Flats East Bank will see new development soon with the addition of Kenect Cleveland, a joint venture by the Wolstein Group and Chicago-based developers Akara Partners.
Along with its existing restaurants, venues, hotels and apartment buildings, Kenect Cleveland is the third phase of development in the location along Cuyahoga River.
Featuring two different components of apartments and a theater, and then restaurant development, Scott Wolstein, CEO of the Wolstein Group, said the project is expected to be completely finished by spring or summer 2020, with the restaurants finished by July 2019.
He said the project was inspired by something Akara Partners was doing in Chicago.
“They had a product there that I had the opportunity to see, Kenect,” he said. “It looked perfect for the Flats and it was different from what I’ve already seen here. (The apartment) is a lot of micro-units. Their philosophy is to highly amenitize the building and then offer more compact units, which are more affordable.”
With an estimated budget of $150 million, the development will be completed in two phases – the 325-unit micro-apartment building and iPic Theater between West 10th and 11th streets and the restaurants on the grass area between Alley Cat Oyster Bar and FWD Day + Night Club on the boardwalk.
“We’re gearing the project more towards millennials,” Wolstein said. “What we’re finding these days is the millennial renter is not interested in a big apartment. They are more interested in spending time out and about.”
Since millenials are also the main clientele at Flats East Bank, Wolstein said targeting the project to them makes sense.
“If you spend any time in the Flats, you can see we get a big response from that kind of customer,” he said. “The downtown Cleveland housing market is not a family-friendly market – it’s empty nesters and millennials. This will be a little bit of both, but the sweet spot of the market is really the millennials.”
Wolstein said he thinks people will be excited about the finished product.
“We’ve done a lot of homework and this is exactly what the market is looking for in this area,” he said. “The movie theater will be a big commodity here. The idea of adding a movie theater to the mix adds a year-round attraction to the area. This allows the customers to still support the restaurants, even in our slower winter months.”
With what his late father, Bertram “Bart” Wolstein, started in the area and what he and his mother, Iris Wolstein, have continued, Wolstein said he’s mainly excited for continued accomplishments.
“We’ve transformed downtown and we’ve made Cleveland a place that is an acceptable alternative for a young person to start a career,” he said. “They can live here and have fun and I don’t think that was true for a long time. For my mother, the Flats has been the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream for my late father. She was devoted to him alive and now to his legacy. She’s embraced this as more than a real estate deal and it’s honored my father’s memory.”
If all goes well, Wolstein hopes to continue to develop the Flats East Bank space.
“We’re only at the halfway point of this project,” he said. “If the demand continues, and I think it will, we could build upwards for 2000 units on the site and create a real city within a city. That is remarkable.”