Former Huntington Building to undergo $280 million transform

Fla.-based Hudson Holdings plans to transform the former Huntington Building
into a mixed-use property with a high-end hotel, 550 apartments and a whopping 400,000 square feet of
office space.
The new owner of the 925 Euclid Ave. building, best known as the former Huntington Building, plans to
transform it into a mixed-use property with a high-end hotel, 550 apartments and a whopping 400,000
square feet of office space.
Andrew “Avi” Greenbaum, a principal of Delray Beach, Fla.-based Hudson Holdings, discussed the $280
million renovation plan at a media tour on Tuesday, June 16, that celebrated the mammoth former bank
headquarters and office building as well as serving as a news conference. Through an affiliate, Hudson
Holdings bought the two-building complex June 12 for a stated price of $22 million.
Greenbaum said Hudson Holdings is pursuing a major flag for the property but declined to say which one. He
noted the rental apartments also will offer hotel-style services for tenants. One thing Hudson will not do is
change the ornate, column-rich exterior of the building, which dates from 1924.
“No, we don’t plan exterior changes,” Greenbaum said. “We’ll work with what’s there and upgrade the
mechanicals to install hotel rooms and apartments and serve contemporary office tenants.”
Hudson wants to have the building ready for occupancy in 36 months, perhaps as early as two years,
Greenbaum said. That will be a stretch, as Greenbaum said the company needs to cobble together financing
and plans to seek Ohio State Historic Preservation Tax Credits, which has delayed more than one project due
to constraints on state allocations of the credits.
Even though the hotel will miss the Republican National Convention next year, Greenbaum said the
building’s lavish banking lobbies will be available for events during the convention.
“We want to make this building a busy place, even busier than in the past,” Greenbaum said as he led
reporters and videographers through the lower-level retail space. Just two retailers remain, but Hudson
plans to bring in more, he said. The building is 22 stories tall, including a floor below ground.
Making Huntington a busier place than in the past will be a tall order.
All told, the building has enough space under its roof to equal a small farm: 30 acres. As an office and retail
property, the Huntington Building and adjoining Huntington Annex have a total of 1.45 million square feet of
rental space. The property once served Cleveland’s civic elite, major businesses and most of the city’s elite
law firms, including Jones Day and Squire Sanders (now Squire Patton Boggs). The structure even played
donor to Ernst & Young Tower, the city’s newest office tower, losing to it the EY accounting firm and the law
firms Tucker Ellis LLP and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP.
Just 8% of the building is occupied, according to the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank brokerage, which
handled the sale to Hudson for the prior owner, an affiliate of Optima International of Miami.
One new office tenant is already bound for the structure: Terry Coyne, an NGKF vice chairman who led the
team that handled the transaction, said NGKF will move its Cleveland office to the building as it will handle
management and leasing of the office space.
“I’d love to move here, anyway,” Coyne said.
The Hudson Holdings tour took media into a mezzanine that once served as the offices of Huntington’s
Northern Ohio office before it moved to 200 Public Square. The tour also went to the bank’s vault as well as
other parts of the structure, including the top floor, which has served as a dining room for generations of
Clevelanders under various names.
The dining room was originally designed to serve as a passenger terminal for zeppelins, but NGKF materials
said it never served as such because of forceful winds from Lake Erie. Instead, it was repurposed as an
expansive dining hall. Greenbaum said a rooop bar is in the works.
Hudson on Tuesday itself used the first-floor banking hall as a dining room with seating for 48, including
lawyers, real estate brokers, civic officials and media. The sound of a classical violin greeted visitors as well
as servers offering champagne.
Such a show is a big switch from 925 Euclid’s prior owner. Optima was rarely available to the media during its
ownership of the structure. However, Optima remains a big player in Cleveland real estate. It owns three
other office buildings and the new Westin hotel here.