(Cleveland) - One of Cleveland's most iconic buildings, shuttered since March due to the pandemic, will be closing its doors for good. Operators of the International Exposition Center, known to one and all as the I-X Center, announced in a statement that they will not reopen.
In the statement, the I-X Center's operators said, "The global pandemic has decimated the event industry as well as many other businesses and has ultimately led to this decision."
The I-X Center had been the home of annual events such as the Cleveland Auto Show, the Boat Show, the Great Big Home and Garden Show, and the I-X Indoor Amusement Park, the centerpiece of which was the Ferris Wheel in the middle of the I-X Center, which can be seen through the glass-enclosed atrium at the top.
The I-X Center opened 35 years ago, in 1985. The massive building was originally built during World War II as the Cleveland Bomber Plant, operated by General Motors for the assembly of tanks and military aircraft. After the war, it was briefly rented out for soybean storage. The Bomber Plant resumed making army tanks during the Korean War, employing 6,000. It continued making military equipment until 1972.
The Park Corporation purchased the building in 1977 with plans to turn it into a trade mart, but in 1985, it was opened as the I-X Center, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records at the time as the world's largest single-building exhibition facility.
When the city of Cleveland was considering lengthening the main runways at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Park Corporation sold the building to the city of Cleveland in 2001 for $30 million, according to Crain's Cleveland Business Park continued to operate the building under a rent-free lease.
The site of the I-X Center was originally in the city of Brook Park, but a land swap between Brook Park and Cleveland put it in the Cleveland city limits in 1999, and areas along the north side of Brookpark Road were annexed into Brook Park.
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