Industrial Realty Group to reopen and redevelop Cleveland IX Center
A national real estate developer plans to revive the IX Center, bringing consumer lounges back to the closed Cleveland site while marketing much of the complex as industrial space.
Industrial Real Estate Group LLC acquired the shares of IX Center Corp., the private company that controls the 2.2 million square foot facility. Through the deal, prolific investor and developer Stuart Lichter is entering into a long-term lease with the city of Cleveland, which owns the property, and contracts with event producers who have been in limbo for a year.
The deal paves the way for popular gatherings, including the Cleveland Auto Show, to return to the IX Center in 2022. Lichter also plans to offer parts of the building to industrial tenants – and to continue development of the surrounding land, next to Cleveland Hopkins. International airport.
The purchase will end a dispute between at least three trade show organizers and IX Center Corp., which announced last September that it was withdrawing from the event business.
The coronavirus pandemic and state public health orders have sidelined the IX Center, one of the largest private convention centers in the country. A temporary shutdown that began in March 2020 has lasted for months, creating an untenable situation for IX Center Corp.
The shutdown sparked a cascade of lawsuits as event producers pushed the company to reopen the building and honor ongoing contracts through August 2024. Meanwhile, real estate brokers and site selectors were salivating over the property, a WWII bomber factory with thick floors, high ceilings and wide columns.
Industrial Realty Group, a California developer known for tackling difficult properties, will perform in front of both audiences.
“I think it’s really important to bring the shows back. I think they’re huge economic generators for the region,” Lichter, president and founder of IRG, said on a phone call.
At the same time, he said, “we have a lot of extra land that has never been developed that we hope to do something with. And we also hope to convert the parts that will no longer be used for shows. in jobs, creating industrial and aeronautical uses.
He did not want to disclose the cost of the deal, which was reached on Tuesday, August 31. A subsidiary of Industrial Realty Group bought the shares of IX Center Corp. to Park Corp., the family-owned business conglomerate that has controlled the building for decades.
“We have made arrangements with the major shows to keep them there for a number of years and to continue to operate the facility,” Lichter said. “We also have an agreement with the sellers of the stock to do this. It was very dear to their hearts, and that’s fully one of the reasons we’re closing the deal.”
The organizers of the auto show, the Great Big Home and Garden Show, the Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo and the Ohio RV Supershow are preparing to return. Other IX Center Corp.-owned events including IX Christmas Connection and Piston Powered Auto-Rama will also be relaunched.
Even the biggest shows don’t fill the huge space, however.
Lichter expects to move events to a smaller footprint, between 400,000 and 500,000 square feet, he said, to make way for more lucrative commercial leases.
GOJO Industries, the Akron-based manufacturer of Purell hand sanitizer and other products, is already using the warehouse-like south hall for storage. The company’s lease on this space runs until fall 2022.