nuCLEus and Centennial projects may start this summer

The grand lobby of The Centennial, formerly the Huntington
Bank, is only a part of what was the largest bank lobby in the
world when the building was completed as the Union Trust
Bank in 1924. The Millennia Companies proposes a luxury
hotel, restaurant, condominiums and affordable apartments
in the 1.3-million-square-foot structure (LoopNet).

Two major development projects in downtown Cleveland could get underway this summer. And we’re not just talking about the 23-story City Club Apartments, the 75 Public Square renovation NEOtrans reported on last November, or the site preparations for Sherwin-Williams’ new headquarters tower on Public Square that NEOtrans nailed months before it was announced.

Not only are those projects still “go,” but so may be the duo of 24-story, new-construction towers comprising the long-planned nuCLEus development. And so might the massive reconstruction of 925 Euclid Ave. into The Centennial be a go. According to several sources who spoke off the record, both projects are on track for the start of construction this summer.

No new features are known for nuCLEus as of yet, but two sources said that The Centennial, a 21-story, 1.3-million-square-foot former office building, is proposed to be renovated with a J.W. Marriott Hotel. That would be Cleveland’s first five-star hotel brand since the 17-story Omni International Hotel was demolished in 2000 for the InterContinental Hotel, 9801 Carnegie Ave.

The luxury hotel would reportedly replace much of The Centennial’s 400,000-square-foot office component that was on the outs, per recent media reports. The office component is no longer being actively marketed according to a listing on LoopNet which says the “Property is in the progress stages of development. Office space to become available in the near future.” Retail spaces are still being actively marketed, however.

Proposed since 2014 and revised from a 54-story skyscraper
to two 24-story buildings, nuCLEus may be approaching a
summer groundbreaking according to sources (Stark).

The number of hotel rooms isn’t known, but would benefit from the growing employment downtown, including that of Fortune 500 companies — highlighted by the new Sherwin-Williams HQ and the recent combination of Cleveland Cliffs plus AK Steel.

The Millennia Companies also plans to establish a high-end restaurant in the former Huntington Bank lobby. It would be similar in luxury to Millennia’s popular Marble Room restaurant it opened in 2017 in the former National City Bank lobby, 623 Euclid Ave.

A showcase of luxury automobiles, including historical ones from the nearly 100 years of The Centennial’s lifespan, is proposed in the other wing of old bank building’s massive lobby, once the world’s largest. Upstairs, 68 high-end condominiums are planned, as well.

Interestingly, Millennia also reportedly will seek to expand the project’s workforce housing component — ie: affordable apartments — amid all that luxury. That will bring into the project 4 percent noncompetitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits to be sought from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. At last report, The Centennial’s estimated project cost was $270 million.

In the larger wing of The Centennial’s Grand Lobby, a show-
case of luxury automobiles is proposed. It would add to the
ambiance of the structure, once the world’s second-largest
office building — only Chicago’s Merchandise Mart was
bigger. Also adding to the ambiance could be a five-star
J.W.?Marriott Hotel, according to sources (LoopNet).

Both The Centennial and nuCLEus were considered likely candidates for the Transformational Mixed Use Development (TMUD) tax credit legislation inching its way through the Ohio General Assembly over the past few years. That legislation could be forwarded to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature as early as next week.

And perhaps some or all aspects of nuCLEus and Centennial may still be candidates for the TMUD credit, if passed and implemented in a timely manner. But Stark Enterprises apparently has enough capital in hand and pledged to start activating contractors for nuCLEus as does Millennia to refine work schedules for The Centennial.

Indeed, the TMUD credit legislation was originally written by a law firm at the request of Stark to provide a new source of capital financing for significant real estate improvements that would cause a positive ripple effect on the surrounding neighborhood and city.

Messages left for Millennia Chief Executive Officer Frank Sinito with his media spokesperson Valerie Jerome were not returned as of March 16. The messages requested confirmation, comment and more information about a possible start of renovation and adaptive work this summer.

Stark Enterprises’ cryptic Twitter
message “#StayTuned” regarding
nuCLEus combined with informa-
tion from sources offers new hope
that that the planned $354 million
real estate development still has
a verifiable pulse (Twitter).

Ezra Stark, Chief Operating Officer for Stark Enterprises, replied to an e-mail from NEOtrans two weeks ago offering to “touch base next week to discuss” questions about a summer groundbreaking for nuCLEus. But he did not respond to three subsequent e-mails as of yet to learn more details.

Sinito and Stark are likely awaiting news about the passage of the TMUD tax credit before confirming any rumors about two of the largest projects in their companies’ respective histories.

And both men are also focused on the same thing that many corporate executives are focused in this ever-evolving coronavirus crisis — establishing employees in settings where they can be productive yet adhere to federal and state social distancing requirements. But it is encouraging that executives at real estate companies are reportedly still moving forward with their plans and projects.

It is not yet known if there will be any new aspects to Stark’s plans for the $354 million nuCLEus project, featuring two 24-story towers. One tower would have offices and the other apartments, both built atop a pedestal of parking and retail. Additional renderings were released by real estate broker Cresco last October.

On Oct. 17, 2011, Huntington Bank was in the
midst of packing up its bank teller operations
and offices at the Grand Lobby of 925 Euclid
Avenue. Days later, the magnificent lobby
would close to the public (KJP).

Stark Enterprises stirred new intrigue about nuCLEus Feb. 7 with a Twitter exchange that originally surrounded Sherwin-Williams’ headquarters news. It started with Stark Enterprises congratulating Cleveland’s 154-year-old corporate citizen and its hometown for putting the new headquarters here.

“Great news! Congrats to @SherwinWilliams and @CityofCleveland. The future is looking very bright in CLE! #ItsAllHappeningHere” Stark’s official Twitter account tweeted.

In response, self-described Cleveland fanatic Mitch Rackovan tweeted to Stark “Your turn! #nuCLEus” which netted a cryptic reply from Stark Enterprises’ official Twitter account: “#StayTuned.”


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