Jones Day’s downtown offices on the move?

Jones Day’s current offices are in the first phase of the North Point complex, a five-story office building constructed 40 years ago. While the building remains in very good condition, the law firm that was founded in Cleveland is considering its office location options as it nears the end of its lease (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

A new building downtown is among its options

Aside from a few rarities like Sherwin-Williams, not many corporate citizens stay in one office building for multiple decades. They are constantly growing or shrinking, their buildings get new owners, their corporate culture changes, or their biggest clients move. Another rarity is Cleveland’s largest law firm, Jones Day, which is entering its fourth decade in the same building, 901 Lakeside Ave., called North Point I.

But like all rarities, including Sherwin-Williams which has been in the same office building for 94 years, corporate citizens move. Thankfully, the global coatings giant stayed in Cleveland and downtown, constructing the city’s fourth-tallest skyscraper with perhaps another one to come to accommodate its remarkable growth.

Jones Day is in the opposite camp. While the law firm is growing globally, it’s shrinking locally — a reality of Cleveland shedding Fortune 500 headquarters. Fortunately, its decline in the number of in-market lawyers and office personnel has slowed. Its bench of in-market lawyers has dropped from 236 in 2010 to 172 in 2020, and stabilizing at 171 since.

But its legal and administrative employment totals nearly 600 people, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business’ book of lists. That makes it one of Jones Day’s largest offices in the world. Its global employment is 4,500 people including 2,500 attorneys. 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.

One of the reasons why Jones Day’s Cleveland office is losing fewer lawyers and staff in recent years, especially since the pandemic, is the growing acceptable of video conferencing and remote working. Today, with high-speed internet, streaming video, readily available encryption and fast download times, it matters less where a lawyer’s office is located — to some degree.

The North Point office complex as seen from the lakefront railroad tracks. Jones Day is in the five-story North Point I. The taller North Point II was added later. The walkway over the tracks reaches North Point’s 1,000-car parking garage (Google).

Jones Day, founded in Cleveland in 1893 and headquartered here until 2002, now has its global HQ in Washington DC. The reason is that the company does a lot of work in antitrust cases, intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, labor issues, defense of white collar crimes and more. To serve your client’s needs, one must meet with judges and magistrates, often in person. Keep that in mind.

At the end of 2026, Jones Day’s current lease at North Point I will run out. Several real estate sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they have begun their search for a new office space. They are also willing to consider staying put. Those two statements were the central points to which those real estate insiders agreed.

Jones Day has been at North Point I since it was built by the Ferchill Group in 1984. Back then, the law firm filled the 377,694-square-foot building. Ferchill added North Point II five years later, a 21-story tall, 285-foot-tall tower. A dozen years ago, Jones Day spent more than $5 million to update its offices and extended it lease, reassuring civic leaders that the firm wasn’t going anywhere.

North Point I has massive floorplates of 75,000 square feet, although they are divided by five-story-tall interior atriums topped by a glassy skylight. Those interior spaces make for a pleasant setting on a wind-whipped winter day — a condition common to this near-lakefront location.

But Jones Day’s 2012 investment in renovating its offices didn’t insure against a staffing and office space reduction. Sources say Jones Day’s office needs are considerably smaller today — about 250,000 square feet. Even so, that’s still a huge get for any Downtown Cleveland office building landlord in the weak post-pandemic office marketplace.

Space is available at 1100 Superior Ave. for Jones Day, but the building may lack the amenities and other features Jones Day apparently wants (Google).

To put things into perspective, Cleveland’s second-largest law firm, Benesch, moved in 2022 to Ohio’s tallest skyscraper — the trophy-class Key tower. There, it leased 164,000 square feet spread among eight floors of the 57-floor tower. Benesch was a big get in its own right. It’s big enough that it had previously committed to serving as the anchor tenant for an office tower in Stark Enterprises’ ill-fated nuCLEus development.

Watch downtown landlords put on a full court press to reel in Jones Day, just as its current landlord Hertz Investment Group will do everything it can to keep it right where it is. Jones Day likes its office space and its parking situation, with heated underground spaces and the ease of access to the highways. It has a lot of suburban features but is in the central business district.

There are other rumors of where Jones Day might land. One is a site that NEOtrans had already reported — 1100 Superior Ave. The building is shedding its name Oswald Centre after Oswald Companies and two other large tenants announced their departures from the 625,000-square-foot tower. That’s left 1100 Superior about 50 percent vacant.

The building’s lender LNR Property LLC of Miami Beach bought 1100 Superior last year and is trying to beef up leasing at the property so CBRE Group’s Capital Markets can sell it, two sources said. Landing Jones Day would more quickly stabilize the building and put it on the fast track to the real estate marketplace.

All sources said Jones Day wants their name on whatever building they end up occupying. With Oswald’s departure from 1100 Superior, that option is available there. But most of the sources believed the building was up to Jones Day’s standards in terms of amenities or finishes. They considered 1100 Superior to be a lower-class-A, high-class-B office property.

Key Tower, at left, is too full to fit Jones Day and 200 Public Square, right, may not be the right fit for the law firm for a variety of reasons (NEOtrans).

To win Jones Day, the building is going to have to be a solid class-A if not trophy-class building. Neither of Downtown Cleveland’s two trophy-class towers — Key Tower or the newly renamed Oswald Tower, 950 Main Ave., have enough available space to accommodate Jones Day.

After the departure of Benesch to Key Tower, 200 Public Square has enough raw space for Jones Day. Leasing agent Colliers lists the building’s office spaces as nearly 72 percent leased, or 357,767 square feet of office space as available. But the vacancies aren’t contiguous and many tenants would have to be moved around to clear a block of space large enough for Jones Day.

Benesch’s departure left a 124,088-square-foot hole in 200 Public Square — or, only half of the space that Jones Day needs. There are several other strikes against 200 Public Square. One is the building’s superior naming rights (placed atop the tower) which currently belong to Huntington Bank. It is shrinking its office presence here.

Cleveland Cliffs is going in the opposite direction and may take over Huntington’s naming rights. It might also take over some of Benesch’s vacated space. But it won’t be doing it as quickly as it would have if Cleveland Cliffs’ pursuit of acquiring US Steel had been successful. Jones Day probably wouldn’t get naming rights to the tower.

And the last strike against 200 Public Square is its pending acquisition by Namdar Realty Group of Great Neck, NY. NEOtrans has yet to hear from anyone in real estate circles who feels that Namdar’s purchase is a positive for 200 Public Square’s future. Namdar has limited experience with office buildings compared to its retail-heavy portfolio.

Near the left side of the image, the building with the curved façade, is the Stokes Federal Courthouse. Circled immediately to the right of it is an office building proposed by Bedrock Real Estate in its riverfront masterplan that may be the right size and location for Jones Day (Adjaye Associates).

Even in retail, Namdar has concerned local civic leaders about its business practices. Namdar has a history of owning low-rent and faded retail properties like Dollar General stores, most of Severance Tower Center in Cleveland Heights, and Ohio Station Outlets next to Interstate 71 in Burbank. Namdar also presided over the demise of Midway Mall in Elyria.

Other possibilities don’t appear desirable, namely filling a corner of an otherwise vacant, massive labyrinth-like office building. Those options include the 1.3-million-square-foot, century-old The Centennial at 925 Euclid Ave. or Sherwin-Williams’ old headquarters, 101 W. Prospect Ave. The global coatings giant plans to vacate the 900,000-square-foot, 94-year-old building by early next year.

These buildings were or are being vacated by office users for the same reason why Jones Day is unlikely to want them — outdated interior designs. Today, tenants want open office floorplans, be easy and affordable to maintain, large windows and energy efficiency. Those are all drawbacks to them winning the new Cuyahoga County Courthouse, too.

All of that leaves open the possibility of new construction. There’s no shortage of surface parking lots downtown that could accommodate a new office tower and attached parking garage for Jones Day. But sources said not all downtown sites will do. This conservative law firm isn’t into urbanism and probably doesn’t want to be in the maw of the central business district.

Locating in Bedrock’s riverfront development may give Jones Day the right mix of natural settings in the central business district along with extremely easy access to federal court facilities and offices (Adjaye Associates).

Jones Day’s lawyers and staff want to be able to drive in and out of the office and hit the highway relatively quickly, the sources said. They’d probably like some greenery around their office building. They want their name atop their building and to be easily visible. And having an office within a short walk to one or more courthouses, especially federal, would be a real plus. There is a site that fits this description perfectly.

Late last year, Bedrock Real Estate made a strong pitch to land the headquarters of Park Place Technologies at its downtown riverfront site next to Tower City Center. Before the fast-growing Mayfield Heights-based networking optimization firm found a glove-fitting site in Progressive Direct Insurance Company’s surplus Alpha Campus, it considered an intriguing option.

That option involved constructing a 250,000- to 280,000-square-foot office tower atop a parking garage of up to 500 parking spaces. And it proposed building it on Huron Road immediately next to the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse tower. While Park Place found its glove-fitting option, this might be Jones Day’s.

NEOtrans reached out to sources at and close to Bedrock about this but no one’s talking. Some planning had been done on this site to give Park Place some numbers on which they could base their decision. That planning could give this site and Jones Day a head start which may be valuable considering their North Point lease ends in less than three years.


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