CLEVELAND, OHIO - Cleveland Construction, Inc. a national construction management firm, general and specialty contractor, is set to begin a major renovation of a downtown Cleveland landmark. The company has mobilized its resources to transform the bottom two-thirds of 55 Public Square from office space to multi-family housing units.
Cleveland Construction’s $51 million historic renovation and adaptive reuse contract includes the conversion of floors 2 through 15 into housing units comprising 18 distinct layouts. Larger 2- and 3-bedroom units will be located on floors 14 and 15 to afford stunning views of Lake Erie and the city skyline. Floors 16 through 22 will remain reserved for commercial tenants. Floors 23 and 24 house the building’s mechanical systems.
Cleveland Construction will also clean and reseal the building’s windows and renovate the plaza’s entrance area to accommodate the new residents and Fahrenheit, a restaurant slated to begin occupying the ground floor in late 2022 or early 2023. The contract also includes refurbishment of 55 Public Square’s cooling tower and installation of an air conditioning system to serve not only the new residential units but also the restaurant below and the commercial spaces above.
The renovation project is designed by Ohio-based Berardi + Partners, Inc.
Cleveland Construction is committed to an aggressive 19-month construction timeline starting with demolition of existing interior structures on the second floor. Demolition will continue floor-by-floor as reconstruction and renovations proceed on the lower floors. Floor 2 is scheduled to be ready for move-in by next summer, with additional floors released for occupancy as they are completed.
The scope of work includes installation of a new fire-suppression system, along with a completely new mechanical system and plumbing for the residential units. Cleveland Construction will retrofit and upgrade existing mechanicals, add bathrooms and renovate the common spaces for office tenants who will relocate to the higher floors. The job is even more challenging because the residential conversion and refurbishment must proceed while several commercial tenants remain open for business above the construction zone. Cleveland Construction will be implementing several procedures and safeguards to minimize noise and access restrictions during the project.
Built in 1958, as Cleveland’s first international style building constructed after World War II, the building is characterized by the modernist movement’s flat exterior surfaces, glass walls, little ornamentation, and efficient use of interior space. Originally named the Illuminating Building and home to northeast Ohio’s electric company. 55 Public Square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Interestingly, a steel shortage during construction necessitated a portion of the building be framed with reinforced concrete, the first such application in a Cleveland skyscraper. The glass curtain wall is framed with white marble panels along the edge.
Cleveland Construction’s involvement in the project began in April 2020 after K&D Group purchased the building. Cleveland began confirming the project’s feasibility during the property purchase and supported the ownership team throughout the Historical Tax Credit application process. From there, the company introduced several trade partners to help support the budget, schedule, program changes, and design as the team worked toward construction documentation and ultimately the start of construction.
“Cleveland Construction is proud to bring new life to another historic building in Public Square. As a witness to our city’s evolution, 55 Public Square deserves not only our respect but also our care in restoring it so it can continue to serve this community for decades to come,” said Dan Dietrich, Cleveland Construction’s Vice President of Construction. “We’re proud to be once again partnering with K&D and Berardi on this great renovation opportunity by providing new living space in Cleveland’s Public Square revival.”
Cleveland Construction is working to include historically underutilized segments of the construction trade contractor community and local workforce. Cleveland Construction has already begun contracting with minority and small trade contractors to meet the City of Cleveland’s diversity standards on the project.