PHOTOS: Flats East Bank ribbon cutting today

Posted at 6:34 PM, Oct 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-01 18:34:15-04

Work had no sooner begun on the Flats East Bank project in the fall of 2008 when the nation was hit by the collapse of the financial markets.

"On October 1, 2008 all I was trying to do was get to October 2, 2008," said Adam Fishman, a principal in Fairmount Properties which was a partner with Scott Wolstein in the more than half billion dollar project.

"The world had really stopped in our business, it became a global real estate depression," he said.

The project had to be put on hold as the financing for it and others like it disappeared, what didn't was the commitment of Wolstein to see it through. If one lender wouldn't come up with a lot of money, he'd find a lot of lenders to come up with a little money and he did, around 35 in all.

"I don't think that anybody has ever seen a financing package in this part of the country for a project as complicated as what was Phase I and now Phase II," Fishman said.

"The Phase I loan was the first major construction loan in the country to close and fund post economic crash here in Cleveland Ohio right on this riverfront."

In addition to the location that drive is part of what drew local restaurant owner Steve Schimoler to open Crop Rocks and Crop Sticks as part of the project.

"That's a huge part of the formula, for someone to invest in their vision," Schimoler said. "Seeing that level of commitment from Fairmount and the Wolstein family was inspiring to the point where there's a level of confidence and when you can trust people and have confidence in that they're going to do what they say that's a great thing."

Fishman pointed out that this is just the beginning.  "There's a lot more to come, where you see parking lots we see development sites. And while we'll lose some parking, we'll probably replace it with structured parking but we're working on a Phase III right now. There's terrific demand for housing, we've got some exciting additional retail options going forward.'

"We have so many retailers that want to be a part of the project now that we're going to accomadate them in future phases."

A lot of that has to do with the newness of the development.

"This is the first time there's been really new waterfront living, new construction in Northeastern Ohio in a generation. I mean the Gold Coast really is about the last time I can remember there being new waterfront living on the lake and the river.

"It's a neighborhood that we hopefully in five, ten years people will see this as an extension of the city. Not necessarily as a real estate development but as a fully integrated neighborhood where you can shop, live, dine, play recreate, come visit, bring your friends from out of town bring suburbanites in," Fishman said.

Phase II officially opened last month, bringing in new restaurants and bars including FWD Day & Night Club, Alley Cat, Crop Rocks, Crop Sticks, Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, FlipSide Burgers and On Air Studio. 

The $133 million phase also included the development of a 241-unit residential apartment building and a 1,200-foot riverfront boardwalk. 

Starting earlier this month, restaurants announced they would open up for Cleveland Browns games, hosting tailgate parties with deals on food and drinks.

Also expected to be included in Phase III are a movie theater, retail and more residential apartments.