Top 4 takeaways from Cleveland’s Public Square renovation

Learn more about the economic impact of Cleveland’s redesign of Public Square, including highlights on office investment and the surrounding multifamily and retail scene.

After eight years of planning and 15 months of construction, a refreshed, lively Public Square became downtown Cleveland’s new reality. The long-awaited project transformed the city’s core, incorporating year-round programming and events, interactive community elements like a splash pad and restaurant, and an abundance of green space and seating, creating the outdoor oasis Clevelanders have desired in the city’s metro.

The redevelopment of Public Square was not only a win at face value. Some of the city’s biggest gains came post-renovation in the surrounding areas that make up Cleveland’s core. The city’s economy has seen notable advancements, including $1.2 billion in private investment in adjacent properties, a prosperous multifamily scene, and an impressive gain of retailers.

The Public Square renovation spurred new engagement and activity within the city, along with the following four notable wins.

1. The residential sector is thriving

Upon completing its redesign, Cleveland’s residential scene has undergone tremendous growth. More than 1,300 residential units have become available in the last five years—a 342% jump from the preexisting level.

2. The downtown population is growing — a lot

Even with the availability of residential space, occupancy has remained steady at a healthy 95% with young professionals wanting to be at the heart of where the action is. Today, more than 2,300 residents live within the Square—a significant and welcome change from the sub-500-resident total five years ago.

Being near Public Square also presents the opportunity to be close to dozens of dining, entertainment and retail options, jiving with the live-work-play concept that has been trending throughout the urban core.

3. Retail occupancy sees a spike

As a result of increases in residency, tourism and employment downtown, the retail sector has also experienced its share of success. Retail occupancy has grown 20% over the last five years—a significant increase as occupancy across the rest of the region slows due to the impacts of e-commerce.

The area in and around Public Square has welcomed a net gain of 30 retailers and an 8% increase in rental rates to $27.50 triple net.

4. Nearby office investment is on the rise

In the recent years following Public Square’s renovation, surrounding building vacancy has dropped 4% while rental rates climb by 21%, prompting more interest from in and outside investors. In the last five years, 9 adjacent office buildings have sold for a grand total of $559.3 million.

Notable purchases include the region’s iconic Key Tower for $267.5 million and 200 Public Square for $187 million. Both sales saw significant increases over their prior trades in the early 2000s. 

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