Cleveland Clinic’s Lyndhurst Campus, the former TRW headquarters and its surrounding 98-acre site, was on the market for nearly four years. During that time. Clinic officials said they received no acceptable offers. But that was disputed by Lyndhurst Mayor Patrick Ward (LoopNet). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
Lyndhurst’s Bolton Mansion to be preserved
Two significant structures on a large piece of land in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs, whose prominence is owed to the industrial giants of Gilded Age Cleveland, face very different fates. One, the 106-year-old, 45-room Frances Bolton Mansion, will be preserved. The other, the 1985-built, former TRW headquarters with its four office wings radiating from a glassy central atrium, is proposed to be demolished by the end of the year.
Owner Cleveland Clinic Foundation has had those buildings and their surrounding 98 acres of rolling, partly wooded property up for sale since September 2019. That was six months before the global pandemic hit which was followed by nearly all office employers making widespread reductions in office staff and office spaces with the onset of remote and hybrid work. Although disputed by Lyndhurst’s mayor, Clinic officials said there were no acceptable offers for its Lyndhurst Campus during the time it was on the market.
“As part of our goal to be good stewards of our resources, we regularly review and assess the use of our facilities to ensure we are operating efficiently,” said Angela Smith, director of corporate communications for the Cleveland Clinic. “In 2019, we identified an opportunity to consolidate some of our administrative spaces, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. After four years of marketing our Lyndhurst campus for sale with no acceptable offers, we are transitioning plans to demolish the building in an effort to make the land more attractive for development. Plans for demolition will begin later this year.”
The building and grounds were developed by Fortune 500 automotive and aerospace manufacturer TRW. It was formed by the 1958 merger of Thompson Products Inc. and Ramo-Wooldridge Corp. which date to 1901. TRW built its 476,030-square-foot Lyndhurst headquarters in 1985 atop a 500-space underground parking garage on the 110-acre Franchester Farm.
The 106-year-old Bolton Mansion on the Cleveland Clinic’s Lyndhurst Campus. While the Clinic intends to demolish the former TRW headquarters, the health care giant plans to retains the 45-room mansion that belonged to former US Congresswoman Frances Bolton who inherited a fortune from John D. Rockefeller via her uncle Oliver Hazard Payne (American Castles).
At the center of that farm was the Bolton House, a Georgian-style mansion built in 1917 by architect Prentice Sanger for Chester and Frances Payne Bolton, both of whom served in the United States House of Representatives. Frances Bolton died at the 27,300-square-foot home in 1977. When TRW built its headquarters, it renovated the mansion and used it as a corporate guesthouse. The Clinic used it for events and rented it to the general public.
After TRW was sold to Northrop Grumman in 2001, the headquarters, the Bolton House and its grounds were donated to the Clinic. The Clinic tried to make a go of the costly-to-maintain site as its Wellness Institute but ultimately consolidated its activities and 400 employees to the former MBNA headquarters at Beachwood’s Science Park.
“Although several potential buyers expressed interest in the property, many shared that retrofitting the building to meet their current and future needs would result in significant costs, deterring them from moving forward in the buying process,” said Smith who promised more details in a few months after additional planning is done by the Clinic. “Following demolition, the property will be placed on the market again.”
NEOtrans learned of the TRW HQ demolition from a notice that was shared among Clinic employees and then passed along outside of the foundation. That notice read in part that “Potential buyers expressing interest (in the Lyndhurst campus) have shared that retrofitting the building to meet their current and/or future needs would result in significant costs, deterring them from moving forward with the buying process.” The notice continued with “The Bolton House will remain intact and be included in any new development, and all historical records of the building will be retained.”
Interior of the TRW headquarters’ central atrium at left, and public art made from excess HQ building materials on the campus grounds at right (Lohan Anderson).
Real estate brokerage CBRE had the property listed as available, marketed it and reportedly maintained the property while it was on the market. CBRE Cleveland Managing Director Keith Brandt did not respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking comment prior to publication of this article. However, Lyndhurst Mayor Patrick Ward did respond and was not happy to get confirmation today from the Clinic that the demolition rumors they’ve been hearing since January were true.
“It was shocking to confirm that,” Ward said. “It would have been nice for a community partner to communicate that to you first and would reach out to consider all of the alternatives before making a decision. It’s disappointing. They (the Clinic) also put the (property) listing on the internet a day before they told us about it.”
Ward, who has served as Lyndhurst’s mayor for eight years and on City Council for 22 years prior, said the Clinic had immediately received a lot of buyer interest in its Lyndhurst Campus. He said the Clinic had narrowed down the number of interested proposals to eight by January 2020. The pandemic hit the USA in March. By May, he said the Clinic informed him that they were going to “pull back” on marketing the property.
The former TRW headquarters-turned-Cleveland Clinic Lyndhurst Campus sets atop a 500-car parking garage, the driveway to which is seen here in this wintertime view (Showcase.com).
“The pandemic certainly didn’t help the process and the post-COVID period brought a lot of moving parts,” Ward added. “I understand it’s a challenging building and very hard to subdivide. But they never listed it for sale. They put it up for proposals. I never heard a price tag. Everything was left to the imagination. And everything they’ve asked from this community, we’ve responded to in short order. I hope they (the Clinic) will enter into this (demolition) process with an idea and a plan for tearing it down.”
The TRW HQ had a property valuation of $60 million that went off the tax rolls when the nonprofit Cleveland Clinic acquired the site. It resulted in a significant loss of property tax revenue to the schools and other public venues, said Ward who estimated the costs of demolishing the ex-TRW HQ at about $3 million. But he also urged that the underground garage be retained given the cost of removing it and the cost of possibly replacing it with a new parking facility on somewhere on that nearly 100-acre site. Ward said that a future building could be built atop the garage and reduce the cost of developing it.
“I’m not going to apologize for having a great expectation,” he said. “A real community benefit is communication. We’ve had productive conversations with the Clinic and we’re going to have more about some ideas. We’ve run a few up the flagpole and we’ll see what happens.”