My family business has worked with Russell Berusch for almost 20 years. We have built three stores together, and we’re working on a fourth. He is among our most trusted advisors, not to mention our go-to professional for urban real estate planning, financing and deal making. We value not only his skills and abilities, but also his determination and ethics. We are committed to bringing quality stores to urban communities – and so is he.”
President, Dave’s Supermarkets, Inc.
In 1994, Cleveland ’s Ohio City neighborhood was the furthest thing from a ‘neighborhood of choice’ for most urbanites. Its historic Market Square District was a seedy area that didn’t feel welcoming or safe to homebuyers and renters with other options. The district did include the beloved West Side Market and the pioneering Great Lakes Brewing Company, but it also suffered from blighted buildings and vacant lots. Neighborhood Progress, Inc. (NPI) believed the neighborhood needed an anchor tenant with catalytic power to begin a transformation. And it knew just who to ask: Dave’s Supermarkets, which had built first-class, full-service markets in other Cleveland neighborhoods.
The campaign to recruit Dave’s was led by Russell Berusch, then NPI’s vice president of real estate. It was his job to convince the supermarket company that a new store in that location made good business sense. Working with Ohio City Inc., the local community development corporation, Berusch secured layers of financing from a multitude of sources. He also assembled the land – a difficult task that involved the threat of eminent domain to relocate a homeless shelter, negotiations with five recalcitrant property owners, and the excavation of a site that had brewery equipment buried amid 25’ deep basements and vaults.
|STATUS & RESULTS||
In 1997 the neighborhood supermarket opened in the underserved neighborhood. The new store created 98 jobs for area residents and spurred new residential and retail development, and investment in the surrounding area. The development won a Northern Ohio Live Award of Achievement, and was the subject of an article in BusinessWeek magazine.
The store did what Berusch, NPI and Ohio City Inc. had hoped and more: It changed the very character of the block and gave it urban cache. It also catalyzed or accelerated private investment in nearby apartment renovations, new housing construction, and business developments. Simply put, it was essential to help make Ohio City a community of choice for prospective residents and investors.