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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

After Ohio Supreme Court Decision, New Cleveland Foundation HQ May Go Forward

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 11:01 AM

click to enlarge Conceptual rendering of proposed new Cleveland Foundation headquarters on the Dunhan Tavern Museum property at Euclid and E. 66th. - S9 ARCHITECTURE
  • S9 Architecture
  • Conceptual rendering of proposed new Cleveland Foundation headquarters on the Dunhan Tavern Museum property at Euclid and E. 66th.

The Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday declined to hear the case of Dunham Tavern Museum trustees who were seeking to invalidate the sale of its adjacent greenspace in Midtown to the Cleveland Foundation, where its new headquarters are planned.

Both the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas and the state appellate court in Cuyahoga County had ruled against the Dunham Tavern Museum plaintiffs in their original 2019 lawsuit. The state's high court was the final venue where an appeal might have been heard.

That means the coast is now clear for the Cleveland Foundation to build its $22 million headquarters on the corner of Euclid Avenue and E. 66th Street, where it's imagined as the anchor of a proposed "innovation district" in Midtown. The three-floor building is currently scheduled for completion in 2022.

The legal case has been controversial, particularly among trustees and members of the Dunham Tavern Museum, Cleveland's oldest standing structure. The land in question had been acquired by the museum via charitable contributions from 2012-2017 and was meant to have been converted to a publicly accessible park. Many of the trustees felt betrayed when a deal to sell that same land to the Cleveland Foundation was ironed out in secret.

The Cleveland Foundation and their supporters have framed the organization's move from Playhouse Square to Midtown as a bold commitment to walking the talk, as a reinvestment in one of Cleveland's underresourced neighborhoods. They are no doubt correct that new, radial developments could bring jobs and "community wealth" to Hough.

The Dunham Tavern Museum plaintiffs have celebrated the principle of the Foundation's eastward move, but have argued that the ends don't justify the means. They've persisted in asking why the exact site the Museum had just acquired to preserve for another purpose was the only viable parcel for the Cleveland Foundation's new home.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision, attorney for the plaintiffs Peter Pattakos* penned a doleful summation. 

"The historic public greenspace will no longer be public or green, but will instead become more corporate office space in a city already full of vacant commercial real estate," he wrote. "The interests of private developers in Cleveland have thus again been prioritized over the public’s, Cleveland Foundation CEO Ronn Richard will get his wish to have his office look out on a historic farmscape, and it will remain unexplained as to why the Foundation’s construction project otherwise couldn’t have been built on any of a number of underdeveloped parcels adjacent to the DTM campus."

*Pattakos is legally representing Scene in a concurrent, unrelated case.

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