Demolition, groundbreaking this week for big Ohio City project

Market-Plaza-retail-strip-demolition
Site preparation is already under way, and demolition of the
Market Plaza retail strip will be followed by excavation of the
Ohio City site for the first phase of Harbor Bay’s huge Market
Square project. It’s across the street from the West Side Market,
seen in the background of this northward-looking view (KJP).
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Demolition work is scheduled to start today for the $140 million Intro phase of the Market Square development in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. But if you wanted to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for this mixed-use project, the coronavirus crisis has made that risky and unnecessary.

There’s still going to be a groundbreaking in the coming days, just not a ceremony, said Dan Whalen, vice president of design and development at Chicago-based Harbor Bay Realty Advisors LLC.

“No formal groundbreaking is scheduled at this point due to COVID-19,” he said. “We’re pushing onward quietly.”

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But not invisibly. Crews were busy in the past week with site preparation — putting up construction barriers and fencing around the roughly 2-acre site at Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street.

Also, workers have been installing larger sewers below West 25th, Lorain and Gehring avenues since March 23 to accommodate the 558,000-square-foot development. Most of that work was set by the city to occur during the overnight hours, scheduled before the pandemic and its sharp reduction of vehicular traffic made that workaround moot.

The project includes a 350,000-square-foot first phase, comprised of a nine-story residential building over ground-level retail and 550 below-ground parking spaces. When an anchor office tenant is signed, Harbor Bay will pursue a roughly 208,000-square-foot second phase in an 11- to 12-story building just south of the mostly residential first phase.

The suburban-scale Market Plaza has occupied the southeast
corner of Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street for more than
30 years. Larger-scale developments that would be more befit-
ting of this urban, high-profile site were proposed over the
years until the Ohio City residential market evolved to the
point where a large, mixed-use development like Market
Square finally became feasible (KJP).

Demolition of the 1989-built Market Plaza retail strip will take only a few days. Once the debris is cleared, construction crews will start excavating the site for the underground parking garage, Whalen said.

Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack said he remembered the first rendering that came out for the site from a different developer in 2013.

“Seven years later, it’s beyond exciting to see that work is starting,” McCormack? said. “West 25th and Lorain is one of the best locations in the City of Cleveland and it will finally be the intersection it deserves to be. This corner is now reaching its potential.”

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At the intersection is the iconic West Side Market, the United Bank Building, Market Ave/Market Sq. Park and now a bustling mixed-use, transit-oriented development, he said.

The first phase consists of a 290-unit apartment building over 36,000 square feet of ground-level commercial spaces. Some of the commercial spaces are two stories tall, namely those facing Lorain and the south side of the West Side Market. Most of the commercial spaces will be retail and restaurants. But Whalen wasn’t ready to reveal who they might be.

“Can’t say just yet,” he said. “The names are coming soon. But we’re definitely going to gear towards local-service, neighborhood, daily-use-type stuff. A few (will be) food and beverage businesses, but a handful of other stuff.”

Compare to the same view above, the corner of Lorain and
West 25th will look vastly different by the middle of 2021.
Indeed, the corner is already looking different as the Mar-
ket Plaza retail strip comes down (HBREA).

Exterior renderings of the development are being refined to reflect tenants’ space usage needs and signage. However, getting city approvals may be difficult for some time as the city design review boards aren’t meeting – virtually or otherwise.

Existing zoning allows a building on this site up to 12 stories tall. But the height of the second phase — the office building — could be less depending on the tenant mix. There also is no minimum square footage of office leases Harbor Bay needs to have signed before it can move forward on the office building, Whalen added.

“There’s no set number,” he said. “It depends on any number of things. It’s completely subjective on our part.”

Cost of building the entire development is estimated at $175 million. On March 20, Harbor Bay closed on the bulk of its project financing — up to $130 million in taxable lease bonds from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Some of that could be used for the second phase when the need arises.

The project also has a $10.8 million loan from the Ohio Development Services Agency and a $2 million loan from the city of Cleveland. Harbor Bay is contributing up to $30 million, Whalen said.

Construction is due to take about 18 months. When completed, Market Square will be the largest mass timber-framed building in the United States. The wood is being imported from Austria through the Port of Cleveland.

END