New life for warner & swasey complex ?
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  1. #1
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    Default New life for warner & swasey complex ?

    Cleveland's abandoned Warner & Swasey complex could become a tech center
    By Michelle Jarboe, The Plain Dealer
    May 27, 2010, 5:34PM
    View full sizeCOURTESY OF THE GEIS COS. Hemingway Development hopes to revive the former Warner & Swasey Co. complex at East 55th Street and Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland. This image shows a restored version of the main building, which is dilapidated, with boarded-up and bricked-over windows. The city of Cleveland owns the property, a former machine-tool shop that has been vacant since 1985.CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A local developer could revive the former Warner & Swasey Co. facility, a dilapidated and boarded-up complex that looms over East 55th Street and Carnegie Avenue.

    The city of Cleveland, which owns the property, is working on a deal with Hemingway Development and HzW Environmental Consultants LLC. Hemingway, a division of the Geis Cos. of Streetsboro, wants to restore the 130-year-old buildings for offices, labs and warehousing or manufacturing space -- uses that fit with an effort to brand and promote the Midtown area of Cleveland as a health and technology corridor.

    The city's economic development department plans to apply for up to $3 million through the Clean Ohio Fund, a state program that provides grants for environmental assessments, demolition and cleanup on potentially contaminated land. Cleveland's City Council could vote early next month to make way for the Clean Ohio application and a development agreement and purchase option with Hemingway.

    The Warner & Swasey buildings, at 5701 Carnegie Ave., have been vacant since 1985. They housed a machine-tool shop, where thousands of Warner & Swasey Co. workers made lathes used to produce tanks, guns, ships and airplanes during World War II. The workers also built telescopes, a passion of company co-founder Worcester Warner.

    Cleveland acquired the property in 1991. The windows are covered with bricks and boards, and the buildings are a favorite haunt of urban explorers who sneak in to document the decay.

    "It's terrible," said Fred Geis, a principal with Hemingway. "The roof is gone, the copper's been stolen, people broke out all the windows and stole all the aluminum. Anything that's not attached to the concrete has been stolen."

    View full sizeCOURTESY OF THE GEIS COS. The complex housed the Warner & Swasey Co., a manufacturer of machine tools. During World War II, the company employed 7,000 people making lathes used to produce tanks, guns, ships and airplanes. The workers also built telescopes.By the end of this year, Hemingway and HzW, an environmental consultant in Mentor, hope to study the property, collect soil and water samples and determine how much cleaning is necessary. The cleanup could take 18 to 24 months, and Hemingway hopes to reopen most of the building within three years.

    Without knowing the cleaning costs, it's impossible to estimate the cost of a redevelopment. Hemingway hopes to create 180,000 square feet for offices, labs and warehouses or manufacturing -- space Geis would like to lease at low rates, of less than $8 to $10 per square foot. The project also would include parking in an area now occupied by a building with a sawtoothed roof.

    Hemingway's designs complement plans for the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, a business- and real estate-development effort being shepherded by MidTown Cleveland Inc. and BioEnterprise Inc., a University Circle nonprofit that cultivates biomedical companies. Corridor partners aim to nurture new businesses, relocate suppliers for institutions including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, fill vacant buildings and assemble property for redevelopment.

    "Right now in Cleveland we have seven incubators, the most recent being the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center, and when that opened it was 75 percent occupied," said Tracey Nichols, the city's economic development director. "We have very little space available. So we are looking for more properties that are ready to go, especially where companies need an entire building and not just a piece of the building."

    The city would sell the Warner & Swasey property to Hemingway for $1 and would put $35,000 toward the environmental survey and plan. Cleveland would not provide additional money or tax abatement. If Hemingway does not complete the project within three years of buying the facility, the city would take the property back.

    Geis, his brother Greg and the Coyne family also hope to build a technology center at Euclid Avenue and East 69th Street, in the heart of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. The partners shared updated drawings of that project with city design officials last week. The Euclid Tech Center would target biotechnology and health care companies.

  2. #2
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    For those of you that are not in Cleveland, here's the article from The Plain Dealer on May 28, 2010

  3. #3
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    Hey I am all for this. Cleanup of the office building shouldn't be too much trouble if the cost of asbestos abatement and lead paint removal do not prove to be deal killers.

    The "saw-tooth roofed building" was full of machine assembly areas, machine shops, and the test floor for custom built machine / tooling packages. The last time I walked on a wooden floor built of end-grain oak blocks was in that building.

    I did become irritated about the articles reference to WW II and weapons. There were many machines sold for these purposes but also many that were used for more benign parts production. Oil Field, Automotive, and agriculture are just the first to come to mind. Not to mention that WW II was but a drop in the bucket (in terms of time) over the long history of the company.

    John


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