Oswald Companies is moving its headquarters across Downtown Cleveland to the former Ernst & Young Tower at Flats East Bank with an option for future expansion in the same building. Oswald will gain naming rights to the 23-story building (LoopNet). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Insurance company has option for future expansion
Oswald Companies today announced that it has entered into a lease agreement to move its headquarters to a larger space at the former Ernst & Young tower on the East Bank of the Flats, a prominent fixture on the downtown skyline. Once all necessary approvals are received, the move will be completed in 2024 and plans include a name change to Oswald Tower.
NEOtrans broke the story in September that the independent insurance brokerage company founded in 1893 was on the move. Oswald, which is currently located at 1100 Superior Ave., will occupy approximately 100,000 square feet of space in the building, including the first-floor conference center. There is an option to take on more space as Oswald continues to grow.
As one of the nation’s largest independent, employee-owned insurance companies, Oswald in 2013 leased about 80,000 square feet on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th floors and first-floor conference space at the 51-year-old, 21-story tower that bears its name, Oswald Centre. Oswald also has offices in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Medina, Pittsburgh and Toledo.
Ironically, 2013 was the same year that Oswald’s next home was built. The 23-story, 480,000-square-foot office tower at 950 Main Ave. at Flats East Bank remains as one of downtown’s newest office properties and one of only two considered to be ‘trophy class’ — Key Tower being the other. Ernst & Young, now called E&Y, left 950 Main for North Point Tower, 1001 Lakeside Ave. earlier this year in a story first reported by NEOtrans.
Oswald’s lease wasn’t due to expire until 2026, but their existing building was in financial trouble and the growing insurance company needed more space. The move keeps 300 employees downtown.
Oswald Centre towers over Perk Park at Superior Avenue and East 12th Street in Downtown Cleveland. When the company moves in 2024, its name will come off the building and leave a large vacancy in the 51-year-old building that’s already 40 percent empty (Google).
“Oswald has been headquartered in downtown Cleveland since its establishment 130 years ago, and we’re proud to continue to call the city our home,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Klonk in a written statement. “As an independent and employee-owned firm, we are thrilled to work with The Wolstein Group, which has demonstrated its commitment to Northeast Ohio for multiple generations.”
The opportunity to work with a local building owner that has been a champion for the region was a strong selling point in the decision, Klonk said. By contrast, in facing a foreclosure lawsuit, ownership of the 625,000-square-foot Oswald Centre was taken over last January by its lender LNR Corp. of Miami Beach, FL as a distressed property, Cuyahoga County property and court records show.
While the foreclosure lawsuit was dismissed in August thanks to LNR’s acquisition, the building is about 40 percent vacant, with 250,725 square feet empty in the 625,239-square-foot structure, according to LoopNet. Oswald’s departure will leave an even larger vacancy and questions are swirling in real estate circles about the 1972-built tower’s future.
BrandMuscle’s Cleveland hub also left 1100 Superior, landing at Post Office Plaza earlier this month. But its void at the old Oswald Centre was temporarily filled by the Cleveland Guardians’ administrative offices. The baseball team’s regular offices on Ontario Street, along with the rest of Progressive Field, are being renovated over the next two years.
The local offices for real estate brokerage CBRE Group are at 950 Main but could be on the move soon, too. Real estate insiders say CBRE could move either to a new space higher up in 950 Main or relocate to Key Tower in 2024.
Seen from the Shoreway bridge, the former Ernst & Young Tower will soon be called the Oswald Tower (Google).
“Through this partnership, both entities (Oswald and Wolstein) can further continue to strengthen downtown,” Klonk added. “This is another example of two Cleveland-based organizations coming together for the greater good of our region.”
“We are very excited to partner with Oswald Companies in our office tower. Having such a prestigious firm rooted in Cleveland recognize the opportunity to reside in the Flats is an honor,” said Iris S. Wolstein, principal of The Wolstein Group. “The development of the Flats East Bank was envisioned by my late husband, Bart, to stimulate growth in Cleveland and this announcement continues to recognize his vision. This project has truly been a labor of love for Bart, myself and our late son, Scott.”
The new location will provide a fresh, energizing space where Oswald’s employee-owners will have the opportunity to collaborate in new ways and continue to serve its ever-expanding client base.
“We are so excited that Oswald decided to keep their headquarters in Cleveland,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. “By staying in the heart of downtown, they are not only showing loyalty to our local community, but also investing in the growth and development of the city. We appreciate Oswald’s continued commitment and positive impact on the neighborhood they have been a part of for 130 years.”