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Tower City transforms as repairs continue ahead of NBA All-Star Game

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 9:58 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -At its low point, occupancy at Tower City dipped to just 15 percent. But new owners Bedrock have a multi-phase plan, already underway to turn it around and bring Cleveland back inside the shopping center in the iconic landmark.

Ivy Greaner, COO at Bedrock, says they had more than one thing working against them in this comeback story.

“We have a deteriorating mall, the heart of Cleveland has been shut down because of the pandemic, and then a big flood,” she said.

In June, just as they got started turning things around, the north part of the mall flooded. It stemmed from the apartments above and emptied 250,000 gallons of water in to the mall, doing millions of dollars in damage.

The flood took out 20-25 percent of leasable space. While repairs are underway, and expected to take until mid-summer, Bedrock got to work on phase one, housekeeping and repopulating, and quickly.

“Our first initiative was in tandem with fixing the mall a little bit, but let’s get people back in here,” Greaner said.

They’re buttoning up critical, basic maintenance like air conditioning, wi-fi and water for existing and future tenants.

And they’re aggressively courting leases for new businesses, like Jaxon’s Closet, which opened in October.

“Tower City is someplace I grew up shopping. We’d come here with my mom every pay day, on the bus downtown. We’d come to get clothing,” said owner Erica Malone.

Peach Fuzz Waxing and Threading signed on for a year-long lease starting last month. It’s their second location.

“Tower City has always been very important to me and exciting, so to have the opportunity to be a part of a brand new start for Tower City is amazing,” said owner Edicka Stallworth.

She is counting on built-in foot traffic, as people make their way through from the RTA, hotels and for events.

“I really don’t know what to expect each and every day. But with all the new businesses opening, hopefully the city gets word that tower city is something special again,” she said.

Greaner says they’re looking to fill retail spaces with a combination of large chain, or destination retail, and locally-owned businesses.

“We wanted to be able to bring something to Cleveland that was a lot more Cleveland,” Greaner said.

The old English Oak Room will become Xhibition, a cutting edge clothing store and special event energy space for their programming. She says they don’t plan to gut the space’s rich look

The occupancy rate at the food court was hovering around 10 percent. Since the NBA All Star Game is around the corner, look for pop-ups to fill the gaps and feed the expected crowds.

Greaner says the hope is to get the the iconic fountain, not currently operational, fixed as part of phase two.

“It’s our goal to preserve what makes sense and to do what speaks to people’s hearts,” she said.

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