Bedrock defers to others on riverfront

Bedrock owns 35 acres of land along the downtown riverfront, but nothing will get built here unless others respond to Bedrock’s vision for the area (Adjaye). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Bedrock sets table for developments

Bedrock has something that few other investors in downtown Cleveland have — about 35 acres of prime, developable land, mostly along the riverfront below Tower City Center. But unlike many other downtown land owners with hopes for the future, they have no intention of developing anything themselves, be it new buildings or the infrastructure to sustain them.

It has been publicly stated by Bedrock officials over the last two years that they need public funds to address the conditions of public infrastructure. Those include everything from reworking streets to replacing sewers, and from restoring riverside bulkheads to renewing public transportation. That will create the foundations for future development here. Bedrock and city officials are hosting a series of public input meetings, the first of which was held last week.

So it’s no surprise that Bedrock isnt taking the lead in investing its own funds in constructing public infrastructure that will serve its properties, even though the improvements will likely greatly increase the value of its properties. However, it has created a riverfront development masterplan with the help of world-renowned architect Adjaye Associates. Armed with lots of attractive renderings, that masterplan is intended to shake loose millions of public dollars to make its dozens of acres of mostly parking lot-saddled land ready for development.

Earlier this month, Bedrock hired Nora Romanoff as its vice president of business development in Cleveland to help shake loose those millions. Previously, she was associate director at LAND Studio, where she managed the $57 million redevelopment of downtown Cleveland’s Public Square and as project liaison for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame building and public space expansion. Most recently, Romanoff served as the co-chair of the Land Use and Urban Design Working Group for the Cleveland Lakefront Process and master plan. Her work also includes Bedrock’s first phase of public streetscape improvements. She will strive to pull together the public infrastructure dollars for Bedrock’s riverfront.

But Bedrock also isn’t likely to build any new residential towers, office buildings, hotels or entertainment venues without another partner coming to Bedrock first, according to development firms who have spoken off the record to NEOtrans after inquiring to Bedrock about building on their riverfront properties. Indeed, Bedrock representatives have reportedly told inquisitive investors that Bedrock’s role on the riverfront is primarily to set the table for other developers rather than build much of anything on their own.

Bedrock’s riverfront masterplan (Adjaye).

Bedrock’s media relations consultant, Cleveland-based Falls & Co. and their representatives Chante Jones and Kiersten Becht, didn’t respond to an email from NEOtrans seeking more information for this article prior to its publication.

Last year, Bedrock officials hinted at this approach, that they intend to work with other developers in building and financing structures and up to 12 acres of parks along the riverfront. They said they are entertaining offers from other firms to construct buildings on their land, to jointly develop new projects or to sell the land to other firms for their developments. Thus Adjaye’s masterplan is a template for Bedrock and others to follow, Bedrock officials said.

This approach was recently and successfully tried on a smaller scale across the Cuyahoga River on Scranton Peninsula. There, a consortium of property investors united as Thunderbird acquired 25 acres of vacant, polluted, formerly industrial riverfront land. The partnership created a masterplan, envisioning it as a mixed-use riverfront district to be developed mostly by others. J Roc Development LLC was the only Thunderbird partner to build anything there, opening the BrewDog Cleveland Outpost brewpub in 2021. Since then, several non-Thunderbird partners have started construction or site preparation on Scranton Peninsula for more than 600 apartments and a Great Lakes Brewing Co. production facility and tasting room.

Bedrock’s $3.5 billion riverfront vision is much more ambitious than that. It includes 2,000 residential units equaling roughly 2 million square feet of new space, plus another 1.4 million square feet in non-residential structures including 850,000 square feet of office space, a boutique hotel, retail and entertainment uses, the Bedrock masterplan shows.

What other developers envision for the site could be quite different, but the two developers with whom NEOtrans spoke off the record were interested in constructing buildings of scale — namely mid- and high-rise structures. That would adhere to Bedrock’s masterplan vision that so far has verbal support from city officials. Bedrock has responded with a willingness to be a joint development partner in those overtures, sources said.


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