The key to Cleveland’s downtown development is building its population.
“That’s why we’re doubling down on our downtown living strategies,” says Michael Deemer, executive vice president of business development for Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “In many ways, the desirability of downtown living is greater now than it has ever been.
“The residents have a little more space to themselves, for one thing, and all of the walkable amenities are still there. You can walk to meet your daily needs and errands. And, over the course of the summer, our residents have been able to walk to attractions like North Coast Harbor, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Voinovich Park. They have been able to walk and bike on the Towpath Trail and kayak and row on the Cuyahoga River.”
Developers are still very bullish on downtown development, and demand is still high. Despite complications from the pandemic, apartment occupancy remained stable from Q1 to Q2, according to the 2020 Q2 Market Update from DCA.
Average lease rates increased 2.6 percent year over year, and DCA expects occupancy to fall slightly before rising again as the market adds more than 1,000 apartments over the next several months.
The Cleveland Athletic Club is a renovation of the historic building to include 161 residential units and 10,000 square feet of retail. The Harbor Verandas will offer 16 units of new lakefront housing next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in North Coast Harbor. The Beacon is a new 187-unit residential tower atop a parking garage on Euclid Avenue. The May and shimmering Lumen are open and filling up at a record clip, the latter offering more than 300 new apartments.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in the May and have already welcomed a number of residents to the building,” says Ken Till, senior vice president of development at Bedrock, a full-service commercial real estate firm specializing in strategic development of urban cores. “The Cleveland apartment market, in general, seems to be faring well despite the pandemic — we’re hearing similar properties say the same — so we’re excited to continue the momentum with tours and welcome more new residents soon. I live downtown myself so I ‘walk the walk’ when I say that it is a great place to call home.
“Living downtown offers a number of experiences that are all close by and everyday necessities within walking distance,” Till adds. “I love the views of the great lake and waterfront activities; proximity to green spaces, such as Public Square and North Coast Harbor; and the opportunity to regularly visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Public Library, as well as so many bars and restaurants.”
The May was one of Bedrock’s first major investments in Cleveland and was important to the city because of how iconic the May Co. is to Clevelanders.
“We wanted to pay homage to the historic building by maintaining the original facade and its other features, while also creating a modern and inviting home for the residents who call the May home,” Till says.
It proved to be a huge undertaking for the Bedrock team, transforming 100,000-square-foot floor plates into apartments. The team also created an interior parking garage and atrium space and replaced the exterior terracotta, while maintaining its classic look. It is clear that all of these elements were well worth the time and effort.
“We’re so happy with the final outcome and know our residents will be too,” Till adds.