Cleveland parking lot operator and real estate owner James Kassouf recently purchased the Tower at Erieview and the adjacent Galleria. His investor group bought the property from the Philadelphia-based RAIT Financial Trust, and according to the Cuyahoga County online real estate records, the deal closed for $17.7 million.
Kassouf’s group has purchased and redeveloped buildings both in Cleveland and overseas for the past two decades. The Tower and Galleria have been challenging properties for the previous owners as they have been unable to make the building feel vibrant and cohesive. Kassouf and his group aim to change that. To James Kassouf, this Cleveland hallmark is an opportunity for revitalization.
The plan with the newly acquired property is to renovate it, including converting 12 vacant office floors into 220 luxury apartment units. In a response to The Plain Dealer, Kassouf said, “The idea of bringing something to Cleveland that hasn’t been done before is compelling. We are striving to deliver a Class A office tower that has residential, fitness, retail, dining, entertainment, and parking components all in one project.”
The Kassouf family has been operating parking lots in downtown Cleveland for almost four decades. Underneath The Tower at Erieview and the Galleria is a 421-space parking garage. Additional plans for the property include converting part of the former Stouffers Cafeteria in the Galleria to provide more parking spaces, adding garage access, and creating additional spaces of valet parking for tenants and residents.
At this point, it is too early to estimate the cost of renovation. The group plans to use public incentives and tax credits to help with the cost of conversion. The tower is on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes it eligible for historic tax credits for renovations. The designation, in addition to preliminary approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, may well accelerate the redevelopment plan.
Although the Kassouf name is well known for operating parking lots, James and his group own a wide variety of properties. They already own the building in Ohio that houses the regional headquarters for the FBI in addition to five acres of land. This recent purchase gives the team a stronger foothold in the downtown Cleveland area.