Downtown Lakewood work starts for new bank

Façade designs for the new Chase Bank in downtown Lakewood, showing the north side facing Detroit Avenue and the south side facing the parking lot and drive-up ATM (TAP). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM

Project replaces Einstein Bros. Bagels

Persons visiting or passing through downtown Lakewood have likely noticed the demolition of a small bank branch-turned-bagel restaurant and wondered what is going to replace it. The answer is that another bank branch will return to that site but with a more pedestrian-friendly approach to the building’s design this time around. And while the new structure will be bigger than its predecessor, the amount of floor space in the building isn’t as much as the new structure makes it appear.

The new Chase Bank branch will be built at 14615 Detroit Ave., up to the sidewalks at the southeast corner of Detroit and St. Charles avenues. That’s next to where the old Einstein Brothers Bagels stood until it closed in December. Between the former bagel restaurant and the street corner was an automated teller machine kiosk, parking lot and a tiny landscaped plaza. The latter will be restored in between the east side of the new bank building and the west side of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lakewood Family Health Center.

Last month, JPMorgan Chase & Co. paid $1.8 million for two parcels totaling 0.5 acres on which the former bagel restaurant and the parking lot-landscaped plaza set, according to Cuyahoga County property records. Plans submitted to the city show the new bank building will measure 3,345 square feet. While that’s bigger than the 2,324-square-foot bagel restaurant, the new Chase branch appears much larger because it looks like it’s two stories tall. But it’s not, noted Shawn Leininger, Lakewood’s director of planning and development.

“It is a standard branch designed to have the appearance of a two-story building,” he said. “The design and placement of the building on the site was a requirement of the city given the location at a prominent corner in downtown Lakewood.”

Site plan for the new Chase Bank and landscaped plaza in downtown Lakewood (TAP).

Leininger said construction of the new bank is due to start shortly after clearance of the Einstein Brothers Bagels and the landscaped plaza is completed. Floor plans by Chicago-based The Architects Partnership Ltd. that were approved by the city last summer show the number of offices and work stations within the new bank could accommodate at least a half-dozen employees at a given time. While there is no Chase branch in Lakewood, there’s no indication from Chase that operations at their existing nearby branches in Rocky River or at Kamm’s Corners in Cleveland will be affected.

“At this time Chase has not provided any jobs data which is not unusual given there are no city incentives being requested or offered for this project.” Leininger told NEOtrans. “Chase has not shared any plans to change operation at existing branches or ATMs in the community — this is an expansion of service in Lakewood.”

Tracking where banks open or close is often a telltale sign of changes in income and/or population. Banks, of course, choose to go where the money is. Chase likely chose to expand to downtown Lakewood because of recent and planned residential developments nearby. The first big project came several years ago when the middle 11 stories of the 15-story Lakewood Center North office building were converted to 153 market-rate apartments. That added more than 200 residents to downtown.

With occupancy at Lakewood Center North Apartments at 95 percent, At-Large Councilman Tristan Rader said more apartments are being pursued downtown. The adjacent Lakewood Center West office building is for sale by an affiliate of North Pointe Realty of Mayfield Heights and the unidentified potential buyer is considering a residential conversion, Rader said.

The Einstein Brothers Bagels restaurant had only two months remaining in business when this photo was taken in October 2022. Demolition of the restaurant, the landscaped plaza and the ATM kiosk at right began in the past week (Google).

North Pointe Realty is a partner with Columbus-based CASTO in the delayed $100 million Downtown Lakewood development, one block away at Detroit and Belle avenues. After Roundstone Insurance backed out of moving its offices to that development, the Downtown Lakewood project is being redesigned with more residential units. A source familiar with the project but who spoke office the record said they were optimistic about the new plan and that CASTO is taking a fresh look at the cost and revenue estimates associated with that project.

“(CASTO) is regrouping with potential contractors/subs to get fresh construction pricing over the last 30 days,” the source said. “In today’s turbulent construction environment, the last pricing pro forma/forecast was getting a bit stale. We will have more information middle of April.”

Since the new Chase bank building will be built up to the street corner, the parking will be behind the building. Twelve parking spaces will be provided. Pedestrian entrances to the building will be from Detroit and from the parking lot behind. Just inside the back entrance will be a 24-hour ATM, a short distance away from a drive-up ATM. Another ATM will be in the bank’s lobby but inaccessible outside of bank hours. That means that anyone walking along Detroit will have to walk around to the back of the building to use the ATM at night.

According to county records, the former bagel restaurant was built in 1969 by the Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Cleveland. It was sold in 1994 to the First Nationwide Bank and then to Fifth Third Bank two years later. It became an Einstein’s Brothers Bagels in about 2005 when the property was acquired by USA Lakewood Retail Investments LLC for $600,000, public records show.


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