The developer renovating two vacant NASA Buildings on Brookpark Road said he expects interior work will begin in earnest by the end of the year.
David Crisafi, president of Westlake-based Ceres Enterprises, said the $40 million to $45 million project to turn the former office buildings into a vibrant complex with a hotel, restaurant and apartments should be completed by the end of 2020.
The two buildings are being redeveloped by 21000 Brookpark Partners LLC, a joint venture of Ceres and an investment group called 21000 Brookpark Ventures, which is led by Marty and Bill Gallagher. In a government auction in early 2013, Marty Gallagher successfully bid $1.2 million for the property, which was previously owned by NASA's Glenn Research Center.
The larger of the two buildings will be converted into an apartment complex with 96 units. The building’s auditorium will be modified to create a state-of-the-art space for large meetings and events, and the first floor will include offices and conference rooms. A swimming pool will be built in an outdoor courtyard.
The smaller building, on the western end of the property, will become a 59-room boutique hotel. Crisafi said the hotel will have an independent brand, although he's working with Wyndham Hotels on the project. A third, new building to the east of the larger building is planned that will house a restaurant.
A major hurdle to the project, yet to be fully overcome, has been the acquisition from the city of Cleveland of an unused adjacent parking lot. The new restaurant building will be on a portion of this lot.
Without the parking lot, the project would have to be scaled back significantly, Crisafi said.
A deal in principle for the parking lot was reached in January between the developers and Cleveland. In April, Cleveland City Council approved legislation authorizing the sale of the parking lot, which has about 575 spaces, according to a city of Cleveland document. The agreed-upon purchase price is $1.2 million, Crisafi said.
The lot, which is under the control of Cleveland's Department of Port Control, cannot be transferred to the developers without approval from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport's bond trustee and the Federal Aviation Administration, due to the lot's proximity to the airport. So the sale may not close until August or September, Crisafi said.
Acquisition of the 8-acre lot is necessary to finalize financing, Crisafi said.
"If there's no parking lot, there's no deal," he said.
The parking lot parcel must then be combined with the building parcel, Crisafi added.
Meanwhile, planning continues. In May, Fairview Park's Planning and Design Commission approved the exterior elements, including the outdoor pool deck and fencing. Landscaping and lighting components still must be approved, said Development Director Shawn Leininger.
The project will receive Fairview Park's standard seven-year abatement of property taxes on new construction, with the exact amount of the abatement to be determined when the county reassesses the property after the improvements are completed.
The project obtained a $4.5 million Ohio Historical Preservation Tax Credit, as the buildings were used by NASA during some of the space agency's most significant projects.
Kevin Kelley is a freelance writer in North Olmsted.