Downtown office tower bucks residential trend

Soon to lose the name “Oswald Centre,” 1100 Superior Ave. in Downtown Cleveland is going to remain as an office building despite a weak, post-pandemic office market. Its new owner is working to retain and attract new office tenants, rather than convert the 54-year-old tower for residential or mixed-uses as has been done to other aging office buildings downtown (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

LNR to retain 1100 Superior as offices

Since actions speak louder than words, the rumors of the 22-story office tower 1100 Superior Ave. turning residential are getting shouted down. The louder message is coming from the building’s owner who is re-signing existing office tenants and attracting new ones, despite recent tenant losses and other hardships. The actions are likely the result of a short-term strategy resulting in another sale, however.

The overriding hardship is the one that all central business districts are facing — a soft, if not outright weak office market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this building in particular has had an even tougher time in recent years.

In facing a foreclosure lawsuit, ownership of the office building and adjacent parking garage was taken over last January by its lender LNR Property LLC of Miami Beach, FL as a distressed property. The lawsuit was dismissed in August 2023, Cuyahoga County property and court records show.

LNR is owned by Starwood Property Trust, also of Miami Beach. Zachary Tanenbaum, managing director and head of investor strategy at Starwood, opened but otherwise did not respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans seeking information on the company’s plans for the future of 1100 Superior. However, LNR’s modus operandi is to stabilize and lease up real estate-owned assets prior to sale. And it is doing so with office tenants, not a residential conversion, at 1100 Superior.

The 625,000-square-foot office building and its attached, seven-level, 164,160-square-foot parking garage were built in 1972 as the headquarters for the Diamond Shamrock Co. before moving to Dallas in 1979. The office tower was most recently named the Oswald Centre, thanks to naming rights from its latest anchor tenant, the Oswald Companies.

Rendering of Bricker Graydon LLP’s new law offices at 1100 Superior. The Cleveland office of the Columbus-based law firm is finalizing a lease at the 52-year-old office tower in Downtown Cleveland (Design Collective).

Oswald is one of the nation’s largest independent, employee-owned insurance firms. And it’s in the process of relocating its 300 employees to the Ernst & Young Tower, 950 Main Ave. at Flats East Bank, where it gained building naming rights. Ernst & Young, now EY, moved to North Point Tower, 1001 Lakeside Ave. NEOtrans was first to report the pending move in September 2023.

Oswald’s CEO Robert Klonk said the opportunity to work with the Wolstein Group, a local building owner that has been a champion for Greater Cleveland, was a strong selling point in his relocation decision. But Oswald’s move left about 80,000 square feet of space available on 1100 Superior’s the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th floors, plus it leased a first-floor conference space. Oswald’s lease wasn’t due to expire until 2026.

The year before, Osborn Engineering moved out of a 30,670-square-foot space spread across two lower floors in the Oswald Centre to a 35,250-square-foot space on the 20th and 21st floors across the street at 1111 Superior Ave., said Cyndie OBryon, first vice president of Toronto-based real estate firm Colliers International which handles leasing at 1100 Superior.

BrandMuscle’s Cleveland hub also left 1100 Superior, landing at Post Office Plaza in December 2023. It occupied the entire fifth floor and part of the fourth, leaving another big gap. Those moves left the building about 50 percent vacant, with roughly 330,000 square feet of office space empty.

It caused rumors to swirl in real estate circles that it, like the nearby Ohio Savings Plaza, was going to be converted to residential or mixed use like many other aging downtown office buildings. But things started to look up for 1100 Superior last year as an office building.

Still bearing the Oswald branding, the south side of 1100 Superior is seen here from East 12th Street at Chester Avenue, next to Perk Park (Google).

Not only was the building’s ownership situation stabilized, BrandMuscle’s two-floor void at the old Oswald Centre was partially filled by the Cleveland Guardians’ administrative offices. The Guardians’ offices occupy the entire fifth floor, or approximately 27,000 square feet. They have a lease at 1100 Superior until at least April 2025, building lease data shows.

The Major League Baseball team’s regular offices on Ontario Street, along with the rest of Progressive Field, are being renovated over the next two years. Not only are the Guardians’ offices being renovated, they’re getting expanded. A fifth floor is being added atop its Ontario office building. Interior and rooftop demolition work on the that building started last month.

More good news came. OBryon said independent financial advisory firm Clearstead, 1100 Superior’s next largest tenant after Oswald, extended its lease last year to 2034 and expanded its office footprint to 48,000 square feet. The size of Clearstead’s prior office space wasn’t immediately available.

Now, Columbus-based law firm Bricker Graydon LLP’s Cleveland office is relocating from a subleased space on the sixth floor at U.S. Bank Centre, 1350 Euclid Ave. The firm, resulting from a merger last year between Bricker & Eckler of Columbus and Graydon Head & Ritchey of Cincinnati, will be renovating 6,511 square feet at 1100 Superior for $250,000, according to a filing with the Cleveland Building Department.

“We’re excited about them coming,” OBryon said. “It’s a beautiful office building.”

Oswald Centre will go by the name of 1100 Superior following the departure later this year of its largest tenant Oswald Companies (FG).

Bricker Graydon Director of Facilities Will Solivan did not respond to an e-mail seeking more information about their relocation. Prior to subleasing space at U.S. Bank Centre several years ago, Bricker & Eckler had offices at North Point Tower plus coworking spaces at two COhatch locations — one in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood and the other at Beachwood Place in suburban Beachwood.

Another tenant at North Point is on the move — law firm Jones Day. The global firm that was founded in Cleveland but relocated its headquarters to Washington DC has been sniffing around downtown for a new Cleveland office location, sources said. While OBryon said the firm considered 1100 Superior, Jones Day is still looking. Jones Day’s Partner-in-Charge of its Cleveland office John Saada Jr. didn’t respond to a NEOtrans inquiry seeking more information on its office search.

OBryon said she hadn’t heard rumors about 1100 Superior’s possible conversion to residential. And given the building’s large floorplates, she said it would be a difficult conversion anyway. She had no information on the possibility that building owner LNR may be trying to bump up the building’s occupancy so it can fetch a better sale price.

For tax purposes, Cuyahoga County in 2023 appraised 1100 Superior’s office tower at $41.1 million and its garage at $5.9 million. Office towers aren’t fetching healthy sale prices these days. Downtown’s third-tallest skyscraper, 200 Public Square, has reportedly sold for about $65 million or one-third the price of its last sale in 2018.


Subscribe to NEOtrans news

Stay informed about the latest local economic trends

Scroll to Top