Seeds & Sprouts XXIX – CSU to start arena plans, Downtown garage demo, Olde Cedar’s replacement

This is the twenty-ninth edition of Seeds & Sprouts – Early intelligence on Cleveland-area real estate projects. Because these projects are very early in their process of development or just a long-range plan, a lot can and probably will change their final shape, use and outcome.

Conceptual rendering for Cleveland State University’s new arena on Payne Avenue, overlooking Interstate 90 at lower left. University officials are reportedly starting the planning process by seeking a firm to design the new 5,000- to 7,000-seat facility to host indoor sports, concerts and other events and allow the university to demolish the 13,610-seat Wolstein Center (CSU/Sasaki). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

CSU to start downtown arena plans

According to a university source, Cleveland State University (CSU) is about to begin the process for designing a new multi-purpose arena on Payne Avenue overlooking Interstate 90 on the east end of downtown Cleveland. That process will begin soon with CSU issuing a request for qualifications from candidate firms seeking to design the new facility. The new arena is projected by the university’s 2022 campus masterplan to have 5,000 to 7,000 seats to host indoors sports, concerts and other events, according to the source who spoke to NEOtrans on the condition of anonymity.

Design work will also help CSU determine the project’s price tag and therefore how much money to raise for it. Two other college arena projects may be comparable. Last fall, Arizona State University’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena opened in Tempe, AZ for $136 million while Baylor University’s 7,000-seat Foster Pavilion is due to open in spring 2024 in Waco, TX with a projected cost of $185 million. Design work could take about a year followed by fundraising and approximately 18 months of construction.

The site for the new arena is on CSU-owned land that hosts the university’s Plant Services, 1802 E. 25th St., its Plant Annex building and another structure that hosted the Cleveland Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) until it relocated to Midtown last year. It is next to the Superior Arts District that is being acquired by a new Cleveland development partnership called TurnDev financed by a new capitalization partnership called TurnCap. In addition to becoming the new headquarters of CrossCountry Mortgage, the district will gain the Cleveland Police Department headquarters after the ArtCraft building is renovated.

Roy Gifford, CSU’s vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, did not respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking comment for this article. In its masterplan, CSU officials said that, when the new arena is built, it will demolish the 13,610-seat, 1991-built Wolstein Center. The 10-acre site will be redeveloped as CSU’s Partnership District that would have “nearly 800,000 square feet of mixed-use development designed to drive economic development in the area and connect partners to the university,” the masterplan says.

Additionally, CSU is moving forward on other projects in its campus masterplan. Geotechnical work got underway this week for the university’s new College of Arts and Sciences building that will rise northwest of the Euclid Avenue-East 21st Street intersection. A tiny, 23-space parking lot and some greenspace currently occupies the setting for the building which conceptual plans show will be five stories tall. By the end of this year, the $21 million, five-story Corporate Connector workforce development center could see construction in the 2300 block of Euclid Avenue. It will be located on an unused greenspace in front of the to-be renovated Science Research Center.

A closed, structurally deficient, multi-story parking garage fronting on Huron Road is due to be demolished this summer and replaced with a 36-space surface parking lot, according to plans submitted to the city of Cleveland (Osborn).

Bedrock to demolish downtown garage

Plans were submitted to the city of Cleveland’s Building Department last week by Osborn Engineering to demolish a 330-space parking garage, 611 Huron Rd., in the Gateway neighborhood downtown. Despite the garage’s three parcels being part of the ill-fated nuCLEus megaproject development site that was acquired by Bedrock Real Estate earlier this year, there are no plans at this time to develop the property with anything more than a 36-space surface parking lot.

In its demolition permit application to the city, Cleveland-based Osborn Engineering referred to the seven-level garage as “unserviceable.” Called Arena Parking, it was closed last fall by the prior owner, a joint venture named Gateway Huron LLC, formed between Stark Enterprises of Cleveland and Reuven Dessler’s J-Dek Investments Ltd. of Solon that had sought to build nuCLEus since 2014. The 155,259-square-foot garage that dates from 1958 was propped up with multiple structural shoring posts placed throughout the facility. The demolition work includes filling in a vehicular ramp from Prospect Avenue that descends from street level into the lower level of the garage.

Kofi Bonner, chief executive officer at Bedrock, said he envisions the overall 3.17-acre site Bedrock acquired last year for $26.5 million as “a high-impact development and a true catalyst opportunity in downtown Cleveland.” However, multiple real estate sources with whom NEOtrans has been in contact say no development activity is imminent for the site as Bedrock is focused on its riverfront development. The fact that Bedrock intends to add a parking lot with lighting, drainage and a self-parking kiosk rather than leave it as a greenspace reinforces that no development is imminent for 611 Huron.

One of the largest redevelopment sites in or near downtown is about to get some attention and bring much-needed quality affordable housing that’s accessible to jobs, education and health care and entertainment (MBI/ODOT).

Olde Cedar, Juvenile Court to be replaced

Olde Cedar, 2302 Cedar Ave., one of the oldest public housing properties in the United States is due to be demolished and replaced with mixed-income apartments and possibly ground-floor retail in the coming years, according to a source familiar with the project. The development site will also include the long-abandoned, 1931-built juvenile justice center building, 2163 Cedar, which Cuyahoga County tried to sell without demolishing it but could find no takers. Combined and cleared, the two properties total 20 acres, on which the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) proposes to build mixed-income housing.

Given the proximity of the site to downtown and Cleveland State University, the housing could be one of CMHA’s most in-demand properties and could warrant some vertical housing especially at the west end of the site, the said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The large development site would also be bolstered by the proposed rebuilding of the East 22nd Street bridge over Interstate 90 with a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly span that better links the Central neighborhood to downtown.

Olde Cedar, also called Cedar Estates, consists of more than 300 housing units which were built starting in 1936 with the first homes opening in 1937. Additional public housing was built next to Olde Cedar in the coming decades, providing higher quality housing than what had preceded it along Community College Avenue, then-called Scovill Avenue. But it also concentrated poverty in the neighborhood and produced residential-only buildings that made the area less walkable, forcing residents to make longer trips to stores and other services.

CMHA is also in the process of replacing another old public housing project — the 83-year-old, 487-unit Woodhill Homes on Woodhill Avenue. Work is well underway on constructing Woodhill Station West, 9511 Buckeye Rd., and Woodhill Center East, 11305 Woodland Ave. Together, those two mixed-income buildings represent an investment of about $80 million and will add 197 modern, transit-accessible apartments on the city’s east side.


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