THE NAUTICA ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX IN THE FLATS
The Historic Powerhouse, the modern-day jewel of the Nautica Entertainment Complex first came into existence in the year 1892. A wealthy gentleman by the name of Marcus Hanna, who owned and operated the Woodland and Westside Street Railway Company, contracted “one of the most important and innovative architects in Cleveland” at the time, John A Richardson, to design a building that would power his street cars. Scottish-born Richardson was strongly influenced by European architecture, which can be seen in some of his other structural creation such as Franklin Castle in Ohio City, St. Joseph’s Franciscan Church, and the Perry Payne and Bradley building in located in the Warehouse District. In designing the Powerhouse, Richardson chose to replicate a sturdy, old-fashioned European factory. Today, you can see the European influences with the gabled roofs, tall smoke stacks, and high arched windows with thick stone sills.
During the 1920’s the massive proliferation of automobiles forced the Powerhouse to close. Years later, The Globe Street Barrel Company bought the Powerhouse and transformed it into a barrel reconditioning plant. The building was eventually sold to Cleveland Mental Products Company to be used as a warehouse.
In 1975, V.S.M. Corporation bought the Powerhouse and proposed to complete a $5 million renovation project to include a theater, twin cinemas, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and specialty shops, but, unable to secure adequate financing, the project folded. The Powerhouse was left abandoned, deteriorating and without hope of restoration. It was another piece of Cleveland’s failing economy adding to its “mistake on the lake” national reputation.
In the mid-eighties, Jacobs Investments Inc., a your and up-coming development company, purchased the Coast Guard Station, 30 acres of land, and 1,500 feet of waterfront property, which included the old Sugar Warehouse and the Powerhouse. After successful completion of the old Sugar Warehouse, a ¼ mile long riverside boardwalk, and the Nautica Stage, the second phase of The Nautica Entertainment Complex began. The Powerhouse, roofless, windowless, and held up by support beams was about to be brought back to its original state. With over $20 million in renovations, in October 1989 the Powerhouse opened its doors to the public. Listed on The National Resister of Historic Buildings, the Powerhouse once again powers the City of Cleveland.
In the early 1980’s, it was Jeffrey Jacobs, vision to create a nationally recognized entertainment district in Cleveland, Ohio, which would serve as an economic and social catalyst for the continued revitalization of his home city. With the assistance of two key associates, Patrick J. McKinley and David C. Gruenwald, together they created The Nautica Entertainment Complex on the west bank of the Flats.
The development efforts began with the Sugar Warehouse, which opened in the summer of 1987. A $5 million renovation of the former storage facility for bulk sugar arriving by ship in the City of Cleveland, today it is home to Shooter’s on the Water, a restaurant chain based in Florida and consistently one of Ohio’s sales leaders.
In 1988, the renovation of the Powerhouse, the crown jewel of the Complex, began. Former home to the electric generation plant for Cleveland’s streetcars, the $15 million renovation was completed in 1989 and the building opened its doors.
The Nautica Entertainment Complex also includes the Nautica Queen, a 325-seat fine dining cruise ship which caters to over 50,000 customers each year all enjoying the beauty of Cleveland’s skyline, the newly renovate 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheater known as The Jacobs Pavilion, over 2,000 well-lit and secure parking spaces and a waterfront boardwalk, together with many other amenities and smaller attractions.
Today, Nautica is visited by over 3 million people per year and is one of Ohio’s largest tourist attractions. It has become one of the finest entertainment complexes in the country. Together with Gateway, Playhouse Square, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and University Circle, Nautica is one of Cleveland’s premier attractions.
The Powerhouse … from streetcars, carrels and metal storage to the heart of the Flats Entertainment District.