The downtown tower that almost was


Park Place Technologies considered building a mid- to high-rise office building like one of those proposed at left by Bedrock Real Estate for its riverfront development. Alas, the growing tech firm stayed in the suburbs and bought an existing building that would be cheaper and faster to move into (Adjaye Associates). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Tech firm chose I-271 site over riverfront view

High construction and financing costs along with a longer move-in timeline doomed an intriguing new Downtown Cleveland headquarters building for a growing tech firm relocating from Mayfield Heights. Those construction market headwinds along with the rise in remote working led to Park Place Technologies finding an existing office campus next to Interstate 271 in Highland Heights near its current offices that fit its needs like a glove.

According to city and company sources who spoke to NEOtrans on the condition of anonymity, Park Place Technologies developed conceptual programming and cost data for a new high-rise office building to house up to 500 employees. That tower would rise on the west half of Bedrock Real Estate’s proposed riverfront development near where Sherwin-Williams’ Breen Technology Center stands today, the sources said. Bedrock is owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert.

The eastern half of Bedrock’s riverfront represents phase one, much of which is already spoken for by Gilbert-owned companies, including a future office tower for Rocket Mortgage, NEOtrans has reported. But Bedrock has also put that office on tower on hold as high interest rates have not only raised construction costs, they also hurt Rocket Mortgage’s business and reduced employment companywide. So Bedrock is advancing a phase 1A that includes a Cleveland Clinic Global Peak Performance Center and Cleveland Cavaliers practice facility.

In its masterplan vision approved by the city of Cleveland’s Planning Commission, it showed multiple buildings potentially ranging from 15-25 stories on the west half of the riverfront site. One of those, located on Huron Road immediately east of the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse tower, is identified as a potential office building in the masterplan. However, any of the buildings’ uses could be changed based on market demand, Bedrock officials said in planning commission meetings.

One of two proposed office buildings in Bedrock Real Estate’s Cuyahoga Riverfront Master Plan is circled in red. It may have been the site considered for Park Place Technology’s new headquarters. The other office tower, to the opposite side of the riverfront site, is reportedly where Rocket Mortgage would go when the lending market improves (Adjaye Associates).

Although details about the height of Park Place Tech’s conceptual tower were not revealed, possibly because plans hadn’t evolved far enough, the company sought up to 280,000 square feet for its office, data center and storage needs. Modern office towers typically have 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of office space per floor and at least 300 square feet per garage parking space.

Even at smaller floorplates, Park Place’s office portion might not have exceeded 15 stories. But if built atop a 500-space parking garage and storage warehouse, that could have raised the building’s height by another five to eight levels. If Park Place Technologies was an anchor tenant for a new building rather than a sole tenant, the building could have been even larger. A building with 250,000 square feet for offices and a data center plus 180,000 square feet for parking and a warehouse might cost more than $200 million to construct.

In 2022, the global data center and networking optimization firm issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 250,000 square feet of offices and a 10,000-square-foot data center. Its current headquarters fills the 108,000-square-foot Building No. 2 in the Landerbrook Corporate Center, 5910 Landerbrook Dr, in Mayfield Heights. The company also wants to relocate up to 30,000 square feet of warehouse space from its current location in Solon to the same site as its offices and data center.

Park Place Technologies, founded in 1991, said it preferred an existing building but also was willing to make modifications to its final landing spot. In November, company officials announced they had entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Progressive Direct Insurance Company to acquire a 23-acre, six-structure campus located at 747-755 Alpha Dr. in Highland Heights.

Progressive Direct Insurance’s Alpha Campus, as seen from Interstate 271, is where Park Place Technologies has chosen to relocate and expand its headquarters, while consolidating its storage warehouse and data center on the same site (Google).

The Alpha Campus has 230,000 square feet of offices, according to Cuyahoga County property records. The largest of those offices is the newest — a 95,197-square-foot, two story building built in 2020 which faces Interstate 271. There is also a 34,000-square-foot warehouse dating from 1973 and a three level, 164,160-square-foot parking garage constructed in 2020.

Despite the purchase agreement, a Park Place spokesman suggested that the company was still keeping its options open. As of Nov. 30, 2023, the company said it hadn’t yet engaged city, county and state leaders about public incentives to reduce the costs of its planned move and site improvements.

Michael Miller, director of global communications at Park Place Technologies, said he was checking with company officials to confirm, clarify or refute the sources’ reports. When that happens, NEOtrans will update this article accordingly. In late November, he commented on the company’s site-selection situation via a written statement.

“Park Place Technologies anticipates making a final site selection decision in early 2024,” Miller said in November. “Park Place Technologies wants to thank the city of Cleveland and Mayor Justin Bibb, and members of his administration, for their genuine efforts to secure a suitable site for our global headquarters within the city of Cleveland.”

No sale price for Progressive’s Alpha Campus was noted. Cuyahoga County in 2022 appraised the land and structures of the Alpha campus with a value of $20,057,500. If that is close to the actual sale price and Park Place Technologies limits its site improvement costs at the Alpha campus, it will have saved more than $150 million from building a new tower downtown.

Current headquarters of Park Place Technologies is Landerbrook Corporate Center’s Building No. 2 in Mayfield Heights. During the pandemic, when this photo was taken, the parking lot and presumably the office building too were virtually empty (Google).

Another downtown site that Park Place reportedly considered was the former Plain Dealer building, 1801 Superior Ave., on the east side of Downtown Cleveland. That property is also in the running for a new location for the location of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections’ offices and storage totaling about 180,000 square feet.

Miller noted that a dozen other Northeast Ohio communities responded to Park Place’s RFP. Although he didn’t specify who they were, one of them was Park Place’s current home city of Mayfield Heights. Sources said the company considered expanded into a neighboring office building at Landerbrook Corporate Center vacated by Progressive.

Progressive has shed a large amount of office space because it said it can’t get people to come to work at its suburban office campuses, noted in a story first shared by NEOtrans. Ironically, Progressive reportedly is having greater success getting people to come to work at its research and development offices in Downtown Cleveland’s Warehouse District, a source familiar with Progressive’s human resources said.

“Our average occupancy numbers since re-opening following the pandemic are at 8-10 percent in Campus 1, Campus 2, and our Alpha Campus combined,” according to a notice shared on Progressive’s intranet last July. “In real numbers, that means an average of 850 employees are filling 9,500 seats. Based on these numbers and to promote employee engagement, it just doesn’t make sense for us to maintain two campuses in close proximity.”

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