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Mark Naymik reports: Cleveland’s failed Amazon pitch offers possible clues for new digs for Sherwin-Williams

Some of the same properties offered to the giant online retailer could be available for global paint maker’s new headquarters

CLEVELAND — Cleveland’s failed bid to entice Amazon to build a second headquarters downtown offers some clues to available space that could be developed by paint company Sherwin-Williams, which confirmed reports this week that it is looking to build a new global headquarters.

RELATED: Sherwin-Williams considers moving global headquarters out of Cleveland

The company, citing its sales growth and expansion, said in a news release it’s considering locations in Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and other states.

The company has been headquartered in the 101 W. Prospect Ave. building since 1930. Its research and development facility sits along the Cuyahoga River. Nearly 3,000 employees work at these two locations, according to Sherwin-Williams.

When Cleveland leaders were forced by court action earlier this year to release its pitch to Amazon, it showed Amazon was offered a patchwork of downtown and waterfront real estate, including the parking lot in the northwest quadrant of Public Square, long envisioned for a skyscraper.

Ken Prendergast, a real estate writer who first broke the news earlier this year that Sherwin-Williams was looking to move, says downtown offers plenty of potential options, including many offered to Amazon.

“There are a number of parking lots around downtown that could be built on, we call those parking craters and in downtown landscapes, and those are all good sites for corporate headquarters,” he said.  

Prendergast, who writes a blog on real estate and transportation called NEOTrans, also said several places outside downtown, which were also once on the table for Amazon, could be available.

“One of them might be this place, called Scranton Peninsula, the other is Brecksville, which is the old VA site,” he said. “I know the developers there are making a very strong pitch.”  

Real estate is the key factor. But so are incentives. And the Amazon pitch included lots of them. The proposal offered incentives worth up to $3.5 billion that included giving Amazon much of the new income and property taxes generated by development of a new headquarters. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County would have been giving up the money in such a deal.

Sherwin-Williams will not qualify for billions in tax breaks that the city and state offered the on-line retailer, but paint maker could get some of the one-of-a-kind wage and property tax incentives created to entice Amazon.

Prendergast said Cleveland is in a better position than locations outside the state because of the company’s deep roots here.

"It would be a significant disruption for Sherwin Williams to move to another not just because they have been here for 153 years but because a lot of their corporate know how and entire eco system is here," he said. 

READ: Court order forces city of Cleveland to release full Amazon HQ2 bid

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