarters supertall (63 stories, 1,198 feet tall) for the west side of downtown's Public Square. In 1990, they demolished two significant buildings, the 12-story 1 Public Square built in 1913 and the 13-story 33 Public Square built in 1895 to prepare for the tower's construction.

But the national banking industry was going through a wave of consolidations and AmeriTrust, once the Midwest's largest bank, was acquired in 1991 by Society Bank (later merged with Key Corp.). Society was finishing work on its own tower on Public Square at the time and didn't need two Cleveland skyscrapers. Plans for the AmeriTrust tower were scrapped. The site has been a parking lot for three decades but is proposed for Sherwin-Williams new HQ tower.

"I am not necessarily a fan of the buildings currently on the Bridgeworks site being demolished until a pretty sure guarantee that Bridgeworks project in some capacity will go forward," Rogalski added. "The last thing we need in this city is more surface parking lots."

But he explained that removing the existing parking lots on the Engineer's property may also be premature. The westernmost lot is used by St. Malachi Church, located across the street, for overflow parking on Sundays and for special events.

"I think it is important for the Bridgeworks development team to consider its neighbor, St. Malachi, the relationship they hope to have with the church going forward, when making that decision," Rogalski said. "It's good to be a good neighbor."