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Mixing It Up

Developers create or re-create neighborhoods that mix home, work and play

"Mixed use" is the buzz term for development in the early years of the 21st century. Developers are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to re-create neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio's cities and suburbs or even create faux towns where only cornfields stood before. In the third part of our examination of rebuilding the region in tough economic times, WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz talks to developers and urban planners who say this blending is what people want -- and others who dismiss them as fake cities competing with the real deal.

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Click on a name to read more about the developer, listen to audio pieces, and see photos of their projects.

Bob Stark - Stark Enterprises

President and CEO of Stark Enterprises

Stark has been in real estate developing since 1974. He's a native Clevelander who is married and has four children. Stark's major mixed-use development is Crocker Park, a 75 acre development in Westlake. It's a $480 million project that encompasses 12 city blocks and features retail stores, offices, restaurants, luxury apartments and homes.

Stark On Himself:
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Walking Around Crocker Park:
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Mixed use projects Stark Enterprises has in development:

Warehouse District of Cleveland. $1 billion invested in restaurants, clubs, galleries, offices and residential lofts combined with retail, office, hotel and residential development.

Crocker Park phase III. Expanding the mixed use property with new retail and residential space.

Crocker Park Photos:

Stark Enterprises

Peter Rubin - The Coral Company

Rubin moved to Cleveland after law school in the 1980's, hoping to become a litigator. He ended up becoming involved with real estate law, and started his own real estate company, The Coral Company, in 1987.

Rubin On Himself:
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Coral's mixed use projects:

Cedar Center South, the University Heights side of the Cedar Center District, has been a retail mainstay for over 50 years. The Coral Company has recently completed the redevelopment of this center into a mixed-use complex. The rest of the District includes Cedar Center North and University Square, which is home to Macy's, Target, and JoAnn Stores, among many other retailers.

Shaker Square In 2004, The Coral Company acquired Cleveland's Shaker Square., The Coral Company added Dave's Market, Sergio's Saravá, Dewey's Coffee Shop and Popcorn Factory, and CVS/Pharmacy to the Square's array of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
Shaker Square Photos:

Projects in the works:

Westhampton at Crocker Park Westhampton varies from upscale townhomes to manor living. Features urban gardens and a full-size croquet court.

Mixed-use development project in North Royalton called Town Center District, that will include civic, office, retail, housing and recreation. In July, North Royalton city officials terminated a three-year-old agreement with Coral to build the project. A new administration declined a Crocker Park-like development and only wanted to include smaller retailers to create more of a city atmosphere. The Coral Company is now working with the city on a scaled-back plan. (have a couple pictures taken by Amanda) Cedar Center where South Euclid meets University Heights on the west side of the intersection of Cedar and Warrensville Center roads. Redevelopment has been in the works since 2000 but passed from developer to developer before the city chose Coral. Coral's Peter Rubin envisions a sculpture spanning Cedar Road and a one-acre park with outdoor furniture, kiosks and possibly a stage. The old plaza will probably come down in fall 2008, with the new development built in 2009

Central Park is a 90-acre site off SOM Center Road in Solon. It is bounded by SOM Center Road to the west, Solon Road to the north, Bainbridge Road to the south, and the eastern end of the property lines on Sharondale Drive to the east. Preliminary construction on Central Park will begin in mid-2009. Plans call for two department stores, a multi-screen cinema, restaurants and cafes, and a wide range of retailer. Townhomes and condominiums at Central Park will start in the $300,000's
Central Park Photos:

Stu Lichter - Industrial Realty Group

Stuart Lichter owns and controls in excess of 50,000,000 square feet of real estate through his California-based Industrial Realty Group. Early in his career, Lichter worked for the General Services Administration of the United States Government. In 1971, he worked in the Mortgage Loan Department of New York Life Insurance Company where he appraised real estate and negotiated mortgage loans for commercial clients. When the bank endured large-scale loan problems due to unmet REIT loans, Lichter became increasingly involved in loan workouts, completing unfinished construction projects, and leasing and selling foreclosed projects. In 1977, Lichter started acquiring his first real estate deals. In Northeast Ohio, he specializes in buying abandoned manufacturing facilities and rehabilitating them into mixed-use developments.

Lichter On Himself:
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IRG's projects in Northeast Ohio include:

Canal Place: Located in downtown Akron, is the former BF Goodrich plant that was transformed into an office, retail and restaurant complex.

Goodyear: Industrial Realty Group is the driving force behind building a new $900 million project that includes a new Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters and revitalizing the surrounding neighborhood into "Akron Riverwalk," a complex of shops and offices.
Goodyear Photos:

Hoover: Lichter and his business partners plan to turn the aging 1.4 million-square-foot abandoned factory into a complex of homes, offices, manufacturers, neighborhood shops and restaurants and - possibly - a small hotel.

The Coral Company
Central Park Solon
Shaker Square

James Ratner - Forest City Commercial Group

James Ratner is chairman and CEO of the Forest City Commercial Group based in Cleveland. The Company was founded in 1920 after the Ratowczer (later changed to Ratner) family emigrated to the U.S. The Company went public in 1960. Company assets are approximately $10.9 billion. Forest City has been operated by three generations of the Ratner, Miller and Shafran families. Ratner holds a bachelor's degree Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard University

Ratner On Himself:
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Forest City has more than six large-scale mixed use development projects in the works throughout the country, including Stapleton located in Denver. Over the next 15 years, Forest City Stapleton will finance and build more than $5 billion of development. In that period, Stapleton will grow to at least 12,000 homes. Plans also include 10 million square feet of office space, 3 million square feet of retail space, six public schools, and more than 1,100 acres of public parks and open space.

Tower City Center: Tower City is Forest City's only major mixed use development project in Northeast Ohio. Built in 1990, it has more than 100 specialty shops, six restaurants, 11-screen theater, Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City, 2 Hotels and access to Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.

Forest City
Tower City Center

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Posted by: PatricePotts (US) on January 25, 2011 10:34PM

We've seen quite a bit of interest in downtown Akron as well. We recently launched a coworking facility (Office Space Coworking) in the Selle Generator Works -- a revitalized historic building downtown. Our open house attracted 60 independent workers and small business owners seeking to escape the isolation of working out of their homes in suburbia. We've found great interest in coming BACK downtown and being part of the buzz of a vibrant city.

Posted by: Kelly Brown ( on September 24, 2008 7:22PM

If James Ratner of Forest City states that his company won't be doing development in NEO over the next few years, it seems folly to try and do Central Park Solon. NO Central Park Solon is more like it.

Posted by: solon ite (solon, oh) on September 24, 2008 9:03AM

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