Abandoned Industrial Complex in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood to Get Second Life

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Abandoned Industrial Complex in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood to Get Second Life

CLEVELAND – April 22, 2024 — A graffiti-pocked, hulking building that once was home to a pioneer of some of the largest material-handling projects ever built is poised for new life at the corner of Central Avenue and East 71st Street in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood.

The structure — located at 7000 Central Avenue — was built in 1901 by the Wellman-Seaver Engineering Company.  The 183,000 square foot building and the 10 acres it stands on and is surrounded by have been largely vacant since 1993. The property is in disrepair, and attracts vandals and illegal dumping. With housing nearby, the neglected site has long been a concern of neighborhood residents and city officials.  A brief drone video of the building is available here.

Today, the Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund (“Site Readiness Fund”), working with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, closed its acquisition of the property and is in the midst of planning its salvage and repurposing. Burten Bell Carr Development Corp, using a prior grant from the Fund for our Economic Future, is also an investor in the project.  The building has significant potential because of its size and stature, with several iconic features including floor-to-ceiling windows facing Central Avenue, two rail spurs on the second level and multi-story vaulted ceilings.

Mayor Justin Bibb created the Site Readiness Fund in partnership with City Council helped in August of 2023 to address the persistent challenges posed by urban brownfields in Cleveland, a struggle shared by numerous mature cities across the nation.

“We must take action to address the decades-old deteriorating and neglected real estate in our urban core,” said Mayor Bibb. “By doing so, we can revitalize Cleveland neighborhoods, create new job opportunities, and attract new investments. The future of our economy is at stake, and we cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer.”

Ward 5 Councilman Richard Starr is excited about the prospects for the project.

“The Site Readiness Fund has acquired a problematic building that has long been a concern for the Cedar/Central neighborhoods and city officials,” Councilman Starr said. “The redevelopment of this pivotal intersection will eliminate an eyesore, address safety issues, and foster economic prosperity. We extend our gratitude to the Site Readiness team for their contributions to improving this area for the benefit of all.”

The Site Readiness Fund aims to recoup some of the tens of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs that Cleveland is losing because employers need environmentally clean sites that are large enough (greater than 10 acres) with proximity to transit, road, rail and solid utility infrastructure – which are in desperately short supply in Cleveland.  Cleveland has about 4,000 to 5,000 acres — about the size of Shaker Heights — of vacant, abandoned or underutilized industrial property.

Brad Whitehead, managing director of the Site Readiness Fund, said the acquisition presents great opportunity outside of the property boundaries.

“Ultimately, the goals of the Site Readiness Fund are to create good jobs for Cleveland residents, to bring neighborhood vitality, to provide environmental sustainability and justice, and foster community wealth.  This project gives us the opportunity to do all of these things,” Whitehead said.

“We will engage with a broad array of stakeholders, including neighborhood residents, on the best use of the property,” he added.

He also compared the site to the repurposed Mill 19 Hazelwood Green site along the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, where an abandoned steel mill was reinvented and today is headquarters for Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Institute and home to some of the most advanced manufacturing research being done in the country.

The building’s storied history includes being the location of where the iconic Hulett Ore Unloaders were built and the heart of innovation in the engineering and design of steel mills and industrial plant equipment.  The building had been bought and sold many times since the 1950s. The most recent property owner was a Florida firm that never realized redevelopment plans.

Ricardo Leon, chief operating officer of the Cuyahoga Land Bank said the agency “is honored to partner with the Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund to help sculpt Cleveland’s future. Together, we hope to forge pathways to prosperity by revitalizing communities and unlocking the potential for sustainable growth. This acquisition is more than just about bricks and mortar; it’s about reinvesting in our region, developing opportunities, and fostering a brighter future for all.”


About the Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund

The Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund is an independent nonprofit established in August 2023 with a $50 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act, granted by the Administration of Mayor Justin Bibb and Cleveland City Council.  The initiative collaborates with community partners and stakeholders to revitalize urban brownfield sites, totaling 1,000 acres– thereby creating 25,000 jobs, eliminating blight, fostering wealth creation and enhancing sustainability. The Fund’s financing model ensures that a portion of generated wealth remains in the neighborhoods in which it works.

The Site Readiness Fund has currently identified 210 acres to turn into market ready sites.  The Fund has earmarked funding and a unique capability to deal with the complex challenges posed by contaminated, fragmented and legally complicated brownfields sites.

The Site Readiness Fund’s partners include the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, City of Cleveland, JobsOhio, Team NEO, Cuyahoga County, The Cleveland Foundation, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Fund for Our Economic Future, Ohio Means Jobs and community development corporations across the city.

Contacts: Nancy Lesic, 216.392.9634, [email protected] (Site Readiness Fund) or Marie Zickefoose, 216.571.5923, [email protected] (Mayor’s Office)