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Company leasing I-X Center plans new layout, new business, even a new name

Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 19:14:38-05

CLEVELAND — Change is inevitable, and that’s even proving true for the I-X Center.

It’s currently the ninth-largest exhibition hall in the country, but the company now in charge of the site says they’re planning to cut down some of that exhibition space to make room for businesses to set up shop.

The I-X Center as you know it is preparing to undergo a major facelift.

The City of Cleveland still owns the massive exhibition hall boasting 2.2 million square feet.

In September of 2021, the Industrial Realty Group (IRG) began leasing the building from the city and creating its long-term plan for this space in order to attract more business and attendees.

“Our first step is to right-size the convention center into a format that would be typical of a city this size,” said Michele Kiernan, IRG’s Vice President and Asset Development Manager. “And in doing that, we will make the space more efficient.”

IRG officials say that includes an initial investment of $50 million.

“The biggest change is people won’t see that big open concept,” said Claire Anter, I-X Center’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

Anter works for Spectra, the company that manages the I-X center. She said IRG’s plan includes splitting up the main level so there are 500,000 square feet of exhibition space. That space would then be divided in half — featuring the well-known “North Hall,” which typically houses events like the Cleveland Auto Show — and what we will come to know as the South Hall, which has been mostly unseen by the general public—until they provided News 5 crews a tour this week.

“This will be our new exhibition space,” Anter said.

The iconic indoor Ferris wheel, which is set to come down during renovations, is not part of the center’s retooling plan.

“The good news is that our goal is to dismantle it, take it to a new location outside the ix center and hopefully have it be used again,” Anter said.

In its place, a permanent wall will be going up to divide the main level, with the north and south exhibition halls on one side, and another 720,000 square feet of leasing space on the other side.

“We really try to target light assembly and manufacturing and distribution companies that would likely bring more jobs,” Kiernan said.

Also up for a refresher is the building’s concourse level, which offers another 50,000 square feet for events.

IRG is now looking for a company interested in naming rights of the ix center.

“It's always great when we can take an underutilized property and turn it into something more successful than what we took on,” Kiernan said.

All of these changes are in the hopes of bringing in new revenue and doubling attendance to three million a year.

The first phase of renovations is expected to last up to five years.

IRG has a lease for the I-X Center through 2024, but officials are currently in talks with the city to extend that lease another 50 years.

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