Slavic Village’s Olympia Building to be renovated

Although the Olympia Building at East 55th Street, Broadway and Hamlet avenues is reported to be in fair condition, it’s actually in much better condition than many other nearby structures in the heart of Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. Some of those other building are subject of another redevelopment effort called The Village 55 to renovate or replace them (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

New York investor adds to Cleveland-area portfolio

Increased interest in reviving historic structures around the mostly intact Broadway-East 55th intersection in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood has expanded to include the 113-year-old Olympia Building, 3335-3361 E. 55 St. That building will feature renovated apartments over existing storefronts and the preserved lobby for the Olympia’s adjacent movie theater demolished long ago.

Plans show the building’s 20 apartments on the second and third floors will remain as low-income housing and are to be renovated for $2.3 million, according to a building permit application submitted last week to the city of Cleveland’s Building Department. The plans were produced and submitted by Hiti DiFrancesco and Siebold, Inc. (HD+S), a Cleveland architectural firm which specializes in designing senior housing, multi-family and offices.

“(This will be a) renovation of the resident units located on the second and third floors of the Olympia Building along with (a) management office located in one of the ground-floor storefront spaces,” wrote HD+S Associate Michael Werner in his filing with the city. “Work includes renovation of common stairs and corridors and replacement of entry doors serving the resident units.”

Acquiring the 26,875-square-foot building and its 0.58-acre piece of land in September 2022 was the Olympia Foundation Inc. Documents filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office show Olympia Foundation traces to David Garland, a managing member of real estate firm Genesis Global Holdings Inc. of New York City.

Site plan for the Olympia Building on East 55th Street at the intersection of East 55th, Broadway and Hamlet avenues in Cleveland’s Slavic Village (hd+s).

Genesis Global is pursuing a $100 million redevelopment of the Cuyahoga County-owned East Cleveland Adult Activity Center at Euclid and Superior avenues in the city of East Cleveland. In an interview with NEOtrans in February 2023, Garland also confirmed his company’s recent acquisition of and interest in a future renovation of the Olympia Building.

He said his firm has transitioned away from leading multiple large developments in New York City to focus on “frontier markets” outside of the Big Apple. Garland did not respond to a text message left by NEOtrans earlier today, seeking additional information about the pending renovation of the Olympia Building.

The acquisition of the Olympia Building from the Community Cooperative Development Foundation of Ohio Inc. was by quit-claim deed so no dollar amount for the transaction was shown in Cuyahoga County public records. However, the property was appraised last year by the county at $288,800 for tax purposes.

Multiple buildings surrounding the Broadway-East 55th intersection are the subject of proposed renovations, some demolitions as well as new construction as part of a roughly $70 million first phase of The Village 55 development by The Village Partnership led by Veda Capital LLC. Although plans are still fluid, a total of 180-220 residential units in several buildings, all with ground-floor retail are planned in the first phase.

Close-up of the facade of the Olympia Building including its ground-floor commercial spaces and the entry to the old Olympia Theater’s lobby. The theater, once located behind this building, was demolished in the 1980s (Google).

Across the street from that potential development is the Olympia Building. It is planned to have four one-bedroom apartments ranging in floorspace from 580 to 691 square feet and 16 two-bedroom suites ranging in size from 760-936 square feet, according to the plans submitted to the city. One unit will be designed with features making it accessible to persons with hearing or vision impairments.

One of the spaces in the 23-space parking lot behind the building on Hamlet Avenue will be handicapped accessible. The plans also show that another parking space will be for electric vehicles and equipped with a charger. The project’s structural engineer is I.A. Lewin P.E. & Associates with Denk And Associates serving as the mechanical, electrical and plumbing electrical engineer. Both are Cleveland companies.

In December 2023, the Cuyahoga County Council awarded up to $250,000 to Olympia Foundation for the rehabilitation of the Olympia Building from the District 8 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Community Grant Fund. The funding was sponsored by Councilmembers Yvonne Conwell of District 7 and Pernell Jones Jr. of District 8.

Olympia Foundation also may be seeking bond gap financing from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). In its plans submitted to the city, it included specifications for projects to be gap-financed by OHFA and how the Olympia Building’s renovation would adhere to them.

How the Olympia Building and its theater’s marquee looked in early 1953. Showing at the theater was the Red Skelton movie “The Clown,” released on Jan. 16th of that year, Wikidedianotes. The East 55th streetcar line stopped running on March 7, 1953, according to the Central Electric Railfans Association (raydeas at

The building was last renovated in the late-1980s, including new windows and brick exterior repairs that apparently will not be pursued in this pending renovation. Also, the 10,259 square feet of ground-floor commercial space will not be renovated as part of this project. Although the building is not registered as a landmark, it is a contributing building to the Broadway Avenue Historic District that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

When it was built in 1911-13, the Olympia Building included a lobby for a 2,000-seat vaudeville theater located behind the mixed-use structure. The building along East 55th was expanded to the north and doubled in size in 1920. The theater was renovated in 1918 into a movie theater and was one of the largest movie houses in the country. Its seating was later reduced to 600 seats and the theater showed first-run movies.

But as nearby industries closed in the 1970s and suburban sprawl intensified, the neighborhood declined. The movie theater closed in 1980 and briefly reopened as an adult movie house. The neighborhood protested against it and got the theater shut down. When renovations to the decaying building were sought several years later by the Olympia-Broadway Renovation Corp., it was decided to demolish the theater and use the space as parking for the Olympia’s apartments.


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