Heinen's supermarket banks on unconventional location

Heinen's will open a new supermarket in the Ameritrust Rotunda building in downtown Cleveland. Due to open its doors on Feb. 25, the location in an old bank is what historic preservationists call "adaptive reuse."

The Cleveland-based chain is owned by Heinen brothers Tom and Jeff.

Those who appreciate architecture and an example of 1908 Beaux-Arts will relish the new project, reported the Cleveland blog. The Rotunda is filled with refrigerated cases where bank tellers once worked behind windows. Originally the Cleveland Trust, the space was designed by George Browne Post, architect of the New York Stock Exchange. The facade is grand and has fluted Corinthian columns. A domed roof contains a back-lighted, stained-glass interior.

The bank's third floor mezzanine, with a circular balcony, will house the market's beer and wine departments, where visitors can sample more than 40 wines by the glass or try a half-dozen beers on tab. Circular tables of white marble, salvaged from teller stations, will make it possible to socialize in the space.

There will also be outdoor seating to accommodate the Rotunda's Global Grille, where guests can order sandwich wraps.

The Heinen brothers spent $10 million in building the urban store, the first of its kind in Cleveland, where the downtown population has now reached 13,000, up from 9,500 in 2000.

How the store will do, is still a guess. But the Heinens think the historical spot is worth the gamble.

"It's a big risk," Jeff Heinen told the Cleveland blog. "We're definitely ahead of the population curve."

Not to mention, the chain hopes to create a shopping experience that lifts the experience of buying groceries out of the doldrums. The Heinens want it to be a social space, where customers visit between work and home.

Heinen's isn't the first retailer to open in a former bank. Walgreens debuted a new prototype in a former Chicago bank in June 2014, complete with a repurposed vault in the pharmacy renamed the Vitamin Vault. The drugstore chain also opened a flagship store in Chicago's Wrigley Building.

In a recent trend, more retailers have been opening storefronts in historic buildings to create a unique shopping experience. In fact, J. Crew is opening a women's only store in London in a former HSBC bank space at 19 Marylebone High Street. The shop will be 3,000 sq. ft. and will open in the first quarter of this year. And Restoration Hardware (NYSE:RH) opened its newly expanded RH New York showroom in a 19th century building in the historical Flatiron district.

For more:
-See this Cleveland blog post

Related stories:
J. Crew expands in Paris and London
Restoration Hardware opens store in the historic Flatiron district
Walgreens opens flagship in Chicago's Wrigley Building
J.Crew, Fast Retailing merger talks break down
J.Crew could be sold to Uniqlo's parent company

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