University Circle is becoming Cleveland’s “other downtown” again

A 24-story high-rise by a partnership of Chicago and Cleveland
developers will become the tallest building in University Circle
in a couple of years, adding to the skyline of Cleveland’s “other
downtown” (FitzGerald). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE


In a couple of years, the skyline of University Circle is going to look quite different. Not only will it be taller, but it will be more active at street level. And the economic and investment impact resulting from this booming district is spreading beyond the Euclid Avenue spine including into some long-troubled neighborhoods.

Cleveland’s University Circle has been the second-largest employment center of Greater Cleveland for decades as Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and other institutions and business spin-offs have grown. Today, it is the fourth-largest employment center in Ohio, trailing only the downtowns of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Now that growth is becoming more visible at a distance. In September 2018, the first 20-story tower in the district was formally opened — One University Circle, 10730 Euclid Ave. It was also the first residential high rise of 20 stories or more to be built in Cleveland in more than 40 years. It has heralded a boom of residential towers locally — a gift that keeps on giving.

Since September 2018, the 29-story Beacon opened and the 34-story Lumen will open this fall. Both of those are downtown. So is the next residential high-rise — the 23-story City Club Apartments that will start construction this summer.

But starting construction shortly afterwards, on or about July 1, will be the 24-story Circle Square tower. When it tops out in two years at nearly 300 feet tall, it would become the tallest tower in University Circle.

University Circle’s two tallest buildings are visible in this view
looking east along Euclid Avenue from East 105th Street. At
right is Cleveland Clinic’s 16-story Walker Center built in 1984.
Beyond is UC’s current height champion, the 20-story One Uni-
versity Circle apartment tower, built in 2018 and already 95 per-
cent leased. At the left?is Fenway Manor. In front of it is the site
for?the planned, 11-story Library Lofts building?(Google).

If that doesn’t sound heady enough for you, consider that these next two apartment towers are being spearheaded by out-of-state investors. City Club Apartments is a chain based in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Circle Square’s as-yet nameless skyscraper would rise on land locally owned by Midwest Development Partners and supported by Midwest’s Cleveland ally, Ponski Capital Partners. But the tower itself is being designed and built by the Chicago-based team of White Oak Realty Partners and FitzGerald Associates Architects.

A real estate industry insider who spoke off the record said White Oak Realty representatives were considering putting up a high-rise apartment tower on Midwest-owned land across East 9th Street from Progressive Field? in downtown Cleveland. The property includes the three-story, 1880-built Utica Building.

Instead, that property is being sold to GBX Group, a company that specializes in redeveloping historic structures. White Oak Realty was looking at other sites downtown, too, the insider said.

But White Oak Realty considered University Circle more of an untapped market for modern high-rise housing. One University Circle, a 276-unit luxury apartment building that opened less than two years ago is already 95 percent full, said Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle Inc. (UCI).

The scale of Library Lofts is best appreciated when compared
to surrounding buildings, like the 13-story, 153-foot-tall Fen-
way Manor apartment building that was renovated in 2019 for
$16 million. Construction of Library Lofts is due to start on
or about July 1 of this year (Bialosky).

Construction on the new 24-story is due to occur simultaneously with Midwest’s 11-story Library Lofts development, 10553 Euclid. However, city officials want Library Lofts to start first because its first two floors will contain the new MLK Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

It will replace the 50-year-old MLK Branch Library next door which will be closed and demolished in two years after the new library opens. The old library property will then become part of a future phase of the Circle Square development

“The city asserted that Library Lofts will start first,” Ronayne said. “But it could be that they put shovels in the ground for Library Lofts on one day and perhaps the high-rise tower starts the next day. Midwest says there’s economies of scale by doing both projects at the same time.”

Library Lofts is one piece of Midwest’s vision for its 5-acre Circle North development. It will add 207 apartments while the Circle North skyscraper will contribute another 298 apartments. In total, the 505 units could bring another 700 to 800 residents to University Circle and attract more restaurants, cafes and retailers to the area between MLK Boulevard/Stearn Road and East 105th Street.

Two demolitions occurred in December and January for the two new apartment buildings. A former police station at Chester and East 107th was razed for the new skyscraper. Meanwhile a small business, All Auto & Tire, 10541 Euclid, made way for Library Lofts.

Midwest Development Partners’ vision for its Circle Square
development, as of summer 2019. The scale of Library Lofts
is accurately?portrayed in this massing, but the southwest
corner of Chester Avenue and East 107th?Street is not. A
short building is shown where?White Oak Realty plans to
build its 24-story tower.?Two more towers are proposed
between East 107th and MLK Boulevard (Bialosky).

Future phases of Circle Square could involve new construction on the site of the existing MLK Library, as well high-rise towers between East 107th and MLK Boulevard. That latter will require closing streets that county records show are already under the ownership of Midwest. The city sold the land in 2017.

Decades ago, the land was the site of the Elysium, built in 1907 as the largest indoor ice skating rink in the world. After World War II, the rink was converted to a used car dealership before it was acquired by the city in 1951 and demolished for high-speed turning lanes for Chester.

University Circle, especially the Doans Corners area where Euclid intersected with East 105th, was considered Cleveland’s second downtown for a century. Doans Corners hummed with activity from five vaudeville/movie theaters, multiple mid-rise residential hotels, 24-hour restaurants and shopping plus the intersection of two of the city’s busiest streetcar lines. The area decayed and was completely demolished by Cleveland Clinic in the 1960s and 1970s.

Additional developments are brewing in and near University Circle, including a potential expansion of Finch Group’s Innova development on the north side of Chester, west of East 105th. Innova features 177 apartments, 23,000 square feet of retail and a 160-room Residence Inn hotel.

Finch is reportedly assembling land north of Innova for future development while preserving the historic Newton Avenue district. The development that Finch is pursuing will primarily be residential but could include some office or retail in it as well. It could push north to near Hough Avenue where Signet Real Estate Group’s 163-unit Axis At Ansel apartment building is under construction.

Demolition of the police station at 10600 Chester Ave. was
underway on Jan. 11. A 24-story apartment tower is due to
be built in its place. In the background is?Fenway Manor
and, at left, One University Circle?(DownWithCtown).

Finch recently proposed?two 11-story residential buildings in University Circle. One was a narrow 20-unit condo building on land the company owns at 10570 Park Lane next to its Park Lane Villa apartments. That project is on indefinite hold.

The other is a development dubbed Infinium on the site of a former Centers for Dialysis Care facility, 11717 Euclid, now owned by UCI. The project’s original design as an 11-story building with significant ground-floor retail surrounded by 32 townhouses may change. Ronayne described the development site as a “hot iron” but couldn’t disclose details as negotiations are still continuing.

There are 25 buildings that are 100 feet tall or taller in University Circle right now, including One University Circle, the district’s tallest. See the list following this article that briefly describes each of these of buildings and ranks them according to their height in feet.

“The skyline is continuing to rise in University Circle,” Ronayne said. “There’s only one way to go and that’s up because land is getting scarce.”


Thanks to Cleveland Skyscrapers, Emporis and GoogleEarth for information for this list of University Circle buildings that are 100 feet tall or taller:

1. Circle Square tower – 2022 (planned)
Fitzgerald Associates Architects
24 floors – Approx 280 feet
Chester Ave. at East 107th St.

2. One University Circle – 2018
Dimit Architects
20 floors – 234 Feet
10730 Euclid Ave.

3. W.O. Walker Center – 1984
Collins Gordon Bostwick
16 floors – 208 feet
10524 Euclid Ave.

4. Church in the Circle (Epworth Euclid Methodist Church) – 1928
Bertram Goodhue/Walker & Weeks
200 feet
1919 E. 107th St.

5. Crile Building, Cleveland Clinic – 1985
Cesar Pelli and Associates
15 floors – 198 feet
2049 E. 100th St.

6. G Building, Cleveland Clinic – 1986
van Dijk Westlake Reed Leskosky
12 floors – 192 feet
2062 Clinic Dr.

7. Abington Arms – 1978
Unknown architect
14 floors – 181 feet
11501 Mayfield Rd.

8. Ambleside Towers, CMHA – 1978
Unknown architect
14 floors – 181 feet
2190 Ambleside Dr.

9. Tudor Arms/Cleveland Club – 1931
Frank Meade
12 floors – 180 feet
10660 Carnegie Ave.

10. James A. Garfield Memorial – 1890
George W. Keller
180 feet
12316 Euclid Ave.

11. InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center – 2003
Brennan, Beer, Gorman
13 floors – 176 feet
9801 Carnegie Ave.

12. Judson Manor/Wade Park Manor – 1922
George B. Post & Sons
11- floors 175 feet
1890 E. 107th St.

13. Seidman Cancer Center, University Hospitals – 2011
Cannon Design
9 floors – 172 feet
11100 Euclid Ave.

14. Lerner Tower, University Hospitals – 1997
Payette Associates
13 floors – 155 feet
11100 Euclid Ave.

15. One Triangle Place apartments – 1987
Unknown architect
12 floors – 155 feet
11457 Mayfield Rd.

16. Carnegie Tower at Fairfax/Antioch Towers – 1976
Unknown architect
12 floors – 155 feet
8920 Carnegie Ave.

17. First Church of Christ, Scientist Bell Tower – 1931
Walker & Weeks
155 feet
2200 Overlook Rd.

18. Fenway Manor apartments – 1923
Unknown architect
13 floors – 153 feet
1986 Stokes Blvd.

19. Clarke Tower, CWRU – 1967
Unknown architect
11 floors – 142 feet
1596 E. 115th St.

20. Library Lofts – 2022 (planned)
11 floors – Approx 140 feet
10553 Euclid Ave.

21. Commodore Place Apartments – 1926
Unknown architect
12 floors – 133 feet
1990 Ford Dr.

22. Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion, Cleveland Clinic – 2008
10 Floors – 130 feet
9500 Euclid Ave.

23. Richard F. Celeste Biomedical Research Building, CWRU – 1992
Payette Associates, Inc.
10 floors – 130 feet
2109 Adelbert Rd.

24. Staley House, CWRU – 1967
Unknown architect
10 floors – 122 feet
2365 Murray Hill Rd.

25. S Building, Cleveland Clinic – 1932
Unknown architect
12 floors – 121 feet
2026 Clinic Dr.

26. Amasa Stone Chapel, CWRU – 1910
Henry Vaughn
121 feet
10940 Euclid Ave.

27. Holiday Inn – 2016
Unknown architect
9 floors – 115 feet
8650 Euclid Ave.

28. Peter B. Lewis Building, CWRU – 2002
Gehry Partners
5 floors – 110 feet
11119 Bellflower Rd.


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