Ah, Tower City. Back in the day the shops at Tower City were a beautiful urban oasis, a throwback of sorts to the heyday of downtown shopping in Cleveland. Slowly, that momentum and sheen wore off as tenants left and what at one time was a full mall turned into a hodgepodge of dollar stores and calendar shops with few notable names
otherwise. Brooks Brothers, of course, is still there, representing the high end, and you can buy sneakers at Foot Locker or jewelry at Claire's like many other malls, but when even McDonald's packs up and leaves the food court, you know things have gone downhill. It's a far cry from when the Avenue opened in 1990 (it wasn't all that long ago) with big-name tenants like Barney's, Versace and Gucci. (Seriously!)
That should change.
Dan Gilbert, through Bedrock Real Estate Services, has bought the Avenue portion of Tower City from Forest City for $56.5 million. Which makes total sense. Activating the mall is in the best interest for Gilbert, with his casino across the street and his arena just a few blocks away, which of course is connected to the mall with the walkway that tens of thousands of fans use to get to games and events after parking at Tower City.
Gilbert is also probably best positioned to lead the revamp. In Detroit, Gilbert's acquired and energized huge swaths of the city with new businesses, apartments, restaurants and bars.
Tower City could use some of that action.
“The Avenue Shops provide us with a unique opportunity to build upon the connectivity to our other downtown investments and create a one-of-a-kind urban shopping, dining and entertainment destination that will make all Clevelanders proud,” Gilbert said in a release this morning.
In a release from Forest City, CEO David LaRue said, “Tower City Center was one of Forest City's first major urban, mixed-use redevelopment projects and still stands today as an example of the power of transformational real estate to improve and energize the urban environment."
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Rock Gaming as Gilbert's purchasing firm. He purchased the properties through Bedrock Real Estate Services.