Downtown project wins financing

An aerial view of the planned Residences at Bolivar with the Erie Street Cemetery and Progressive Field beyond. Construction could start by mid-summer on the market-rate apartment complex with ground-floor retail spaces (Desmone). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Residences at Bolivar to start this summer

With financing now in hand, look for demolition and construction work to start this summer for the Residences at Bolivar, 1060-1124 Bolivar Rd., in downtown Cleveland’s Gateway neighborhood. The work was made possible by Chicago-based JLL Capital Markets arranging $38.5 million in construction financing and co-general partner equity in the project from an affiliate of another Chicago firm, Leopardo Companies. JLL Capital Markets announced the financing in a written statement this week.

The Residences at Bolivar is scheduled to open in early 2025 with 184 luxury apartments and 2,611 square feet of ground-floor retail on a site in between the sports and entertainment complexes of Gateway and the theater district of Playhouse Square. The site is occupied by two parking garages, a smaller one from 1926 and the other, a three-level garage from 1971. The older garage will be demolished and replaced with a new garage that will be hidden and designed as an expansion of the 1971 garage which will be refurbished, offering 277 spaces.

JLL represented the real estate developer and borrower, SomeraRoad Inc. of New York City, to arrange a $38.5 million loan through a Midwest-based regional bank. The site is located in a federal Opportunity Zone, making it eligible for tax benefits. Equity in the project came from Leopardo Companies’ new development affiliate LCI Development Partners. Leopardo is acting as the general construction contractor on the project. NEOtrans was first to report on Leopardo’s involvement in the project a year ago. The developers hoped to start site preparation work in April but the financing hadn’t closed yet.

“Residences at Bolivar is a testament to capital’s appetite for uniquely positioned development opportunities, spearheaded by first-class developers like SomeraRoad and LCI Development Partners,” said JLL Director Will Haass. “Cleveland saw 15.3 percent rent growth year-over-year and has proven to be a resilient market. Residences at Bolivar will be a welcomed new construction offering to the market.”

Featuring lots of balconies and ground-floor restaurants, cafes and/or retailers, the Residences at Bolivar will be located in between the sports and entertainment facilities of the Gateway complex and the Playhouse Square theater district (Desmone).

The seven-story mixed-use development will offer studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom suites averaging 703 square feet. The development will offer luxury unit finishes and an amenity package that includes an outdoor, rooftop swimming pool, sun deck, resident lounge, fitness center, package room and bike storage. The exterior of Residences at Bolivar will pay homage to the neighborhood’s historic roots, while the interior will support high-end living. The project was first announced publicly in September 2021.

“I look at Cleveland as a hidden gem,” said James Leopardo in a NEOtrans interview earlier this year . In 1977, he founded the broad-based family of companies that bear his name. “I think its a wonderful city. There’s a lot of opportunity not only for construction but for development, too. There are so many incentives for development in Cleveland. It’s clear to me that the city is embracing urban investment and growth. That’s why we’re putting a stake in the ground here.”

To demonstrate its commitment to Cleveland and pursue more opportunities locally, Leopardo is opening a 3,000-square-foot office at the 102-year-old 1020 Bolivar Building (formerly the Ohio Bell Telephone operations center), next door to the apartment complex it will build. NEOtrans reported that news in March but JLL and property owner SomeraRoad confirmed it this week in a news release. They also noted SomeraRoad is investing $3 million to build up to 30,000 square feet of speculative office suites as well as adding several on-site amenities, including fitness and conferencing facilities.

looking generally west along Bolivar Road

On Bolivar Road looking west, the brick, single-level garage in the foreground will be demolished while the three-story garage in the background will be refurbished and expanded with parking spaces hidden inside the new mixed-use building (Cresco).

“Across all the markets we operate in, we have seen a clear trend towards companies desiring best-in-class space as well as flexible lease terms,” said Ian Holland, senior associate at SomeraRoad. “That’s exactly what we’re providing here at 1020 Bolivar, with new move-in-ready suites in a variety of sizes and tenant amenities that are truly unparalleled in the downtown Cleveland market.”

In addition, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), a global nonprofit, leased a 5,000-square-foot office space at 1020 Bolivar, NEOtrans reported in February and which JLL confirmed this week. Out of nearly 250 EO chapters worldwide, the Cleveland chapter is only one of four that will have an office, said Adam Fleischer, president of EO Cleveland. Fleischer also owns The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights. He said the downtown office will be a meeting location for social events and learning events. It will also be a multi-use office space as the 200-member organization does have a small staff that will spend some time working out of there.

The 1020 Bolivar office building has a rooftop deck offering views of the home of the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, Progressive Field across East 9th Street. Many units at The Residences at Bolivar will have similar views. The developers said they consider these projects the first steps in developing a “ballpark village” in the vicinity of the Gateway sports and entertainment complexes. They said they also expect to be involved in more projects popping up nearby as the renovation of Progressive Field moves forward.


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