EUCLID, Ohio - Another dead Northeast Ohio mall could be bulldozed for an industrial project, under plans being floated by an Atlanta-area developer that has constructed sprawling distribution centers for Amazon.com and other retail behemoths.
On Tuesday, Euclid's Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a request to rezone a 66-acre site, spanning Euclid Square Mall and a few adjacent parcels, from retail to industrial use. Documents filed with the city identify Seefried Industrial Properties, Inc., of Georgia as the potential buyer of the properties.
And those documents show that Seefried wants to construct a massive building - 650,000 to 1 million square feet - where the vacant mall now stands.
Documents submitted to the city of Euclid show that a massive industrial building could replace the shuttered Euclid Square Mall just off Interstate 90 at Babbitt Road and East 260th Street.City of Euclid
Dave Riefe, the company's senior vice president for the Midwest region, declined to comment Wednesday. Seefried's chief development officer, Jim Condon, didn't respond to an email. And a receptionist at the company's headquarters said nobody was available to talk.
The rezoning proposal doesn't identify an occupant for the building, a project labeled with the code name "Project Bark."
Seefried, a privately held business, has developed hulking Amazon.com distribution centers in Nashville and Richmond, Virginia, along with buildings for Home Depot, PepsiCo and PPG Industries, according to the real estate company's website.
The Euclid Square Mall property would be a logical landing pad for a distributor seeking easy access to highways, rail lines, utilities and rooftops. Before Jacobs, Visconsi & Jacobs Co. built the mall, which opened in 1977, the property was an industrial site, occupied for more than 40 years by a brass and copper-product manufacturing facility.
Bounded by Babbitt Road and East 260th Street, the property - a rare development site of that size for Cuyahoga County - sits just south of Interstate 90, not far from Interstate 271. The city's building department ordered the closure of the mall last fall due to safety concerns. At that point, the onetime shopping destination was home to a ragtag bunch of churches and businesses.
Bob Garber, a real estate broker representing the property, confirmed that there's a possible buyer. Citing confidentiality agreements, he wouldn't say more.
"There's an active deal pursuing the property. That's as far as we can go," said Garber, a principal with Cushman & Wakefield/Cresco Real Estate, which co-listed the mall and an empty Toys "R" Us store at an asking price of $5.75 million with Greg Guyuron of Anchor Cleveland.
There are five ownership groups involved on the sale side of the deal, according to the rezoning proposal. A representative for the largest owner, Beverly Terrace, Ltd., didn't respond to a request for comment.
Cuyahoga County records turn up more than $450,000 in delinquent property taxes tied to the mall and one other parcel. The mall has been eligible for property-tax foreclosure for years, but court records indicate that the county never initiated a foreclosure case.
The other parcels include a former bank and a shuttered grocery store.
"What's exciting here is a possibility for a full redevelopment of that site," said Jonathan Holody, Euclid's planning and development director.
He wouldn't talk about the potential user for the building or the number of jobs that might be associated with such a large project. "There's nothing I can share on that," he said.
But the city, which is updating its master plan, supports the rezoning and the concept of replacing obsolete retail buildings with modern industrial space. If the planning commission OKs the rezoning language next week, the proposal will be introduced to Euclid City Council on May 15 and would be eligible for a vote in mid-June.
"There has been good activity in our industrial corridor," Holody said. "We see this as a way to return the site to productive use and attract new jobs to the city."
On the other side of East 260th, Ray Fogg Corporate Properties recently wrapped up construction on the second building at Bluestone Business Park.
Property records show that Amazon, which is hush-hush about its real estate deals, has signed a five-year lease on part of that 127,000-square-foot building. Online listing records show that there's still a 47,000-square-foot space available for lease.
Ray Fogg, Jr., chief executive officer at Fogg, didn't return a phone call about the lease and the potential impact on Bluestone from the proposed industrial rezoning next door.
Amazon didn't respond to an emailed request for comment about its growing presence in the region and its possible interest in the Euclid Square Mall property.
"The market's tight," Terry Coyne, vice chairman of the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank brokerage in Cleveland, said of demand for industrial real estate. "Vacancy rates are at lows we've never seen before, both in the whole market and in modern distribution space. So it's not surprising that [Euclid] would try to turn a dead mall into a productive industrial site."
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