Exciting news coming in from our neighbours to the south — Toronto-based developers Skyline International have broken into the American real estate market, buying an historic property in Cleveland, Ohio (who would have guessed that?).
The Cleveland Arcade Complex and Hyatt Regency Hotel were added to Skyline's growing portfolio of unique properties, marking Skyline's aggressive expansion, and their smartly taking advantage of the weakened American real estate market. Those of us who live and breath Toronto's built heritage can only lament at the destruction of Toronto's own arcade, a gorgeous 1884 Victorian building that was torn down in 1954 and replaced by the current structure at 137 Yonge Street.
Built in 1890, the Cleveland Arcade was the first large-scale indoor shopping mall in the United States. Popularized during the 19th century, arcades originated in Europe, with their roots in France and England. Early arcades were streets that had a metal and glass roof spanning between the buildings, however later arcades were designed specifically for the purpose. Notable arcades such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, or the Burlington Arcade in London were the precursors for today's malls, and revolutionized the retail experience in urban settings, promoting mixed-use, high-density construction.
The Cleveland Arcade was financed by John D. Rockefeller, and was inspired by Milan's notable high-end arcade. It includes two 10-storey towers containing the Hyatt Regency, connected by a five-storey glass-roofed gallery and atrium. The hotel was included in the purchase, and will remain managed by Hyatt Regency.
Skyline acquired the arcade, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for a mere $7.7 million (U.S.) following over $70 million invested by previous owners who defaulted on the mortgage. It's incredible to think that an historic building of this caliber located a few hours south of Toronto could go for such a small price, evidencing the increasingly dramatic real estate climates in Canada and the United States.
Skyline International has experience working with historic buildings. Their current project in downtown Toronto is the King Edward Hotel — converting portions of it into condominiums while maintaining the historic aspects of hotel dating back to 1903. They also own Deerhurst Resort, a Muskokan retreat serving Torontonians for 115 years, Horseshoe Resort & Village and Port McNicoll Resort Village & Yacht Club.
We're excited to see Skyline International expanding beyond our borders, especially with such an historic and important landmark. While it may be outside our usual scope, we'll make sure to follow the development of the Cleveland Arcade, and will let you know how the project progresses. Congratulations Skyline!