It’s official: Board of Elections to ex-Plain Dealer building

Cuyahoga County Council will begin considering next week whether to approve a lease agreement at the former Plain Dealer building, 1801 Superior Ave., for relocating the Board of Elections and some Health & Human Services offices (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Ronayne seeks Council approval of lease, sales

Confirming news first reported here at NEOtrans two weeks ago, Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne informed county staff that he will introduce plans to Cuyahoga County Council on Tuesday to lease the former Plain Dealer building downtown for the new Board of Elections (BOE) offices. In a memo circulated today to certain county employees, he also outlined plans for additional real estate moves by the county.

NEOtrans secured a copy of Ronayne’s memo sent by an internal e-mail to county staff. Cuyahoga County Director of Communications Kelly Woodard confirmed the e-mail was sent and said more information will be shared publicly soon.

The Plain Dealer building, 1801 Superior Ave., was considered by real estate insiders as a likely landing spot for the BOE when the county issued a request for proposals (RFP) a year ago to seek a new, larger BOE site to handle large crowds and parking for early voting in a presidential election. In the RFP, county officials said they hoped to secure the new location by Jan. 1, 2024. The BOE has been at the Robert Hughes Building, 2925 Euclid Ave., since 1957.

“Our goal is that 1801 Superior will become the new home of the Board of Elections, which has outgrown its current space on Euclid Avenue,” Ronayne said in his memo to county staff. “We’ve all seen how voting habits have changed over the last few elections, and we believe the new location will have more parking, more interior space for early voting queues, and better conditions for employees.”

NEOtrans previously reported an early indicator of the new BOE site, which emerged on Feb. 21. That’s when a permit application file was opened on the city of Cleveland’s Building Department Web portal but was not completed or submitted yet. The application was for “Board of Elections – Early Voting” and the address provided on the opened application was 1801 Superior, the public records showed.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has been at the Hughes Building on Euclid Avenue at East 30th Street since 1957 when the building was built. It has outgrown the building and the county will likely sell it (Google).

“The decision to acquire a new building and rearrange office spaces comes after careful consideration and planning,” Ronayne added. “We believe that this move will enhance operations, improve collaboration and efficiency among agencies and departments, and provide better access and services to the public.”

The former Plain Dealer building is owned by Industrial Commercial Properties (ICP) LLC of Solon. Its affiliate Cleveland Superior LLC acquired the 235,312-square-foot office building built in 2000, 160,000-square-foot, two-level, 800-space parking structure and offices from 1969, and its 8-acre property in May 2022 for $12.35 million, county records show. The site is near an interchange with Interstate 90 and served by frequent, 24-hour bus service on Superior.

While both ICP’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Salata and Executive Vice President Austin Semarjian opened NEOtrans’ e-mails seeking more information, neither responded prior to publication of this article.

The 1801 Superior building is in the Superior Arts District which is diversifying into a mix of headquarters offices for large businesses like Cross Country Mortgage, or city functions like the Cleveland Police Department, or multiple smaller or start-up businesses. Plus there are numerous restaurant, residential and retail offerings popping up in the area at the north end of downtown’s Campus District.

The BOE won’t be the only county tenant at 1801 Superior whose only current tenant is Step Forward, formerly the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland.. The county’s Health & Human Services (HHS) also will be relocating there. Ronayne outlined in his memo to staff these and other real estate moves that the county will be undertaking in the coming months.

The Jane Edna Brown Social Services Center on Euclid Avenue at East 40th Street is next to the The Children’s Museum of Cleveland and has a HealthLine bus rapid transit station out front. The 170,640-square-foot county-owned office building was built in 1955 and renovated in 1984 (Google).

“Additionally, as part of this initiative, we will renovate the Virgil E. Brown building at 1641 Payne Ave., sell the Jane Edna Hunter building at 3955 Euclid Ave., and evaluate county leases for other properties,” he said. “We will be relocating some HHS offices to Virgil E. Brown and others to 1801 Superior.”

It is assumed the county will also eventually sell the Hughes Building, named after Robert Hughes, the late Republican Party boss of Cuyahoga County. Selling both the Hughes and Hunter buildings on that stretch of Euclid in Midtown could prove to be a challenge, said Nathan Kelly, president and managing director of Cresco Real Estate in Cleveland.

“It’ll have to be totally reimagined,” said Kelly, referring first to the Hughes Building. “It’s been renovated a half-dozen times for one purpose: managing elections. And there’s only one user in the county that does that. And I’d put Jane Edna Hunter in the same category as the elections board building.”

There are rumors that the Jane Edna Hunter building could become the new home of The Centers for Families and Children. Simply called The Centers. the nonprofit organization’s main offices are currently located nearby at the Nancy Lyon Porter Building, 4500 Euclid. NEOtrans is seeking more information about the reuse of the county’s Euclid Avenue buildings.


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