All eyes on the Square, Rubin

Thursday July 14, 2005

By KAREN KURDZIEL  The Sun Press

CLEVELAND

Merchants at Shaker Square and neighbors nearby continue to worry about their historic shopping center. They're waiting to see if its new owner can patch it back together.

But Peter Rubin, who bought the Square last September from Key Bank for $7.5 million, remains optimistic. Rubin said in a phone interview this week the city of Cleveland will keep its commitment to put $750,000 into the Square. It made the offer when Rubin bought the property They're living up to their commitment, he said.

Rubin recently told Cool Cleveland, an online newsletter, it will take at least five years to determine whether purchasing the Square was very smart or very stupid. He said he will do the basics and make money. We have to determine what the customer wants and give it to him, he told the newsletter.

Rubin has often said his plan is to make the center a shopping haven by day and an entertainment hub at night.

Dave's an indicator

He said the opening of Dave's Supermarket August 29 will be a good indicator of how his idea will be received. Dave's should be a giant steroid shot for the Square, he said.

We're doing a countdown in the store's front window. We change the number (of days left until the opening) every day. It's important to get neighborhood shopping underway, he said.

Dave's opening will return close-in parking behind the store to customers. Now it is filled with construction equipment.

On the other hand, Rubin denied the rumor that CVS pharmacy is going into the former Gap space near Shaker Square Cinemas. He said deals are nearing to fill several empty spaces at the Square, but won't name them until the would-be tenants sign leases. Rubin also noted that work has finally begun on Sergio's restaurant, slated to take over the space formerly occupied by Bronte's bistro by year's end. He would not say who will occupy the 13,000 square feet vacated by Joseph Beth Bookseller last year.

www.shakersquare.net

Meanwhile, Arnold Berger, who lives near the Square, reported last month his independent Shaker Square web site, www.shakersquare.net, continues to grow.

We started our volunteer site in February 2004, when morale at the Square was at its lowest, Berger said in an e-mail. Now we have 60-plus pages and get more than 1,000 visitors a week.

Berger said he started by providing information on each of the Square's businesses, then added history pages. Now we've added news coverage to keep people informed of improvements planned and activities underway.

Second time around

Shaker Square neighbors and merchants hope Rubin will be able to do what a previous owner couldn't.

Florida developer Clifford Rosen bought the Square in 1999, when business there was flat. Rosen did a major renovation and ousted several long-time merchants. Then he brought in chain stores along with some regional and local shops. The revitalized Square flourished for a year, then sagged as stores left one by one.

Rosen walked away in December, 2003 and mortgage-holder Key Bank ran it until Rubin bought it last fall.

2005 Sun Newspapers

We've fixed a few "typos" in this page and added links.

Notes: 2/24/09

Unfortunately, this story is no longer available on the Sun Press website. Luckily we saved this copy on our pages.

Cleveland did not honor this commitment until January 2009. For more, click here.

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