A new future for Cleveland’s iconic Standard Building

standard building2by Dan Rafter

The Standard Building has never been one to disappear into the Cleveland skyline.

The building, which stands 282 feet and 20 stories tall, was the second-tallest in Cleveland when it opened at the southwest corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue in 1925. In 1935, the FBI opened its Cleveland office here. And the legendary agent Eliot Ness, the leader of the Untouchables and the FBI star who helped take down Al Capone, once had his office in this iconic building.

The Standard Building’s prominence is one reason why Weston, a privately held industrial building owner and manager, has chosen the building to house its first multi-family project in downtown Cleveland.

Weston expects to spend $60 million to transform the office building into 287 one-and two-bedroom apartment suites. Weston officials expect to begin construction in the next 12 to 18 months, with the project scheduled to open its doors to renters in two years.

“This is a special building,” said TJ Asher, chief executive officer of Weston. “It has a great location. And there is so much going on in downtown Cleveland now, it only makes sense to bring multi-family living to this building.”

The Weston took possession of the building from its original owners, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Weston officials plan about 20,000 square feet of new retail space on the Standard Building’s first floor.

Multi-family is a relatively new type of project for Weston. The company, though, has been active in this sector in fellow Ohio city Toledo. Asher says that he is excited to tap into Cleveland’s resurgent downtown.

Multi-family developments are playing a key role in transforming downtown Cleveland into a destination space, for shoppers, workers and new residents. The Finch Group, a Florida developer, has started construction on a 177-unit apartment building at Chester Avenue and East 97th Street in the city’s Hough neighborhood just north of the Cleveland Clinic. Last year, developer K&D built The Residence at Hanna, 102 luxury apartments at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

The new multi-family projects join other big developments in the downtown Cleveland area. A downtown Horseshoe Casino is now open – it let in its first gamblers in 2012 — and brings a steady stream of visitors to the city’s CBD. The 23-story Ernst & Young building, the first new office tower in Cleveland in more than 20 years, is now open for business in the CBD. And the Global Center for Health Innovation and Convention Center opened last summer here.

Then there’s the Flats East Bank project, one that is coming online in the city in phases. When complete, the multi-use project will bring new Class-A office space, hotels and multi-family units to an important piece of downtown Cleveland located along the Cuyahoga River. The project has included a new Aloft Cleveland downtown hotel.

“There’s a new energy in downtown Cleveland,” Asher said. “A lot has been done with the downtown area. There’s a new trend with people wanting to live in urban environments. People want the excitement of living in a busy downtown area. They can find that now in Cleveland, and we’re excited to become a part of that.”

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