If you could add one thing to the Warehouse District of Downtown Cleveland, what would it be? If you said retail, then you’re in luck thanks to the Small Box Cleveland initiative of the Warehouse District Organization. Today Small Box announced it’s plans to open it’s first retail later this month. Lee Chilcote, of Freshwater Cleveland discusses today’s announcement in full:
Small Box Cleveland, an effort to lure more retailers downtown by converting used shipping containers into small storefronts, will open its first shop on Sunday, September 14th. The Cleveland Browns have signed on to the project, with the team opening a merchandise store just in time for football season. In a few weeks, two additional independent stores, the Banyan Tree and the Wandering Wardrobe, also will open new ventures inside refurbished containers.
“This is an exciting time for the city with the growth of downtown, and it’s important for us to be part of that,” says Brent Stehlik, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for the Browns. “We see this as an opportunity for us to reach fans with a different approach. It’s a way to reach new audiences.”
Small Box is a project of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation (HWDDC). The new stores will be located on a parking lot at West 6th and St. Clair owned by Weston Inc., a development company that donated nine parking spaces for the project. Small Box is intended to be a creative solution to the retail conundrum in downtown Cleveland — that is, residents, visitors and office workers say they want more retail options, yet many retailers are not ready to take the plunge until there’s proven demand. On top of that, many downtown spaces are larger or more expensive than retailers want.
Tom Starinsky, Associate Director of HWDDC, says that he developed the small box idea after learning about a similar project in Brooklyn. He saw it as a way to seed the viability of new downtown retail, and also to test how feasible it would be to redevelop surface parking lots for new mixed-used development. After a successful crowdfunding campaign — more than 100 individuals donated a total of $20,000 to the project — and additional fundraising, Small Box was ready to go.
Each container store costs $20,000 to build. Cleveland Container Structures, Wolf Maison Architects and 44 Steel designed and fabricated the structures. Tenants are being charged modest rents that help cover HWDDC’s costs to run the project. HWDDC also plans to create a small park at the corner of West 6th and St. Clair using recycled materials to build out the space. The concrete will be painted green to imitate grass, benches will be made from pallets upholstered with AstroTurf, and fencing will be made from pieces of shipping containers. It will have a “front lawn feel” with an urban vibe, says Starinsky.
The 8’ x 20’ shipping containers front the sidewalk. The contractor cut holes in the fronts of them and installed custom-built storefront window systems. The interiors will have electricity to power lighting, heat and air conditioning. The spaces are insulated with OSB board but have no plumbing. Tenants have the ability to paint their own boxes and add creative signage.
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Excitement fills the neighborhood, as the idea of more clothing shops become apart of this area. What retail would you like to see added to the Warehouse District?
*This article was brought to you by Landmark RE Management luxury lofts of Cleveland, Ohio.