Cavs Owner Purchases Shops at Tower City
By Elizabeth Miller
The businessman who developed Cleveland’s Jack Casino and took majority ownership of the Cavs in 2005 will now have a shot at revitalizing the retail scene at Downtown’s Tower City Center. Tuesday, Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate announced the purchase of the Avenue Shops in a 56.5 million dollar sale. Tenants at the mall hope Gilbert can turn things around.
Next to Tower City’s food court, Leon Boyd Jr. works at Villa, an urban wear store that’s occupied two storefronts for 6 years. “I don’t really consider this a mall – it’s more like an indoor plaza," said Boyd.
With no department stores and only a handful of national retailers, most of Tower City’s few open businesses are kiosks or small locally-owned shops. Foot traffic comes mostly from the lunchtime crowd during the week and rush hour traffic to and from the RTA terminal underneath the mall.
It’s no longer the destination it was meant to be when developer Forest City Realty opened The Avenue in 1990. The local company still owns Terminal Tower and the Post Office Plaza across the street.
Forest City’s sale to Bedrock Real Estate includes three stories of retail space, an 11-screen movie theatre, and parking. Gilbert already owns the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in addition to the casino. Andre Payton, assistant manager of The Cookie Store in the mall, is hestitant to base Tower City's future on Gilbert's previous endeavors. “I don’t feel like you can tie that into each other, because they’re different corporations and businesses," said Payton.
"If he was able to do something as far as the stores and the clientele, then yes - he could help this mall.”
Harry Kedia’s family-owned business Designer Perfumes has been a part of Tower City for 18 years. He wants Tower City to be more competitive with other area shopping centers. “We need to put some more, decent, name brand stores here so the guests can buy their merchandise here," said Kedia.
At Creative Tees next door, Purnime Luher and her brother agree with Kedia.
“I hope we get some more people over here, get revenue over here so we can do good business," said Luher.
No plans have been announced for the space, but Gilbert said in a press release that he hopes to create a “one of a kind urban shopping, dining, and entertainment destination”.