March 4, 2018 [Michelle Jarboe, The Plain Dealer]
Katherine Bolton, who owns and manages the Caxton Building with her husband, Bill, stands near the huge, arched windows on the eight-story structure’s top floor of the Caxton Building. CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cuyahoga Land Bank plans to move its offices to downtown’s Gateway District, in a hop that will put the organization – which files hundreds of real estate deeds weekly – much closer to Cuyahoga County’s administration building on East Ninth Street. President Gus Frangos confirmed that the land bank has signed a five-year lease at the Caxton Building, at 812 Huron Road, with an option to stay longer. The agency will move into roughly 13,000 square feet in June, leaving its existing offices at 323 Lakeside Ave.
The land bank is a quasi-governmental organization with 34 employees. Established to fight blight on the heels of the foreclosure crisis, it takes in vacant and abandoned properties – many of them houses, but some commercial real estate, as well – through agreements with banks, deals with government entities and donations. Since its inception, the land bank has taken on more than 6,000 demolitions and has facilitated upwards of 1,600 rehabilitations. The agency pays for that work using fees and interest collected on delinquent Cuyahoga County property taxes – not the late tax payments, themselves – and pots of federal, state and local money earmarked for cleaning up the wreckage of the housing bust. Frangos said the land bank’s costs at the Caxton Building will be comparable to what the organization has been paying on Lakeside, about a mile away in the Warehouse District. The organization’s current lease ends in May, he said.
“I want my staff to have very nice, functional facilities,” he said, “but we are a nonprofit and our purpose is to stabilize the tax base and do community development. We looked at five or six other places … but they were a little bit more, and parking was more difficult. Ultimately, we went with Caxton because it was a good stewardship type of facility.”
Rico Pietro, the real estate broker who represented the land bank, said Caxton Building owners Bill and Katherine Bolton offered compelling pricing and ample enthusiasm. “It’s really hard to negotiate against them, because they’re just fantastic people,” said Pietro, a principal with Cushman & Wakefield/Cresco Real Estate in Independence. “Luckily, they were incredibly aggressive at the front end.” The Boltons wouldn’t discuss the details of the lease. But they were anxious to show off the land bank’s space on the building’s eighth and second floors. The organization’s civic bent is a good fit for a landlord with nearly 30 years of history in efforts to revive downtown, Katherine Bolton said. “We’re so glad they picked us.”