Friday, August 7, 2015

The Westin and Cleveland’s Downtown Revitalization

Downtown Cleveland’s economic resurgence has been made possible by entities from different sectors working together to bring new development to neglected corners of the city. CiF is one such organization; working with developers and local government entities to provide low-cost EB-5 financing to job creating projects. The Westin Downtown Cleveland is a great example of one of CiF’s successful collaborations, as the project helped revitalize a very visible section of downtown and has created positive economic impacts that ripple across the local and regional economy.
The building, strategically located on the northeast corner of East 6th Street and St Clair Avenue – essentially adjacent to the new downtown Convention Center – previously operated as a Crowne Plaza hotel. However, after years of neglect and mismanagement, the Crowne Plaza ultimately ceased operations and it seemed the building was destined for vacancy and continued deterioration. Despite the failure of the previous tenant, the Optima development company purchased the property and started planning to transform and update the old building into a new Westin hotel.

Using EB-5 investment capital to finance the project, developers started rehabbing the existing building and the new Westin opened for business in the spring of 2014. This commercial activity created hundreds of new jobs, both for the construction workers and for the trade workers who build and transport the supplies necessary for construction. 

Others benefitted from Westin project as well, as numerous hospitality and administrative staff were hired to support the operations of the new hotel – all of which were jobs that had disappeared with the closure of the Crowne Plaza. Further, hotel management working closely with the local LAND Studio, commissioned dozens of local artists to create thousands of unique pieces of art for hotel rooms, the lobby, and other spaces. And, though it is not a direct impact on Cleveland employment, the Urban Farmer Steakhouse, the hotel’s restaurant, uses ingredients and meats sourced from local farmers, so every meal served there helps support Ohio’s farmers.

However, the positive effects of the project don’t stop there, since the Westin Downtown Cleveland has added a significant number of high quality hotel rooms to Cleveland’s downtown hotel room supply. The supply of quality downtown hotel rooms is very important for Cleveland right now, as the new Convention Center and attached Global Center are dependent on there being a large number of hotel rooms available for attendees in order to attract and book events. Further, quality hotel rooms help draw high quality events and the Westin’s proximity to the site only increases the hotel’s value as a part of Cleveland’s overall hospitality portfolio.

All of these positive economic impacts – the redevelopment of a vacant building, creating jobs, and increasing the capacity and quality of Cleveland’s downtown hotel stock - were made possible by the EB-5 investors who placed their investment capital into the Westin project. CiF is pleased to have been an integral partner in this important downtown project.