Creating Change

Creating ChangeCity of Cleveland Department of Economic DevelopmentCity of Cleveland Department of Economic Development

As Cleveland re-imagines itself, new developers are repurposing and restoring old, vacant and underutilized commercial properties in Cleveland that are having transformative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

The efforts and investment of these millennial developers have spurred additional investment in neighboring areas that are changing the economics of these communities.

These three impactful projects are occurring throughout Cleveland:

Sustainable Community Associates
After receiving national recognition for their work on a blighted block within the City of Oberlin, Sustainable Community Associates (SCA), a trio of young 30-something developers, set their sights on the redevelopment of the vacant Fairmont Creamery building. Located off of Willey Avenue, the five-story, 107,000-square-foot building sits on a convenient link between Ohio City and Tremont.

The old Fairmont Creamery, formerly a refrigerated creamery and then a plating facility, has been redeveloped into a mixed-use building that includes modern apartments, a gym and offices. The total project costs for the redevelopment were approximately $14.5 million. The building opened in October 2014 with 100 percent occupancy, transforming a dark, mostly vacant building into a beautiful multi-functional space.

The building had been largely vacant for about 30 years, with traditional developers shying away from the brownfield cleanup, as well as the ramp for horse-drawn carriages that cut through the middle of the building.

Recasting this building as housing and offices took enormous creativity and required a good deal of gap financing. Tenants of the building today include Pandora Media, the Tremont Athletic Club, Twist Creative, Authentic Films, Good to go Café and Kelly Buck Company.

With the City’s assistance, SCA was able to bring this facility back to productive use, attract several new businesses to the City of Cleveland and create 20 new full-time jobs.

The SCA group “believes in development that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, working to find the perfect balance between good business and progressive values.”

The group is in the midst of their third transformative project with the Ohio Awning Building, an historic building on Scranton Road in the Tremont neighborhood.

SCA aims to transform the three-story Ohio Awning building into 55 apartments, with 12,000 square feet of commercial space in the basement. Naomi Sabel of SCA says the trio sees the Ohio Awning project as another transitional and transformational undertaking.

SCA applied for state historic preservation tax credits to help with the renovation project, which could be a $12 million investment. With a $1.7 million state credit award, the developers hope to finish the project in mid-2016.

"It was the missing piece that was going to push the project forward," Josh Rosen, one of the developers, said of the state credits, which will round out a financing plan that includes federal preservation tax credits and traditional loans.

Furthermore, SCA sought the assistance from the Department of Economic Development to help purchase vacant property adjacent to the development project, which will be turned into public parking for up to 63 vehicles.

Platform Beer
Justin Carson created JC BeerTech in Medina in 2000 and earned a reputation as a premier provider in innovation, quality and service of draft dispensing systems.

The company services thousands of customers nationally with a growing client list that includes Cleveland Browns Stadium (now FirstEnergy Stadium), Progressive Field, Applebee’s and Longhorn Steakhouse.

JC BeerTech created technologies that significantly improve the way draft beer is dispensed, serviced, managed and reported through web-based platforms. The company was awarded a patent on its innovative web-based monitoring system and has revolutionized the way draft beer and soda is dispensed in restaurants and bars.

Envisioning a space for innovation to promote draught beer quality through research, development, education, training and further technological advancements, Justin acquired a long-vacant 8,899-square-foot building at 4125 Lorain Avenue and renovated it in 2013 to move operations to Cleveland.

With office and administrative staff on the second floor, Justin renovated the first floor space to open Platform Beer in 2014 as a brewery incubator and brewpub cafe. Platform Beer offers space, brewing equipment and guidance to home brewers who wish to start their own line of craft beers.

The brewery is setting out to be a producer of high-quality craft beers with a focus on a strong seasonal lineup. Further, it aims to serve as a “platform” for aspiring brewers by giving them the opportunity to be a part of a startup brewery incubator. The brewery now distributes beer to supermarkets, beer retailers and restaurants throughout the region.

Located in a central part of Ohio City, the brew pub serves as a catalyst, anchoring new developments in the area of Lorain Avenue and East 41st Street.

Because of Platform Beer’s incredible success, they quickly outgrew their brewing capacity. In partnership with others, they acquired the 120,000-square-foot former home of the Leisy Brewing Company. Leisy closed in 1958 as a result of consolidation in the brewing industry and the inability to fully recover from the Prohibition.

A portion of the building will become a contract brewing facility that will brew beer on a contract basis for local brewers needing additional capacity and out-of-state brewers looking to enter the Cleveland and Ohio market.

With minimal-to-no investment over the past 20 years in the neighborhood around Vega Avenue, the acquisition and renovation of this building will bring investment and jobs back to this area. It also will eliminate vacant industrial space, which abuts railroad tracks and I-90.

Graham Veysey and Marika Shioiri-Clark
The Hingetown Project, a mixed-use redevelopment of a 96-year-old, 13,320-square-foot brick building, is viewed as the “link project” that connects the Ohio City and Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods.

Graham Veysey and his wife Marika Shioiri-Clark are entrepreneurs who acquired an old vacant firehouse structure at 1455 West 29th Street and converted it to an incubator that is currently home to six micro-businesses. With the help of the City of Cleveland, he also acquired and renovated the roughly 13,000-square-foot, two-story predominantly vacant building across the street at the corner of West 29th Street and Detroit Avenue. At the time, it had a 50 percent retail vacancy and 100 percent residential vacancy.

The project involved restoring the exterior of the building, renovating the seven vacant residential units and upgrading the retail and commercial storefronts to code compliance while attracting additional small businesses and residents to the growing Ohio City neighborhood.

Today, tenants include Cleveland Tea Revival, Beet Jar Juice Bar, Jukebox and Harness Cycle, among others.