CLEVELAND — One of the last old buildings to be renovated in the heart of Cleveland is a few months away from becoming the newest downtown apartment building.
75 Public Square will join structures like The May Co. Building and Euclid Grand to be renovated with help from historic tax credits, giving Cleveland’s historic buildings a new use for the coming decades.
Rachel Peddie didn’t mind when she visited Cleveland from California.
“When buildings are so old, you just feel like there’s a lot of character and it’s more interesting than the new modern buildings in my opinion,” said Peddie.
She stumbled across the work being done at 75 Public Square, where Millinnea Companies is turning the 1913 Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company offices more than a century after it was built on the northwest corner of Public Square. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2021 with residents moving in soon after.
“The building was designed and built in 1914 so we are talking about 107 years that it is here,” said Millenna Companies Project Manager Maria Banig.
75 Public Square will bring 114 apartment units of mostly one-bedroom units on the second through 14th floors. The top floor will be a common space with a rooftop space overlooking Public Square. The ground floor will have 3,000 and 1,200 square foot retail spaces that open to Public Square.
Next door, 55 Public Square is being renovated into office space and more apartments while refurbishing the former John Q’s Steakhouse restaurant into a new restaurant space.
Millennia Regional Property Manager Kevin Davey says 75 Public Square will be coming online as one of the last historic buildings available to be renovated in the heart of downtown while demand hasn’t fallen much even during the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a big resurgence in the activity in the first half of this year with people moving back,” said Davey. “Demand in the downtown market has really increased.”
The completion of 75 Public Square’s renovation will mark a point where most historic downtown buildings will have already been renovated into something new, leaving two options for developers: build new construction on surface parking lots, or find new communities to target for new renovation projects.
“I know there are a lot of people who love living on East 4th [Street] but for some folks, who’s just too much,” said Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative Director Terry Schwarz.
That’s why Schwarz says communities like MidTown Cleveland, the Campus District, and Superior Arts Districts are getting more attention. She says the boom of downtown historic renovations shows that Ohio’s Historic Tax Credit program has worked. Since new construction project like The Luman and Intro in Ohio City are often very expensive, it’s more likely that developers will decide to work on buildings that are just a few blocks farther away from the city center.
“The cost-benefit analysis may tip towards historic preservation and adaptive reuse because of the financial incentive to do so,” said Schwarz.
At the same time, apartments are being built near the Cleveland Hopkins Airport, where the NASA K building is under construction right now to become 84 luxury apartment units named The Centaur, after the booster vehicles that NASA designed, built, and monitored from the area.
Citiroc Real Estate Company’s Jon Mavrakis tells News 5 residents in that project will have all the amenities that are common in downtown apartments but with a litlte more space and in a newer structure, while being minutes away from the airport.
The new kid on the historical block downtown is Sherwin-Williams, which just presented its plans for a new headquarters a few feet away from 75 Public Square. The headquarters next door will take years to build but it shows the people that will live in the apartments nearby that they’re in the heart of an active downtown.
“I think they realize the true value that location has in the conversation,” said 75 Public Square Property Manager Donna-Marie Epstein. “It gives you that lifestyle and the excitement of being within steps of everything and it gives you access without having to worry about Uber-ing, without having to worry about driving.”
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