Why the LaSalle Theater is for sale

Marquee of the LaSalle Theater on East 185th Street in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. The theater is on the market and the reasons why were confirmed by the owner (David Schwartz Photography for LaSalle Theater). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Officials confirm Collinwood landmark on market

Earlier this month, NEOtrans broke the story that a Collinwood landmark, the LaSalle Theater, 823 E. 185th St., had hit the market after 14 years of ownership by the Northeast Shores Development Corporation (NSDC). But with the building stabilized and the NSDC ending its service to the Cleveland neighborhood, officials from the community development corporation said it was time to sell.

NSDC issued a formal announcement this week that it is putting the LaSalle building on the market. In a written statement, NSDC said it purchased the building in 2009 with the goal of preserving it as a community asset. After several years of renovations — financed through a combination of federal and state historic tax credits, public financing and conventional debt — the building is now fully leased.

“The LaSalle building has a rich history, and we are proud to have been a part of preserving it for future generations,” said NSDC President Caroline Peak in the written statement. “We are looking for a buyer who shares our commitment to community development, and we are confident that the right buyer will be found.”

The LaSalle building is a mixed-use property that includes two commercial storefronts, five residential units, 11,000 square feet of event space and 39 off-street parking spaces. The building is being listed on the market as unpriced. The reason is that NSDC wants to put the property into the hands of an owner that values civic stewardship and historic preservation, not just for financial rewards, NSDC officials said.

Built as a 1,500-seat movie palace in 1927, the LaSalle Theater was converted two decades ago into a showroom of historic cars that required removing the theater seating and leveling the slanted floor. Today, the theater hosts performances, exhibits, weddings, dinners and other catered events (LoopNet).

“Northeast Shores is a non-profit community development corporation that is in the process of winding down,” the NSDC’s statement said. “The disposition of this asset is a critical step toward that end.”

The new community development corporation for the neighborhood is the Greater Collinwood Development Corp. which was recast in 2018 from the former Collinwood and Nottingham Villages Development Corp. A new name was sought to acknowledge its larger service area and helped to distance itself from the old development corporation which endured a scandal when a former director was arrested and later sentenced to 33 months in prison for embezzling nearly $200,000 from the CDC in 2014-16.

The building featuring the former movie palace was renovated by NSDC in 2018 for $4.7 million and stabilized the property as a media center along with the ground-floor storefronts and upstairs apartments. The theater itself, which could seat up to 800 people for performances or 450 people for weddings, dinners and other catered events, is used as a performing arts rehearsal or recording space, an exhibit hall, a stage for high school theater and arts programs, and as a meeting space for businesses and community organizations. The theater also offers a fully renovated kitchen on site, according to cinematreasures.org.

An $11.6 million streetscape along 1.8 miles of East 185th Street in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, including a portion that borders the city of Euclid, is getting underway with the first phase north of Pawnee Avenue and the second phase south of it to Nottingham Road. The goal is to improve the pedestrian experience and improve business activity along this corridor (AECOM).

Prior to its purchase by NSDC in 2009, the building was vacant, in foreclosure and at risk of getting demolished. It was briefly a vintage automobile showroom 20 years ago after a nearly 70-year run as an 1,500-seat movie theater that served Collinwood and much of Euclid. Named after a French explorer of the Great Lakes in the 17th century, the LaSalle was designed by the Italian-born architect Nicola Petti (1880-1929), who also designed the Variety, Kinsman, Imperial, Moreland and Cedar Lee theaters in Greater Cleveland, plus theaters in Canton, Toledo and Mansfield, according to the Cleveland Landmark Commission’s website.

Although no asking price for the LaSalle was listed, NSDC paid $250,000 for it, according to Cuyahoga County records. The county appraised the property at $388,000 in 2021 for taxes, public records show. The sale offering posted on LoopNet notes that East 185th is undergoing “a transformational” $11.6 million streetscape renovation project that is scheduled to be completed in 2024. The new streetscape is intended to enhance the pedestrian experience along the East 185th corridor.

Cushman and Wakefield-CRESCO Real Estate has the sales listing and the broker is Isabel DeRoberts. Prior to publication of this article and our earlier Seeds & Sprouts piece, she didn’t respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking comment and more information.


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