Issue: July/August 2012
Solon successfully redevelops existing industrial properties when new construction slows.
Solon is fast becoming a town where everything old might be new again.
“Back in 2009, we did a total rewrite of the city’s master plan and a portion of that plan addressed economic development,” explains Solon economic development manager Peggy Weil-Dorfman. “One of the issues we identified was a growing number of older facilities in the city and how we could deal with that.”
Today, thanks to the city’s strong outreach efforts with commercial property owners and realtors, combined with a city revitalization grant program that’s been six years running, redevelopment of existing industrial and retail properties has become a reliable component of Solon’s economic development plan.
The grant program – Growth and Revitalization Incentive Program, or GRIP – enables local industrial and commercial property owners to apply for up to $70,000 in funds for upgrades made to vacant or partially vacant facilities. Since GRIP’s inception in 2006, Solon has awarded $478,900 for 10 redevelopment projects. The city has another four projects currently under way that will add another $275,000 upon completion.
“The fact that we’re able to find other uses for properties speaks to our resilience and to our ability to help our businesses adapt,” Weil-Dorfman says.
This resilience is especially handy, as much of Solon’s available land for industrial use is spoken for. Consider this: In 1996, Solon enjoyed some 400,000 square feet of new industrial construction. By 2006, that figure was down to 50,000 square feet. Last year, there was none.
But in a city where 2,000 acres of industrial land houses nearly 16.7 million square feet of manufacturing, warehousing and office space, there’s always room for redevelopment.
Take, for example, a former fitness club at 30455 Solon Road. Geis Properties, a Streetsboro commercial real estate developer with 500,000 square feet of industrial space in Solon, will receive a $70,000 GRIP grant for its renovation of the Solon Road property.
Geis Properties president Joe Perrow says the company’s goal is to convert the 38,000- square-foot facility into a single tenant office space by fall. The building requires significant renovations, including a new roof, but once completed, it will be customized to a tenant’s specifications.
Just down the road from the Geis project is another by NAI Daus, a Cleveland provider of full-service commercial real estate support for businesses. The building at 29855 Solon Road was purchased by Clairmont Solon LLC in April and will be leased and managed by NAI Daus, says Robert Brehmer, NAI Daus managing partner. Brehmer expects to invest approximately $500,000 in renovations.
In addition to the two Solon Road projects, yet another older multi-tenant building at 29601 Hall Street has been purchased by a developer/investor and will soon undergo its share of renovations.
“Existing buildings are priced well compared to replacement cost or new construction,” Brehmer says. “While new construction may be the best alternative for some companies, most will prefer to try to control their cost in existing stock.”
Brehmer adds that Solon is a desirable place to operate a business and to own property. “[Solon] has a strong business community and an active economic development department that wants to help businesses in the community,” he says. “If the market picks up, as we believe it will, there should be demand for a well-located industrial building redeveloped to meet the expectations of tenants in 2012.”
This record has been viewed 638