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Cleveland: Bob Stark Warehouse District Project

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http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/1110018894236120.xml

 

Developer talks of building dynamic downtown

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Tom BreckenridgePlain Dealer Reporter

 

The developer of Crocker Park and other distinctive projects in the suburbs says he has a grand plan to save downtown Cleveland.

 

Robert Stark says he wants to "link arms" with community leaders and developers and build a dense, dynamic mix of stores, offices and dwellings, radiating out from Public Square and Tower City.

 

So far, the can-do Stark is getting a "show me" response.

 

.......


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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It sounds well-intended but as the article said "show me". What's interesting is that they mentioned he wanted to work with the Jacobs Group - it was the Jacobs Group who financed a majority of the campaign in Westlake to prevent the re-zoning of the Crocker Park site.

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Some builders carry personal vendettas against each other, but most leave the emotion of out of their business dealings. When there's money to be made, alliances are broken or made accordingly.

 

I think Stark would be perfect for such a development. He gets "it" when it comes to urban redevelopment, new urbanism, etc. He's probably still got a bad taste in his mouth afte I wrote an article about 16 months ago, after a Lakewood councilman accused Stark of trying to oppose the West End development. But, if Stark can reach out to Jacobs, then I can reach out to Stark again. I would love to work with him on describing his vision for downtown. Guess who I'm calling on Monday....

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Not if they want to see the market stay in the doldrums. Sometimes, developers need to push the market a little. Too bad FCE doesn't take this approach. There is a risk in it, but isn't that what growing is all about?

 

I was just talking with someone about what site Stark is eyeballing. The article says "between Huron and Prospect." The only underutilized sites I can think of between those two streets is the section east of Ontario to the Pointe at Gateway. There are two large surface parking lots in the area, one of the Gateway parking decks and several smaller buildings, including Myers University. See the lower-center portion of MayDay's picture....

 

tackle20.jpg

 

To fit millions of square feet of anything into that small space (assuming that is the proposed space), Stark would have to build some pretty tall buildings and a lot of them. For comparison, Key Tower is 1.538 million square feet. Stark is talking 10 million to 11 million square feet. That's about seven Key Towers, or 14 towers in the range of 25-30 stories. It's also about 4,000 residences, if my math is right (which needs double-checking!). At current construction costs per square foot, that's roughly $1.6 billion, putting it on par with the Terminal Tower complex of 1930 and all its railroad access routes. Yet, Stark and the Carney Family built Crocker Park for $420 million, so it's not that big of a leap for Stark to propose a $1.6 billion project.

 

Hell, I say go for it.

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I was just down there today looking at that site and thinking about this proposal.  I don't think that the construction he's talking about will be all there.  I think he meant that as one example of a good spot to start.  Its already in the middle of things, and would help to connect Gateway, East 4th/Lower Euclid, and Tower City.  With the momentum on East 4th, its a logical place to go to next.

 

KJP, if the entire initial 10 million sq ft were residential it would be 6,666 units@ an average of 1,500 sq/ft a unit, which is generous for apartment living.  And by the same numbers, the 50 million sq ft he envisions eventually happening would be 33,333 units, if it was all residential. 

 

Its actually not as far fetched as it sounds, methinks.  Downtown may hit a tipping point were new-con residential isn't regarded as being particularly risky.  There are some hurdles before that can happen, but once it does, I think things will start to move very fast.  Once that market is established, its much easier for developers to do new-con than historic rehabs, which will draw in new developers.  With a solid base of residential, retail becomes more viable.  Of course, I'm laying out a simple, best-case scenario.  There will of course be bumps in the road and setbacks.  This is Cleveland, after all.

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I totally missed the paragraph about the 50 million square feet!

 

Let's take stock of what's on the drawing board....

 

> CSU urban village north of the campus, plus its associated developments along Euclid and Prospect

 

> Zaremba's proposed $100 million housing development along East 12th/13th

 

> Developers Diversifed's $170 million Flats East Bank housing development

 

> Relocated/consolidated Cuyahoga County offices (ex-Ameritrust tower?)

 

> Some form of convention facilities new/rebuilt

 

> District Park, if Marous' money troubles can be worked out

 

> Lakefront redevelopment

 

> Inner Belt reconstruction (hopefully realigned with a kick-ass Central Viaduct)

 

> Euclid Corridor transitway

 

> And something somewhere by Stark that could be huge

 

Anything else I'm missing?

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I like everything on that list, with the exception of the convention center.  There was some post on another board recently about keeping our market position at the small-to-middle level of conventions and capitalizing on those clients and the other convention centers throughout the city (ie: CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland Clinic, IX Center).  If we have the market demand to build all this new housing and commercial and infrastructure, why bother with a controversial development that could potentially cost the city/county/voters hundreds of millions of dollars when we could spend that money where the market is actually calling for it...on these developments and improvements that the city will be called on to make in order to push them forward.

 

On today's news, I think it's great.  And despite the fact that there's nothing on the drawing board just yet, the example of Crocker Park shows that this developer isn't afraid to through some money behind a project that he believes in, even if its risky.  And he has serious beliefs in urban design and reinvigorating cities with mixed use development.  Hooray for this!

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>W.9th and Johnson Court

 

>Redevelopment of Carter Manor+several other small things along Prospect and Huron

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Proposed condo tower- 15-20 stories, I think.  I don't know how solid the proposal is, but it is on the drawing board.

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I like people who think big!  I'm tired of people going full throtle in the suburbs, but wuss out on urban areas because it's "risky".  You need a grand vision to make a grand city.  Keep us updated on his plans!

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Dont forget University Circle's 2 million sq ft campus that was just made public.

 

50 million square feet?  good lord, if that happened we would be as well off as Toronto.  The spin-off would be mindblowing

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True about University Circle, but I was trying to limit the inventory to stuff between the Inner Belt, the river and the lake. I was debating whether to add the Johnson Court condo tower until something has been presented to the city, but since I have Stark's broad-brush idea in the list, why not? But 515 Euclid and Carter Manor developments should be on there. I put the Convention Center on the list because the city/county does have the wherewithal to at least renovate and update the existing Convention Center which could include an enclosed pedestrian promenade over the railroad tracks/Shoreway to North Coast Harbor (possibly tied in with the Waterfront Line).

 

Depending on where the Cav's Gilbert wants to put his 300-job call center, we can put that on the list when the time comes. But, the May Co. would be a good place for it. Speaking of which, all the projects and plans for new housing is great to create a round-the-clock downtown neighborhood, but there's gotta be some office developments in here, too. The county offices consolidation (some of which are currently located outside the downtown area) will help, as would Gilbert's call center, but something else is needed.

 

Many times a new downtown office is built, it is to consolidate scattered office spaces and allow for expansion. Standard Oil was one example from the 1980s. Society Bank had its offices scattered all over downtown, before they were consolidated into the Society Center Tower, which added Ameritrust's offices with the merger and again with the merger with KeyBank. Now, the county is looking at doing the same thing. So who else has offices scattered all over downtown?

 

My thoughts go to Sherwin-Williams. They have their general offices, sales offices, training centers, flooring division and technology center scattered all over Greater Cleveland, in no less than seven locations that I can think of, including their main offices on Prospect Avenue in one of the Terminal complex buildings (Guildhall?). So, as long as I'm spending Sherwin-Williams' money, where would I put their new world headquarters and technology tower?

 

When I think of a location for a new office building, I think of only one site -- the parking lot on Public Square. No matter how many wonderful downtown projects get built, there will still be a gaping hole in the city's heart with that site remaining as a parking lot. It has to be filled, and a new Sherwin-Williams world headquarters and technology tower would be an ideal candidate for filling it.

 

KJP


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I was beginning to lose hope about Stark's plans for downtown because I haven't heard a peep out of him about it for months. But last night in one of my classes we had Gary Failor from the Port Authority as a guest speaker.

Failor said that Stark is still "feverishly" planning this development, and that he is in frequent talks with the Port because it owns 110+ of the acres Stark wants to develop. He said a key component of Stark's plan is to build office space in addition to residential and retail, and that Stark plans to court businesses in the "edge cities" at Rockside and out east somewhere because that office space is now 30+ years old and obsolete. Interesting twist -- the city poaching from the suburbs.

Also, he said that the main artery of Stark's development would be along W. 3rd from the lake to Public Square.

Anyway, it was heartening to hear this update. If this actually happens, I may even be able to forgive Stark for Crocker Park! ;)

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oh, Stark has a lot of potential to make amends for that... I just hope he's not looked at by Downtown property owners and developers as too much of a "dreamer."  From what I understand, the collaboration of all these people, from Forest City's Scranton Peninsula to the Port Authority, is what Stark is working towards.  I don't think he's trying to acquire all the property or to be the sole developer.  I think he's shooting for more of a development master plan from the private sector.  These are my words, but this is generally what I'm hearing...

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Where did you hear about Stark wanting Scranton Peninsula?

And actually, according to Failor, Stark is personally trying to acquire the property along W. 3rd. Beyond that, I don't know.

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I have my contacts!  It was just a casual conversation about what Stark was looking into.  It may have just been something that was mentioned at a random point in time, but I think the theme is there...collaboration across the range of property owners towards a common vision and plan of action for development.  If he's trying to acquire all this property, more power to him, but this may just take forever!  I don't actually know which one would be easier...buying up all the property yourself or bringing all the various land owners and developers to the same table to talk about mutually beneficial development...

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Stark mentioned a while ago that he thought a Y-shaped developement would be the best idea.  The stem of the "Y" being Scranton Peninsula and Tower City; WHD and Gateway/Euclid being the two arms of the Y.

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For probably anyone in Cleveland-did anyone see last week's "Feagler & Friends" on WVIZ? They had Bob Stark, Chris Ronayne (formerly of the Campbell administration and currently something with University Circle) and Ari Maron of East 4th and lower Euclid development fame on for the full half hour debating the approach to downtown development. It was really entertaining! Stark deemed nearly every project currently proposed, under construction or recently completed to be far too small in scope, scattered in approach and long in development to save the downtown core. Ari Maron seemed a little annoyed as Stark described the East 4th/lower Euclid development he has been so involved in as a great "little" project, but one that couldn't have any transformative effect.

 

Personally, I think all these "little" projects will transform the city, but I do admire Stark's passion. I wish someone as frank as Stark could find a way to help unify all these smaller projects, in which Bob also includes Gateway and Tower City, with some larger civic cohesion and not make it feel quite so scattershot. Stark though seems like he'd rather bulldoze blocks at a stretch and start from scratch.

 

Despite the two different approaches, I really wonder how two powerful development forces like Stark and Maron can truly put aside these differences, which on "Feagler" almost bordered on personal dislike, and come to some sort of common vision both can agree will help reinvigorate downtown.

 

Anyway, it was entertaining T.V. I don't know if they post the transcripts, but it might be worth a read.

 

I'd also like to say that I've been reading "Urban Ohio" for about a year and check in constantly. It's a great site. By far, the best pipeline of Ohio development stuff around. And after a year, I found a compelling, albeit stupid, reason for finally joining---you're looking at member 500!

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Chris tried to work Stark away from his hard line on grand, sweeping new urbanism applied to downtown as the only real way to transform. Stark wouldn't relent from his position. This is both what I respect about Stark and what concerns me about him. It's his passion the city needs, and if he magically had control over an unlimited source of funds and property rights throughout downtown, I am sure within ten years downtown would both look nothing like it does today and probably be an incredibly hot location for business, retail and residential real estate. But back here in the real world, where giant change will only come from building a consensus among developers, property owners, preservationists and politicians, Bob may need to find a more conciliatory tone to achieve real success.

 

In general, Chris was in Ari Maron's camp, very much highlighting the numerous projects that have come to fruition and are in the planning stages. Much of it sounded like he was rehashing the highlights from his time as Chief of Staff for Jane Campbell.

 

Chris pointed out the Wolstein East Bank project. Stark: Not big enough.

 

Chris mentioned the huge tracts of land that will be developed when the Port Authority moves west, as dictated by the Lakefront Plan. Stark: Too slow and, again, not big enough.

 

Chris and Ari both hold that revitalizing downtown will come from a continual collection of projects that move neighborhood by neighborhood, but with greater awareness of how these neighborhoods relate to each other. Stark's vision was to revitalize the old city by building a "new" city in its midst, in this "Y" stretching to the lake through the Warehouse District, down Euclid and across the river toward Tremont (tearing down what in the process, I don't know). With the energy of this "new" city, the old city can leech, I suppose, a more economically viable environment to renovate/rebuild/bring older buildings up to par with their new, more modern neighbors.

 

Anyhow, I've always liked Chris as a spokesperson for the city-very upbeat, which must have been tough to maintain through the perspective of his (formerly) political position. He acted more like a moderator than Feagler. I'm glad to see he will still be a voice in civic development in Cleveland from University Circle. If only that translated into 40,000 new downtown jobs or that long awaited fourth skyscraper on Public Square or, I don't know, something truly impossible maybe like permanently re-opening the Terminal's Observation Deck. Missing those few days this past summer was my big regret of this year--that and a long evening with a bottle of vodka and "I love 1987" "I love 1988" and "I love 1989" on VH1. Ouch!

 

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#500...hot!  Welcome and thanks for posting that review.  I'll definitely be looking into WVIZ for an archived recording or transcript. 

 

Stark seems to be an interesting guy who has great vision, but perhaps not the most practical way of enacting it.  And maybe he's just a melodramatic character who's trying to shake things up...who knows?  I can't fault the guy for wanting to dream big ("make no small plans"), but the reality is that ownership and available land is so fragmented in Cleveland that doing what he's talking about may not be possible without widespread cooperation with other property owners and developers.  He certainly can't do it all by himself!  So, I hope he learns to make nice with his peers and can be a force for action, where so many others are being overly cautious. 

 

At present, I would say I'm going to side with Ari Maron and Zaremba and Wolstein and Ferchill (etc.) until someone (Stark?) comes in and shows me that BIGger plans can be executed.  As it stands, Stark's signature project is out in Westlake.  The man needs to prove himself to true urbanists before he can denigrate the likes of Ari Maron & co.

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In a way, though, I see Stark's point. And I don't think he plans to "go it alone"... I believe he's talked about building a coalition of developers to help execute the grander plan. And that makes sense because things can be better organized that way -- we'll have developers working together rather than competing with each other. It's like regionalism for downtown development! ;)

 

CornerCurve, thanks for your well-written synopsis of the show and welcome to the board.

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I started this string for the discussion that is to come on this proposed development.


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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I think it has to do with a mega project revolving around the cc or the riverview hope plan.  When it hits the paper, can you post your article on here.  I don't think I live in the Sun district you write for.

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The plan is to run the articles in all the Sun papers, or at least those that have enough room for it! Fret not, for I will post the first article and one of the renderings in this string on Wednesday evening, since some of the Sun papers are delivered that early to people's homes. There's no sense in making any of you wait longer than that!

 

But if you do a Google search on Pesht (spelled Pest but pronounced as Pesht), you will get some idea as to the scale of it. Just not the precise location...


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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Let me help you out a bit, since I sifted through a hundred or so pages just to gather this little synopsis, and even this got whittled down to just a couple of paragraphs for the article....

 

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has a population of 1.8 million people. It has long been a major center of trade and mercantilism due to its location on the banks of the Danube River. The 1,771-mile Danube is an historic trading route between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. But there’s a downside to being on a major trading route — crusading armies found it equally attractive for transport. For more than 2,000 years, armies of the Celts, Romans, Mongols, Turks, Habsburgs, Nazis and Soviets alternated in building or sacking the three towns that in 1873 were merged into Budapest — Buda, Obuda and Pesht.

 

For centuries, the three towns were popular for their public baths, made possible by the presence of natural thermal waters from the surrounding hillsides. As each occupying army came and went, the three towns became increasingly ethnic. One of the occupying armies, the Turks, established a provincial capital of the Ottoman Empire and remained in Buda, Obouda and Pest for almost 150 years. It wasn't until 1686 that the Turks were driven out following a destructive siege lasting a month and a half that virtually destroyed the trio of cities.

 

The liberated Buda, Obouda (translated simply as "Old Buda") and Pest were mere shells with tiny populations, perhaps measuring only in the thousands. The towns would slowly recover over the next 100 years, but the Hungarians had not gained independence with the expulsion of the Turks. They had simply exchanged one occupier for another, the Habsburgs, who came downstream on the Danube, from Austria.

 

Yet, this occupier was far more beneficial. Ultimately, they set into motion the start of Budapest's greatest era of prosperity, lasting more than 100 years. The spark that set the three towns afire economically, culturally and artistically began in the early 1800s. The Habsburgs took their experiences in modern city planning from the rest of Europe and began to set down grand boulevards. They lined them with opera houses, ornate parliament buildings, a national gallery, lavish baths, cafes and the finest high-density housing of that era. Much of the money they invested was poured into Pesht, long the unwanted stepchild of Buda.

 

Pesht was a piece of land that Hungarians had long taken for granted, and had an untapped potential that was never utilized until the Habsburg Empire capitalized upon it. Pesht was rebuilt and expanded to such a degree, that a totally new city was essentially created. The scale of this development drew visitors out of curiosity and many liked what they saw. So much so that they stayed to start a new life.

 

Over the next 40 years, Pesht grew into a densely populated city comprised of a wealthy mix of merchants, artisans and industrialists, drawing Jewish and Christian immigrants from throughout Europe and Muslims from the Middle East. A decade after Buda, Obuda and Pesht were merged into Budapest, the Habsburgs were driven out and Hungary became independent for the first time in more than 300 years.

 

Few capital cities of Europe were as industrial as Budapest. Wood and other raw materials from the surrounding lands were brought to Budapest, where they were cut, processed or otherwise refined and then transported by boat or train to cities throughout Europe and Asia. More immigrants poured into Budapest to work in its thriving mills and factories. In all of Europe by the end of the 1800s, only Berlin had grown as fast as Budapest, with the united city's population eclipsing 1 million. In fact, observers at the time said Budapest was growing at an "American rate" not unlike that of Chicago.

 

Budapest was now a leading city, and it began to teach the rest of Europe how to build and improve cities. It set up a Council of Public Works that established ring roads around Budapest, built the first underground urban railway in Europe, set the heights of buildings, established numerous green spaces and managed the city's growth extremely well. The city soon became known as "The Paris Of The East."

 

It all came to an end with the rise of Hitler in Germany and an increase in anti-Jewish activities in Hungary. Many of the Hungarian Jews fled to the west. After Nazi Germany's armies overran Budapest in World War II and began a scorched-earth campaign in retreat from the approaching Russian army, Budapest was again heavily damaged. Though the Soviets rebuilt some of Budapest, they also inflicted their own damage in putting down a nationalist movement in 1956. More Hungarians fled to west, many of whom found their way to Cleveland. It wasn't until 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, that Hungarians regained their independence and began to find in their own land freedoms and the uncertainties that come with them.

 

Did anyone notice "the spark"?


"Save the planet. Move to the city." -- The Downtowner podcast

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