Ground broken for apartments and Meijer store

It took 10 people to break ground for the Fairfax Market on this December day in Cleveland.

Officials from the city of Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Meijer grocery store, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. and Fairmount Properties broke ground today on a $53 million grocery store to be topped by market-rate apartments (CCF). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Fairfax project starts amid a flurry of groundbreakings

In one week, three major groundbreakings were held in Cleveland. Today, representatives of the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Meijer, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. and Fairmount Properties broke ground on a new grocery store and apartment complex in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland, according to a written press statement released by the Cleveland Clinic.

This latest ceremony followed Friday’s groundbreaking of the 23-story City Club Apartments and tomorrow’s scheduled groundbreaking for the new global headquarters of the Sherwin Williams Co. But both of those projects are in downtown Cleveland. This one is in an east-side Cleveland neighborhood where the spin-off investments from booming University Circle are occurring.

Positioned to help revitalize and transform the neighborhood, the Fairfax Market project will significantly contribute to creating a healthier community by addressing food insecurity, supporting economic development in the area, and providing a new shopping destination for customers from surrounding neighborhoods.

As part of the $500 million Cleveland Innovation District, the new Fairfax Market mixed-use project will be located on the southwest corner of East 105th Street and Cedar Avenue. The $52.8 million development will include a 40,000-square-foot grocery market opening by Meijer and 196 apartment units in a six-story building.

The six story Fairfax Market with apartments above a new Meijer grocery store offers a pedestrian setting.

The six-story, 190,000-square-foot Fairfax Market development is now rising at the southwest corner of East 105th Street and Cedar Avenue. This site is at the eastern end of the new $331 million Opportunity Corridor Boulevard that opened to traffic last month (Bialosky).

Bringing a grocery market to the Fairfax neighborhood was an idea that was born in 2018 when Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic and Cleveland City Council President-Elect and Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin, hosted a community conversation with residents and leaders to better understand their needs and how Cleveland Clinic could contribute.

Following this session and a walking tour of the Fairfax neighborhood, it became clear that food insecurity was one of the biggest issues facing area residents. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fairfax has been identified as an urban food desert for its lack of accessible supermarkets.

“I appreciated that from the start, Dr. Mihaljevic understood the importance of Cleveland Clinic’s role in the neighborhood and that residents had many areas that needed to be addressed,” said Griffin. “The discussion about bringing a supermarket to the neighborhood started early, recognizing the need of the longtime Fairfax residents.”

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer Meijer quickly became the grocer partner for the project based on the offerings of its new small- format market design, which has been launched in several cities throughout Michigan. Cleveland Clinic leaders visited the retailer’s small-format store, Bridge Street Market, in Grand Rapids to see the impact this type of market could have in the community.

Massing of the proposed Fairfax Market.

In addition to a new grocery store being with an easy walk of major employers like the Cleveland Clinic and numerous new and planned residential developments, the new development will also benefit from a large parking structure, as this basic massing shows (Bialosky).

This new development underscores Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to addressing social determinants of health, which are factors other than medical care, such as job opportunities, housing and education that determine 80 percent of a person’s overall health. As one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio, the health system creates indirect and direct jobs that support families, neighborhoods and community life. Collaborating on the grocery market is another way Cleveland Clinic is boosting local indirect employment.

“We are committed to partnering with community and business leaders to help strengthen the neighborhood we call home and lessen the impact of social determinants of health related to food security and employment,” said Mihaljevic. “We are proud to be part of this collaborative project and, working together, I believe we can create a healthier community for everyone.”

Much like Meijer’s other small-format stores, Fairfax Market will focus on offering customers a unique shopping experience by featuring an assortment of fresh food, artisan groceries, and Meijer and national brand products at low prices. It will create approximately 50 jobs, offering competitive wages, access to health benefits, as well as a 401(k) program with a company match. Fairfax Market will be the first Meijer small-format market outside of Michigan. Project financing is coming primarily from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

“Meijer is committed to our communities, which is why we are so excited to continue our investment in the City of Cleveland with the addition of Fairfax Market,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said. “After the success of our four other neighborhood markets, we look forward to providing this great new store to residents of the Fairfax and surrounding neighborhoods.”

Site of the Fairfax Market development.

Site of the Fairfax Market is shaded in blue. This project likely represents the first phase of development in Fairfax for developer Fairmount Properties. In the block immediately west of the construction site, Fairmount has purchased property (Bialosky).

The Fairfax neighborhood has a rich history. It was annexed into Cleveland in 1872 and grew rapidly. On East 105th Street, called Doan Street before 1906, stores, churches, a hotel and post office operated. It had the first African American-owned bank in Cleveland and, for years, the neighborhood was the city’s second major retail and entertainment district called Doans Corners.

“Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC) is excited to welcome Meijer to the Fairfax community,” said FRDC Executive Director Denise VanLeer. “The project aligns with the vision for Innovation Square, a mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable area along Opportunity Corridor.”

She said the store will occupy a gateway corner to the Fairfax neighborhood and help to spur additional development. The location allows residents easy access to fresh food and provides walkability while activating pedestrian activity and possibly more investor activity along Cedar Avenue.

“The store provides new employment opportunities and helps to spur additional development,” VanLeer added. “The development repositions underutilized and underperforming land through strategic partnerships and is proximate to growing economic hubs, which is a goal of the Innovation Square Neighborhood Plan.”

Councilman Blaine Griffin.

City Council President-Elect and Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin talks about the importance of adding high-quality housing and a grocery store to a neighborhood that hasn’t seen much of either in decades (CCF).

“Including housing is a great addition,” Councilperson Griffin said. “It will help the longtime Fairfax residents. This development and another one nearby will jumpstart others and make the Cleveland Innovation District a real destination.”

The residential component of new project will feature a parking structure, direct connection to Fairfax Market, walkable access to the Cleveland Clinic campus, and a convenient one block walk to the Cleveland Innovation District. Cleveland Clinic intends to massively expand its main campus facilities starting next year.

“This is one of the most meaningful developments Fairmount Properties has been involved in within our past 23 years,” said Randy Ruttenberg, Principal of Fairmount Properties. “We are proud to contribute and bring this important economic catalyst to life. The development will benefit the Fairfax neighborhood, while providing the greater University Circle area, its residents and thousands of employees with a world-class, modern grocery store.”

Designed by Bialosky and to be built by John G. Johnson Construction Company, the grocery market and apartment complex could open as early as 2023. The project appears to represent the first phase of development. Fairmount has acquired property one block west and south of Cedar for a potential second phase that will likely depend on leasing activity in the first phase.


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