New tax credit bolsters Centennial Project plans


CLEVELAND – A historic corner of downtown Cleveland will be reinvigorated with a mix of upscale commercial space and affordable living options. This week, Ohio announced it was providing a $40 million tax credit for the Centennial project at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street.

“It really gave us a boost and the push we needed to get through the difficulty,” said Tom Mignogna, vice president of Millenia Housing Development, Ltd.

The company received the largest allocation in the first round of Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD) funding. The program aims to cover part of the construction costs of facilities that could become a catalyst for the economy of a region.

“This really is the last big missing piece on Euclid Avenue,” said Michael Deemer, CEO of Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Photo courtesy of The Millenia Companies

A rendering of the Centennial’s E 9th St facade

He explained that the Centennial sits at the intersection of several major corridors. The building, which has been largely vacant for nearly a decade, is one of the only remaining empty properties between Cleveland State University and Public Square.

“Having this gem of a building updated and restored to meet today’s needs is just a huge and impactful opportunity for downtown Cleveland and really the entire city,” Deemer said.

Project costs are expected to total approximately $450 million, much of which will be paid for through a combination of public and private partnerships. Mignogna expects the transformation to meet both the practical needs and the aesthetic desires of the region.


Photo courtesy of The Millennia Companies

A rendering of the rotunda inside the Centennial Building

“Perhaps few people were inside this building, as it is easy to pass by. He’s been so dormant for so long,” he said. “I like to call it Cleveland’s Sistine Chapel. It’s like a cathedral in there. It’s so beautiful and ornate.


Photo courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Photography Collections

The photo claims 50,000 people crammed into the bank’s huge halls in 1924.

Originally built by the Union Trust Company in 1924, the 1.4 million square foot building features an imposing barrel-vaulted lobby with murals and fluted Corinthian columns. In its heyday, it was known as one of the largest banking halls in the world.

When redeveloped, the bank lobby will house an upscale restaurant called The Century Club, similar to the Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar owned by the same developer. It will also contain the Cleveland Exhibit, paying homage to the city’s history with exhibits curated by the Western Reserve Historical Society.


Photo courtesy of The Millennia Companies

An upscale restaurant called The Century Club is planned inside the Centennial

Photo courtesy of The Millennia Companies

The Western Reserve Historical Society will hold exhibits for the Cleveland Exposition inside the Centennial

A boutique hotel will overlook the bank lobby. On the floors above the reception area, offices will occupy 95,000 square feet. During the pandemic, The Millennia Companies pivoted from an original plan of luxury apartments on the upper floors of the building. From now on, it plans to offer nearly 870 workforce accommodations. Affordable apartments are intended to provide options for working-class Clevelanders.

“They really didn’t have a place to live downtown because it’s been very gentrified, but a commodity that’s not affordable for the average worker,” Mignogna explained.

Deemer expects the combination of affordable housing, high-end attractions and historic preservation to support downtown’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really going to send a symbolic message, I think, that downtown is bouncing back,” he said.

Mignogna expects the latest funding to help the company secure closure before the end of 2022. He said construction of the entire project will take about 36 months.

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