Superior Arts District’s new tenant brings jobs, art to in renovated warehouse

Cleveland will welcome 600 more daily commuters in the fall of 2022 when CrossCountry Mortgage completes its $50 million renovation of three classic red brick buildings at Superior Avenue and East 21st Street in the Superior Arts District as its new headquarters.

CrossCountry Mortgage interior office renderingThe 168,000-square-foot campus at 2152-2160 Superior Ave., is bookended with two four-story warehouses and a low-slung connector building—built in the early 1900s. The company gutted the old warehouse to its brick walls for an interior renovation that features a sleek marble reception area, a two-story atrium capped by a skylight, a conference center, a 10,000-square-foot training center, an 8,000-square-foot state-of-the-art gym, and an open office area that boasts views of the Superior Arts District, where the company will be the largest employer.

“[CrossCountry Mortgage founder, president, and CEO] Ron Leonhardt, Jr. started this small business and had a dream and now decided, as a successful business owner who could go anywhere, to go back to Cleveland, said Ohio Lieutenant. Governor Jon Husted at the CrossCountry’s June 2021 groundbreaking ceremony. “Not everyone who is successful does that.”

Husted is “a big supporter” of the company’s move from its current Brecksville location to the city, says CrossCountry chief brand officer Laura Soave. Leonhardt got his start in Cleveland with the now-national company—in a 1,500 square-foot space.

“Ron loves shining a light on Cleveland,” says Soave. “Reprising something is important to him. He loves older spaces with lots of character.”

Soave says the company expects to grow and to fill out the new space, which will be able to accommodate its 600 full-time staff. The company outgrew its 10-year-old space in Brecksville and wanted to be closer to downtown Cleveland where real estate transactions have been on a steady climb, she adds.

CrossCountry Mortgage interior multi-purpose atrium rendering“Being in the city makes us walkable and able to attract other small businesses,” she says.

Those other businesses include local chefs. The company is planning to build a commercial kitchen that they will invite chefs to operate on a rotating basis, an on-site barista, and a grab and go café.

The renovation’s largest undertaking will be in restoring the exterior brick, masonry, and windows to match the historic character of the district, Turner Construction Company project executive Jack Kellogg confirmed in an email. Turner serves as the general contractor for the renovation.

Other updates will include adding air conditioning, new ADA-compliant elevators, more than 150 new windows, and a modern fire suppression system, says Soave.

“This project has been three years in the making,” she says, noting the time since Leonhardt first expressed interest in purchasing the building. “We’ve been working closely with the city, protecting and preserving the building.”

The original tenant of the building was a garment manufacturer, and the last tenant was TAP Packaging + Design, operating a packaging and warehouse facility that it took over from a Cleveland business known as The Chilcote Company, a manufacturer of paperboard products.


CrossCountry Mortgage interior office renderingPainting the District
The Superior Arts District has a colorful history—having served as Cleveland’s garment district in the late 19th and early 20th century, second only to New York. As Cleveland’s garment industry faded, many buildings along Superior and the surrounding area became vacant space or warehouses.

Today, those warehouses are finding new life for artists’ studios and companies like CrossCountry Mortgage moving in.

In showing its commitment to the historic district, CrossCountry is sponsoring a Paint the District art competition that will commission an artist to paint a large mural in the neighborhood.

Three of the four finalists have already been selected based on their portfolios, proposals submissions, and selection through voting through the Paint the District competition page. Voting continues until Thursday, June 30.

The three finalists already selected are Scott Goss, Pam Spremulli and April Bleakney. After the company announces the fourth finalist in July, they will compete for the $5,000 grand prize and an invitation to install a mural at the new company headquarters. The winner will be announced this fall.

“The Paint the District competition celebrates the re-emergence of this neighborhood as a cultural touchstone and has helped us connect with the artists and other neighbors who make this area so vibrant,” says Alicia Gauer, CrossCountry senior vice president of corporate communications said in a statement.

Read more articles by Marc Lefkowitz.

Marc Lefkowitz is a sustainability consultant with more than 15 years of experience writing, speaking and advocating for a more sustainable Northeast Ohio. He served as Director of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute and editor of its well-known blog at gcbl.org. He has a B.A. in English from Ohio State University and an M.A. in urban planning from Cleveland State University. He is a regular bike commuter and transit rider. Photo: Liz Cooper.