Mentor to gain a duo of new commercial rental buildings
Mentor has long been known for big buildings, from Great Lakes Mall to massive former industrial buildings that are now multitenant business parks under very big roofs.
Most of the suburb’s growth on the industrial and professional office side has been driven by users, such as manufacturing companies, global concerns or local service businesses. Ground-up construction for the rental market has been an occasional undertaking. But two new real estate projects are starting to change that.
Kevin Malecek, Mentor director of economic development and international trade, said he is excited about the projects and others he sees adding a new level of development to the Lake County suburb east of Cuyahoga County.
“That’s especially the case near the new Cleveland Clinic hospital investment,” Malecek said. “We believe that will drive a lot of activity to the Norton Parkway area.”
The first fruit of that sentiment is becoming reality at 8160 Norton Parkway, where steel is going up for a three-story, 30,000-square-foot office building with floor-to-ceiling windows, huge upper-floor patios and current technology for a high-end office property.
The building is credited to the need and drive of the DiCello Levitt Gutzler law firm, which will move its Mentor headquarters to the structure. The new full-floor office will include an 800-square-foot mock jury room that will allow young lawyers to become familiar with the courtroom and serve the firm’s need for practice juries and related needs.
Adam Levitt, a co-founder of the firm based at its Chicago office, said in an interview that DiCello Levitt Gutzler is rapidly developing a national and international reputation and wants its attorneys to practice in space with modern technology that also befits its practice.
Launched in 2017 by Mark and Bobby DiCello and Levitt with 11 lawyers in Chicago and Mentor, the trial-focused plaintiffs’ law firm now has a total of 55 in offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Mentor; Chicago; New York City; and Washington, D.C.
In Mentor, it needs room to grow from its current office at 7556 Mentor Ave., which the DiCellos have shared with the practice of their father, Robert DiCello Sr.
“We don’t have a bit of extra space in Mentor,” Levitt said. The current office houses seven lawyers, while the new one can allow the firm to expand to as many as 20 attorneys in Mentor. The building is going up after the firm bought the building site in Mentor and its principals joined with a silent investor to build its own structure under its own name.
“It’s been a real labor of love for the DiCellos,” said Eric Schreibman, a vice president at Cushman & Wakefield Cresco brokerage, who represents the building. He worked with DiCello Levitt for years as it sought a new office in Mentor and prior efforts fell through.
Schreibman sees the structure as fitting Mentor’s evolution.
“As strong as Mentor has been in retail and industrial markets, Mentor has lagged behind in Class A rental office space. We feel this fills a hole. It will be a regional draw. We can serve professional tenants from throughout Lake County as well as medical professionals who want to be near the new hospital. We feel this fits a spot in Mentor that has not been there before.”
Meantime, in the densely populated industrial section on Mentor’s western end, developers of the 86-acre Mentor Innovation & Technology Park have formed a joint venture with Premier Development Partners of Cleveland to build — without a tenant leasing space in advance, or on speculation — a high-ceilinged contemporary warehouse like those that have cropped up throughout much of the region.
The 125,000-square-foot building could be the first of as many as three such properties on part of the park, or even six depending on the final size of the structures, according to land developers Rick and Greg Sommers of Chardon.
“We’re good at developing the land, while Premier has the know-how for an industrial building,” Greg Sommers said. The business park’s other partner is George Davis, the owner of ProBuilt Homes in Mentor.
Spencer Pisczak, president of Premier, said he is excited about the opportunity to work with the land developers he described as “hosting” this project.
“This is in a community that has a large industrial base,” Pisczak said, “and there is always demand for newer space.” Prospective tenants, he said, are likely already in Mentor or Lake County, Pisczak or even populous eastern Cuyahoga County.
“Increasingly, there are also companies new to Ohio that we hope to work with,” Pisczak added. Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023.
George Pofok, a principal of Cresco who represents the proposed warehouse for the tech park and Premier, noted, “The steel’s already ordered.” That’s a reflection of how builders are having to get supplies lined up far ahead of potential use due to manufacturing and supply logjams.
Pofok said the initial building could be subdivided for as few as three tenants, but more likely two, depending on demand.
“This is another case of how there is just no industrial product available,” because of growth of demand surpassing even a busy industrial realty market.
And the need for the space is one fact that Malecek likes to point out.
For all its size as an industrial hotbed, Malecek estimates that the suburb’s industrial space was at 97% occupancy as of the end of 2021.
“This is what the city has worked at for years,” Malecek said, referring not only to the office and industrial multitenant buildings but the addition of new retailers such as Trader Joe’s and Bibbibop. He said he’s also hoping to see contemporary mixed-use properties crop up in the future.