Ernst & Young name to adorn new Flats office tower

Posted by Michelle Jarboe May 08, 2008 11:11AM

The east bank project in the Flats would include a public boardwalk along the river. This rendering shows street-level stores with residences above them. Several drawings were released Thursday, but none included the new office tower.
Ernst & Young will take up six floors of the first new private office tower built downtown in nearly two decades - a tower that will bear the accounting firm's name.

Company executives joined Mayor Frank Jackson and Developer Scott Wolstein on Thursday to formally announce that Ernst & Young will move from the Huntington Building, at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street.

Wolstein also released fresh drawings of the remade east bank, showing a busy streetscape with a boardwalk along the river. The renderings did not include the new Ernst & Young building.

Besides moving to the Flats, Ernst & Young will move its education center from Middleburg Heights to downtown Cleveland. Wolstein, who has partnered in the Flats project with his mother, Iris, and Fairmount Properties, could buy the 23-acre suburban property from Ernst & Young.

James Turley, the firm's global chairman and chief executive officer, said Ernst & Young was proud to be "formally tying our future to Cleveland." The company's predecessor, Ernst & Ernst, was founded here in 1903.

Though the firm scouted suburban sites near Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, the company's history and the promise of a prime location in a marquee building helped keep Ernst & Young in the center city, executives said. Ernst & Young employs more than 1,200 people downtown.

This view of West 11th Street shows a planned movie theater.An aerial view shows the heart of the Flats development. It does not include the new office tower or the proposed Eaton Corp. headquarters.The development is shown from the west bank.
"We believe the city is in the early stages of an economic upswing," said Don Misheff, the firm's managing partner for Northeast Ohio. "Keeping our offices downtown is indicative of our commitment to helping Cleveland achieve its potential."

Moving the education center downtown also could bring thousands of visitors to the shops, restaurants and hotel planned in the $522 million Flats development. Many of those travelers now stay in hotels near the airport, and the center employs just a handful of people, Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr said. He said the move would have "minimal" effect on his city and commended Cleveland for keeping Ernst & Young downtown.

"This is about regionalism," Starr said, adding that he hopes Wolstein develops the firm's suburban property.

As they announced the Ernst & Young deal, Cleveland city officials also mentioned a new $4 million award to Cuyahoga County from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for site cleanup in the Flats.

The award - half grant, half loan - will help Wolstein and his partners open a 27,300-square-foot, full-service grocery store in the Flats. The store, which might open in mid-2010, could create 52 full-time jobs and 100 temporary construction jobs, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. George Voinovich.

Wolstein would not identify the grocery store or any other project tenants Thursday.

Neither he nor Jackson said much in response to questions about the status of talks with manufacturer Eaton Corp. about following Ernst & Young and law firm Tucker Ellis & West LLP to the Flats.

"The worst thing you can do is do a negotiation in public," Jackson said, adding that he recently has talked with Eaton's chairman and CEO.

Though Eaton also is considering suburban sites, the manufacturer has talked with developers and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority about a possible move from Eaton Center, near East 9th and Superior Avenue, to property near the waterfront. Eaton could built a corporate campus in land within an expanded loop created by the Regional Transit Authority's Waterfront Line.

Regardless of Eaton's decision, it appears the Flats project has locked up its major office tenants.

Ernst & Young will be the largest resident in the 20- or 21-story office tower, which Adam Fishman of Fairmount Properties described as "the fulcrum of where the Warehouse District and the Flats come together." The accounting firm has an option to expand its 150,000-plus square feet there by about 15 percent if needed, Misheff said.

Tucker Ellis, also a tenant in the Huntington Building, has agreed to take four floors below Ernst & Young. Wolstein said Thursday that he hopes to divvy up the remaining floors among smaller tenants - each taking perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 square feet closer to the building's opening date in 2011.

The office tower, which could comprise about 525,000 square feet and cost at least $75 million to build, is being designed by NBBJ to be "more modern than traditional" and "more glass than stone," Fishman said.

If the city approves it, the Ernst & Young lighted logo could be on three sides of the building.

Wolstein said Thursday that the building will charge some of the highest office rents in the city. He did not mention numbers, but local real estate brokers said rates at the tower probably will surpass $25 or $30 per square foot.

COMMENTS (2)Post a comment
Posted by steds5150 on 05/08/08 at 4:12PM

Have the unions agreed to Wolstein's wage demands?

http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2008/05/flats_developers_want_to_lower.html#comments

Posted by Paddington1 on 05/08/08 at 9:47PM

What about a casino?