Sale of UCC building in Cleveland complete; new office space nearly ready

The United Church of Christ no longer owns property in downtown Cleveland.

The sale of the 700 Prospect Avenue building, announced in April, was officially completed as planned on Tuesday, May 31. The purchase price was $4.5 million, said UCC General Counsel Heather Kimmel, who handled the closing along with General Minister and President John Dorhauer.

Dorhauer said proceeds from the sale — after some final expenses — will be added to the national setting’s unrestricted endowment to help fund the mission of the United Church of Christ.

Meantime, the church is making final preparations to move into leased space in another downtown building a half-mile away, at 1300 E. 9th Street. The build-out of offices there now awaits city inspection. An occupancy permit is expected in July.

Assets for mission

The sale ends a years-long process, led by the UCC Board, to decide whether or not to keep 700 Prospect. The closure of the building in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uptick in remote and hybrid work, added new aspects to that process.

Climate Strikers gather outside the front door of the UCC Church House at 700 Prospect Avenue on Sept. 20, 2019. Photo by Hans Holznagel

“As we look to position our organization for future success, we seek to invest more resources in mission and personnel and fewer resources in property,” Dorhauer said. “700 Prospect has been a very good asset for us for over 30 years, but new technologies allow us to work differently in less space – lowering both our expenses and our carbon footprint. This has been a long journey, and we are anxious to move into a new space that will better equip us for 21st-century success.”

Kimmel said the final expenses related to the sale will be “for the windup and dissolution” of the 700 Prospect Corporation, a separate company created by the UCC in 1991 to own and manage the building.

The UCC bought the building for $5.2 million from the Ohio Bell Telephone company in 1989 and listed it for sale in August 2021 for $7 million. The 700 Prospect Board of Trustees agreed to that asking price based on professional advice, but much changed in the ensuing year, Dorhauer said. He said the lower sale amount “is what the market would bear at this time.” Any buyer’s offer would likely have factored in the cost of converting the building to residential use, he said. “There is no market for commercial offices right now.”

Apartments planned

And that kind of conversion is what’s ahead. The new 700 Prospect owner, K&D Properties of Willoughby, Ohio, has previously converted other downtown Cleveland commercial spaces for residential and mixed use. Its CEO, Doug Price, said the firm hopes to build 120 apartments in the 9-story building, with the first floor set aside for retail.

A peace pole graces the courtyard between the 700 Prospect Ave. building (left) and the former Radisson Hotel at Gateway (right), now Hotel Indigo, in 2019. Situated on a former parking lot for phone-repair trucks, the courtyard and hotel were built by the UCC in the 1990s. The church sold them for $7.5 million in 2019. Photo by Hans Holznagel.

The apartments will be “on the smaller side,” he said — around 550 square feet. “The benefit of that is that the price point is good, so that they’re a lot more affordable, in the $1,100- to $1,200-a-month range,” he said.

He said various factors made 700 Prospect attractive — including the fact that K&D owns parking spaces across the street. “It’s a pretty building, a nice building, and we have a parking garage that will be useful for our tenants,” he said.

Conversion timeline

Price said planning is not far enough along to know what design changes might be made to the former Amistad Chapel, east of the main lobby, or the former salon rooms west of it. “One will probably be a high-end coffee shop, and then there will be some other kind of retail in the other one,” he said.

Construction is a few months away for two reasons, Price said:

  • K&D has another downtown office-to-residential conversion in progress at 55 Public Square. It would prefer to finish that one before starting another.
  • The firm plans to finance the project with state and federal historic tax credits, which require “a certain amount of planning.” “The first step to get to state to get it certified by the state as a historic structure,” he said. And then there is a semi-yearly cycle to apply for and be awarded credits.

If tax credits come through by December, he said, construction could start as early as the second quarter of 2023. The “build cycle” usually takes 12 to 16 months.

Price said he expects few exterior alterations. “It will look substantially the same as it does now on the outside.”

New UCC address

In other updates:

Construction documents are seen in March 2022, during the UCC build-out of the 11th floor of 1300 E. 9th St., Cleveland. Photo by Hans Holznagel.
  • The newly constructed UCC offices on the 11th floor at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and East 9th Street now await city inspection. Once that is complete and an occupancy permit issued, the move-in can begin in earnest, Dorhauer said.
  • Staff orientation to the new space has been scheduled for the first week of July.
  • The move of the offices’ main computer server was completed as scheduled the weekend of May 20.
  • UCC Resources remains closed until it can get moved into a basement space at the 1300 building. Orders can be placed online, but shipping must wait until the move is complete. The date currently estimated for that is the end of July, said Revenue Strategist Marie Tyson. Downloadable resources remain fully available.

Also, the national ministries’ new address took effect on June 1:

United Church of Christ, National Ministries
1300 E. 9th St., Suite 1100
Cleveland, OH 44114

However, donations, checks and other business mail should from now on be sent to this address, created last year:

P.O. Box 71957
Cleveland, OH 44194

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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