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Long-vacant downtown Cleveland bank lobby uses historical architecture to spark city's future

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Posted at 9:20 AM, Oct 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-03 09:20:52-04

CLEVELAND — The building that watched downtown Cleveland navigate the Great Depression, World War II, drastic population decline since the 1950s and its recent period of new construction from the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street is finally slated to join to revitalization itself.

Millennia Companies owns the 1.4 million square foot building at 925 Euclid Avenue and is planning on creating 868 workforce housing units, a restaurant, historic showcase and 95,000 square feet of office space with 20,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. The total cost for the project is $450 million and is expected to be completed in multiple phases.

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The smaller of the two bank halls still has tables where Clevelanders once filled out deposit slips. It is slated to become a restaurant.

“This is a building that certainly is breathtaking when you walk into it,” said Peter Ketter, Sandvick Architect’s Director of Historic Preservation.

The building dates back to the early 1920s, when Union Trust Company brought together many smaller institutions to better invest in local businesses.

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The view of future site of the Union Trust Company building on the corner of Chester and East 9th Street in 1922 as construction began. The Statler Hotel is visible in the background with its rooftop sign in the center of the picture.

“By 1920, there was a real need for financial support for all these growing companies,” said Ketter. “Cleveland was the fifth largest city in the United States, it was the fourth largest producer of manufacturing goods in the United States, it was a real center for innovation particularly in the manufacturing center.”

On the 21st floor, the Mid-Day Club was one of a handful of downtown social clubs.

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

“As the social affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Day Club provided fertile ground for the city's growth by bringing together men with political, business and other interests who might not otherwise associate,” wrote Case Western Reserve University’s Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Above the bank halls’ towering ceilings, the upper floors of the building will be renovated into affordable housing units after spending much of a century as downtown office space.

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Renderings show what the restaurant in the bank lobby could one day look like.

See News 5’s story about The Centennial’s workforce housing here.

“There’s another over a million square feet of office space that was part of this building as well that housed everything from large law firms, accounting firms, some industrial, insurance companies, railroads,” said Ketter. “Really everyone who had their hands in manufacturing and industry in Cleveland had connections to this building.”

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Millennia said construction could start in 2021—with the first phase of the project opening around 2023 or 2024.

Have you ever noticed something interesting in Northeast Ohio and wondered, “Hey…what’s going on there?”

Us, too. We love learning more about what shapes the world around us -- the buildings, the spaces and the ways we move between them.

Next time you're wondering about some building, project or piece of land, send me an email at Kevin.Barry@wews.com and I'll look into it for a possible story.

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