By: Catrina Leone: Intern
The Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors voted today to help support more than $400 million in downtown Cleveland redevelopment projects. The port approved the following things at its monthly board meeting: Issuing up to $97 million in lease revenue and tax increment financing bonds for Phase 2 of the Flats East Bank project. Total project costs are estimated at $149 million; Issuing up to $57 million in lease revenue and tax increment financing bonds for the development of “The 9”, a mixed-use development adjacent to the new County Headquarters; Granting a leasehold interest in the Optima-Sage Hotel project to continue the development of the $73 million redevelopment of the former Crowne Plaza hotel.
William Friedman, president and CEO of the Port of Cleveland, said it is part of the Port’s ultimate goal to finance development through the sale of project revenue bonds to private investors. William also comments on the Port of Cleveland’s Express Ocean Freight Service to Europe, which begins in Spring 2014. He states that the service will be the fastest and greenest route between Europe and North America’s heartland, allowing regional companies to ship their goods up to 4 days faster using water, rail and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports. I will mention some more information on the Freight Shipping Service shortly.
William also states in terms of the redevelopment projects that “These three projects that our Board approved today are vitally important to the redevelopment of downtown Cleveland. They will bring permanent jobs, tax revenues, construction jobs, and will change the feel of our downtown. We are proud to play a role in attracting private investment capital to these projects and our community.”
The port is continuing to collaborate with the Wolstein Group and Fairmount Properties for the Flats East Bank Phase 2, which will include 233 market rate residential units and a total of 80,000+ square feet of rental space along with restaurant space. Phase 2 is anticipating more than 1,400 construction jobs and more than 900 retail, restaurant and office jobs. This Phase will also generate approximately $3.2 million of income tax.
A little bit more information about the Freight Shipping Service for those who want to know more or who might not be familiar with it: The Cleveland-Europe Express freight shipping service between Cleveland Harbor and Europe via the Saint Lawrence Seaway will begin in the Spring of 2014. This Freight Service will be the only regular, scheduled international container service on the Great Lakes. The fuel-efficient, multi-purpose ships will also have room for non-containerized cargoes.
“This service will offer Ohio exporters a faster, more cost-effective and greener solution to get their goods to global markets. The Cleveland-Europe Express can handle roughly 10-15% of Ohio’s trade with Europe,” Friedman said.This decision came during a time in which cargo coming through the Port is on an increase. This year, there was a 20% increase compared to 2012.
Jay Foran, senior vice president of Business Attraction for Team Northeast Ohio, said that scheduled, direct cargo ship service from Cleveland to northern Europe would be a significant addition to the business case for attracting companies. The Port’s goal is to offer customers the best option for door-to-door cargo movement. The agreement with the Spliethoff Group allows the Port to add a second ship, allowing for a vessel in port every two weeks.
The Port also has more exciting news when it comes to the redeveloping projects in downtown. For “The 9” Project at the southeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street, the Port is continuing to collaborate with the Geis Companies to help finance 184 luxury, affordable and market rate housing units with a 156-suite boutique hotel. The port continues to support the Optima-Sage hotel project. In December of 2011, the Port of Cleveland issued $36million in first mortgage lease revenue bonds for the Westin Hotel to assist in the construction, renovation, equipping, and rebranding of the former Crowne Plaza Hotel.
When it comes to the redevelopment projects taking place in downtown Cleveland and the Freight Shipping service between Cleveland Harbor and Europe, the Port has one mission: To provide the quickest route between North American’s Heartland and Northern Europe. The Port brings 13-million tons of cargo through the Cleveland Harbor and with it $1.8 billion in annual economic activity. The Port plays a key role in the environmental restoration and revitalization of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. For more information on this story and others in our community, stay tuned to TV20!