By Kevin Kelley
American Greetings officials released the first architectural plans and drawings of the company’s planned headquarters at Crocker Park to its employees Monday.
Groundbreaking is expected to take place early next year, with a completion date set for the middle of 2014.
The 595,000 square feet of American Greetings office space and 58,000 square feet of retail space will be designed by RTKL Associates, an architectural firm with offices on four continents.
Approximately 50 percent of the first floor of the new building, to be called American Greetings Creative Studios, will be leased retail space. American Greetings officials say this will make its headquarters an integral part of the Crocker Park retail community.
The overall shape of the five-story building will be an open square, with a 30,000-square-foot courtyard that will be used exclusively by American Greetings employees, company officials said.
The plans will have to be approved by the Westlake Planning Commission and City Council. According to Westlake planning and economic development Director Bob Parry, American Greetings executives are scheduled to meet with city officials Friday to discuss the approval process.
Parry, who had been shown architectural renderings during a recent meeting with company executives, said he was impressed with the design.
“The building will fit in with the architecture of Crocker Park,” Parry told West Life.
Parry noted that the southern end of the building has a more modern feel, while the northern end, which faces extant Crocker Park, will have a traditional feel.
The American Greetings headquarters will have capacity for 1,600 employees and will cost nearly $200 million, said company spokesperson Patrice Sadd.
In the agreement that brought the cardmaker to Westlake, the city will issue about $40 million in bonds over 30 years to pay for public improvements in and around the new headquarters building. The bonds will be paid for with the property tax created by the new development. The city received a $1 million state grant for roadway improvements related to the project. The city will also grant American Greetings a tax credit equal to .5 percent of its income tax revenue over a 15-year period. American Greetings will guarantee a payroll within 10 percent of $155 million to receive the tax credit.