By Kevin Kelley
The federal government’s General Services Administration on Feb. 13 awarded two vacant NASA buildings to the highest bidder in an auction that began in July. The decision clears the way for redevelopment of the site, long a goal of Fairview Park officials.
The winning bid was made by Marty Gallagher, a partner in Suntan Supply, an Avon company that sells products to indoor tanning salons. Gallagher and several partners and associates have also been involved in real estate redevelopment projects for several years.
With regard to the NASA property, Gallagher and his group are not the main investors, but instead serving as spokespersons/agents for a group of investors they declined to identify.
“The group we represent is a group of area businessmen that seek out real estate investments for a variety of reasons,” explained Bill Gallagher, Marty’s brother and a partner in Suntan Supply.
The brothers told West Life the investors’ plan is to renovate the two buildings, located on the north side of Brookpark Road, and find a tenant. The ideal situation would be to rent to a single tenant because separating utility costs on the property may prove difficult, they said. However, the two said they would consider renting to multiple tenants.
Bill Gallagher said the investors’ intention is not to flip the property. However, the Gallaghers said all financial options are on the table, and any offers to purchase the property would be considered.
The winning bid was $1,200,000, which Bill Gallagher said was what the property was worth.
Chances that the two vacant buildings will be demolished are slim, the Gallaghers said. Instead, the plan is to renovate and maintain them as office buildings. However, Gallagher said, his group will build to suit for any tenant. The buildings can support 600 to 700 employees, he said.
The investment group the Gallaghers represent only became interested in the property about three months ago, Bill Gallagher said. However, all involved quickly became aware of the property’s importance to Fairview Park and the region, he said.
At one time, NASA employees and contractors who worked in the two buildings contributed more than $800,000 to Fairview Park annually in income tax. City officials have been eager to see the property again produce tax revenue. The Gallaghers have met personally with not only Fairview Park officials but other government leaders.
“Every politician that has a stake in this property we’ve met with,” Marty Gallagher said.
One issue at the property is parking, Marty Gallagher said. An adjacent parking lot is owned by the city of Cleveland. The investors are interested in obtaining that lot, he said. The alternative would be to use green space on the property for more parking space, he explained.
Marty Gallagher said the group will explore economic incentive programs offered by the state for investors who redevelop vacant buildings. Fairview Park development Director Jim Kennedy said city officials have held preliminary talks with county officials about the availability of grant money for the site’s redevelopment.
Kennedy said he was pleased GSA accepted the $1.2 million bid. He noted the Gallaghers’ track record on development projects.
“They’ve done some similar work elsewhere with success,” Kennedy told West Life.
Kennedy also confirmed that the NASA property is exempt from an anti-poaching pact that was part of a recently approved agreement between the city and Cleveland’s Division of Water.
The property won’t be transferred to the investors for 90 days. During that time, the Gallaghers are pursuing potential tenants.
“We’re already talking to people,” Bill Gallagher said.
The property’s location and reasonable cost are its best features, Bill Gallagher said.
“How can you lose, being across the street from an international airport?” he asked.