Few people would have imagined that the space that once housed a major bank could become the home to Cleveland central business district’s largest full-service supermarket. But with the opening of Heinen’s this past February in the renovated Cleveland Trust Building on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland, history was made.

The renovation has been praised for its thoughtful use of space without detracting from the beauty and rich history of the Rotunda. Behind all the hoopla and praise for the 27,000-square-foot project, however, is a tremendous real estate success story–one that was only made possible after overcoming numerous legal and architectural challenges.

At the heart of the challenge was the fact that the space had to be renovated according to historic rehabilitation standards. The fact that a supermarket occupies such a space, which was redeveloped in compliance with such standards, only adds to the allure of the overall project.

Walking through the store today, it is easy to overlook the noteworthiness of all that was accomplished since the Rotunda was vacated in the 1990s following the merger of Ameritrust and Key Bank. Remembering that teller spaces once stood where fresh food is now displayed only begins to tell the story of the challenges surmounted.

The legal challenges began with the lease agreement between The Geis Companies (the developer) and Heinen’s as it had to be negotiated such that all space was created within the confines of stringent historic rehab standards. It was the responsibility of our firm’s real estate and tax experts to ensure that the lease obligated Heinen’s, in building out the space, to observe these standards so that the project would not be at risk of losing the historic tax credits that were largely responsible for making the project a reality.

The store’s floorplan is unlike any other Heinen’s location in its configuration. Not only is it considerably smaller in size, but it is built around and amongst elaborately decorated arches and columns, as well as the iconic bronze seal that had to remain intact in the center of the Rotunda floor. In some areas, the lower ceilings presented design challenges, as did the historic cast iron railings that had to stay in place.

The transformation from a bank lobby to a supermarket at one of downtown Cleveland’s busiest intersections may be one of Cleveland’s greatest adaptive re-use success stories. Thanks to the efforts and expertise of many different service professionals, the project was completed on-time and serves as one more piece of the giant puzzle that favorably positions downtown Cleveland as a preferred place to live, work and play.

To reach Jack, call 216-928-2914 or e-mail jwaldeck@walterhav.com.