Commercial Development Awards 2017

There’s a flurry of new real estate activity in Northeast Ohio. Just drive around the region and you can’t help but notice that nearly everywhere you look, something is under construction — whether it’s at University Circle, Gordon Square, the Detroit Shoreway or right in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

This not-so-subtle commercial development renaissance has numerous participants — land and property owners, corporations, development companies, architects — and each has its own focus: corporate headquarters, mixed-use developments, renovation of dilapidated property, restoration of historic buildings.

On June 15, Smart Business will present a lively panel discussion featuring a key developer, Stark Enterprises President and CEO Robert Stark; financier, Citymark Capital founder and CEO Dan Walsh; and a top real estate broker, Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate’s Rico Pietro. This group will explore what’s driving this current development boom and talk about what it means to the region.

We will also recognize more than a dozen recent projects that are making a significant impact on the neighborhoods where they’re taking place —as well as the people and companies involved with bringing them to life. You can read more about these significant projects over the following pages.

■ Arhaus Furniture corporate headquarters and distribution center
■ BOSS Pro-Karting
■ Crocker Park
■ The Beacon
■ Eton Chagrin Boulevard
■ Portage Crossing
■ Link59
■ McKinley Place
■ Oatey Co. expansion project
■ Our Lady of Mercy
■ Dealer Tire corporate headquarters
■ Parker Hannifin Downtown YMCA
■ Saucisson
■ American Greetings corporate headquarters
■ The Edison at Gordon Square
■ The Veronika

Arhaus Furniture corporate headquarters
and distribution center
Premier Development Partners

Spencer Pisczak

Premier Development Partners faced a number of challenges to complete construction of a 775,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and distribution center for Arhaus Furniture on a 65-acre parcel in Boston Heights.

Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures in February 2015 forced the company to use multiple means of soil stabilization. Additionally, the office footprint was originally planned to be 37,500 square feet, but grew to 122,500 square feet during the design process. Premier also had to work closely with the community to appease neighboring homeowners who initially had concerns about the project.

Three decades of experience has positioned Premier, led by President Spencer Pisczak, to be able to deliver high-quality projects under tight deadlines, and do it on budget. The facility features a 15,000-square-foot mock store for staging and testing of new design concepts and merchandising ideas.

It was built in such a way that an additional 22,500 square feet of mezzanine space can be added for extra office space if it is needed. There is also potential to extend the warehouse. As it stands now, the Arhaus facility is the largest corporate headquarters and distribution center project in more than 30 years in the Greater Akron/Cleveland region.

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BOSS Pro-Karting
Weston Inc.

TJ Asher

Rob Namy

When Weston Inc. purchased a two-building site on Brookpark Road in Brook Park in 2015, the parcel appeared to have no future. It was a dilapidated location that had been vacant for years. However, Weston could see the potential based on the size of the land and its proximity to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Led by TJ Asher, the company’s president of acquisitions/development group, and COO Rob Namy, a meeting was arranged with Boss Pro-Karting, a company Weston knew was in the market for space. An adaptive reuse deal was negotiated and with the cooperation of the city, along with an incentive package, Weston was able to assemble a contract that was agreeable to everyone.

The company then facilitated the move of one of the building tenants. This allowed for both buildings to be torn down to make way for the brand-new 36,000-square-foot indoor karting facility with a large track that also brought 15 new jobs to Brook Park. The new building significantly boosted the curb appeal of the property.
Weston was able to create value where there previously was none, turning a decaying piece of land into a viable, income-producing property once again.

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Stark Enterprises

PROJECT: Crocker Park

Robert Stark

One of the biggest initial challenges Crocker Park faced was gaining the support of Westlake residents. The project required a referendum and many in the community were hesitant to welcome such a large-scale development to a city that was just starting to mature. Employees at Stark Enterprises, led by President and CEO Robert Stark, played a key role in addressing concerns and getting the buy in that allowed the project to move forward.

It began with construction of The Promenade, a 250,000-square-foot specialty strip center with a mix of national and local retailers, grocers and dining options. Crocker Park now spans more than 4 million square feet and annually welcomes nearly 20 million visitors.

It was built with a grid street plan to create the feel of a bustling urban downtown with ground-level retail, and second-story apartments and offices in buildings that vary in architecture. And it continues to grow — American Greetings recently relocated its Creative Studio headquarters to Crocker Park.

PROJECT: The Beacon

The Beacon represents the first new construction residential project in Cleveland’s central business district in decades and will soar 29 stories above the existing parking garage at 515 Euclid Ave. The project, which is expected to begin construction this month and open in the fall of 2018, will help address the growing need for downtown apartments.

Stark Enterprises will need to manage construction logistics in a high-density area of downtown. When it’s complete, it will provide 187 luxury residential unit, unobstructed views of Lake Erie and a rooftop dog park.

PROJECT: Eton Chagrin Boulevard

Today, Eton Chagrin Boulevard is Cleveland’s luxury fashion district — the place where authentic, one-of-a-kind boutiques and fine dining blend with the hippest national brands. Back in 2004 when the property was acquired by Stark Enterprises, it was a struggling mini mall that was nearly empty.

Stark saw the potential, however, and the mall is now filled with more than 20 premier independent businesses that include salons, unique clothing and accessory boutiques, and art and photography studios.
Many of these national brands did not come to Cleveland easily, but the team at Stark convinced the skeptics that it had a plan to make this the thriving retail hub that it is today.

PROJECT: Portage Crossing

Portage Crossing was part of a master plan to revitalize the portion of Cuyahoga Falls’ commercial core that does not sit on the water. The project was undertaken at State Road and Portage Trail to help bookend both ends of Portage Trail and better connect that district with the rest of the community. It would also infuse the city with some of the commercial assets it was lacking.

Stark Enterprises worked with the city on the project, attempting to balance resident expectations with a plan that would be attractive to tenants and best serve the community as a whole.

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Hemingway Development

Fred Geis

Jim Doyle

Link59 is part of an effort to continue to breathe new life into the Midtown Cleveland community. The 11-acre office campus, which occupies land between Chester Avenue and Euclid Avenue at E. 59th St., will create nearly 100,000 square feet of new office space on the parcel, as well as retail components. The Link59 building will be 61,000 square feet with both office and R&D space, and will sit along the Health-Tech Corridor on Euclid Avenue. Abundant free parking is available on site.

Another facet of the project is the acquisition and redevelopment of the former Ace Fixtures building into office and R&D space to continue leasing momentum in the Health-Tech Corridor. Building improvements will include exterior restoration, roof repairs, exterior paint, new windows and building systems replacement.

Among the challenges faced and overcome to make this project happen were the acquisition of both land and existing structures, financing and the securing of tenants. Link59 is expected to create an estimated 300 jobs and as much as $20 million per year in new salaries.

The project is a partnership of Hemingway Development, led by Principals Fred Geis and Jim Doyle, Geis Cos. and University Hospitals.

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McKinley Place
Liberty Development Co.

Tom Kuluris

Lakewood is known as the City of Homes because of its wide variety of housing types and sizes, many of which were built prior to 1940. The idea behind McKinley Place was to turn the nearly 3-acre site that was home to the former McKinley Elementary School into a productive part of the community once again.

Construction on the 40-unit attached townhome neighborhood on Lakewood’s west side began in October 2015. It was a joint effort between the city, the Lakewood Board of Education and Liberty Development Co., which is led by President Tom Kuluris.

One of the challenges on the project was to develop a design that was complementary to the Detroit Avenue commercial district as well as the existing residential neighborhood. This would have to be done on an unusually shaped parcel without the benefit of tax abatement.

The city clearly outlined these parameters from the beginning, facilitating an open and collaborative partnership between the city and Liberty Development. The units have been selling and the success of McKinley Place has prompted other communities to approach Liberty about partnering to use the same approach and creative design to build new in-fill neighborhoods in their cities.

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Oatey Co. expansion project
Oatey Co.

John McMillan

Oatey Co. has called Cleveland home for more than 100 years, but it took some effort to extend that partnership into a second century. The company opened in 1916 and manufactures products for the plumbing industry.

While Oatey has achieved excellent brand name recognition with consumers and wholesalers, the company was in need of additional space as its existing headquarters had become overcrowded and inefficient. Other communities were offering enticing incentive packages, so Cleveland had to sell itself as pro-business and work with the company to identify land that would meet Oatey’s needs at a competitive cost.

Led by CEO John McMillan, Oatey sought a location that had a suburban feel to it. The city identified a piece of property on the far west side near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport that was a good fit. The company built a 47,000-square-foot facility at Emerald Corporate Park that consolidated several departments into one location. Oatey expects to create an additional 20 full-time-equivalent salaried jobs at the headquarters, as well as 60 hourly jobs within the next four years.

In addition to financial assistance from the city, the project also received financial support from the state and political support from city and state officials.

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Our Lady of Mercy
MCM Co. Inc.

Missy Ferchill

Our Lady of Mercy church has a storied history in Cleveland. The church was established in 1922 serving the Catholic American-Slovak community. Four years later, an eight-room school was built. In 1958, the third and final building was constructed to serve as the rectory. The parish worshipped there until the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland closed the church in 2010 as part of a reorganization plan. However, that wasn’t the end of the story for Our Lady of Mercy.

In 2015, MCM Co. Inc. and Hermes Cleveland, a sports and event management firm, agreed to purchase the church from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. MCM President Missy Ferchill had previous experience transforming churches using historic tax credits and viewed Our Lady of Mercy as not only a new project, but as a new location for her business operations.

The project was eligible for both state and federal historic tax credits, which provided valuable equity to fund the work. The repurposing also received support from the Tremont West Development Corp. and the city of Cleveland’s vacant property initiative. It’s now home to several businesses and has set an example to churches in Cleveland and nationwide as to what can be done with these historic buildings.

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PROJECT: Dealer Tire corporate headquarters

inSITE Advisory Group

Jennifer Syx

inSITE Advisory Group played a key role in helping Dealer Tire find a site that would allow it to maintain its corporate headquarters in Cleveland. Led by President Jennifer Syx, inSITE, the economic development finance advisory services division of Welty Building Co. Ltd., also helped Dealer Tire secure tax credits for the new location on Euclid Avenue.

After experiencing 500 percent growth over a five-year period, Dealer Tire did not have enough parking at its former site on Chester Avenue to accommodate its workforce, which meant leasing remote parking areas that forced employees and visitors to walk to the headquarters. The company also incurred additional costs to provide full-time onsite security.

Dealer Tire began to evaluate its options, one of which was to move the company’s headquarters to Nashville. Fortunately for Cleveland, inSITE helped identify a new location in in its hometown and led the tax incentive negotiation with the city, the state and JobsOhio. The effort paid off as Cleveland provided an incentive package that includes tax increment financing, low-interest loans and grants totaling more than $6.5 million, mostly to help write down the costs of the parking garage construction.

Welty Building Co. Ltd.

Don Taylor

Welty Building Co. Ltd. was the construction manager for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified project to build a new corporate headquarters for Dealer Tire. The project was completed on budget and two months ahead of schedule.

One aspect of the project was the demolition of two buildings near Carnegie Avenue for the construction of the new parking garage. The project kept 400 existing jobs and created more than 100 new Dealer Tire jobs in Cleveland over the next three years.


Victory Midtown LLC

Ed Dunlap

The Dealer Tire lease at the Victory Building is expected to be a boon to the office market and to Midtown Cleveland’s image as a contender for investment. Victory Midtown LLC acquired the Victory Building and engaged in a substantial redevelopment effort to turn the historic property into a first-class development space.

Led by President Ed Dunlap, Victory bought property behind the building, acquiring the rest of the block between E. 70th and E. 71st streets and Euclid and Carnegie avenues. After clearing blighted buildings, there was enough room for a 650-space parking garage for Dealer Tire’s employees and visitors.

Just north of Victory Center, local investors are starting to clean up contaminated land for a hotel project. To the east, a Boston-based developer wants to build 23 townhomes, according to a proposal reviewed last year by the Cleveland City Planning Commission. And 11 blocks west, University Hospitals is constructing an outpatient health center for women and children. With the addition of offices and developments, the area is more attractive for retail developments including restaurants, coffee shops and other amenities.

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Parker Hannifin Downtown YMCA
YMCA of Greater Cleveland
Infinity Construction Company

Timothy Hilk

Nearly 62,000 people who work in downtown Cleveland are within a 10-minute walk of Parker Hannifin Downtown YMCA, just one of the advantages of this reclaimed facility spanning three levels off the south façade of the Galleria at Erieview.

The project required more than a year of planning to craft a scope that would meet the YMCA’s budget. President and CEO Timothy Hilk helped develop a plan that would work and then guided the project through a few challenges.

An internal three-story staircase had to be removed from one location, followed by the construction of a new grand staircase in another location. The underground parking structure supporting the aquatic center had to be modified, which required the installation of new steel framing and careful structural shoring. It was necessary to fabricate the stainless steel pool structure in pieces for on-site assembly. Efforts also had to be made to control both dust and noise throughout the work.

Parker Hannifin Downtown YMCA opened in March 2016 and received a warm reception. The new facility replaces the YMCA’s old downtown facility and membership has grown substantially from 900 to more than 2,000 members. It also revitalized the Galleria, bringing more business to the mall’s shops and food court.

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Sonny Day Development

Anthony J. Trzaska

Anthony J. Trzaska was born and raised in Slavic Village and is playing a key role in the neighborhood’s revitalization. In 2014, he brought his law practice and his new neighborhood development organization, Sonny Day Development, to Fleet Avenue.

After renovating a vacant building into a multi-use office space, Sonny Day quickly began recruiting businesses and now houses Triple Threat Press, Redfin and City Security.

During this time, another project was taking place a few blocks down Fleet Avenue. The former Jaworski Meats building was being renovated to welcome Saucisson, a butcher shop affectionately known to locals as the “lady butchers.”

Plans were developed to convert the 2,800-square-foot facility into a commercial space with a retail storefront, enabling Saucisson to focus on its wholesale production while also expanding into storefront sales. Trzaska partnered with Slavic Village Development (SVD) to create a community-oriented atmosphere similar to the glory days of Fleet Avenue.

This past summer, Sonny Day’s adjacent property became the new home for SVD’s farmers and maker market, producing even more community activity. Once known as the Polish, Czech and Slovenian neighborhood with a butcher or baker on every other street corner, Fleet Avenue seems primed for a small business revival.

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The American Greetings corporate headquarters
American Greetings

Jeff Weiss

Zev Weiss

Work on the American Greetings corporate headquarters project in Westlake has been a catalyst for further development at Crocker Park. American Greetings has brought 1,700 new employees to the city of Westlake who contribute payroll tax to the city. Additionally, the project itself created more than 2,400 jobs in construction, architecture, engineering and finishing work.

Groundbreaking took place in August 2014 and the official ribbon cutting for American Greetings Creative Studios was Sept. 28, 2016. The opening was delayed several weeks following the explosion of a large propane gas tank in March 2016 that caused damage to the headquarters building while it was under construction. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

The five-story, 660,000-square-foot building is located on 14.5 acres within Crocker Park and is a blend of brick, metal and glass. The building was designed by world-renowned architecture firm CallisonRTKL. The new Creative Studios project positions American Greetings, led by co-CEOs Zev and Jeff Weiss, for continued growth and adaptation to changing industry needs while providing an environment that more effectively supports the company’s creative and innovative culture.

In addition to the Creative Studios building, the Tech West annex building provides space for American Greetings associates, as well as conference rooms and other support functions. It also provides an area for future retail space. Both buildings are connected by an enclosed glass pedestrian bridge.

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The Edison at Gordon Square
The NRP Group LLC

Aaron Pechota

Mounting manufacturing job losses and shifting demographic patterns over a 30-year period pushed the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side into significant decline. By 1990, the neighborhood’s median home sale price was just $16,000. Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO), founded in 1973, was tasked with stabilizing the neighborhood’s prominent historic buildings and redeveloping the community.

Slow progress was made until the early 2000s, when the Gordon Square Arts District was created. The NRP Group LLC, led by Aaron Pechota, the firm’s senior vice president of development, quickly became a valued partner to the arts district and DSCDO, actively contributing to the revitalization of the neighborhood.

In 2012, NRP identified one of the neighborhood’s most promising, yet challenging development sites. Due diligence began on a 10-acre tract of obsolete industrial buildings on the bluffs of Lake Erie that would become the first market-rate investment in Cleveland. The multi-million dollar project led to the construction of The Edison at Gordon Square, which features 306 units of luxury apartment and townhouse living, as well as common areas, green space and public amenities, and was opened to tenants in April 2017.

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The Veronika
Scalish Construction

Frank Scalish

Scalish Construction has a unique market position, working to preserve the individual character of Greater Cleveland’s historic buildings while also bringing modern design and conveniences to the updates. Led by President Frank Scalish and CEO Maria Scalish, the firm recently purchased The Veronika, a historic 5,000-square-foot building in Lakewood’s Birdtown neighborhood. The building was originally constructed in 1915 by Michael and Veronika Turza, who lived there until they passed away.

When Scalish bought the building, he named it after the original owners. The renovation effort received a boost when Scalish Construction was awarded Lakewood’s first Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Scalish sought to preserve the historic nature of the building while also updating the interior, adhering to strict state and federal guidelines.

The firm also had to work with the city of Lakewood’s storefront renovation program, the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program and the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit program, which is reviewed by the National Park Service.

Scalish was able to uncover the original wood storefront exterior, and refinish and restore the parts that were intact. The firm also found maple hardwood floors throughout the building, which were preserved wherever possible. The project was completed on time and on budget, and has provided a boost to one of Lakewood’s historic neighborhoods.

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