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developers ink deal for ultra-high-speed internet for residents, businesses at fairmount creamery

Sustainable Community Associates and Everstream have announced that ultra-high-speed, fiber-based broadband network services will soon come to the Fairmount Creamery building, a 100,000-square-foot property that is under redevelopment in Tremont.

The high-speed Internet services will be available to both residential and commercial tenants. Everstream is a project of OneCommunity, which has spent more than a decade building the most advanced fiber-optic network in Northeast Ohio. Everstream was created to bring high-speed Internet to private businesses.

"We are really excited to be working with Everstream to bring the fastest residential Internet service to the Creamery," said Josh Rosen, one of the three partners in Sustainable Community Associates, in a release. "The Everstream network will be a significant asset for both our residents and businesses."

The Internet service will be 10 to 20 times faster than traditional networks. Rosen hopes the project will help create a "fiberhood" in Tremont that proves attractive to businesses, especially tech-based enterprises and startups. LaunchHouse is planning to open a new office here when the building opens in late 2014.

“The Creamery project is a perfect example of how developers and managers of mixed-use properties gain a competitive advantage by providing best-in-class service,” said Brett Lindsey, President of Everstream.

Source: Josh Rosen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

community group rolls out clean and green trailer to help with neighborhood beautification projects

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and CharterOne Foundation have announced the creation of a Clean&Green Cleveland program, which offers a fully stocked trailer to assist neighborhood residents with beautification projects. The trailer comes equipped with all the tools and equipment necessary to clean up vacant lots, maintain community gardens, tackle neighborhood improvement projects, and more.

The nonprofit introduced the trailer as part of its ongoing efforts to beautify and reimagine vacant properties in Cleveland. The trailer is available on a "first come, first reserved" basis, according to the website. Applications, use forms, waivers and other information all can be found online, and groups are encouraged to apply. The trailer is for use in the City of Cleveland only.
In a release, CNP stated that the Clean&Green program will offer opportunities not only for beautification, but also for community building among neighbors.

Source: Cleveland Neighborhood Progress
Writer: Lee Chilcote

university circle announces plans for $130m high-rise apartment tower

University Circle Inc. has announced plans to construct a $130 million, 20-plus story apartment highrise on the current site of the Children's Museum, as well as surrounding land owned by UCI. The nonprofit has selected Mitchell Schneider of First Interstate Properties and Sam Petros of Petros Homes to lead the development team.

The announcement is the fruit of years of discussion about a luxury residential tower in University Circle. UCI has long set its sights on building such a tower, seeing unmet demand for housing in an area experiencing strong job growth, near 100-percent rental occupancy and growth in commercial amenities.

The project will include about 280 units ranging in size from 720 to 4,200 square feet. The structure will have floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the downtown skyline and Lake Erie. Initial plans call for a building that is 25 to 28 stories tall. The property also will be green-built and offer easy access to public transportation.
"There is substantial demand for this type of housing in University Circle," explained Chris Ronayne, President of UCI, in a release. "One University Circle will provide a quality urban design solution that meets a market demand, brings greater density to University Circle and supports neighborhood businesses with new residents. We believe this project will continue the momentum of University Circle and the renaissance underway in Cleveland... One University Circle will be a welcoming gateway to the institutions of University Circle and a home for their employees coming from all over the world.”

In keeping with a luxury urban apartment building, One University Circle will offer concierge services, a fitness center and an indoor pool. The project also will include a green rooftop and other shared amenities. Ronayne says work could begin in 2015, with the first residents moving in two years later.

The Children's Museum currently is seeking a new location in Cleveland that will accommodate its plans for expansion. The developers have announced that they intend to work with the City of Cleveland to craft a community benefits agreement for the project. The agreement will stipulate goals for hiring local and minority tradespeople and working with area high schools to provide internships.

Source: Chris Ronayne
Writer: Lee Chilcote

university circle launches nextstep program to help existing businesses thrive and grow

Resources and tools exist to help startups, tech companies and larger businesses grow. But what about existing small businesses ranging from mom-and-pop grocery shops to service-based businesses like law firms?

University Circle Inc. has launched NextStep, a seven-month program that leaves business participants with a three-year growth plan, to address the dearth of such resources. The nonprofit also wants to see existing businesses in University Circle grow and thrive, particularly in light of recent residential and institutional growth.

"We want to help stabilize and grow businesses that have been here for a long time, as well as encourage new ones," says Laura Kleinman, Vice President for Shared Services with UCI. "We want to help them leverage that growth."

NextStep is the local version of Streetwise MBA, a successful program created by Interise in Boston and now exported to other locations. The 13-week curriculum covers leadership, financial management, marketing, sales, human resources and access to capital. The program also focuses on working with anchor institutions.

"You take a deep dive into running a business, using your own business as a case study," says Kleinman. "There's a lot of peer learning and resources to help them get there. We like to say the program teaches the know-how and the know-who."

Two of the businesses participating in the program are Murray Hill Market and Constantino's, both of which offer services that weren't available just a few years prior and represent the new face of business growth in Greater University Circle. They also do business with major Circle institutions, including event catering.

The program is funded in part by the Cleveland Foundation and Key Bank. As University Circle grows, UCI and other organizations are focusing on helping surrounding neighborhoods, including existing businesses there, share in the overall prosperity. UCI also has a goal of creating a "complete neighborhood" that includes thriving services as well as residences and businesses.

Participants must meet certain thresholds, including having at least one full-time employee besides the owner and bringing in a baseline of $250,000 per year in annual revenue. The discounted cost of the program is $1,200. Kleinman says the proof of the program's impact is what it's done for businesses in other cities.

"It has an impressive track record of helping create double-digit growth," she says, noting that there are a still a few spots available for the inaugural class.

Source: Laura Kleinman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

music settlement's big plans for bop stop include summer bash, ensemble lessons, concerts...

The Music Settlement took possession of the Bop Stop jazz club in early January, but the institution wasted little time in setting up meetings with community stakeholders to plan use of the facility. Having recently hired music veteran Matt Cahill as Event Sales Manager, the organization is moving ahead with programming. The Settlement will host a preview party this week, and then open the space to the community this summer with a public party.

That party, which will feature concerts spilling into Dogbone Park, the narrow slice of green space between Detroit Avenue and the Shoreway, should be a fitting beginning to the Settlement's highly anticipated Ohio City debut. The group will soon begin offering event rentals, with ensemble music instruction, regular concerts and a state-of-the-art recording facility to follow later this year.

The Settlement will retain the Bop Stop name and leave the beautifully designed space largely as is. Publicly accessible concerts will begin as soon as this fall.

That's just the beginning, says Charlie Lawrence, President of the Settlement. The group is looking for a space to hold individual music lessons, and a music-themed preschool also is in the works, similar to the popular University Circle program. In the meantime, the Settlement will partner with local schools and nonprofits to offer music therapy and other programs. All offerings will be accessible to low-income families, as well, in keeping with the institution's mission.

"As much as we can, we want to offer programs for young families," says Lawrence. "We're excited by the demographics that show young families are a big part of the area."

"We don't want to go into Ohio City with just a toe in the water," adds Lynn Johnson, Marketing Director for the Settlement. "We want to create a comprehensive program."

Other programs will pop up in collaboration with the Transformer Station and area businesses and nonprofits. Hingetown is quickly emerging as the west side cultural district, and businesses could stand to benefit as parents need places to grab coffee or view art while their kids are nearby taking lessons.

"There's a chance to build a cooperative cultural experience in northern Ohio City," says Lawrence. "That's the whole picture. And everything is within walking distance."

Source: Charlie Lawrence, Lynn Johnson
Writer: Lee Chilcote

perspectus architecture completes merger, doubles office footprint at shaker square

Perspectus Architecture recently completed a merger with HFP/Ambuske Architects, bringing five jobs from Beachwood to Cleveland. Perspectus will remain in its second floor offices on the southeast quadrant of Shaker Square, where it has doubled its office space and is in the process of remodeling.

"Our focus is firmly based in healthcare," says Perspectus principal Larry Fischer of both companies. "We saw a lot of advantages in getting together."

Staying and growing at Shaker Square seemed like a no-brainer, he adds. "When we were looking for space, we wanted a venue or neighborhood that had a certain cool factor to it," says Fischer, who has expanded from a single 900-square-foot office to 10,000 square feet on the entire second floor of his building in the past 14 years. "We probably couldn’t afford being downtown in the primary core. There's a lot happening at Shaker Square."

The new offices are just as cool. There are now a total of 36 staffers in the redesigned space. "Being a contemporary firm, we wanted the space to really represent the work we're doing," says Fischer. "We kept a lot of the mahogany moldings and doors, then contrasted them with clean, light walls and contemporary light fixtures. At two ends, we actually exposed the old wood structure. There’s a contradiction of styles that works pretty well for us."

One big change is that Perspectus' new offices now reflect the movement towards open, connected spaces. "That was a big deal to us," Fischer says. "We didn’t want to be in an old, stodgy environment. We also reorganized the studio -- all or our architects worked in teams, but they weren’t sitting in teams. Now they're more organized and have more space. We really wanted to create a space that supported how we work, and that encouraged mentoring, interaction and collaboration."

That open environment goes for the bosses, too. "There are some people that wish I had my own office," Fischer adds wryly. "But I'm out in the open, too."

Fischer praised the Coral Company for its willingness to work closely with the firm to customize the layout. Perspectus employees continue to enjoy "problem-solving walks" around the Square, taking inspiration from the architecture.

Prospectus is headquartered in Cleveland, but also has offices in Columbus and Charleston, West Virginia.

Source: Larry Fischer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

platform beer co. to begin brewing this month, new home announced for cle brew shop

The Platform Beer Company project, which was announced last year, just keeps getting better and better. The partners behind the project will soon begin brewing beer -- all they're waiting for is the arrival of their new three-barrel pilot system -- and the 99-seat tap room is dry-walled and ready for the finishing touches. The current plan is to open in early June with 24 taps, about half of which will eventually feature Platform beers.

On top of that, founding partner Paul Benner just announced that the Cleveland Brew Shop, his homebrew supply store that he opened in Tremont two years ago, is relocating to a storefront on Lorain Avenue, directly across from Platform. Benner is moving the shop to the former Rain nightclub building, which has been vacant for years. Platform co-founder Justin Carson recently purchased the property, and the partners quickly realized there was an opportunity for synergy.

The 5,000-square-foot brewhouse at W. 41st and Lorain could help revitalize a long-neglected part of Ohio City. The former Czech social hall features a handsome brick exterior, big storefront windows and a prominent sign. In the rear of the property, the partners have installed roll-up garage doors and poured a concrete patio for a beer garden. Visitors will be able to sit outside and order food from The Plum, a casual eatery expected to open later this year in the building next door.

The Platform guys also have tapped their first brewmaster, Shaun Yasaki, who previously worked for Fathead's in North Olmsted. Benner already had a relationship with Yasaki because he regularly visited the Brew Shop, and Benner knew that he would be able to brew a wide variety of interesting beers. "Brewpub guys are the guys that do all the stuff, including the interesting one-offs," says Benner. "Fortunately, he was very excited about it, and we even brought him on as a minority partner."

Platform also has signed up the first participant in its 12-week brewery incubator, a free program that will train homebrewers on how to take their skills to the next level. Kyle Roth of Ferndock Brewing will start in the fall. Benner says that he's gotten tons of inquiries from homebrewers, and does not think it will be a problem to fill the spots. The program requires a one-day-a-week commitment and includes modules on brewing, branding and business management.

The goal, says Benner, is to fill the taps with as many interesting beers as possible. The free incubator program will be partially supported by sales of the beer made by incubator participants -- at any one time, several of the beers on tap could be made by local brewers-in-training. Beyond that, Benner says, the partners will be "very picky and have as many Ohio beers as we can -- stuff that people who are really into beer would like to drink. We're not going to have Bud Light on tap."

The initial beer lineup will include a Berliner Weisse, an Imperial pale ale and a saison, Benner says. Platform will sell its beer in kegs right away, and there's a plan in the works to start canning and distributing beer locally very soon.

The taphouse interior features hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and creative touches like old-school bowling machines (a nod to the Czech social hall's original bowling alley, whose floors were unearthed during the renovation process).

"It may sound hokey, but we want to provide an opportunity for someone that they may not get anywhere else, ever," says Benner of the incubator. "If we’re able to help someone else go pro, that's exciting, that’s what we get our rocks off on."

Source: Paul Benner
By Lee Chilcote

gordon square developer begins marketing harborview townhomes

Developer Mike DeCesare had far greater success with the Waverly Station Townhomes than he'd originally envisioned. Anticipating that it would take three to four years to sell and build the units, he was surprised to find that he was able to sell all 22 units in about two years. Now he's getting ready to launch his next development, the seven-unit Harborview Townhomes at W. 54th and Herman Avenue, which offer lake and downtown views.

The developer, who has made the Gordon Square neighborhood his home and has developed several projects there in the past decade, says this project builds upon his previous work, and the location, design and views are strong selling points.

"They're larger units with higher end finishes and considerably different views," says DeCesare. "They've got some amazing views of downtown and the lake and what I call the 'Inner Harbor,' the area around Wendy Park and the salt mines."

Most of the units are two bedrooms, but a couple of them offer three. All seven units have fourth floor roof decks -- perfect for watching fireworks or Lake Erie sunsets. There also are attached two-car garages and compact backyards.

The units start at $269,900 and top out at $350,000. Bamboo hardwood flooring, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances come standard, according to the website. Green features include a 92-percent efficient furnace and sustainable exterior materials. At present, two of the seven units already are reserved.

DeCesare has not yet received final approvals from the City of Cleveland, but he is confident that the project will be well-received. He has eschewed bank financing, preferring to work with private investors who are committed to the neighborhood. He plans to break ground this year and have the first units occupied by December.

"The fact that we have two in reservation is incredibly encouraging to us," he says.

No city subsidy has been invested in the project, but the units are eligible for 15-year, 100-percent tax abatements on improved value (they pay taxes on the land).

Source: Mike DeCesare
Writer: Lee Chilcote

state of downtown is strong, but greater connectivity between amenities is needed, say leaders

Downtown Cleveland was named one of the top cities for millenials to live by The Atlantic, with more than 1,000 new housing units coming online, and major projects like Flats East helping to reenergize formerly moribund parts of downtown. These are just a few of the successes listed in Downtown Cleveland Alliance's 2013 annual report, and touted at this week's State of Downtown forum at the City Club.

Yet more needs to be done to connect downtown's assets, including public realm improvements, pedestrian- and bike-friendly amenities, and especially lakefront connections. These were the messages conveyed by leaders at the forum.

"We're no longer in the 'big box' phase," said Joe Marinucci, President and CEO of DCA. "Now our challenge is, how we can incrementally connect the investments."

Marinucci pointed to Perk Park, a revamped green space at East 12th and Chester, as an example of a successful strategy for creating public improvements.

Now DCA has launched Step Up Downtown, an initiative to engage residents and stakeholders in envisioning the future of downtown. With abundant plans in place, the goal is to prioritize which enhancements to focus on first, garner feedback from residents, and drill down to the implementation phase.

"This initiative recognizes that we've made a lot of investments downtown, but in many ways haven't connected the investments as well as we should," said Marinucci. "We need to make the public realm as attractive as the destinations."

Attendees posed questions about connecting to the waterfront, making downtown accessible to all income levels, and prioritizing educational opportunities for families.

Marinucci cited lakefront development plans, the incorporation of affordable housing into downtown projects and DCA's work with Campus International School and the Cleveland Municipal School District as signs of progress.

Source: Joe Marinucci
By Lee Chilcote

old brooklyn poised for growth with new leadership, key projects in place

Old Brooklyn has long been considered a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood. It has nice, modest homes and plenty of local businesses, but has never had much nightlife. It's gained a reputation as a popular neighborhood for city workers, and strong school choices have kept families from fleeing. However, a neighborhood can't stand still if it wants to remain relevant, and leaders here know that.

Now the neighborhood could be on the cusp of its next identity. The board of the Old Brookyn Community Development Corporation has hired Jeffrey T. Verespej, who is currently serving as Director of Operations and Advocacy for Ohio City Inc., as its new Executive Director. Key projects are falling into place that could help move the neighborhood from sleepy to chic in the next few years.

"The reality is that Old Brooklyn already has assets that many places in Cleveland are trying desperately to build," says Verespej, who has fond memories of growing up in the community until he was seven. "It has a very solid and stable housing stock that is attractive to all different types of people. It's probably Cleveland's most family-friendly and liveable neighborhood and has been for decades. There are good schools and direct access to the Metroparks and Zoo. We have really intact commercial corridors, there aren’t missing teeth. As an Old Brooklyn resident, you can walk down the street and find something you’re proud of."

What's missing, he says, is development that builds upon those existing assets and a strong marketing campaign. "Look at downtown Old Brooklyn, at Pearl, Broadview and State," he says. "When you have millions of visitors going through your downtown each year [to the zoo], there are tremendous opportunities."

Two recent wins should help spur redevelopment. The CDC was recently awarded funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for design and engineering of the Pearl Road streetscape, which would put the wide boulevard on a road diet and add broader sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities. This project could start as early as 2016, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

The second win is the acquisition of the so-called "Heninger" site -- a multi-acre property that was used as a landfill and has been vacant for over a decade -- by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Although the property is still under contract and WRLC has due diligence work to complete, the goal is to transform it into a park setting with some kind of public use. There might be a commercial component that fronts Pearl Road, but passive recreation, urban farming and a trail that leads to the Metroparks will likely be part of the mix, says Verespej.

Old Brooklyn has also seen some recent investments along Pearl Road. Drink Bar and Grill recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and the West Side Market vendor Cake Royale has just moved its headquarters to the neighborhood.

"We have a challenge and an opportunity," says Verespej, who starts his new job in a few weeks. "There are so many neighborhoods in Cleveland seeing an infusion of energy and investment. Old Brooklyn generally isn't a part of that conversation. That's the job of the CDC. For all the people investing in Cleveland right now, we want to let them know we're open for business."

Source: Jeff Verespej
Writer: Lee Chilcote

brewnuts selected as winner of tremont storefront incubator program, will open in april

It's self-evident that there's a craft beer explosion in Cleveland, with several new breweries set to open this year alone. Now the beer boom is also spurring offshoot businesses, such as the playful, delicious Brewnuts. According to the company's Facebook page, it combines two of Cleveland's favorite things into "one epic treat: a craft beer based donut."

Brewnuts, which has been steadily growing for the past year and has occupied space at Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, is expanding into a storefront on Professor Avenue in Tremont. The firm was recently selected to participate in the competitive Tremont Storefront Incubator Program. Owners Shelley Fasulko and John Pippin will test the waters for a new retail location while enjoying three months of free rent and seven months of reduced rent. After that time period, they'll hopefully make the leap to a permanent storefront in the city.

In a release, Tremont West Development Corporation, which owns and manages the space, stated that the Brewnuts application was "very strong" and will add vibrancy and a new type of business to the neighborhood. The hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, with morning pick-ups available during the week and evening hours that cater to hungry Tremont bar-hoppers and local residents.

"We chose Brewnuts because they were the applicant that could most effectively use the space, and the one that had the most potential to move on to a bricks-and-mortar space," says Cory Riordan, Executive Director of Tremont West. "It's a good fit within Tremont, because of the food businesses that are here."

The company creates delicious donuts that reflect the season. Currently "on tap" are the Doughboy, a cinnamon roll style 'nut made with Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale; the Symon, a chocolate peanut butter donut made with Willoughby Brewing Company's Peanut Butter Coffee Porter; and the Bernie, a lager-based donut made with Great Lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Gold.

Tremont West Development Corporation collaborated with the Hispanic Business Center to select Brewnuts to participate in the Storefront Incubator Program. Brewnuts plans to open its shop at 2406 Professor on Tuesday, April 29th.

Source: Tremont West Development Corporation
Writer: Lee Chilcote

finch group breaks ground on 177 apartments as part of upper chester project

The Finch Group, a Florida-based developer that pioneered the luxury apartment market in University Circle with its 2007 renovation of Park Lane Villa, has broken ground on 177 units of apartments as part of the long-awaited Upper Chester project. The developer expects the project will begin leasing by June of next year, just in time for medical residents and other area professionals to snatch up the new apartments.

The Upper Chester project, which will consist of four phases and over 300 market-rate apartments, is located on Chester Avenue between E. 97th and 101st streets. Retail is being planned as part of Phase I (a coffee shop and small market concept have been discussed), but the Finch Group hasn't begun marketing yet. Efforts will begin soon as the building is now underway.

"We're bringing 177 households to the community with significant disposable income," says Mark Dodds, Principle Architect with the Finch Group. "The target market is people that are working or going to school at major institutions: Clinic, UH, Case Western Reserve University, the art museum, the orchestra."

Dodds cited a 2010 market study showing that there's demand for 700 to 800 new market-rate apartments in University Circle -- meaning that Uptown and Hazel 8, which have added nearly 300 units, have not come close to saturating the market. "There's very high demand for good quality rental housing. The more people we get to live in University Circle, the more it becomes a 24-hour neighborhood."

The building itself will feature primarily one-bedroom residences geared towards busy professionals. The finishes will be high-end, including granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. There will be a 24/7 concierge service in the building to handle various resident needs. The two-story lobby will be a social space that will give residents a chance to socialize and build community.

Dodds maintains that while Uptown is more of a college town environment geared to undergraduates, the Upper Chester project will be targeted to graduates and professionals. Fending off concerns that the project will feel isolated, Dodds says that it will be built as an open, pedestrian-friendly environment adjacent to CWRU's performing arts center at Temple Tifereth Israel. The project will also be located across the street from the Cleveland Clinic's new medical school.

Financing the project was difficult. There were no tax credits or public subsidy funds available. The developer did receive a 15-year, 100-percent tax abatement from the city. Finch is using conventional financing and equity to fund the project.

Dodds expects to get around $2 per square foot for the apartments, just under the rents that Uptown is commanding. "We're convinced this project will make money."

If all goes well, the next phase of the project could start in early 2016, setting up a completion date of mid 2017 -- just in time for a new crop of medical residents.

Source: Mark Dodds
Writer: Lee Chilcote

developer breaks ground on second phase of flats east, adding office building to mix

Flats East Development LLC, the partners behind the multi-phase Flats East development, have broken ground on Phase II. The project is expected to be complete in time for residents, visitors and office workers to enjoy the 1,200-foot riverfront boardwalk by summer of 2015. The ambitious project contains a few surprises, including a new office building that's been added to the mix.

"Currently, we've broken ground on Building 4, which is the large residential building with 243 apartments above a parking deck and retail podium," says Brice Hamill, Director of Design with Fairmount Properties. "With Building 4 being the largest of the buildings [in Phase II], we needed to kick it off now to complete it on schedule. We just finished up the auger piles and deep foundation, and now we're coming out of the ground and casting columns for the first floor retail."

The apartment building will feature high-end units with floor-to-ceiling windows, granite countertops and other luxury finishes. Although lease rates have not yet been announced, you can bet that they'll push the envelope. Residents here will be able to enjoy suites featuring hardwood floors, 10-foot loft-style ceilings and a balcony on every unit so they can watch the action go by.

There's also a second floor common rooftop deck over the retail area, and the penthouse suites will have access to their own private rooftop decks. "We think we have the best residential site in Cleveland given the views and activity on the water – from planes to trains to boats, and we did a lot to capture that," says Hamill.

Retail concepts include Toby Keith's Bar and Grill, BBR, Beer Cellars, The Big Bang dueling piano bar, Flip Side, FWD, Panini's Bar and Grill, Crop Kitchen and Vine and Cropicana. Hamill says the one he gets the most reactions to is Toby Keith's.

"Everyone wants to know about Toby Keith's," he says with a laugh. "There's an insanely high county music listenership here, with no venue for them."

Another design element that will be sure to surprise and delight Clevelanders is the fact that the entire waterfront area can be closed to vehicles and turned into a pedestrian-oriented district for festivals, summer events, pig roasts and the like.

"From an urban planning standpoint, that's one of the coolest things we're doing down there," says Hamill.

There's also a 3.5-acre park that will be owned by the developers yet publicly accessible. The 1,200-foot boardwalk will be maintained by the Metroparks, Hamill says.

The developers also have broken ground on Flip Side, a gourmet burger bar with a large selection of regional craft beers, on a lot adjacent to Phase I.

The new office building will be much smaller than the Ernst and Young Tower, totaling about 150 to 200,000 square feet with additional retail. It was born out of the surplus demand for space in the tower, which is now nearly 95 percent leased.

"It will be large floor plates, and we look at that as a cool possibility for a company... to get branded power in a downtown building," says Hamill.

Hamill promises that more local restaurants and establishments will be announced soon, including an ice cream venue, countering concerns that Flats East Phase II will consist largely of chain restaurants. "We're going to bring in not just a fine dining concept, but places for everyone: young, old, married, not married, kids or no kids," says Hamill.

Surface parking lots will surround the development for now, but over the long term, those could become future phases for additional development.

Source: Brice Hamill
Writer: Lee Chilcote

city of cleveland selects lakefront developer to create true mixed-use neighborhood

The City of Cleveland announced that it has selected Dick Pace of Cumberland Development along with national developer Trammel Crow to redevelop the city's lakefront. Their proposal would erect 250 apartments, 80,000 square feet of office space and 30-40,000 square feet of retail in Phase I, which clusters around North Coast Habor. Phase II would add 750 apartments north of Browns Stadium.

At the heart of the proposal is something the city sorely lacks: a truly mixed-use neighborhood along the lakefront, complete with amenities for residents and visitors, with opportunities for people to live, work and play on Lake Erie.

"I started on the waterfront 30 years ago," says Pace, an architect and developer who designed what was then called the "inner harbor," so it's fitting that at this point in his career he'd work on the next phase of lakefront development. Pace has also developed property on the HealthTech Corridor and the 5th Street Arcades.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of Pace's development is his plan to create a school. He believes that creating a high-quality downtown school is essential to furthering the growth of the area and attracting families. No decision has been made about whether it would be a district or charter school, but it will be geared to the neighborhood. Just imagine kids walking to school on East 9th Street.

"This is all part of creating a neighborhood," he says. "It will give us a market that's untapped in the city of Cleveland -- the city has lost a lot of young families."

The lakefront development is also closely linked with plans to better connect the lakefront with the rest of downtown. The City of Cleveland is planning to build a pedestrian bridge from the mall to North Coast Harbor, and residents and visitors that use it would find themselves right in the midst of new shops and amenities.

Pace originally planned about 80,000 square feet of office space with smaller, 5,000-10,000 square foot users in mind, but he's already been contacted by a few bigger players. He says that the city could end up with a few bigger companies, including some that are currently located in the suburbs, along the lakefront.

The apartments will be market-rate, with higher prices for premier units on the waterfront or on upper floors. However, Pace hopes that some units will be affordable enough that teachers at the school can afford to live here.

The retail is the most defined piece of the project. Just like harbor districts in other cities, Cleveland could soon have a seasonal concession vendor, kayak rental facility and waterfront seafood restaurant. There would also be an indoor retail area linked to the pedestrian bridge, Science Center and Rock Hall, allowing people to hop between amenities without going outdoors on a winter day.

Pace says the complex project, which will be built without public subsidy, should start in 2015 and wrap up 5-7 years later. Phase I would open much sooner -- Clevelanders could start enjoying these lakefront amenities by 2018.

Next steps include negotiating a land lease with the city, refining conceptual architectural plans, holding community meetings, and pursuing financing. These are Herculean tasks, to be sure, but Pace says this long-awaited project will happen.

"This is a great time," he says. "The finanicng is starting to become available, and there's momentum for downtown housing. This piece of property has always been premier, and now is the time when the pieces are starting to come together."

Source: Dick Pace
Writer: Lee Chilcote

group plan commission hires director, set to break ground this year on public square revitalization

Jeremy Paris, the recently hired Executive Director of the Group Plan Commission, wants to help Clevelanders reconnect with their iconic downtown public spaces. The Group Plan Commission is expected to break ground later this year on the reconfiguration of Public Square, new amenities for the downtown malls, and a bike-ped bridge that will link the mall overlook with North Coast Harbor.

If you're skeptical that these big picture projects, which have been dreamed about for years with no action, will get done, well, don't worry; Paris will convince you otherwise.

"Cleveland deserves these world class public spaces," he says fervently. "We’ve done an unbelievable job of establishing downtown amenities, and our neighborhoods are increasingly thriving and exciting. Our job is to build the connective tissue, to have public spaces that can weave together these amenities and be gathering places for the city. We’re building on the wave of downtown investment, and I think the city will look and feel different when we get this job done."

Paris attended Yale and Harvard and lived in Washington D.C. for a dozen years. After returning to Cleveland with his wife -- a Cleveland transplant -- he interviewed with County Executive Ed FitzGerald and landed a job in his office. After working on the Group Plan project on behalf of the county, he applied for and was selected as the Group Plan Commission's first director.

"I wanted to be civically involved, and to plug in in terms of what’s going on with economic development and downtown development," he says. "I wanted to work at the hub of the political community, business community and the public realm, and try to get things done for the city. That’s where I feel like I’ve landed."

Although specifics of the Group Plan Commission's work are still being ironed out -- nationally-known architect James Corner, who designed the High Line in New York City, has been tapped for the project -- Paris says that $30 million has been assembled from the city, county and other sources and designs are being finalized.

A public meeting at the City Club is being planned, probably sometime in April, to reveal specifics of these designs and garner additional public feedback. Yet the basic concepts discussed for several years remain the same. The Public Square re-do will involve closing Ontario and reconnecting the four quadrants of Public Square; the mall improvements are geared towards making it a thriving, people-filled public space by adding public art, seating, stages, reflecting pools and the like; and the bridge will better connect downtown to the lakefront.

"We want people to use these public spaces, to turn them into activated spaces and not just pretty vistas," says Paris. "Watching people discover these public spaces, even in their current form, I've already seen a change. People look down and say, 'Oh, there’s the lake.' It's like they're seeing it for the first time."

Source: Jeremy Paris
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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