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PHILADELPHIA-The former Dillard’s department store in Downtown Cleveland’s Public Square is taking back its original Higbee name and is being converted by locally based-Forest City Enterprises into a 700,000-sf office building. Nostalgia for the landmark Higbee Building, built in 1931, is seen as adding value to the marketing efforts in a highly competitive office market.

Forest City, which long held a 50%-interest in the property, purchased the remaining half approximately 18 months ago from Little Rock, AR-based Dillard’s Inc., Patrick Lott, Forest City’s senior vice president for office leasing and development, tells GlobeSt.com. Lott would not disclose the purchase price.

The building remained an active department store until Dillard’s closed its doors six months ago. Now “essentially vacant,” Lott says, it is undergoing a renovation with “hard costs of $20 million–more than that, when soft costs are added,” Lott says, “to restore the building’s original elegance.”

Among the renovations is a new lobby and complete restoration of the downstairs Silver Grille restaurant. The vintage metallic grillwork on restaurant’s walls and ceilings are being reproduced. Caterer will reportedly be the local Ritz Carlton, which operates a hotel in Tower City Center, where Higbee building is located.

Forest City owns the center, which includes 1.5 million sf of office space, a 500,000-sf enclosed mall, and a rapid transit station. It contains several landmark buildings.

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