Historical charm: New campaign hopes to bring businesses, residents to Erieview District

With a dense variety of buildings and businesses downtown between East 9th and East 12th Streets and Euclid and Lakeside Avenues, economic development agencies Team NEO and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) have launched a campaign to bring businesses, tenants, and overall activity to the newly-designated Erieview Historic District.

The effort began last week to draw talent, investment, and new commercial tenants to the district with a series of sponsored content on LinkedIn targeted at business and real estate and site selection professionals. A dedicated online portal will also feature additional information about the Erieview Historic District.

“We’re really excited to do this pilot co-branding marketing piece," says Christine Nelson, vice president of project management, strategies, and talent for Team NEO.  “We’re always selling the region and we highlight sites in more general terms, but we’re doing something specific with the Erieview Historic District that is new.”

Nelson says they will target C-level executives who are in professional services industries where it makes sense to be downtown. Ideally, she says they will target people who have ties to Cleveland.

 For instance, she cites the luring of New York-based Fund That Flip, an online investment firm for short-term residential real estate, to the Warehouse District last year for the company’s back-office work. Company founder and CEO Matt Rodak went to John Carroll University, so he already knew the costs of office space and talented staff was lower than New York, so the location made sense.

“We’re trying some different things out,” Nelson says. “Hopefully, we will learn some things and get some projects. Then we’ll scale.”

With Erieview’s historic status that it earned earlier this year, existing and prospective property owners are eligible for federal and state historic tax credits and the city’s Historic Conservation Easement Program, which is co-administered by the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation.

Michael Deemer, interim president and CEO of DCA, says Erieview Historic District is the 10th historic district downtown, with 28 buildings in the neighborhood on the Historic Register mixed with 20th Century buildings and new construction. A total of 270 buildings contribute to historic districts in downtown Cleveland.

“We have newly-refurbished buildings, buildings that could be refurbished with tax credits, and new construction,” says Deemer. “The Erieview Historic District is the first historic district in the country to have mid-20th Century buildings and be recognized as an historic district,” he adds.

For example, Deemer cites 45 Erieview is an example of a more recently constructed building in the district, while The Residences at 1717 is an example of a mid-20th century former office building that the K&D Group converted into a mixed-use building with apartments and ground floor retail utilizing federal and state historic tax credits.

Other anchor buildings include the Tower at Galleria, 45 Erieview (E. 9th and Lakeside), 1111 Superior (former Eaton building), Oswald Center, and AE Commerce Building

The Erieview area was originally designed in 1960 by famed architect I.M. Pei as an urban renewal effort to move downtown’s focus to the lakefront.

“What captured the attention of the National Register of Historic Places is, Erieview Historic District is really rooted in I.M. Pei’s vision of what the area could become, but a lot of it went unrealized,” says Deemer, who adds the plan doesn’t fit the mixed-use designs expected today. “One of the cool things about it is we can use that as a building block to attract businesses—transform it from a 20th Century office district to a mixed-use district.”

Walnut Wednesday will return to Perk Plaza every week beginning Wednesday, June 2.With more than six million square feet of office space and significant adaptive reuse and development potential, the neighborhood offers proximity to Downtown retail, lakefront views, high-speed fiber, cultural and entertainment amenities, and public transit running regularly.

“We have an amount of square footage available right now in a variety of buildings—from the top floor with lakefront views to smaller office space on the street level,” says Nelson, adding that the amount of residential space downtown adds to the draw. “We have newly-refurbished buildings, buildings that could be refurbished with tax credits, and new construction.”

Deemer agrees, adding, “The district has multimodal transportation options, walkability to amenities, and has any kind of space—from small creative spaces to larger blocks of space for bigger businesses.”

Moving forward, Deemer says residents will see a lot of activity around Erieview this summer—adding to the potential draw.

“Much is happening over the next couple of months that will add vibrancy and value to the district,” he says. “Walnut Wednesday will return to Perk Plaza every week beginning Wednesday, June 2. RTA will launch a redesign of its system on June 13 that will bring more frequent convenient service through the heart of the district.”

Plans are in the works to build protected bike lanes along the Superior Avenue midway. “This will all help transform the Erieview Historic District into Downtown Cleveland’s next great mixed-use neighborhood,” says Deemer.

Deemer says DCA and Team NEO plan to keep touting Erieview as the district grows and becomes what he envisions as a thriving downtown, with East 4th Street, Playhouse Square, Euclid, and the Warehouse District.

“Erieview Historic District has the opportunity to be the next great mixed-use area in downtown,” he says. “That’s the vision Erieview Historic Distrist is to become—a downtown region, the heart of the region.”

“It’s a great opportunity where we are in this moment in time. Everyone is enthusiastic about downtown—people are discovering it again.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.