One downtown garage down, more to go?

In November 2023, demolition crews were busily taking down the 65-year-old Arena Parking garage in downtown Cleveland’s Gateway District. Two more aging downtown garages were recently closed due to their decaying conditions and many more garages are reaching the ends of their financial and structural lives at a time of increasing remote work and declining office markets (Kevin DeFranco). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

800 Superior, Statler Arms garages close, fates uncertain

It’s a tough time for Downtown Cleveland parking garages built in the 1950s and 1960s. Three of them in particular, each with just over 300 parking spaces or 966 total, are having a rough go of it. One already was demolished. Two others were closed due to their worsening condition. Many other downtown garages are of a similar age and may face financial and structural uncertainty in a weak office market.

In November 2023, Bedrock Cleveland demolished its Arena Parking garage, 611 Huron Rd. The 330-space garage was across the street from the RocketMortgage FieldHouse where the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball and Cleveland Monsters hockey teams play, Although not condemned, the 1958-built garage was considered “unserviceable” by its former owner Stark Enterprises and closed.

There are no plans at this time to develop the property with anything more than the 36-space surface parking lot that was built as an “interim” use. NEOtrans has heard from several sources that Bedrock is entertaining potential joint ventures for developing this and neighboring parking lots. These were once proposed by Stark for a mixed-use megaproject called nuCLEus.

While one aging parking garage yielding to the wrecking ball doesn’t indicate a trend, two more might. And these are just a small sample of the number of downtown Cleveland parking garages. These structures may reach the end of their financial lives after 39 years according to the IRS and their structural lives soon after, especially if they haven’t been sufficiently maintained.

Demolition may be the fate of garage for the 21-story 800 Superior office tower which has offices for Amtrust Financial, National General Insurance and other tenants. Now closed, the 325-space garage was built in 1969, the same year as the office tower and has the same owner — 800 Superior LLC, an affiliate of the Allstate Insurance Co. and its National General Insurance that’s based in Charlotte, NC.

The vehicular entrances to 800 Superior’s parking garage are on Vincent Avenue and one is blocked off by temporary metal barricades placed there. Some vehicles are parked in the garage’s ground level, however. The garage’s adjoining office tower received interim repairs to its façade last fall with a larger restoration program due this year but there is no indication that similar repairs were made to the garage (KJP).

Behind the office tower, at 735 Vincent Ave., is the vehicular entrance to the seven-level garage for 800 Superior. The garage has an active retail space occupied by Phoenix Coffee, 1700 E, 9th St., which remains open on weekdays. There are rumors that the garage may be demolished and replaced with a new parking structure designed to support a future vertical addition, such as a new building.

NEOtrans reached out to a company spokesman and to the owner’s representative CBRE Group at its Cleveland office about the fate of the 800 Superior garage but didn’t get a response prior to publication of this article. AmTrust’s legal headquarters is in New York City but its operational headquarters is in Cleveland. And it was rapidly growing by hundreds of workers throughout the 2010s until the pandemic hit.

On Feb. 23, the Cleveland Building Department received a complaint from an anonymous tipster about poor conditions at the garage. Specifically, the complaint urged the city to “inspect roof, concrete cracked, poor lighting,” public records show.

In the fall of 2023, following a June 2023 building inspection by CRJ Services LLC of Willoughby which showed “unsafe” conditions, temporary repairs were made to the brick façade of the 55-year-old office tower. There is no indication in public records that repairs were made to the garage’s exterior which is of the same age and built of the same materials as the tower’s exterior.

Cleveland-based Osborn Engineering and Broadview Heights-based Ram Construction Services of Cleveland LLC were hired by CBRE Group to make $356,800 worth of repairs to shore up the unsafe conditions. Brian Hengle, director of structural restoration at Osborn Engineering, wrote in a Dec. 8, 2023 letter to Cleveland’s Chief Building Official Tom Vanover that the temporary repairs are done but that a larger renovation is due.

In August 2021, with the remote-working effects of the pandemic still dominant, 800 Superior’s parking garage and office tower were open but relatively quiet. Since then major repairs to the tower’s façade are planned and the garage was closed (Google).

“At this time, OE (Osborn Engineering) can confirm that the ‘make safe’ work has been completed by RAM and that the façade is considered stable and safe,” Hengle wrote. “It is understood that follow-up full façade renovation program will commence within the next year and OE is confirming herein that the façade will remain stable for the expected timeframe until the start of the next full program.”

No other permit applications, violation notices or condemnation orders were found by NEOtrans on the Building Department’s Web portal or in Cleveland Municipal Court and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records relating to 800 Superior.

The 800 Superior garage was recently operated by national firm LAZ Parking of Hartford, CT according to a 2021 Google Streetview of the Vincent entrance. It is no longer listed on LAZ Parking’s Web site. The entrance to the garage’s upper levels are blocked off by temporary barricades although vehicles continue to park on the ground level. NEOtrans reached out to LAZ Parking to learn more about the status of the garage and its future but received no replies.

Yet another downtown garage operated by LAZ Parking is in trouble. In recent days, the Statler Arms parking garage was closed and its main vehicular entrance on Euclid Avenue blocked off. Although a sign on the gate covering the entrance from floor to ceiling says the garage is “closed for renovations — no trespassing,” no permits have been requested from the city to begin those renovations.

The Statler Arms apartments and the parking garage have different addresses; NEOtrans checked both addresses at the city Building Department’s Web portal. The apartments are at 1127 Euclid Ave. and the garage is actually behind the apartment building at 1111 Hickory Ct. The vehicular passageway through to the garage was once the lobby for the Stillman Theater, demolished in 1963 — a decade before the campaign to save Playhouse Square venues began.

The vehicle entrance to the Statler Arms garage, seen in front of the black car, is gated and sealed with a chain and lock. The garage, located behind the red-bricked Statler Arms building, was closed after complaints about its decaying condition were filed and building code violations notices were sent to the garage’s owner (KJP).

Replacing the ornate Stillman Theater a year later was the 311-space parking garage with two below-grade levels, six above-grade levels and rooftop parking, according to a financing summary from Thorofare Capital. The financing summary was in regards to the property’s 2016 acquisition by Hudson Holdings of Delray Beach, FL.

Hudson paid $6 million for the garage one year after buying the nearby, vacant, 1.3-million-square-foot 925 Euclid Ave. building for just $22 million, selling it only two years later to Millennia Companies for $40 million. Millennia has been unable to redevelop the property despite tens of millions of public subsidies awarded to it. Hudson Holdings bought the garage in anticipating of it playing a part in the redevelopment of 925 Euclid.

But after it sold 925 Euclid, Hudson Holdings in 2020 unloaded the aging parking garage for $1.75 million to Euclid Avenue Garage LLC, an affiliate of Med Prop Management of Tamarac, FL. According to city records, the statutory agent of Med Prop Management is Andrew Greenbaum. Public records also show Greenbaum to be a principal and registered agent of Hudson Holdings.

Two years later, complaints about the garage’s declining condition began coming into the Building Department and violation notices started going out. NEOtrans reached out to Med Prop Management but received no replies.

Complaints increased in 2023, city records show. Last June came a report that there were “Huge pools of water on the third and sixth floors, holes on ground floor (and the) garage falling apart.” The anonymous complaint requested and received a city inspection of the property.

Entrance to the Statler Arms garage was gated and locked last week, with motorists greeted by signs reading “Statler Garage closed for renovation — No trespassing —” although no renovation permits have been submitted to the city as yet (KJP).

In September 2023, that inspection revealed “Exposed rebar in the floor and large cracks in the support pillars. Cracks run along the roof. I-beams near the elevators have completely rusted through and are swollen with very intense scaling. The drainage system is in disrepair and standing water will remain on several floors for months. The lighting is extremely poor and non-functional on some floors.”

The city gave Euclid Avenue Garage until Oct. 26, 2023 to request a building permit to start renovations. No building permit application was found by NEOtrans. If no action was taken by the Oct. 26 deadline, the property owner was subject to penalties and prosecution. No cases against Euclid Avenue Garage were found in municipal and county court records by NEOtrans.

If the city finds that any renovation “work that is abandoned for more than 90 days in a substantially incomplete state shall be considered work that is not performed in a workmanlike manner,” the city said in a Sept. 26 violation notice sent to owner Euclid Avenue Garage. Ninety days following the Oct. 26 deadline put it at the end of January.

The Sept. 26 violation notice appears to have been resent to the property owner and several others on Oct. 16, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and, finally, on Friday, March 22, Building Department records show.


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