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Growing local retailer amid new tenants announced for Pinecrest

The mild winter allowed construction to keep moving along at Pinecrest, the mixed-use entertainment district at I-271 and 27349 Harvard Road in Orange Village.

“It’s taking shape very quickly,” says Gary McManus, director of marketing for Fairmount Properties, which, along with DiGeronimo Companies, began construction on the $230 million project last fall. “Construction is ongoing on the east side of the site, and we’re beginning on the west end of the site.”
 
While Pinecrest is not scheduled to open until the spring of next year, the developers spent much of 2016 testing prospective shoppers with the impressive list of tenants they have secured. In addition to big, national retailers such as R.E.I., Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Vineyard Vines and Pottery Barn, there was a taste of dining and entertainment options, followed by details on the AC by Marriott, 87 loft-style apartments and two office buildings planned in the 58-acre development that has been more than seven years in the making.
 
In March, Fairmount Properties announced Pinecrest’s first three office tenants. Alliance Prime Associates, Continental Heritage Insurance Company and Tower 7 Partnership, LLC will be relocating their headquarters offices from Mayfield to Pinecrest, where they will lease a collective 15,000 square feet on the fourth floor in one of the two office buildings, which each span 75,000 square feet.
 
Then last week, the developers announced three additional retailers — Scout and Molly’s Boutique, Gracylane and J. Bellezza Salon — to the mix. Pinecrest will be home to a 2,500-square-foot location for locally-based Gracylane, a shop that sells women’s accessories and gifts with stores in Hudson, Kent and other locations.
 
Local fashion entrepreneur Blair Dickey-White will own the Pinecrest location of national womenswear, jewelry and accessories retailer Scout and Molly’s, which also has a location in Hudson, while J. Bellezza will occupy 2,300 square feet offering personal care services with a focus on all-natural products. The salon, the first of its kind in the area, will feature independent stylists in a private suite setting. The shop will also carry new-to-market hair products, advanced beauty tools, wellness inspiration, nutritional supplements, the latest in hair and beauty technology and gift items.
 
The three new tenants bring Pinecrest retail space well over the halfway mark to fully leased, says McManus. “We have 400,000 square feet of retail space, and we’re just crossing the two-thirds line,” he says. “Most of the larger space is leased; what we’re doing now is talking to the smaller space [retailers].”
 
While McManus says the office space is only 10 percent leased, that market tends to be more relaxed.
 
Meanwhile, McManus promises some drastic changes to the Orange Village landscape as summer approaches and construction really gets moving.
 
Things are fairly well along, and the kind-of mild winter helped keep us on track,” he says. “By fall it will look like a village setting.”

'In the 216' to open along Lakewood-Cleveland border

When Jenny Goe opened In the 216 in the heart of the Coventry business district in January 2015, she had high hopes that her store would be a destination for shoppers to browse and buy the many wares made by Cleveland retailers.
 
She launched with about 30 artists represented in her roughly 1,000-square-foot shop just below street level. Two years later, Goe keeps the shop at 1854 Coventry open late, especially on the weekends, and keeps longer hours on Sundays to accommodate the high volume of customers meandering in during peak pedestrian times.
 
“We have to stay open late on Fridays and Saturdays here,” Goe says. “We’d be crazy not to.”
 
Today, Goe represents more than 100 artists in her funky shop, and has had to turn others away because she’s running out of room. But that predicament is about to change when Goe opens her second location on the Cleveland-Lakewood border on April 29 in the former Big Fun location at 11512 Clifton Blvd.
 
At 2,000 square feet, the space is twice the size of the Coventry store, which will allow Goe to offer a wider variety of goods — and there's also space for an artists’ exhibit/workshop.
 
Some will be solely featured at the new store, while others will exclusively be featured at Cleveland Heights location, Goe says, bringing the total to between 120 and 130 Northeast Ohio artisans represented at In the 216.
 
The wares Goe sells include everything from jewelry, some of which Goe herself crafts through her Etsy line, Jewelry by Jenny, T-shirts, ball caps, candles and home décor items.
 
Goe said her new neighbors, the owners of Flower Child first approached her about opening a pop-up store in the location during the 2015 holiday season, but she was still getting the Coventry location off the ground.
 
When the new owners of the Clifton Corners building approached her last fall, Goe was ready to expand. “There’s a lot of really good plans for the street,” says Goe of the ongoing work on Clifton Boulevard between W. 116th and W. 117th Streets. “So I decided it was worth the leap.”
 
Goe wooed the building owners, Cleveland natives who now live in California, with her business sense and products. “I explained it’s all locally sourced products and I sent them home with some Bertman mustard,” she recalls. “The owners came in, saw what we can do and offered to fix it up for us at their expense.”
 
Goe is pleased with the remodel of the space. “They built us a dressing room, which we don’t really have [on Coventry],” she says. “Everything’s going to be brand spanking new.” She adds that she will have two display windows. Goe did choose, however, to keep the graffiti-painted, comic hero ceiling installed during the Big Fun days. “It adds a lot of character.”
 
Goe is particularly excited about the exhibit space. Her first exhibitor will be Jack Koch of Jackson Koch Photography, while knitting workshops by Maria Laniro of Mamina Knits, as well as calligraphy and screen printing workshops, are already planned.
 
Goe, who plans to split her time between both locations, says she’s not sure what the permanent hours will be at the new store, but for now she'll be open for business 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., every day but Tuesdays.

“It will be a learning experience,” she says, noting that the traffic on Clifton is more from cars than pedestrians. “People come in and ask about it and they get so excited about the new store.”

Campus District welcomes new residents with 110 market rate and affordable apartments

In area historically known for its challenging economic conditions, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) earlier this month celebrated the completion of Phases 1 and 2 of the Cedar Transformation Plan with new market rate and affordable apartments and townhouses on 15 acres.

Sankofa Village replaces the Cedar Estates housing site. CMHA CEO Jeffery K. Patterson says the new units offer a modern, improved alternative to the 1950s row houses and traditional style of public housing that previously occupied the site.
 
Patterson also says Sankofa Village is an asset to the other improvements going on in the southern part of the Campus District, including the ongoing transformation at Cuyahoga Community College's Metro Campus and other improvements at St. Vincent Medical Center/Sisters of Charity Health System.
 
“The neighborhood is really changing,” says Patterson. “There are great amenities that are there to enhance the quality of life in that community.”
 
The first phase of the project at 2390 E. 30th Street broke ground in November 2015 and consists of four stories of 60 one-bedroom apartments averaging 705 square feet. The $12.3 million building has a lounge, community room, fitness center and laundry facilities. It was ready for occupancy earlier this month.
 
Phase two on East 28th Street broke ground in January 2016, and while the final touches will be completed on the $10.2 million phase in April, tenants began taking occupancy last December. Fifty one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom townhomes are spread throughout five buildings and range from 651 to 1,741 square feet.
 
Every unit comes equipped with dishwashers, washers and dryers, Energy Star rated stovetops and refrigerators. Rents start at $650.
 
The complex includes two parking lots and two playgrounds. The units meet Enterprise Green Community Standards and LEED Neighborhood Development guidelines. The open layouts, vaulted ceilings and large windows allow for plenty of natural light.
 
Patterson reports the townhomes are almost at full occupancy and the apartments are all leased. He says there is already a waiting list for all of the units. “It’s progressing very well,” he says, adding that one of the buildings has been named after longtime Progressive Action Council member Lillian Davis. The announcement was made during a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on March 10.

“We thought it would be an honor to recognize her and show our appreciation,” Patterson says of Davis. “She was shocked. She didn’t see it coming and we didn’t tell her ahead of time.”

Sankofa Village was designed by City Architecture. Developers Pittsburgh-based Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties manage the CMHA-owned and sponsored properties. As a partner, CMHA acts as the lender and provider for the Section 8 units, operating subsidies through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
 
Patterson reports that another 100 to 150 units are planned on the site once additional funds are raised.
 

Challenge along the North Coast: maintaining momentum of 2016

Few people in northeast Ohio would argue that 2016 was Cleveland’s moment in the sun.

The city successfully hosted the Republican National Convention without a hitch. The Cavs became world champions and more than a million people celebrated the victory downtown. The Indians went to the World Series and fought a valiant fight, and the Monsters brought home the American Hockey League Calder Cup.
 
“2016 was an incredible year on so many fronts,” says Michael Deemer, executive vice president of business development for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “Not just to see the city on the national stage for the first time with the RNC, but to see that day in October with game one of the World Series and the Cavs season opening game.”
 
DCA estimates the RNC had a $200 million economic impact on the city, while the NBA finals playoff games contributed $36 million and the World Series brought $24 million. The new Huntington Convention Center also held its own, hosting 440,660 guest last year.
 
Of course the opening of the new $50 million Public Square brought a new reason to come downtown for the many events or just to relax in a new urban green space and people watch.
 
But 2016's memorable events were not the only sign of progress for downtown Cleveland last year. This month, the DCA released its 2016 Annual Report, indicating many people are choosing downtown to live, work, play and visit.
 


“The decision was made 10 years ago to form the DCA that set us on the course we’re on,” says Deemer. “We’ve worked with businesses, the RTA, to create innovative transportation and provided historic tax credits — all of those things working in tandem over the last 10 years created this environment.”
 
According to the report, downtown’s residential population is more than 14,000 — a 77 percent increase since 2000. Residential occupancy remained at 95 percent for the sixth consecutive year in the 6,198 market rate apartments and 880 condominiums.
 
More than 2,000 apartments were added downtown over the past six years, according to the report, with another 1,000 expected to come online in 2017 and more than 3,000 planned by the end of 2019. Deemer says he expects to downtown population to surge to 16,000 by the end of this year.
 
“2017 is shaping up to be a big year,” Deemer says of the residential growth.
 
Furthermore, Class A office space is at a 17 percent vacancy rate, with that number expected to dip below 10 percent in the next couple of years on account of new business and vacant office buildings being converted into apartments, says Deemer.
 
With the growing population comes new business to serve those residents. More than 30 new retailers opened for business in 2016 — 18 new restaurants and bars and 15 stores.  “We’re seeing a lot more resident-oriented businesses come in downtown, like Monica Potter Home, J3 Clothing and Cleveland Clinic Express Care,” says Deemer. “We continue to have a terrific restaurant and food scene.”
 
The residential population growth goes hand-in-hand with a highly qualified workforce living downtown, says Deemer, providing employers with a young, well-educated and diverse talent pool to draw from. Drilling down the numbers, downtown Cleveland ranks fifth nationally in the percentage of 25- to 44-year-olds in the labor force; seventh in the number of immigrants with four year degrees; and tenth in the number of candidates with advanced degrees.
 
Today, 95,000 people work downtown, with 70 employers leasing 1,213,141 square feet of office space and 6,932 jobs created or retained in 2016.
 
Furthermore, with Cleveland’s great healthcare presence, Cuyahoga County ranks fifth nationally in health services employment. Pair that with the number of quality secondary education institutions, and Cleveland becomes a lucrative place for employers to recruit talent.
 
“I think what I’m most excited about is the job growth because that’s what make everything else sustainable,” says Deemer. “As we lose the older, less skilled workers, they’re being replaced by younger, highly skilled and educated workers. Momentum begets momentum and as millennials find it an attractive place, more will follow. Cleveland is becoming the kind of place that already has great talent. Downtown in particular is becoming a place for young, skilled workers who want to live here and walk to work.”
 
RTA contributed to Cleveland’s transformation by working with the DCA on a accessible transportation. “We’re created an infrastructure of transportation options, complete with things like the free trolley to business and entertainment centers and hotels,” says Deegan.
 
Three new hotels — the Kimpton Schofield, the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and the Drury Plaza Hotel — contributed almost 1,000 new rooms for visitors to the city, further encouraging tourism.


 
Deemer cites the extension of Federal and Ohio Historic Tax Credits programs as critical to continued growth. “These have been an important tool to attract businesses to invest in downtown Cleveland,” he says, adding that the credits also help grow the residential market and get rid of unoccupied office space.
 
Transportation is another key factory in attracting millennials, says Deemer, who tend to forego car ownership and rely more on public transportation and walking.
 
“We have to make sure we’re offering a full variety of transportation options to millennials and generations beyond that,” he says. “We have to make sure we stay ahead of the curve on transportation. And we still need to grow our residential population. Office space has to be filled and we have to connect the neighborhoods with downtown.”

It all boils down to sustaining momentum.

“Most importantly, we cannot become complacent,” says Deemer. “We’ve had boom and bust cycles in the past. We must recognize the work we are doing, but keep working with partners.”

Goldhorn Brewery to be Shaker's first brew pub in new Van Aken District

When phase one of the new Van Aken District in Shaker Heights opens in spring of 2018, Goldhorn Brewery will be one of the anchor tenants in the district’s Orman Building food hall.

The brewery, which opened its first location on E. 55th Street last June, will be Shaker’s first brew pub. The partnership between developer RMS Investment Corp and Goldhorn came about after the realization that both entities strive to revitalize historically vibrant areas, says Goldhorn owner Rick Semersky.
 
“They loved the story of what we did with the [St. Clair Superior] neighborhood and they’re doing the same thing in building the new downtown Shaker,” says Sermersky. “There are a lot of similarities between the projects.”
 
RMS director of leasing Jason Fenton agrees that Goldhorn will be a good fit for the district.

“The Van Aken District is excited to have Goldhorn as a partner and feel their addition within the Orman Building will help anchor the project,” he says. “Rick and his team are a fantastic compliment to the other offerings," adds Fenton, noting that the developer is striving to include the best local offerings in the highly anticipated Shaker project.
 
Goldhorn will occupy 2,200 square feet in a corner space of 20,000-square-foot Orman Building, complete with an outdoor patio and seating that overlooks the food hall. “It’s smaller than the space on 55th, but it’s great exposure,” says Semersky.
 
The Van Aken District will be an open container area, he adds, so patrons can grab a beer while they shop. “They can get food from the other vendors and then come in and sit at our bar, or they can grab a beer from us and go out into the hall,” he explains.
 
The bar will probably have a 12-tap system, with eight to 10 beers on draft at any given time. “It seems to work well for us,” Semersky says of the choices. “It’s not too little, but not overwhelming.”
 
While Goldhorn will offer some of its established signature brews, brewer Joel Wagner says he is already testing different recipes to create beers just for Van Aken. ”I’m playing around with different grains and hops recipes,” he says. “I can do one-off batches, and we have a good variety so people can come in, no matter what their beer style is, and taste everything to hit that style.”
 
Semersky says they plan to move into the new space within eight months and begin preparations. “We will hit the ground running,” he says. “The way we look at Van Aken is it’s an opportunity to be part of the neighborhood’s redevelopment and be a neighborhood brew pub in Shaker Heights.”

The city of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

PizzaFire spreads across Ohio and beyond

In August 2015, Fresh Water reported on the opening of PizzaFire on Public Square in downtown Cleveland. It was the second such location for the fledgling company. The first was established in Akron the previous October.

Since then, the fast-casual pizza franchise has spread like wildfire.

There are no less than 10 PizzaFires in Northeast Ohio, including eateries in Parma, Woodmere, Rocky River, Strongsville, Fairlawn and Kent. Columbus is home to two PizzaFires, with another in Toledo and one in Kettering, Ohio. There's even a Texas location, which brings the total to 15.

Back in 2015, Ryan Rao, the company's franchise development executive, told Fresh Water that the company had seven more locations in the works with its sights set far beyond that.

"We want to build out the Midwest with 100 units in six years," said Rao in 2015.

Considering they've realized 13 in just 17 months and have 23 new sites in the works listed on their Coming Soon page, with locations slated to bloom from Los Angeles to Long Island and Tampa — the company is well on track to meet that goal.

Fans of Romeo's Pizza won't be surprised to learn that the man behind that long-standing area favorite, Sean Brauser, is also PizzaFire's CEO.

"He really is a pizza genius," said Rao of Brauser. "He's very well recognized for his pizza creativity," he added, citing a host of awards and accolades that Brauser has garnered for his pies and a 2005 appearance on the Food Network's $10,000 Pizza Challenge.

PizzaFire credits its success to its build-your-own pizza model, with six sauce options, including the "Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Sauce," which is concocted from hand-crushed tomatoes, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and Italian herbs and spices. Five different cheeses and 40 fresh toppings round out the selection. Dough is made fresh daily and then let to rest for  24 to 48 hours to allow the flavor to mature.

After customers watch their pizza get built, the pies are baked in a domed brick oven that reaches 800 degrees and can turn out a pizza in less than three minutes.

"You throw that pizza in there," says Brauser of his ovens in a company video, "that dough immediately starts to cook."

He continues, "I really want [our customers] to get an authentic Italian pizza experience and then be able to customize it exactly the way they want it."

Hungry? Of course the Public Square location is open for business at 236 Euclid Ave., and PizzaFire also has deals in the works for University Circle, Mayfield and Broadview Heights.

Closer look: two eco-friendly townhome projects bloom amid urban—and green—settings

Developer Andrew Brickman of Brickhaus Partners create luxury living spaces in Cleveland’s urban areas that are not only eco-friendly, but also provide a park-like setting. So, what better location than along the borders of the Cleveland Metroparks?

The Emerald Necklace is what drew him to his latest projects: 95 Lake at 9508 Lake Road in the Edgewater neighborhood and Riversouth, 18871 Lorain Road in Fairview Park, both of which offer spacious, luxury city living with spectacular views of the Metroparks, as well as easy access to transportation, shopping and nightlife. Riversouth sits on the border of the Rocky River Reservation and Big Met golf course, while 95 Lake overlooks Lake Erie and Edgewater Park.

“We try to be near parks, public transportation,” Brickman says of his projects. “We’re near all the Metroparks”
 
Furthermore, both developments provide the amenities of city living that is so popular in Cleveland right now—another priority for Brickman.
 
“I try to develop in the city and inner ring suburbs to stop urban sprawl,” he says. “Because urban sprawl contributes the most to duplication of services. You know, Cleveland’s not getting any bigger, it’s just spreading out. So I’m trying to bring people back to the city.”
 
In the Edgewater neighborhood, the first residents are scheduled to move into their new townhomes at the end of this month, says Brickman. Seven of the 10 townhomes are sold, he says, with a “lot of interest” in the remaining three units.
 
Brickhaus broke ground on the project last April, on the site of the former St. Thomas Lutheran Church. The 95 Lake townhomes were designed by architect Scott Dimit, principal of Dimit Architects, as were the 32 units at River South.
 
The three remaining three-story homes range from approximately 1,800 square feet for a two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath floor plan to a 2,168-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home. Prices range from $499,000 to $649,000 and include 15-year tax abatements.
 
The townhomes come equipped with attached two-car garages, optional fireplaces and stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. The furnace and hot water tank are also energy efficient.
 
Brickman notes that energy efficiency is a standard in all Brickhaus properties, adding that the company’s Eleven River project in Rocky River is the first geothermal multifamily development in Northeast Ohio.
 
“Energy efficiency is important to us because we’re trying to bring a lifestyle to people, and that involves being a good citizen of the earth,” says Brickman.
 
Each residence has its own private rooftop balcony, ranging from 250 to 350 square feet and offering great views of the lake and Edgewater, as well as of downtown Cleveland and the neighborhood’s tree canopy.
 
Many of the residents who have already purchased properties at 95 Lake are local, with one buyer returning to Cleveland from out of town, and others coming from Tremont, Ohio City and Battery Park, says Brickman.
 
“What they said was they loved the inner ring suburbs and they love this Edgewater area because it’s older,” says Brickman of the typical buyers. “It has character like those other neighborhoods, it’s a mature sort of neighborhood.”
 
The Edgewater area also offers a sense of security, says Brickman, while still being in the Cleveland city limits.
 
“They want to be close to everything in those neighborhoods, but this has a different feel to it because we have the single family housing,” Brickman explains. “You’ve got the park and you’ve got lot of owner-occupied houses. These are people who want to be in the city, because it’s still the city.”
 
Residents will be moving in to 95 Lake through the next few months, says Brickman, with the entire project scheduled for completion by summer.
 
All but 10 of the 32 townhomes at Riversouth have sold, Brickman says, and all of the site work and landscaping is completed. In addition to the views, he points to the development’s proximity to Kamm’s Corners—a 10 minute walk—and Fairview Hospital as well as access to the biking and hiking trails right outside the door.
 
“Riversouth is surrounded on three sides by Metroparks,” says Brickman, “so your views are right there.”
 
The townhomes offer a seven-year tax abatement and range from 1,148 to 2,808 square feet. Prices start at $269,000 and go up to $539,000.
 
Brickhaus calls Riversouth “Ecohomes,” in that the townhouses are smarthomes with everything from lighting to the sound system integrated through the owner’s smart phone. Of course, everything is energy efficient, has bamboo floors, private decks and balconies, and two-car insulated garages.
 
Outside, like all Brickhaus properties, the landscape is planted with native perennial plants that do not require irrigation. A dry basin storm water retention system keeps everything in check.
 
“We expect to win awards for the landscaping and the creativity in which it was handled,” says Brickman of the storm water retention system at Riversouth.
 
In keeping with its commitment to develop in Cleveland and stop urban sprawl, Brickman says there are a few more urban projects on the horizon for Brickhaus. It’s what he loves to do.
 
“It’s a lot easier to develop a cornfield out in Avon because you don’t have any neighbors to deal with than it is to develop in an existing neighborhood,” explains Brickman. “Because you have the neighbors to deal with, and they don’t want change, and the guy next door doesn’t want to be living next to construction.

"It’s probably the most difficult kind of development you can do but to me, it’s been pretty satisfying.”

Trending Downtown: loft office space

Residential development in downtown Cleveland is going gangbusters, attracting the working millennial crowd and empty nesters alike. And much of the action is playing out in the city’s historic buildings.
 
The growth has interesting side effects. According to Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s fourth quarter Cleveland Office Market report, the conversions of vintage office and industrial buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) to apartments has effectively dropped the office vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 24 percent for class B office space and 22.4 percent for class C. Overall combined vacancy in the CBD is 19.9 percent.
 
However, Terry Coyne, vice chairman of commercial real estate for Newmark points out the vacancy is even lower when Newmark’s office space Zombie Report is factored in. The report does not include vacant space that is currently being renovated and off the market. Omitting these offices brings the vacancy rate down to 18.2 percent for class B and 15.4 percent for class C space.
 
Eleven such buildings are omitted in the Zombie Report because they are being converted to apartments or are functionally obsolete, Coyne says, including the Tower at Erie View, the Halle Building, the former Cleveland Athletic Club and the Standard Building, among others.
 
Part of the reason the office vacancies are declining is attributable to unoccupied office buildings being converted to apartments, says Coyne. And while he admits that the downtown living trend is encouraging for Cleveland, he says landlords and developers should also be thinking about converting downtown office space.
 
A new generation of offices
 
A new generation of workers are living and working downtown with educated millennials drawn to the city’s core. They are enamored by Cleveland’s history and its historic buildings, says Coyne. As residential living grows, he notes, so must attractive office space.
 
“It is not just millennials who like to live near their offices,” explains Coyne, adding that at one time residences and businesses were more centered in Cleveland suburbs. “People historically like to live near their offices. The difference is the offices are now moving downtown where the people live.”
 
The next generation of workers are driven to employers with what Coyne calls “cool loft office space,” which is often characterized by historic buildings with high ceilings, exposed brick and wood floors reminiscent of the structure’s original purpose.
 
“I believe there is great demand for loft office space and I think the numbers show it,” says Coyne, suggesting that as downtown buildings are converted to apartments, conversion into loft offices should not be forgotten.
 
“The overall health of the market is being driven by conversions,” explains Coyne, adding that the apartment conversions have stabilized. “The annual net absorption of office space in 2016," he also notes, "was approximately 254,000 square feet. However, the absorption for cool office space is currently keeping pace with supply.”
 
Leading the way
 
The successful developers downtown have noticed this change and are following suit with their developments. Coyne cites Tyler Village, 3615 Superior Ave., as one perfect example.  
 
Graystone Properties spotted this trend when they decided to convert the former Tyler Elevator building at East 36th Street and Superior Avenue, which they had owned since the 1970s, into loft office space,” says Coyne. “Without the use of tax credits, Graystone repurposed this million-square-foot-plus property into a neighborhood of retail, office and warehouse.
 
“The development is performing so well they are now able to charge for indoor parking in an area of town where parking is free and abundant,” he adds.
 
Coyne also cites the 1903 Caxton Building, 812 Huron Road, as another success story. “The leader in this trend—the Caxton Building—has seen an increase in rents over the past year for both parking and office that other landlords can only dream about,” he says. Quantifiably, the Caxton has seen a 90 percent occupancy rate over the past 10 years, according to commercial real estate broker Gardiner and Associates.
 
Meanwhile, Quicken Loans’ Cleveland offices garnered acclaim for its 2016 move into 81,000 square feet of space on the fourth and fifth floors of the Higbee Building at 100 Public Square. The company preserved much of the original architectural elements and historic nature of the building. Coyne says there is still 90,000 square feet of raw space available in the iconic 1931 art-deco building.

A fourth example is the renovation of the old Sammy’s Building in the Flats. With its views of the river and a rooftop deck, the owners are getting some of the highest rents in the city, Coyne notes.

While he estimates the overall vacancy rate of trendy office space in the CBD to be around 12.6 percent—or 2.9 million square feet—Coyne suggests landlords consider renovating their older buildings for loft-style offices, which drives drown vacancy rates and drives up rental rates.
 
Embracing change
 
Coyne asserts that the days of cubicles, dropped ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting are gone. “It’s a changing style of office,” says Coyne of the trend towards loft office space. Millennials, he notes, want more of a “SoHo look” in their workspaces. “The market changes and those people want a different style of office.”
 
It’s fairly easy to achieve this look and create a whole new office space, says Coyne, although some buildings are more conducive to it than others. “You can’t convert the KeyBank Tower into a loft building,” he says, “but you can expose the duct work and mimic an older, industrial type building.”
 
Coyne cites  the 1921 925 Building, formerly the Union Trust Building and later the Huntington Building, as being prime for redevelopment into loft space. He adds Hudson Holdings would be wise to consider loft offices in its redevelopment of the 925 Building.

“Overall, these changes in our market present opportunities for both tenants and landlords,” says Coyne. “And understanding these trends helps both sides make better decisions.”

600 residential units coming to University Circle, more in the works

Midwest Development Partners, along with Coral Company and Panzica Construction, quietly broke ground in late December on Centric Apartments, formerly known as Intesa, at 11601 Mayfield Road, marking the beginning of a residential construction project that was delayed for almost three years.
 
“It’s a really good achievement,” says University Circle Inc. (UCI) president Chris Ronayne. “We are very excited about it.”
 
The seven-story Centric building, which sits on 2.2 acres and borders Little Italy and Uptown, will have 272 one- and two-bedroom apartments, averaging 750 square feet and running about $1,600 per month; 27,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial space on the ground floor; and a 360-space parking garage that will accommodate both residents and visitors to Uptown.
 
“I’m very excited about this project because it’s a connection between Little Italy, the Little Italy–University Circle Rapid Station and Uptown,” says Ronayne, adding that greenspace is part of the $70 million project investment. “It offers great walkable-friendly development.
 
But the Centric project is just one of many new apartment buildings going up in the neighborhood, bringing more than 600 new units to the University Circle area by late spring 2018, with even more projects in the works.
 
Also slated for completion by 2018 is the 20-story, 270-apartment One University Circle building being developed by First Interstate Properties and Petros Development on the former site of the Children’s Museum at E. 107th Street and Euclid Avenue.
 
“Together, 542 units will come online in 2018,” says Ronayne. He says the timing should coincide with “match week ”— the time in March when medical students find out where they will be placed for residencies. “We have 3,000 to 5,000 medical residents each year through University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic,” says Ronayne. “It’s a mad rush [for housing]”
 
Meanwhile, this summer Berusch Development Partners plans to open its Euclid 116, 31 apartment suites at 11611 Euclid Ave, which will cater specifically to students. The one- to four-bedroom suites are let by the room. Rent covers internet and utilities.

Already complete is the Finch Group's phase one of the 177-unit Innova Apartments, 10001 Chester Ave. The parking garage, part of phase two, is scheduled to be completed this summer.
 
The massive mixed-use plans for Circle Square, formerly known as University Circle City Center (UC3), spearheaded by Midwest Development Partners, are still in the works, Ronayne says, with a groundbreaking date for the site at E. 105th Street and Chester Avenue still a bit in the future.
 
All of this new residential development stems from a plan created in 2007 by the University Circle Land Bank to build 1,000 new apartments and houses. “We’ve now reached that goal and we’re well on to the next 1,000,” says Ronayne.
 
Additionally, the Greater Circle Living Incentive Program encourages residents who work at non-profit agencies in the Greater University Circle to also live there. The program offers the first month of a rental lease, up to $1,400 for free, or up to $30,000 in a forgivable loan on a house if the resident stays for five years.
 
“We’ve accepted nearly 1,000 applications,” says Ronayne, noting that eligible neighborhoods include Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, Little Italy, Buckeye-Shaker and parts of western East Cleveland.
 
The program furthers UCI’s goal of creating a true live-work community. “We’ve been trying to achieve a walking-friendly, high density, populated neighborhood,” says Ronayne. “Today’s employees have a healthy appetite of walking to work with a community that has [amenities such as] restaurants, a grocery store, a library ...

"We’ve done that.”

$12 million makeover for West Side hotel

Cleveland’s newest hotel is designed to highlight all the city has to offer while also providing the amenities that appeal to the young business traveler.

The first Four Points Sheraton Cleveland Airport—the first of Marriott International’s Four Points brand in Cleveland—opened on the site of the former Holiday Inn Cleveland airport, 4181 West 150th St., last month. Marriott bought the building in January 2016.

“It was a $12 million-plus renovation,” says Sandra Keneven, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “They gutted the building. There’s nothing old left,” she adds of the year-long renovation.
 
The Four Points concept is a more affordable version of a traditional Sheraton hotel, says Keneven, and is the result of a five-year rebranding initiative. “Our target audience is the younger generation,” she says, adding that the hotel’s 147 rooms offer a comfortable bed with its signature mattresses, complimentary bottled water and free internet.
 
Furthermore, guests can use their smart phones for mobile check-ins before arriving at the hotel, and then use their phones for keyless entry into their rooms.
 
In addition to a 24-hour fitness room, business center and heated pool, the Four Points serves up Great Lakes Brewing drafts in its Hub Bar and Grill. On Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., the hotel offers its Best Brews reception with a Great Lakes beer tasting and free appetizers.

“The plan is to rotate different local brewers,” says Keneven, adding that the brewers will be invited to come and talk about their beers. She says they are also considering bringing live music into the bar.
 
The hotel has 6,500 square feet of meeting space, with two ballrooms, one of which is on the sixth floor and has windows on all sides. Keneven says they have built a good relationship with Destination Cleveland for upcoming conferences and events. Staff is also starting to book weddings.
 
Location is yet another amenity. Popular Cleveland destinations, such as like Kamms Corners, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and FirstEnergy Stadium, are a short distance from the hotel, which offers free round-the-clock shuttle service to and from the airport and any destination within two miles. In addition, the hotel is adjacent to I-71 and the Puritas West 150th Street RTA Rapid station.
 
Through March, Four Points is offering an introductory rate averaging $99 a night, says Keneven, and average rates during peak times will be about $159 a night.
 
The renovated hotel has already gotten local praise. “We have people stopping in off the street,” says Keneven. “It’s beautiful. It just looks beautiful.”

County grant paves the way for Lee Road facelift

In an effort to spruce up Lee Road between Scottsdale Road and Chagrin Boulevard and make it a more attractive business district, the Shaker Heights Economic Development Department helped four property owners in the neighborhood update their exterior facades, thanks to a grant from Cuyahoga County.
 
For us, it’s all about making slow, incremental changes,” says Shaker economic development specialist Katharyne Starinsky. “We’re trying to do this in a progressive fashion so it lasts.”
 
The city applied for a grant through the Cuyahoga County Competitive Storefront Renovation program in November 2015, and was awarded $50,000 for full façade improvements on three buildings and new signage on a fourth.
 
The 2016 project marked the first time Shaker Heights had applied for the County grant, and was among four approved cities.
 
The store renovations are a new addition to Shaker’s business incentives portfolio, designed to help small businesses thrive.
 
Shaker tapped six businesses in its application. Last April, three were ultimately chosen for the grant money: Discount Cleaners at 3601 Lee Road State Farm Insurance at 3605 Lee Road, and a vacant 1,600-square-foot office building at 3581 Lee Road.
 
“There are a number of different businesses involved in doing upgrades to their properties,” explains Starinsky. “We have a relationship with all of the business owners so we knew what businesses might be interested.”
 
The city was able to include a fourth property, Protem Homecare at 3558 Lee Road, with new signage for its recently-renovated building.
 
The business owners were required to pay for 50 percent of the renovation costs, up to $16,000, while the city matched the other 50 percent with the grant money.
 
"These are small, locally owned businesses and this is a lot of money for them,” says Starinsky. “Out of the three properties, only one used the full $16,000. Because of that, we were also able to do the signage for Protem.”
 
Shaker hired a design specialist to work with the business owners on cost estimates and envisioning their needs. “They came up with the design together,” says Starinsky of the cooperative work.
 
The businesses then evaluated contractor bids on the work. “The toughest part was going through the contractors’ bids,” recalls Starinsky. “It was very time consuming, but we wanted them to choose someone they felt connected with.”
 
Ultimately, Starinsky says two of the contractors chosen for two projects were minority owned enterprises.
 
The projects are mostly complete. State Farm renovated the existing façade details, including installing exterior lighting, signage and replacing the door and windows. Discount Cleaners replaced windows and installed a new sign and canopy and is completing finishing touches this week.
 
The owner of the office building, which once housed credit union, tuck-pointed the front steps, installed new awnings and windows and other façade work. “This was a leap of faith for him, because he [the owner] doesn’t have a tenant yet, it he wants to rent it out,” explains Starinsky. “It’s caddy-corner to [co-working and office hub] The Dealership, so it’s a really great location for someone who doesn’t need a big space all the time.”  
 
Shaker’s Lee Road district is capped off with a sculpture, Cloud Monoliths, by local public artist Steve Manka – part of the city’s 2015 Lee-Lomond intersection project.
 
Overall, the renovation projects totaled $113,699, which includes the storefront grant, $48,427 in private investments, $18,550 by the city for the design specialist and architectural fees, and $4,500 in grants from Shaker Heights Development Corporation made possible through Citizens Bank.
 
The city is so satisfied with the work done in 2016 that officials applied for a similar county grant for 2017.
 
“It’s a real nail biter,” Starinsky says of the recent application, “because we’d like to try it again. We’re supporting our [new] businesses and those who have been here a while too.”

Shaker has a number of available commercial properties for lease.

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Cardboard Helicopter's would-be elves dream up toys, gadgets

The team at Cardboard Helicopter is always busy dreaming up new inventions and designs in their Lakewood workshop. Since launching in 2012, they've designed more than 349 products for their clients and their own interests.
 
Past inventions have included the Splash Infuser, a natural way to infuse fresh fruit into water and cocktails, and the Jokari self-sealing spout for oils and wine bottles. Now the team is getting into the toy market – just in time for the holidays.

“We did housewares for years, but I’ve always had a passion for toys,” says CEO and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Tim Hayes. “It’s just plain fun. It’s making things that make people smile.”
 
The firm’s clients have launched a variety of toys for the 2016 holiday season, most of which are available at big box retailers like Walmart, K-Mart, Home Depot and Amazon.
 
"We've been getting into the toy market and designing for some big brands," says Hayes.
 
For instance, Walmart is now offering the Tricerataco holder, a stand-and-stuff taco holder Cardboard Helicopter designed for KidsFunWares. “The triceratops’ back is a perfect little taco holder and kids can play with it after they eat,” says Hayes. “We invent it and then we license it out.”
 
Then there’s a series of two-wheeled scooters and bikes the team designed for California-based Pulse Performance Products – a stand-up scooter designed to appeal to both boys and girls while attending to safety, and the Safe Start Transform rechargeable electric scooter for riders ages six and older with two speeds and a rechargeable battery.
 
“We designed a version for an older kid, but [Pulse] wanted it to be youthful,” says Hayes, noting that both scooters can be found at outlets such as Target.
 
Then Pulse asked Hayes to come up with an authentic, kid-sized chopper motorcycle. The result is the Chopster E-Motorcycle – designed to mirror a Harley Davidson, the bike has high handlebars, street-worthy tires, a rechargeable battery and sleek lines.
 
“We designed the look and feel of this little bike,” says Hayes of the Chopster, which is selling on like mad at places like Home Depot and Amazon.
 
For adults, Cardboard Helicopter redesigned a series of tools for Smith’s Consumer Products, an Arkansas-based hunting and camping products manufacturer. “They were kind of dated and wanted a while new look and feel,” says Hayes of the project. The result was a sharpener-and-knife tool, and the multipurpose tool, Pak Pal.
 
The small but mighty team of six - which goes up to eight when demand increases - is also entering the pet market, with offerings such as the Critter key chains, an LED-lit animated key chain for finding key holes and doing other small tasks in the dark. Fitting as the company mascot, a pooch named Penny, keeps watch over the Lakewood digs where the team aims to keep designing new products.
 
“We design anything,” Hayes boasts. “We meet to brainstorm once a week on new ideas. “We have a collaborative spirit here, designing new ideas by designing backwards. We turn our sketches into products and then say to our clients’ hey what are you looking for?’”
 
What’s next for Cardboard Helicopter? It all depends on what the team dreams up. “We focus heavily on design and fill the gaps for our customers who like to outsource that aspect,” Hayes says. “And we can do it rapidly.”

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  
 
But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand.
 
The season kicks off today with May Dugan's annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.
 
“It’s out biggest distribution of the year,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. GIE Media sponsors the distribution, while Platform Beer Co. stores the birds until distribution day.
 
Then on Thursday, Dec. 1, the holiday season really gears up as May Dugan adorns the 35-foot-high tree on the corner of Randall Road and Bridge Avenue – one of the tallest trees in Ohio City – with thousands of lights.
 
More than 400 people are expected to gather around the tree for the seventh annual lighting ceremony and May Dugan open house from 5 to 7 p.m. The joy of the season will be spread by the Urban Community School Choir and Mae Dugan’s Rhythm and Roots Senior Choir, formed out of a partnership with the Music Settlement’s music therapy program..
 
“The seniors here really enjoy performing,” says Trares of the choir. “The songs are important but their attention to the details is also important. They really like to go all-out and they take great pride in it.” For instance, last year the group dressed in all black and wore Santa hats.
 
There will also be kids’ crafts, a raffle and refreshments. “It’s a nice event that culminates in front of the building with the lighting of the tree,” says Trares. “It has become a tradition now.”
 
After the tree lighting Jukebox, 1404 W. 29th St., will host an after-party from 7 to 9 p.m. A portion of the total bar tab will go back to May Dugan. “Grab a little bit of food, a couple of drinks and support May Dugan,” encourages Trares. Both the tree lighting ceremony and after-after party are free and open to the public.
 
May Dugan's annual Adopt-A-Family program helps make the holidays a little brighter for select clients who have made progress in the center’s various programs. Thanks to sponsors who adopt a family and receive demographic information and a list of gift ideas, each selected family gets a few gifts to put under the tree.
 
“It gives a motivating factor to keep going,” says Trares of the program, adding that the requests are usually for practical items. Last year 160 people were served, thanks to 11 different sponsor groups. Trares says May Dugan now adds children’s books with all gifts donated. Interested sponsors can contact Trares to sign up.
 
“Holidays when folks are in need can be really tough,” says Trares, “Parents work around the clock and hear all the talk about Christmas gifts, and the kids see the commercials. I’m glad we’re able to fill that gap at this time of year and make it a little more special.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Wrecking ball kicks off celebration, clears way for new downtown Shaker

After years of planning and infrastructure improvements, all that remains of the Van Aken Center will come down this weekend to make way for the new Van Aken District.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the city, RMS Investment Corporation, representatives of Cuyahoga County, ODOT and the merchants in the new district will host the New Starts Now Demolition Celebration.
 
“We will look back a little and then look forward,” says Shaker Heights economic development director Tania Menesse. “Van Aken Center basically looks like it did in the 50s when it was built. It took a long time to get to this point, and then it happens really quickly.”
 
The whole redevelopment was first initiated with the city’s strategic investment plan in 2000 and is on schedule to be completed by June 2018.
 
The celebration begins with a wrecking ball taking the first swing at the shopping center on the north side of Van Aken. When the demolition is complete, the only remaining structure at Van Aken Center will be the former Fresh Market, which will become the food hall in the new Van Aken District.
 
The rest of the space will be reborn as 100,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, 60,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 100 apartments. The current parking lot at Van Aken Center will be a public park. A 325-car parking garage will be erected to supplement a 70-car lot and street parking.
 
Additionally, much attention has been trained on the public transportation hubs in the area as well as creating a cycling and pedestrian friendly infrastructure.
 
After the wrecking ball takes its swing, the New Starts Now party continues with a celebration and welcome from tenants of Shaker Plaza on the south side of Van Aken and in the Shops of Chagrin on Chagrin Boulevard.
 
“This is an event to thank the community for their patience and let them know the best is really yet to come,” says Menesse.
 
The event includes shopping, food and drink from vendors such as Pearl Asian Kitchen, J. Pistone, Rising Star Coffee, Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, Nina Lau'rens Cakepops, and Restore Cold Pressed Juice. Goldhorn Brewery will provide adult beverages and music will be provided by By Light We Loom. Proceeds from the sale of Goldhorn Brewery beer will benefit the local non-profit organization, Christ Episcopal Church.
 
Many of the previous tenants of Van Aken Center, including Pearl, Donato’s Pizza, Subway, MoroPhoto and Frames Unlimited, have already moved over to Van Aken Plaza, while established tenants like QDoba, Walgreens and Juma Gallery continue to operate during the construction.
 
“We encourage the community and all of Cleveland to come see this,” says Menesse, adding that construction will not interfere with access to the existing businesses. “We want to make sure the larger community knows all of these are open for business.”
 
Many future tenants will host pop-up shops, including Tremont-based clothing retailer Evie Lou, which will open its first east side location at Van Aken District. Other newcomers to the district include men’s clothing stores Whiskey Grade and Brigade, Mark Anthony Salon and Day Spa and New Balance.
 
Families are invited to explore the new and pop-up stores via the “Be an Original” treasure hunt, which takes seekers on a quest for prizes through District stores. “People can go into every store to get something fun,” explains Menesse. “It’s a fun way to get people to explore the businesses in Shaker Plaza.”
 
The will be other family friendly activities, such as Face Painting by Suzanne, sponsored by Le Chaperon Rouge childcare, which will be opening a Shaker location in September 2017.
 
Cleveland Heights public artist Debbie Presser is organizing a community art project at the event. Attendees are invited to come draw, decorate and paint on a 16-foot long canvas. The work will ultimately be incorporated into a permanent public art piece in the Van Aken District.
 
In the meantime, Andrea Wedren, marketing and event coordinator with Boom, says the public work will be displayed along the construction site fencing. “People can just come and doodle and create, then we will take what is created and use it in the construction site,” she says. “It will be included in the [permanent] piece and be inspiration for the permanent piece.”
 
The demolition ceremony begins at 12 p.m. For best viewing of the wrecking ball’s impact, gather in the former Starbucks site at the corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center Road. The festivities then move inside at 12:30 p.m. - next to Pearl Asian Kitchen at 20156 Van Aken Blvd - and continue until 5 p.m.
 
Juma Gallery, 20100 Chagrin Blvd., will host an after party from 6 to 8 p.m. with wine, beer, small plates and music by Jim Carr.
 
The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at Shaker Plaza or in the lot on Farnsleigh Road.
 
"This whole effort is to create a true downtown for the community,” says Menesse. “I really think this is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Silent auction, mingling, 70's Soul Ball to support Glenville revitalization

For years, the Glenville neighborhood, just steps from the cultural attractions of University Circle, struggled with a reputation of being poor, rundown and just plain desolate.

When the Famicos Foundation took over as community development corporation for the neighborhood in January 2014, the organization set out to do what it does best: “Create an engaged, vibrant, diverse, healthy neighborhood; where residents decide to stay, invest, and help shape a neighborhood of choice.”
 
In leading Glenville’s revitalization, Famicos developed a My Glenville Master Plan in March 2015 to improve housing, spur economic development and create a place that engages its residents.
 
“We want a neighborhood we can call home,” explains Famicos executive director John Anoliefo. “There’s a perception [about Glenville] we want to debunk. The ultimate goal is the transformation of Glenville into a mixed income neighborhood of choice in Northeast Ohio.”
 
To begin implementing the master plan, Famicos is having a two-part fundraiser this Thursday, Oct. 27 at MOCA, 11400 Euclid Ave.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Famicos officials and neighborhood representatives will present “Growing Glenville” to go over plan implementation, hand out awards and encourage residents to get involved in the revitalization plan.
 
“We want as many people as possible to get our message,” says Anoliefo, “and the massage is: We need you - all hands on deck. When great people work together, great things happen.”
 
Then, from 7 to 11 p.m. Famicos will host the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball with DJ Knyce and a live band. “People will have fun,” Anoliefo says, adding that he hopes for a full house.
 
One of the main objectives of the Growing Glenville initiative is to get additional feedback from residents on what they want to see happen in the neighborhood. Anoliefo says they have spent the past year soliciting input from residents about what the neighborhood needs.
 
He concedes that while the neighborhood has gone through its hardships, it continues to be a stalwart home of lifelong residents. “Like most urban areas in the city, particularly in the Rust Belt, it needs a renaissance,” Anoliefo says. “But it’s still well-regarded. We have to retain the people who have weathered the storm,”
 
Anoliefo says the housing stock – many homes are boarded up, abandoned, or in disrepair – needs to be improved, but nonetheless includes classic architecture. “They are beautiful homes,” he says. “We still need to attract people who can take care of them because they are beautiful, but a bit large. The housing stock is second to none.”
 
Anoliefo also says they need to attract a good mix of people and this fundraiser is intended to do exactly that. “Solid Gold is kind of an intergenerational event that brings everyone together,” he explains. “We’ll have young professionals, long-time residents and first time residents. They can learn about Glenville, its assets and all Glenville has to offer.”
 
The event will also be an opportunity for Famicos staff to introduce themselves, the organization, and the master plan to the residents, Anoliefo says. “We need the people we are serving to tell us what they want,” he adds.
 
Famicos has already orchestrated some neighborhood activities to bring residents together. This past summer monthly Gather in Glenville block parties along E. 105th Street between Superior and Ashbury Avenues on Sunday afternoons offered food, music and a chance for residents to get to know one another.
 
“It’s a neighborhood of friendly people, a neighborhood where everyone’s welcome,” says Anoliefo. “There was a time when neighbors knew their neighbors, and this brings old and young together. People are beginning to talk to one another.”
 
The organization also began offering free legal services for those who need advice, as well as the summertime Gateway 105 Farmers’ Market. Another program targets neighborhood youth -- paying better than minimum wage for mowing lawns.
 
Growing Glenville and the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball will have heavy appetizers and drinks, as well as a 50-50 raffle and a silent auction. Tickets are $150 for both events; $75 for young professionals; or $25 for just the Solid Gold Soul Ball. All proceeds will go toward implementation of the Glenville Master Plan.
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