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'Missing piece on Euclid Ave:' The Centennial Project gets $40M boost with new tax credit

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Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-05 07:36:33-05

CLEVELAND — A historic corner in downtown Cleveland will be reinvigorated with a mix of high end commercial space and affordable living options. This week, Ohio announced it was awarding a $40 million tax credit for the Centennial Project on Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street.

“This really gave us a shot in the arm and the boost we needed to get over the hump,” said Tom Mignogna, the Vice President of Millenia Housing Development, Ltd.

The company received the largest allocation in the state’s inaugural round of Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) funding. The program is intended to cover some of the costs for construction of facilities that could become a catalyst for an area’s economy.

“It is really the last, big, missing piece on Euclid Avenue,” said Michael Deemer, the CEO of Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

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A rendering of the E 9th St facade of The Centennial

He explained the Centennial sits at the intersection of several main corridors. The building, which has been mostly vacant for almost a decade, is one of the only empty properties remaining between Cleveland State University and Public Square.

“To have this gem of a building updated and restored to meet today’s needs is just a huge, impactful opportunity for Downtown Cleveland and really the entire city,” Deemer said.

The project costs are expected to total around $450 million, much of which will be paid for with a combination of public and private partnerships. Mignogna expects the transformation to serve both the practical needs and aesthetic desires of the area.

A rendering of the rotunda inside The Centennial building

“Not many people may have been inside this building because it's easy to walk by. It's been so dormant for so long,” he said. “I like to refer to it as the Cleveland Sistine Chapel. It is like a cathedral in there. It is so beautiful and ornate.”

The picture claims 50,000 people crammed into the massive bank halls in 1924.

Originally built by the Union Trust Company in 1924, the 1.4 million square foot building features a towering barrel-vaulted lobby with murals and fluted Corinthian columns. In its heyday, it was known as one of the largest bank halls in the world.

When it’s redeveloped, the bank hall will house a high-end restaurant called The Century Club, akin to the Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar owned by the same developer. It will also contain the Cleveland Exposition, paying homage to the city’s history with exhibits curated by the Western Reserve Historical Society.

A high-end restaurant called The Century Club is planned for inside The Centennial
The Western Reserve Historical Society will curate exhibits for the Cleveland Exposition inside The Centennial

A boutique hotel will overlook the bank lobby. In the floors above the hospitality section, office space will occupy 95,000 square feet. During the pandemic, The Millennia Companies pivoted from an original plan for luxury apartments in the building’s top floors. Now, it plans to offer nearly 870 workforce housing units. The affordable apartments are intended to offer options for working class Clevelanders.

“They really didn’t have a place to live downtown because it’s been very well gentrified, but a product that’s not affordable for your average worker,” Mignogna explained.

Deemer expects the combination of affordable housing, high-end attractions and historic preservation will bolster downtown’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really going to send a symbolic message, I think, that downtown is rebounding,” he said.

Mignogna anticipates the latest funding will help the company secure a closing before the end of 2022. He said construction on the entire project will take around 36 months.

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