Since 1919, the Artcraft Building on Superior Avenue has been a place for doers, from textile workers of the early 20th century to today’s eclectic mix of artist studios and small businesses.
Now the tallest building in Cleveland’s former clothing district is ready to be given a new look. A major rental company works with GBX Group, the owner of the property, on plans to convert Artcraft’s sprawling, raw workspaces into around 159 apartments.
The K&D Group of Willoughby will be the majority owner and developer of the project, while Cleveland-based GBX will continue to be involved in the deal, said Doug Price, CEO of K&D.
“We’re still in a due diligence phase,” said Price, who ventures into the Superior Arts District as development creeps east from downtown and north from Cleveland State University.
The Artcraft restoration is a key element in GBX’s vision to redesign a once-derelict section of Superior between East 18th and East 26th Streets. The company that specializes in tax credits and intricate canning deals, piled up an extensive portfolio in the district before headquarters moved to a historic building on Superior and East 21st Streets in 2018.
With seven floors and an area of around 250,000 square meters, Artcraft is the greatest challenge in this portfolio. It is located on Superior Ave. 2530-2570 and anchors the eastern edge of the Superior Avenue Historic District. It greets commuters as they exit Interstate 90 for downtown.
Refurbishing the building will be an expensive undertaking – and a tender dance, as GBX and the Campus District, a non-profit neighborhood, tries to attract new investments into the region without crowding out the artists who saw potential early on in cheap, light-flooded warehouses.
GBX is very much aware of this balancing act. In a statement sent via email, the company stated that it would take 12 to 18 months to plan and prepare for an Artcraft conversion.
“Working with Doug Price and the K&D team, with their vast experience in residential and historic redevelopment, will be great for this borough and our vision of connecting with downtown Cleveland,” the statement said. “We will work closely with our partner when this development plan is completed.
“We will be proactive, transparent, and united with the community to deliver positive results for our artists and tenants,” added GBX, noting that the company has other buildings nearby that may offer artists opportunities.
The red-brown Artcraft brick building still bears the name of an early and short-lived tenant, the Artcraft Cloak Co. Today, the studios and offices are half full behind large windows. Tenants are rented out at short notice. Elevator operators still manually move artists and visitors between floors.
GBX executives spoke publicly in late 2014 about an Artcraft overhaul for renovated offices or homes. But the company has been waiting for the right moment and partner.
“The neighborhood has known for some time that there is a possibility that this building will be refurbished … We are confident that we can keep the artists in the art district,” said Mark Lammon, general manager of the Campus District.
Current and planned projects in the vicinity caught the attention of K&D. In addition to the offices of GBX and the new 2125 Superior Living Apartments next door, a café and bar called Green Goat is due to open in the spring. And CrossCountry Mortgage plans Moving its headquarters from Brecksville to the district will create more than 500 jobs and revitalize a cluster of vacant buildings and parking lots on East 22nd Street and Superior.
“It’s kind of exciting for me to think of this as a new, up and coming neighborhood,” said Price.
K&D, which has converted historic buildings in the city center into residential or mixed-use projects, is expecting this Tax credits for the preservation of the state for the Artcraft renovation in March. The state is expected to announce the next round of competitive awards in June. Projects are often applied at least twice before winning.
The developer’s early plans include large apartments, many of which have home offices. K&D would install retail space along the Superior and stow parking spaces in other areas of the first floor.
Peter Ketter from Sandvick ArchitectsK&D, a Cleveland-based company that studied Artcraft for GBX in 2014, said K & D’s plan was a logical approach to repurposing the space.
“I always thought it was an ideal property for residential remodeling and I assumed it would come at some point. It has great views, lots of character,” he said.
In its statement, GBX noted that the growth of residential real estate and other investments, including the Midway The protected bicycle corridor along the Superior between the public square and East 55th Street will bring more traffic to the neighborhood and attract more attention to the artists.
The company is looking for anchor tenants to help kickstart other renovation projects in the area, ranging from a former church to multi-story offices, said Rico Pietro of the Cushman & Wakefield / Cresco Real Estate Brokerage, the marketing space for GBX.
“I think that several projects, all of which are successful at the same time, attract so much attention that this is not a neighborhood that we really sell,” said Pietro, who also works with K&D. “This is a neighborhood people ask about.”