Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 03/14/2008 - 14:31.

University Square was described in this 2003 International Council of Shopping Centers.
Two weeks ago I visited the mall and drove up to the top floor (5th) of the mall’s parking structure.    There is a stop sign on the entry ramp at the 4rd floor, and when I looked right, into the 4rd floor, I was surprised to see a section of shoring set up under the end of one of  the double T beams (the upper surface of the double T beams comprised the 5th floor parking deck).  I walked in and did my shopping and then had to leave in a hurry to make an appointment.   No time to investigate. 


The parking structure’s steel vertical supports seemed inordinately airy and light weight as far as parking decks go.


 As I was driving away I thought a little more about the shoring and my mind went to the failure details of the  Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse which killed 118 people in 1981.


In the meantime the Dirty Dealer scooped me and published an unintelligible report on the problems at the parking garage.    Yesterday I  visited the parking structure again when I went to Macy’s.


It’s in bad shape


The double “T” beams have at least 3 serious very serious design issues.  


1.                  The ends of the Ts are notched much too deeply, putting almost all the load into the top cord of the T, and almost none of the load into the vertical leg of the T.   You can see this same type of failure in the images of this pdf .   Open the pdf and go to the last half of the pdf to see a study of images of similar failed double T beams published in 2005.  

2.                  The lateral edges of the arms of the “T”s are not connected (as many concrete floor planks are) with any type of tongue and grove or other positive beam edge to beam edge connection.  This is one of the reasons behind  the failure of the top chords of the T beams on the ramps. And the same failure is evident on the top deck of the parking structure. 

3.                  Constant deck flexure under automobile traffic loading is exacerbating each of the first         2 problems. 



The present “stabilization” using shoring frames has the Kansas City Hyatt problem: 


          The Kansas City collapse (linked to Wikipedia above) was caused by hanging twice the correct design weight on nuts supporting the walkway bridges.  This was done inadvertently when the original engineering plans were not carried out correctly during construction.  Take a look at the Wikipedia explanation and diagram showing how the support rods went through the deck supports. 


The University Square parking structure is making the exact same type of mistake made at the Hyatt in 1981. In the parking structure shoring frames  have been placed under many of the T beams which have visible failure cracks at their ends.  The shoring frames are intended as protection should the T beam above them fail and drop.  Perhaps the shoring frames were also “loaded” (cranked up so they are actually taking some or all of the weight of the upper T) when they were installed.   Loaded or unloaded, the shoring frames are using the T beam below them for support.     Thus the lower T beam (and the structural steel on which the T beam rests) now has more load on it than it was originally designed to handle.  Very likely twice the load the flange of the lower T beam was designed to carry.


   For the shoring to be done properly, any floor on which a shoring frame is placed  should have shoring directly underneath every frame on each floor of the structure all the way down to the ground (assuming the earth has the bearing capacity to support the anticipated failure load – which it probably doesn’t).    With one shoring frame above the other, the loads are taken to the ground without going into other T beams or into the structural steel.


A further serious problem I noticed was that in some areas of the garage (4th floor near the ramp), there are visibly  cracked T beams without any shoring frames under them.   


And, of course, the worst thing you can do to a reinforced concrete structure (especially one which has failure cracks to admit the moisture) is let rainwater and salt (brought in by the cars) shower down through the entire parking structure.   That’s what is happening at the University Square parking structure because of sloppily designed roof scuppers and gutters.  Instead of getting the precipitation into pipes, the water is allowed to drip and pour down floor by floor.  It sounded like being in the shower when I was there.

So, what to do?


 First I would like to see if a state licensed engineer has stamped the shoring design.  Does the shoring design show the load paths under  the shoring frames?    If there is no state licensed engineer overseeing the temporary support system, the situation is clearly in violation of common sense and the building codes.


Next I would like to see a document stamped by a  state licensed engineer who has carried out structural analysis on the cracked T beams confirming that the un-shored cracked T beams are sufficiently sound. 


 I believe – if only because of the lack of consistency between some cracked T beams being shored and other similarly cracked T beams being un-shored -  that for public safety the parking structure should be closed immediately.    


The T beams were notched in the manner they were in order to place as many floors as possible into the overall parking structure’s height.   In the isometric sketch below the left hand drawing shows how the T beams are notched to so that they sit down “inside” the vertical dimension of the steel H beams.   This system cuts down each floor to floor height by about 2+ feet (the same dimension as the notch in the end of the T beam).   The right hand drawing shows the proper support method for a pre-tensioned concrete beam,  but the downside is that the each floor to floor distance is greater.   For example, if  a  2 foot reduction in floor to floor height is gained over five floors, that means that the parking structure can have 5 decks in the same overall height as the proper design would allow 4 decks.


When the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Port Authority loaned the developer 40 million dollars for this garage,   did the Port hire an engineer to review this stupid failure prone design?   Isn’t the structure part of the collateral for the Port backed bonds?  What good is this parking structure as collateral?   It is a liability, not an asset.


Myers University, was also loaned about 6 million by the Port Authority.  What is the Port’s collateral with Myers? 


It is interesting that Starwood Wasserman was the developer of University Square

and that Wasserman is also a partner with Vornado, the company behind the Chris Kennedy Merchandize Mart and other mart properties.  Vornado is the company that Mr. Kennedy bragged about being worth billions when Mr. Kennedy gave the dog and pony show about the Cleveland Medical Mart last summer in the auditorium in the basement of the Cleveland Public Library. 


This Vornado Starwood connection – and the Port Authority/County involvement with both, is another story isn’t it?




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What the hell ever happened to Myers

What the hell ever happened to Myers University and the $6 million the port loaned them? That was such big news and then nothing. Perhaps the FBI can help explain?

From what you show of the garage at University Square, the FBI should be called in there as well. Or we can wait until all those decks collapse on each other and 100s die... but nobody can say they weren't warned?!?!?

And thanks for warning us about the crooks at the gate of the MedMart... about the new "Family" in town... "Wasserman continues to aggressively explore new institutional ventures with its acquisition and development program. Furthermore, the firm continues to create and capitalize on "off-market" opportunities, brought to the principals because of the firm's "track record."

Don't get much more off market than Cleveland politics... why do I have this image from the Godfather 2 when Michael is in Cuba meeting with Roth... "when I wake up from my nap, I expect to see that suitcase of money..."? But Hagan ain't no Michael Corleone... and DiMora vs. Fredo is probably a draw. We lose.

Disrupt IT


Wouldn’t it be funny if the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (and through the Port Authority the County taxpayers) actually OWNED the University Square parking garage which has $40,500,000.00 of concrete pre-stressed decks which are falling apart?


If the Port Authority actually OWNED the parking garage, and it became necessary for safety reasons to shut the parking garage, there would be 2,260 fewer parking spaces to serve Macys, Target, and all the other stores in the Mall.  


With only another 340 surface parking spaces, business at the mall would collapse.  


With no customers, the stores who share and rely on  the parking structure wouldn’t be happy.

And then,  wouldn’t it be funny if all the Stores sued the Port Authority (and through the Port Authority the County taxpayers)  for lost income?


Boy THAT would be funny!


Wouldn't it be funny if the port is killing us?!?!

Well the Port Authority is killing us, all day every day, even if Kevin O'Brien and the good killa's at the PD say it ain't so... 

Mittal/International Steel kills, thanks to the Port...

International Steel Group - $6,000,000 - June 2002
Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)
Total project cost $22.9 million. The Port Authority provided financing for the acquisition of
capital expenditures necessary to resume steel production at the Cleveland Works facility.
Additional funding for this project includes $1.8 million from the Cuyahoga County, $4.5 million
from the City of Cleveland and $10 million from the State of Ohio. This project was financed
through the Port Authority’s Fixed Rate Financing Program.

And the Port owns what appears to be a substandard parking garage in University Heights...

University Heights Public Parking Garage - $40,600,000 - December 2001
University Heights (Cuyahoga County)
Total project costs approximately $128 million. The Port Authority provided financing for the
construction of a five level public parking garage facility with approximately 2,600 parking
spaces as well as the acquisition of land. The parking facility will support a new Kaufmann’s
Department Store, Target Store, Tops Supermarket and 23 other retail tenants. The Cleveland-
Cuyahoga County Port Authority owns the parking facility. The debt will be serviced through
the use of Tax Increment Financing and Special Assessment. This repayment structure is the
first for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

And what do they retain from the Myers deal?

Myers University - $5,725,000 - December 2004
Cleveland (Cuyahoga County)
Total project costs were approximately $6.3 million. The Port Authority provided funding for the
acquisition, renovation, construction, equipping, furnishing and improvement of an existing
40,000 square foot facility located at 1904 East 40th Street to be used as a learning center
containing classrooms, lecture halls, a library resource center, and offices for faculty and staff
and other related uses. The Port Authority issued tax- exempt development revenue bonds
through its Fixed Rate Financing Program

Disrupt IT


This is hillarious! 

OMG! We taxpayers do own the University Square garage which is falling apart!  How funny is that!  and,,,,  (read the pdf link above to get a view of the card-shark dealing which the Port is involved in).

We taxpayers do own the Port Authority debt on Myers which has zero chance of being repaid - that really cracks me up!  I can hardly breath!

How funny!

Now, if my upper lungs weren't burning from ground level ozone, I could actually chortle and chuckle about the great job generator that Mittal has been for the County...but..

I have to contain myself here,,,please stop the jokes!  I can't breath....

please, please, pleee

Explain the "dots"

Jeff, Roldo, can you explain the connect the dots scenario here?  Adam Wasserman,  John Carney...these names are so familiar...please enlighten the masses.

laying out the players

The developer of shopping at University Square  is the Inland Group.

(Note: Effective February 27th, Inland Retail Real Estate Trust, Inc. (IRRETI) has been acquired by Developers Diversified Realty Corporation. As such, any inquiries should be directed to a member of the Developers Diversified Staff. For leasing contact information, please visit and navigate to a specific property webpage to locate the contact name, phone, fax and email address for the leasing representative assigned to a specific property. If you wish to contact any of the entities within The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc. please call 630-218-8000 x4848 or visit For all other inquiries please contact a Developers Diversified representative at info [at] ddr [dot] com or 1 877-Call-DDR.)

Developers Diversified is Wolstein.

Then you also have, attorney, Dennis Wilcox who brokered the deal. He is counsel to Starwood Wasserman and on the Port Authority Board.

Starwood Wasserman is also connected to Vornado. Vornado Realty Trust is Chris Kennedy MMPI. "Christopher G. Kennedy is President - Merchandise Mart (MMPI) of Vornado Realty Trust, which purchased MMPI from the Kennedy family in 1998. Kennedy was named president of MMPI in October 2000. He began his career with MMPI as a research analyst in 1987. In 1988, he was promoted to director of the Architectural Products Division of The Merchandise Mart and earned promotions to vice president in 1991 and executive vice president in 1994."

The Kennedy Family has close ties with Tim Hagan. "Hagan is currently the husband of actress Kate Mulgrew of Ryan's Hope and Star Trek Voyager fame and has a close relationship with members of the Kennedy family—he is a godfather to Kate Kennedy Townsend, one of Robert Kennedy's grandchildren, and was a pallbearer at the funeral of Stephen E. Smith, the late husband of Jean Kennedy Smith.[1] He also attended the funeral of John F. Kennedy, Jr. with his wife, Kate Mulgrew."

Before that Hagan was married to Jean Carney; "In 1973, Hagan married his first wife, Jean Carney. Carney's father, John Carney, a successful property developer and influential man, helped Hagan get his start in Democratic politics in Carney's 1971 campaign for mayor of Cleveland.

This article from the Cleveland Leader on Hagan is instructive.

John Carney Sr. was a judge.

John Carney, whose family owns half the Westlake lifestyle center Crocker Park, has discussed selling part of that stake to Developers Diversified Realty Corp., headed by Scott Wolstein. - "The Carneys can't sell anything to anybody without my approval," Stark said, adding that if any interest in Crocker Park is sold, he'll do the buying "because I'm devoted to it, and it's my baby."

Joeseph Carney seems to be the lawyer with offices at Crocker Park. Here's another Carney running for office; any relation?

OK I'm tired now. Roldo and Jeff will have to take it from here...

What about Case Campus Architect and Planner Margaret Carney

Is Case Campus Architect and Planner Margaret Carney related to John Carney?

Disrupt IT

another vornado sweeps into Cleveland

How must the guys at the top of Cleveland's Forest City Enterprises feel as another Vornado sweeps into town to plop down a five-star hotel right at their doorstep?

They have put in their lot with MMPI* to bail out their struggling Tower City (the building developed by the Van Sweringen brothers who died destitute after hijacking the Burnham Plan by moving the train station to Tower City from the lakefront).

"The fortunes of the Vans rose in the 1920s. By 1929, their holdings were valued at $3 billion, mostly as a result of the high valuation of stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Their house of cards tumbled when the Great Depression began, causing the Van Sweringen companies to falter in the 1930s. While Shaker Heights rose to join the ranks of Beverly Hills and Wellesley, Massachusetts, the rail empire suffered financial difficulties. Loans were foreclosed upon and assets were sold to meet interest payments for their debts. At the time of his death, O.P. was worth less than $3,000." - from the Wikipedia Van Sweringen Brothers

When I saw this article in the PD, Five-star hotel headed to Flats Eastbank, I recognized the name Starwood. This time it is Starwood Capital Group. At University Square it is Starwood Wasserman. Oh yes and remember that Developers Diversified (the Wolstein Group) is helping when they want to offload some of their management businesses. It's just one big, rich, happy family, eh? What must they all have been drinking in Vegas the night this stew began to simmer? Whatever it was it surely engendered a scheme to be sure we all contributed our fair share via tax incentives.

It seems it's another blustery day in the hundred acre wood (well what was once the Forest City - no longer as much of a "wood"). Perhaps with all the controversy around Atlantic Yards in New York, the guys at Forest City have given up on making a go of it in Cleveland. It does seem to be sucking up plenty of the company's energy - "In March 2008, principal developer Bruce Ratner acknowledged that the slowing economy may delay construction of both the office and residential components of the project for several years.[2] The uncertain economy and vagueness of the developer's statements have lead NY City Comptroller Bill Thompson to say "I’m not sure what that project is any longer.""

Meanwhile, the top of our own Terminal Tower undergoes an extended facelift. The whole ordeal has a sort of Ayn Rand feel to it. Is Atlas shrugging yet?

*"Vornado Realty Trust, owners of MMPI, based in New York City, is a fully integrated equity real estate investment trust. Vornado’s common shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and are traded under the symbol VNO."

And explain the funding

I read through the port financing report you linked to below - very interesting - so it seems the owners of the retail property got the port to pay them $40 million to build a substandard parking garage and then they were given a retroactive tax abatement on the property, which the Port Authority claims to own, which is financed through a special assessment, which developers claim is just as good as them paying property taxes. Here is a great example of how wrong "economic development" can go.

As you propose, and so many on REALNEO point out, if you connect the dots and audit the Port Authority books you will find a web of evil... this may be why they are restructuring and switching focus to totally fucking up even more of Lake Erie and the lakefront and building a highly polluting and low value, low employment, nasty, old container shipping port at E. 55th (AND WHY THE FUCK DO WE WANT THIS HERE?).

Disrupt IT





It should be a simple thing: go to the municipal building department, give them an address in the town, and then look at the file (or computer) they put in front of you on the counter.    That’s how it is in many communities.  Really, today, everything should be available on the internet.


But not in University Heights, Ohio. 


 I went there this afternoon.   They said the Dealer was there last week. 


  The building department staff seemed to want to be helpful, but without the top boss (Mr. Nadeau) in the office to answer my questions, no one else wanted to speak at all.   They wouldn’t provide any paperwork.  I asked for the building permit for the erection of the shoring in the University Square Parking Garage.   I couldn’t tell if there wasn’t a permit, or if there was a permit.  I said the work just took place in the last few months, so the permit might still be open – had any inspections been made?  Was the job under engineering control?  The parking structure was one block away across Warrensville - hadn't they seen the shoring in the garage?


They had me fill out a “public records request”.    I told them their form was bogus, and that under the public records laws of the State of Ohio I had a right to remain anonymous.  I was there to get pubic information, and I didn’t need to provide them my private information to get the public information.   


They wanted my information!   What does my information have to do with getting PUBLIC INFORMATION? 


The University Heights form is obnoxious.   Why should the public need to go on the defensive?   Just give me the x*%# file!


 No Answer.  Speak to Mr. Nadeau tomorrow. 


I told the 3 persons in the office  that I thought the conditions at the parking garage constituted an acute public safety hazard, and that I wanted to see the permit in order to determine if the work being done to shore the structure was being done with the design of, and under the supervision of, an Ohio State Licensed structural engineer. 


 I asked them if they heard what I had just said  about "public safety hazard", and the answer came somberly back, “yes”.


 I couldn’t get any specifics about Mr. Nadeau’s whereabouts,  only that I should call him tomorrow morning, that it was usual for him to be in the office from 10 to 11 am. 


I called Mr. Cuini and found out that he wouldn’t be available until at least Saturday.   It appears Mr. Cuini (one of the persons quoted in the Dealer article on 3/8/08 who sort of very obliquely and ambiquously said the garage was safe) is not a full time Engineer for University Heights, but rather works for numerous municipalities.  


I called Inland Management – the UH building department indicated that the Inland firm were “managers”of the garage,  and was put into voice mail by the receptionist.– no return call from that quarter yet.


Maybe Inland manages for the Port Authority, I will check with the Port Authority tomorrow.


I had a nice telephone conversation with Alan Simon, the engineer from Massachusetts who was the Ohio licensed (Mr. Simon shows license numbers in about 6 or 7 eastern states in his CV) engineer of record on the original construction.  


When the cracked outer “arms” of the double T’s on the garage ramps were strengthened a few months back, Mr. Simon told me he had been contacted to provide the name of the pre-cast manufacturer – the ramp repair crews would need the pre-cast shop drawings to make sure they didn’t drill into any of the pre-stressed cables when they put in the anchor bolts for the 6” I beam braces.   


I asked Mr. Simon if he was aware that there had been problems with the double T planks in the main sections of the University Square garage and Mr. Simon indicated he was not aware of the cracking problems at the ends of the T beams.  


Mr. Simon indicated that- if he understood my verbal description correctly -  beams in other similar garages were cracked at their ends  in a very minor way – and that those cracks hadn’t progressed and he did not think that they were critical.  But, with regard to the University Square parking garage cracks, Mr. Simon didn’t want to comment until he could be sure he understood what I was talking about.  I referred him to the crack photos on Realneo and said I would call him back in a day or two. 


I said that many of the cracks that I observed in the University Square parking garage also had staining, indicating that water was getting into the beams.  Mr. Simon said that such a wet condition in cracks of the beams was definitely not good. 


After  the University Square parking garage safety questions are  ironed out, the next set of questions I am leaning towards is why Dennis Wilcox has been involved both with the Port Authority and as legal counsel for Starwood Wasserman on the University Square project.  Mr. Wilcox was also a lead bond man for the Browns’ Stadium, Gateway, and other projects which received millions in funding from the Port Authority.  Why did the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority end up with the ownership of the parking structure – and not just bond it?  How much does the tax exempt ownership of the structure hurt the University Heights community and schools?   Is the tax exempt status of the parking structure an unfair competitive advantage over other Ohio malls whose parking is not tax exempt?


 Sure would appear to be.  

The tax exemption on the parking structure translated into huge additional development profits for Starwood Wasserman.   Was that intended? Was that discussed?.   Mr. Wilcox, working for Starwood Wasserman, appears to have set this University Heights parking garage deal up at a huge disadvantage to the Port Authority and to University Heights.   


Meanwhile,  the parking garage is looking for another 7 million of Port money right now to repair the garage and add ramps.  


Welcome to NEO!




Adam Wasserman=Starwood Wasserman?

What's the relationship here?? 

Wasserman is a common name

If Adam is related we don't know that and don't allege that. I know you're just guessing, but I sort of doubt it. That's a leap; Wasserman is a very common name. Mine is too and I am no relation to Sam Miller. I sort of doubt that Harvey Wasserman is involved with Starwood Wasserman. A Google search for Wasserman brings up many many hits.

Not alleging

  Yes--Susan, not alleging, but the cozy relationships that partner developers with public officials seems to be a recurring theme in northeast Ohio, and it becomes all too tiring to try and sort out the mess of culpability for the mistakes, which is, I suspect, the design. 

Today, I realized that 53 wooded and ravined acres in the Rocky River watershed will be impacted by yet another superfluous, big box development in Strongsville, this time by Visconsi, and unwillingly, I will have probably have blood on my hands for any mitigation funds that result from that development, just as I have blood on my hands for the unnecessary new housing construction taking place in Richmond Heights and Fred Rzepka's efforts to "develop" on lands adjacent to the Metroparks in Solon. 

The tangled web snares all of us.  My question would be, ultimately, who is the spider?