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Cleveland Foundation Plans Move, Midtown Revitalization

The Cleveland Foundation plans to leave Playhouse Square and build a new headquarters at the corner of East 66th Street and Euclid Avenue in the city's Midtown neighborhood.

The foundation’s board of trustees voted unanimously this week to move from the historic downtown Hanna Building to a new building to be built on land the foundation has agreed to buy from the Dunham Tavern Museum.The foundation has been a tenant in Playhouse Square; in Midtown it will own its new home.

“We felt it was really important to focus on Midtown to connect the strength of University Circle and downtown Cleveland," said Sally Gries, who chairs the Cleveland Foundation board. "And we felt that we could add to the transformative change that already has been taking place."

The foundation's impending move would be the latest major project in the corridor between downtown and University Circle, said Jeff Epstein, executive director of MidTown Cleveland Inc., a partner in the foundation's construction and neighborhood redevelopment plan. Recently constructed and repurposed office space in the area already has 92 percent occupancy rates, he said.

“It’s another catalytic investment right on the footsteps of the UH Rainbow Center and the Dave’s Market. And having the foundation on 66th will really be helping to start bridge the connection north to the Hough community,” Epstein said.

With the one and a quarter acres it voted to buy from Dunham Tavern board, the foundation will have five acres total across both sides of East 66th Street between Euclid and Chester avenues. The foundation's new headquarters will be the anchor of what is planned to be a multi-building project on both sides of the street. Going from concept to construction completion is expected to take about three years, according to Gries.

But a legal dispute over the sale of the land could delay that timeline. The land the foundation plans to build on is currently used as green space by Dunham Tavern Museum. The board of Dunham Tavern approved the sale to the Cleveland Foundation in May, but a now-former trustee is suing other board members to stop the deal.

Dunham Tavern is the oldest building still standing on its original site in Cleveland. The stagecoach stop and tavern now serves as a museum, gardens and community gathering space.

The suit alleges the Dunham Tavern Museum board's approval of the sale is invalid due to conflicts of interest and responsibility among board members and because voting procedures were violated. On Friday, the defendants filed a counterclaim denying the allegations and seeking an injunction against the effort to block the land sale. They also sought an expedited response from Judge Nancy Russo of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Neither the Cleveland Foundation nor MidTown Cleveland Inc. is part of the litigation. Gries and Epstein declined to comment on the pending legal matters.

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