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Big plans: Lakewood leaders present proposal of multi-use building for former Lakewood Hospital site

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Posted at 7:06 AM, Mar 31, 2022

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Detroit Avenue in Lakewood is filled with restaurants, retail and residents. Real estate in that area is rather scarce, except for the corner where Detroit and Belle avenues intersect: the former home of Lakewood Hospital.

The 5.7-acre plot of fenced-off, grassy land has been vacant for years.

“The hospital closure process began around 2015/2016 and it was torn down in 2019,” said Shawn Leininger, Lakewood’s planning director. “The site has not generated property taxes in decades, if ever, so this is an opportunity to generate taxes.”

Leininger and Mayor Meghan George said the city has come to an agreement with the development team of CASTO Communities and North Pointe Realty on a mixed-use, multi-story building, which is expected to total in excess of $90 million.

It will have over 65,000 square feet of office space. It calls for it to be owned and operated by Roundstone Insurance, which is a business that currently resides just a few blocks down on Detroit Avenue.

George said Roundstone’s growth is exceeding its current building’s capacity and city leaders wanted them to stay in Lakewood.

“In years past we, unfortunately, missed keeping businesses in Lakewood because of the lack of class A office space. This is a win-win that we can keep them here,” she said. “This was the only space in our community that would keep this growing company in Lakewood. They started out as a company of about 40 employees and now they’re well over 100 and anticipate another 100 employees within the next couple of years.”

The project also calls for a community plaza and about 30,000 square feet of commercial space on the lower level. George said that would be filled with restaurants and retail.

The project will have at least 200 units of mixed-income for-sale and rental housing. Leininger said about 20% of those units will be affordable.

“We are very fortunate that Lakewood is a desirable area to live, that’s put some pressure on our housing market and driven prices up, so having opportunities to maintain that diverse demographic base that we have is important to the community,” he said.

Leininger added in order for CASTO to provide affordable housing, the city has offered a 15-year 100% tax abatement on the property.

But George and Leininger agreed that the economic impact of bringing new residents and more employees into the heart of downtown will be a return on investment.

“We are excited there’s a workforce there that’s going to generate a lot of economic opportunities. They’re going to visit our restaurants they’re going to go to our bars and restaurants for evening events,” said George.

George and the city’s Planning and Development Department will be presenting the plan to city council. Leininger said he expects it to be approved and moved to the committee. If approved, construction could start as early as next year.