CLEVELAND — As Sherwin-Williams continues its search for a new corporate headquarters there is growing speculation that, should the company stay in Cleveland, one of the sites they have their eyes on would be the series of parking lots off of Public Square stretching to West Sixth Street. In the smile of Downtown Cleveland, this has been the missing tooth.
"Public Square is the physical and symbolic center of the city and to have this prime piece of real estate that has a parking lot on it, a few parking lots on it for 30-plus years is pretty unusual," said Terry Schwarz, Director of Kent State's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. "It's a site that should be in higher demand."
The three lots have been the subject of grand plans in the past. In 1988, a project to build a 70-story building that would be the home of Ameritrust was announced for the Jacobs Group's Public Square lot just north of the Renaissance Hotel. That never came to be and a 2008 project for a 21-story tower also faded as the economy went south later that year.
The five acres of West 6th Street lots are owned by the Weston Development Group. Four years ago this month they announced plans for a mixed use complex that was to include 1,200 apartments, 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and more, but those plans also never moved forward.
"In some cities the real estate market is so powerful that you can't stop development, it just keeps coming," said Schwarz. "In Cleveland we're considered a weak market city which simply means the development market takes a little coaxing." That's part of the reason she felt the space has yet to be developed.
"The other part of the reason of course is that the site as it stands today generates revenue for its owners you know if it was costing the property owner something but it doesn't. It doesn't take much to maintain a parking lot and people are kind of more than happy to pay to park there," Schwarz said.
The space was dangled by the city to Amazon in its bid to be the tech giant's second world headquarters. Schwarz believes should Sherwin-Williams stay in Cleveland and be on the one to finally develop the tract, it would be transformative.
"I think a signature investment you know kind of by a legacy company on Public Square would mean a lot and also it would create the kind of high value office uses that a lot of time firms are looking for," she said. Not to mention: help to complete that smile.
"It kind of would finish that urban room, you know," Schwarz said. "Public Square was designed as sort of the living room of the city and one walls been blown out for decades."