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Developer announces plan to revitalize closed I-X Center, bringing back trade shows and events

Posted at 11:23 AM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 18:19:46-04

CLEVELAND — A development group is working to breathe new life into the shuttered I-X Center, which for decades served as Cleveland’s destination for trade shows and numerous events, including the Home and Garden Show and the I-X Indoor Amusement Park, according to a news release.

Industrial Realty Group (IRG), a real estate and investment firm, announced its purchase of the stock of the IX Center Corporation, which operates the 2.2 million-square-foot I-X Center.

IRG will partner with Industrial Commercial Properties, a national real estate development company headquartered in Cleveland, to breathe new life into the facility.

“The I-X Center has been on our radar for years,” said Stuart Lichter, President of IRG, in the release. “It has 159 acres full of potential and a versatile 2.2 million square foot building. We’re preparing a creative, robust plan for the surrounding development, while simultaneously reopening the existing I-X Center for convention and trade show use this year.”

According to the release, developers will “immediately” prepare the main hall for events, with promoters to market trade show events such as the Auto, Home & Garden, Recreational Vehicles, I-X Christmas Connection and I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama Show.

“These trade shows have a significant impact on the region’s economy,” said Lichter. “We are delighted to facilitate these events on site once again.”

The I-X Center closed in September 2020 after 35 years in business, citing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It had welcomed more than two million visitors annually. In the late 80s, the 2.2. million-square-foot building was first recognized in the Guinness World Records as the largest single building convention center in the county.

IRG is a California based group but one with ties already to Northeast Ohio having built Goodyear’s new Akron Headquarters. Their plans for the massive IX Center Complex go beyond maintaining the status quo. They’re already looking at the redevelopment of the center and adding new development to the land around it.

“160 acres leaves a lot of room for opportunities and I think we’re looking at ways in which we can create a 24/7, 365 day a year complex here that keeps people coming and creates jobs and economic benefit into the Cleveland area," said Peter Goffstein, IRG Senior Vice President.

That’s long term. Short term was reestablishing connections to the center’s signature shows. One of their first calls when looking at the property this summer was to the Cleveland Auto Show.

“I’m ecstatic," said Lou Vitantonio, President of the Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers.

“The auto show has been here since 1986, you know consumers expect to come here it’s a great facility, great parking, high ceilings, all of the things that will make a convention center great and we’re really, really excited to get back,” he said.

Their return in late February means the planned December auto show at the Huntington Convention Center is now off.

“We are now going to put back to our original dates of the end of February and March and we look forward to it. It’s the opening of the spring selling season and that’s what the auto show is all about.”

IRG officially got the keys to the place on Monday and while they're still working on the calendar the auto show will take place February 25 to March 6, 2022.

RELATED: The I-X Center closes after 35 years in business, citing effects of global pandemic

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