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Cleveland backs out of deal to move police headquarters to former Plain Dealer building

September 25, 2018

Cleveland backs out of deal to move police headquarters to former Plain Dealer building

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The city of Cleveland announced late Monday that it is backing out of plans to move its police headquarters to 1801 Superior Avenue, former home of The Plain Dealer.  

In a letter to developer Fred Geis, the city said it no longer wished to work with Geis’ company, GLP Superior LTD, to purchase the building. 

“At this time the City of Cleveland no longer desires to pursue the purchase of 1801 Superior Avenue property for the Cleveland Division of Police Headquarters with GLP Superior LTD. Thank you for working with the city on this important project.”  

The letter, although released Monday, is dated Sept. 18 and signed by Matthew L. Spronz, Mayor Frank Jackson’s director of capital projects. 

A spokesman for Jackson’s administration declined comment beyond what was in the letter.  

Jackson’s interim chief of staff, Sharon Dumas, was copied on the letter, but said Monday said she could not comment at this time. 

Public Safety Director Michael McGrath, who favored the site, said he wasn’t involved in negotiations and could not speak to what problems cropped up. 

Spronz referred questions to Williams. 

Jackson was not available for comment and not present Monday at the City Council meeting. 

Geis also could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley said his understanding was that problems cropped up related to the status of tenants in the 1801 building. Those tenants were there under lease with The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. 

The building is home to the YMCA of Greater Cleveland and the Council of Economic Opportunities for Greater Cleveland, as well as cleveland.com. 

Kelley, who was not involved with the negotiations, said a snag between negotiators with the city and The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. over the handling those tenants apparently couldn’t be resolved. But he didn’t know specifically what that snag was. 

“Something to do with the character of the leases and after that they just couldn’t come to a final agreement,” Kelley said. 

Kelley, too, had supported the site as a new police headquarters. After council approved the deal in July, he said the general feeling among its members was that the city “did a good job and that they made the right choice in giving authority for the move on that building.” 

Councilman Michael Polensek, during Monday’s meeting of City Council, said he wants an explanation from the Jackson administration. 

“I sat through all the hearings. I sat through the meetings. I really commended the administration for winding up with The Plain Dealer site,” Polensek said.  

“I’m looking for some kind of explanation,” he said. “What happened here?”  

Cleveland announced in June it intended to move its police department into the building after GLP Superior LTD converted the space.  

The city selected the Superior Avenue site from among 24 other proposed sites.  

The project was a $60 million deal that included the purchase and alteration of the building at 1801 Superior Ave. The package included a $19.5 million purchase agreement for the site, with some negotiating still to come.  

The city hired GLP Superior Ltd., led by Fred Geis, to buy and renovate the property.  

The target for completing the move to a new headquarters was next spring, police Chief Calvin Williams said.  

As late as last week, sources familiar with the deal said that the sale of the building had not been completed, but the expectation was that the move would proceed. 

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