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Top 10 Real Estate And Development Stories of 2016

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When constructions hit peak pace in the real estate cycle, it’s as interesting and varied as watching an afternoon of horse races — and with almost as many jockeys.

The 20-story One University Circle apartment building began rising in June on its way to becoming the tallest apartment building to go up in the city in more than 40 years. In many ways, the project typifies the go-go apartment drive nationally and in the region driven by low interest rates. Moreover, lots of other deals are remaking the region’s physical environment this year, or new owners promise to shake things up.

Here are our picks for the top real estate stories of the year.

10. Football helmet maker kicks production to new arena

Riddell agreed to occupy a massive build-to-suit factory and distribution center costing $27 million, taking the well-known football helmet maker and its growing souvenir helmet enterprise from its original home in Elyria when the new place is finished.

9. Greeting cards firm changes its mailing address

Photo by STAN BULLARD A large plaza leads to the main entrance of the Creative Studios and headquarters of American Greetings in Westlake.

American Greetings Corp. opeed its Creative Studios and world headquarters in the fall in last large phase of the Crocker Park mixed-use center in Westlake. The move shifts 1,700 jobs to the western suburb from Brooklyn.

8. Old building gains new tire headquarters

Growing Dealer Tire agreed to lease the Victory Building in MidTown and remain in the city. The transaction keeps a major employer with 450 jobs in Cleveland and shifts the just-renovated Victory Building, 7012 Euclid Ave., from a multitenant building to a single-tenant property.

7. Amazon, and chock-full industrial buildings, make the scene

With a speed that, in construction terms, rivals one of its deliveries, online retailer Amazon agreed to lease a proposed 248,000 square-foot building at Cornerstone Business Park in May. The $13 million building, the fourth on the site of the former Chrysler stamping plant, was open in time for the holiday shopping season. It employs more than 500 part-timers at the fulfillment center.

6. Malls twist in retail tsunami, Parmatown finds fresh start

Older enclosed mall properties went through the ringer, roiled by their age, changing demographics and retailing’s online evolution. Richmond Town Square in Richmond Heights and Chapel Hill Mall in Akron sold at deep discounts. The city of Akron bought Rolling Acres Mall to control its destiny. On the bright side, Shoppes at Parma opened on the site of former Parmatown mall.

5. Inns run into market — downtown and everywhere

Photo by David Kordalski Cleveland’s success in booking conventions was given a big jolt last spring, when the 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown opened.

Hotel development boomed with the opening of the 600-room Hilton Downtown Cleveland at Huntington Convention Center and two other hotels opening in downtown Cleveland, the Drury Plaza Hotel and Schofield Kimpton. Meantime, doors opened at the first crop of new suburban hotels from Avon to Lyndhurst in almost a decade.

4. DDR did what?

Without explanation or severance, DDR Corp. canned David Oakes as its CEO. The Beachwood-based public shopping center company had a replacement ready as its board put one if its members, Tom August, a veteran REIT executive, into the job.

3. Downtown lakefront development begins

Much-longed-for lakefront commercial development in downtown Cleveland started becoming a reality. A joint venture of Cumberland Development Group of Cleveland and Trammell Crow Co. opened its first building at North Coast Harbor and began pursuing plans for a second, a small apartment building.

2. Forest City sells Terminal Tower and The Avenue

Forest City Enterprises Inc., the Cleveland-based real estate developer with national operations, shook things up with big impacts on the local real estate market. The company became a real estate investment trust, also changed its high-profile name to Forest City Realty Trust Inc.

After prodding led by major investor Scopia Capital Management, the founding families of the company agreed to submit a proposal to shareholders a plan to collapse into common shares the Class B shares they use to tightly control the company. Efforts to clean up its balance sheet and hike its stock price included shedding properties outside 10 major markets, a list that does not include its hometown. That effort led to sales of the iconic Terminal Tower and the Avenue retail center downtown. Once the owner of the largest downtown office portfolio, Forest City ended the year with just one, the Post Office Plaza building, 1300 W. 3rd St.

1. Got a site? Put up an apartment building!

Apartment frenzy soars, with new apartments opening such as Ovation at Crocker Park in Westlake and Copper Creek in Brimfield. Moreover, three multimillion-dollar apartment complexes are rising on Cleveland’s West Side. A $117 million apartment tower is going up in University Circle. Called One University Circle by developers Mitchell Schneider and Sam Petros, the 280-suite luxury building epitomizes activity in a segment that’s usually tepid in Northeast Ohio. The Marcus & Millichap investment realty brokerage estimates 690 suites will be finished by the close of 2016, down from 1,500 in 2015, but the number will rise dramatically in 2017 and 2018.


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