The same folks who brought success to the Bailey and INA buildings on Detroit Avenue are looking to take some of their talents across the street to the largest commercial property of its kind in Lakewood.
The Kowit & Passov Real Estate group closed the deal this week on the acquisition of Lakewood Center North at 14600 Detroit Avenue for just under $3.4 million.
That news comes after the 258,470-square-foot building — among the largest commercial structures in Lakewood and certainly the tallest — has seen its number of tenants dwindle in recent years to about 50 percent occupancy.
United Transportation Union, an AFL-CIO labor union affiliate representing railroad workers, was headquartered in the building until it moved to North Olmsted a few years ago — taking an estimated 175 jobs with it.
Kaiser-Permanente followed suit, vacating its offices last year.
Brad Kowit, who couldn’t be reached for this story, co-owns several other properties in the area — including the INA Building and Bailey Building across the street.
That downtown city block has undergone a complete transformation in the past couple years, with tenants that include the University of Akron, Eddie ‘N Eddie, Panera Bread and World of Beer (expected to open this spring).
More of the same is expected at Lakewood Center North.
“I think we’re ripe for a local owner,” Mayor Michael Summers recently told Lakewood Patch. “Brad Kowit has been a heavy investor in Lakewood.”
An out-of-state investment group had owned Lakewood Center North.
The property houses New York Life Insurance, the largest employer left in the building.
“Its occupancy is pretty low right now,” added Summers. “We sure would like to get some more action in that building.”
Built in the late-1960s, Lakewood Center North was part of the high-rise commercial development boom in that era.
“The INA building was such a success, that the thought was ‘let’s build another,’” said Summers.
Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said he believes that the new ownership will bring a fresh approach to the property.
He said that the building could be “mixed use,” adding that “residential isn’t about of the question.”
Siley also pointed out that the recent study showed that location is a prime spot for a hotel in downtown Lakewood.
“Kowit & Passov’s acquisition of Lakewood Center North indicates a likely bright future for the life of that building,” he said. “I look forward to working with them on the figuring out the next life of what Lakewood Center North will be.”