Cleveland’s Carnegie contains a comeback

Construction on phase two of the Foundry Lofts, at the Carnegie Avenue end of the development, is wrapping up. This is the completed phase one at the Euclid Avenue end and is one of many developments planned, underway or recently completed in this section of Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood (Signet Real Estate Group). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Area of Cleveland’s Midtown sees investment jump

Carnegie Avenue in the 70s of Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood was a mixed bag of speed, sin, steaks and seafood. And that applies to both the decade and the 10-block stretch of the East 70s along one of the busiest streets linking University Circle and Downtown. But today, the scene is changing quickly as the growth in jobs and residential development in those two hubs is spilling over to the place in between.

Some of it is already visible. More is under construction. And other elements are still in the works. But those could start showing up on the landscape by the end of this year, say proponents and investors, including minority-owned businesses who are making investments and adding jobs. The biggest change is that Carnegie in the East 70s is becoming less of what planners deride as a traffic sewer — a roadway on which most motorists just speed through.

One of the latest changes in the works for this thoroughfare is the pending sale of the old Lancer Motel, 7707 Carnegie Ave., that stood for a century despite all of the tumult in the surrounding area, and within its own walls. A certificate of disclosure was filed last month with the city’s Building Department that shows the buyer is located at 5311 Northfield Rd. Suite 416, Bedford Hts.

That’s the address for B-Trice Home Health Agency LLC whose CEO is Tee’Kay, born Olaleye Akinyelure, and who is also the agent and incorporator of Samakins LLC, a property manager, listing to the same Bedford Heights address. Tee’Kay didn’t respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking more information prior to publication of this article.

The Lancer Motel, built in 1925, gained its name and appearance in 1972 when famous Cleveland restaurateur Fleet Slaughter bought it and renovated it. A dozen years earlier, Slaughter opened the Lancer Steakhouse that stood in the vacant lot in the foreground on Carnegie Avenue. The motel was sold to a Bedford Heights business (Google).

According to a city official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the city has wanted the Lancer Motel to remain a hotel or similar hospitality business. The opinion of city officials matters even more so here because, between the motel and Carnegie are two city land bank lots that were previously the site of the Lancer Restaurant which sometimes had separate owners from the motel’s. The motel’s new owner would likely seek to buy the land bank lots to ensure their business’ visibility.

Selling the 38-room, 16,985-square-foot motel is Vaibhav Laxmi Inc. whose incorporator is Hitesh Patel, Ohio Secretary of State records show. The sale amount wasn’t noted in public records. Patel was asking $950,000 for the property but Cuyahoga County appraised it at $433,200 for tax purposes. Patel acquired the motel in 2004 from Champakbha and Gunvantbhia Patel who owned it since 1992.

The Lancer restaurant, 7707 Carnegie Ave., was demolished by the city in 2009 after a fire and after the property owner, Sango Corp. which in turn was owned by George Dixon III, racked up multiple tax liens from 2001-05. The property was foreclosed on and transferred to the city in 2013. Dixon, a board chairman of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for 20 years, stepped down in 2018 during a criminal investigation and was later found guilty of theft in office at the transit authority. He died in 2021 at the age of 68.

The Lancer was opened by famous Cleveland restaurateur Fleet Slaughter as a white-tablecloth steakhouse in 1960, then bought the hotel behind it in 1972, renovating its as the Lancer Motel. Dixon bought The Lancer in 1986 and converted it to a seafood restaurant using recipes acquired from Art’s Seafood House on Cedar Avenue just east of East 90th Street.

Facing multiple tax liens, foreclosure and a demolition order from the city, the Lancer restaurant caught fire in 2009 and was demolished. But the hotel behind it still stands but is closed and the subject of a purchase agreement (Facebook).

The Lancer quickly built a reputation as the place to “See and be Seen” in Cleveland’s African-American community and was the social gathering place of Cleveland’s finest community leaders, events and Friday night jazz. But as political and business leaders moved to the suburbs, the Lancer in later years attracted its share of gangsters, gamblers, pimps and prostitutes who operated out of both the restaurant and the motel.

“In the past, it has had the reputation, especially in politics, if you wanted to be seen in the minority community, this is the place that you would come,” Dixon said in a 2007 recorded interview with Cleveland State University. “I have a great love for this area, and I think this corridor can really be something special.”

The wife and husband team of CEO Monique Childs and Director of Construction-Design Derrick at Container Homes USA are doing their best to help make that happen. The company, based in Cleveland’s North Broadway neighborhood, is developing the Midtown Food Truck Park, 7412 Carnegie, for client Holmes Property Investments LLC. Container Homes USA refurbishes shipping containers for commercial, industrial, residential and civic uses.

The company is growing with business nationwide including in Greater Cleveland after a $3 million expansion at its renovated shop, 3387 E. 75th St. One of their biggest projects is a residential development in partnership with WRJ Developers on East 72nd Street in Cleveland’s St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. Derrick Childs told NEOtrans in a phone interview the company has 11 employees now but is hiring welders, carpenters, fabricators and others to keep up with demand.

“We’re super busy,” he said. “This is God and a lot of hard work.”

Aerial view of the Midtown Food Truck Park on Carnegie Avenue planned by Holmes Property Investments LLC and Container Homes USA (Container Homes USA).

The $325,000 Midtown Food Truck Park will convert a two-car mechanics garage on the 0.6-acre property into a sports bar. There will be a 20-foot container converted into an amphitheater where live bands will be featured daily. Plus a large area will be set up for seating as well as another 20-foot container converted into a walk up mini bar. Up to four food trucks can be accommodated simultaneously in a designated area.

“We believe that since there is nothing like this in Cleveland Midtown area, this will be a great service for all the new apartments going up in Midtown and fit right into the growth of Midtown,” he said to the Cleveland Planning Commission in September which approved the food truck park. “The new sports bar will be a great new venue to celebrate our Browns, Cavs, Indians and Monsters. We look forward to servicing patrons seven days a week in this fantastic venue.”

Speaking of apartments, site preparation work has started for Sabor Group USA’s proposed The 70th, a 64-unit apartment building at 2024 E. 70th, across the street from the Dealer Tire headquarters that opened in 2017. Last year, a one-story commercial building was demolished for the new apartments and construction permits were awarded by the city. A second phase is planned with mixed use on 0.884 acres of land at 2051 E. 69th St. Sabor Group acquired in 2022, property records show. The company was founded in Hungary.

“Just as we are proud of our contribution to the revitalization of Budapest, Hungary, our focus in the USA is on developments in emerging areas and urban renewal,” Sabor Group said on its Web site. “We believe in areas with a strong local community, who together with our rich experience in planning and development can build a better future for all.”

Cleveland Kitchen Company is expanding again. Its 137,000-square-foot building at 7501 Carnegie Ave. is adding 80 new jobs and more square footage to serve Cleveland-area restaurants and other businesses with their culinary needs (Google).

Nearby, construction is well underway for the $15 million second phase of the Foundry Lofts which started at 7240 Euclid Ave. The second of two phases will add 82 apartments divided among two buildings at the Carnegie end of the development, built along a new street linking Euclid and Carnegie. The $30 million first phase opened in fall 2022 and delivered 160 apartments divided among three buildings, plus a retail space facing Euclid. That retail space is leased by Vitiman Kandie Vegan Restaurant & Herbal Store.

The second phase and Sabor Group’s The 70th were influenced by the Foundry Lofts‘ first phase leasing out quickly. More than 75 percent of apartments in the first phase were leased within a matter of a few months said Kevin Belt, senior vice president and managing director of the developer, Akron-based Signet Real Estate Group. The apartments offer a more affordable alternative to living downtown or in University Circle.

But the jobs aren’t just in those two hubs. They’re also along Carnegie in the 70s. One of the fastest-growing employers here is Cleveland Kitchen Co., a family-owned fermented foods company that started in 2014 under the name Cleveland Kraut. Since then, it has grown into a national brand and is expanding again thanks to the state of Ohio awarding a seven-year job creation tax credit in November. It will expand its existing 137,000-square-foot building at 7501 Carnegie.

The credits, with an estimated value of $300,000, will allow Cleveland Kitchen to add 80 employees to its current staff of 58 at an estimated $3.6 million in annual payroll. The City of Cleveland is also providing Cleveland Kitchen Co. with a 50 percent job creation tax credit on income tax withholding for new employees for a period of five years.

“Cleveland Kitchen is an incredible story of homegrown success and a true taste of Cleveland,” said Cleveland Chief of Integrated Development Jeff Epstein, who was previously the executive director of MidTown Cleveland, Inc., a community development corporation. “We are thrilled to play a small part in helping this brand grow.”


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