Downtown Housing Boom Expected To Continue, But What About Parking?

A downtown building being used as a parking garage. [photo: Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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The Cleveland Athletic Club has been shuttered for 10 years, but it looks like development plans for the historic downtown building have come together after several false starts.

The plan for the 100-year-old building includes more than 170 luxury apartments, an events space on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors, commercial space on the ground floor, and the Olympic-size swimming pool will be restored. The expected completion date is the summer of 2018.

Joe Bobeck Sr. of the Great Lakes Housing Group is one of the developers of the building. He said life was rough for a downtown developer like him not too long ago.

“Then in about 2011 the market just really exploded. We went from 50% occupied to 100% occupied in one quarter,” said Bobeck.

And it’s not expected to slow down anytime soon. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance counts 1,000 more housing units opening up downtown by early next year. And the DCA reports 96% of the already available apartments are occupied.

Rico Pietro is with the Cleveland real estate firm Cresco Cushman and Wakefield. Pietro doesn’t see downtown growth slowing down anytime soon either.

“I assume over the next 7 years we're going to double our footprint of residents in downtown,” said Pietro.

But, Pietro added, it won’t come without a few challenges, like parking.

“If the trend like $50 valet at Key Center continues, I think it could be a huge, huge issue for the city,” said Pietro.

At the new 600-room Hilton on Lakeshore, a garage is still being built and right now valets take cars to three off-site lots. No parking was included with the new convention center. The Cleveland Athletic Club does include spaces but Bobeck agrees that parking is a looming challenge.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance, which advocates for development downtown, expects the population to grow from about 14,000 right now to a capacity of around 25,000 people. According to Executive Director Joe Marinucci, the city will have to be creative as the area continues growing.

“One example is the free trolleys in Downtown Cleveland that we've worked over the years to support through RTA,” said Marinucci. “That gives people the flexibility for example to live in one location and park in a different location that might have a more modest price point.”

He says prices for parking in Downtown Cleveland are relatively cheap but are likely to increase as development progresses.

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