The Hogrefe Building
Ready for the next 150 years
Reconstruction of a 170 year old site, the Hogrefe-Cooke Building, has been a visible journey in the heart of downtown Sandusky. A native of the area, Rick Hogrefe and his wife Megan began a second career of property redevelopment in Erie County almost five years ago. After a successful career as the co-founder and CEO of TriLink BioTechnologies, a company devoted to finding new ways to save lives through genetic chemistry, Rick decided to use the money he got from selling one dream to begin another, the restoration of Sandusky and Bay View, his hometowns. 

Megan & Rick have been busy with 15 local properties and 6 businesses under their belts to date. But most would consider their restoration and reconstruction of the Cooke Building their most ambitious project so far. Like every good entrepreneur, Rick self identifies as stubborn, and the journey of this project is good evidence. As Rick was observing opportunities in Sandusky a few years ago, one that did not catch his eye was the Cooke Building – a 30,000 SF mixed-use building first constructed in 1850. In fact, Rick had often worried for its longevity after walking by and seeing visible deterioration. But then the building was listed for sale and this former Belle of Sandusky wouldn’t leave his mind. Who could take on such a risky project? What would happen if no one did? 

And so, stubborn and passionate Rick & Meghan jumped in. The couple and their sophisticated architect and construction teams first attempted to preserve the building and its 170 years of history. After millions spent in a valiant effort, the Hogrefes and Sandusky officials had to call it. The Cooke Building wasn’t salvageable in a way that would be safe for future users and the surrounding contiguous buildings, and it had to be demolished.
Fast Facts
  • $6.5 million construction of 30,000 SF
  • Mix of retail, professional office, and apartments well connected in the heart of Sandusky's downtown
  • Due to it's catalytic nature, was one of four projects selected across the State of Ohio for the competitive new JobsOhio Vibrant Communities Program
Knowing how much this site meant to Sandusky, Rick & Meghan established a new vision, plans for a building that will last the next 150 years, and bring a similar vibrancy to Downtown. Residents have watched the construction of a new 30,000 SF, renamed the Hogrefe Building, that pays homage to the past, yet will offer modern amenities. This $6.5 million project will include 10,000 SF retail on the 1st floor, 10,000 SF office on the 2nd, and 10,000 SF of residential on the 3rd. The 2nd floor has already been leased in its entirety as well as several pre-leased 3rd floor apartments.

The couple’s favorite aspect of the new building is its connectivity to the adjacent Marketplace, home to several local eateries, entertainment, and retail. It’s reminiscent of the neighborhood where they met in California where you can walk conveniently from home to a workout to the office to dinner, drinks, and entertainment. Other favorites of the building are the rooftop deck and comfortable courtyard to be used for drop offs and leisure time.  

Megan & Rick believe in the vision of Downtown Sandusky and its power to draw residents and travelers alike for unique experiences. They are grateful for the support they've received from the City and its residents. The Hogrefe Building is set to open March 1st, a special birthday present for Rick and a legacy he’s particularly excited to share with his Dad. Keep an eye on this new jewel of Sandusky.    
The History
  • Constructed in 1850 by Jay Cooke, a financier and promoter of the Northern Pacific Railroad and bonds to finance the Union during the Civil War
  • Over the decades, housed different businesses, government agencies and professional offices - like Holzaepfel Sporting Goods, a dance hall, christmas gifts, cheap dry goods, and the Knights of Pythias
  • Cooke also bought Gibraltar Island on Lake Erie and constructed Cooke's Castle, now home to an OSU research lab
Did You Know?
As entrepreneurs themselves, the Hogrefes are always looking for ways to support new businesses. Most recently they pledged thousands of dollars to a Startup Scholarship offered by the Minority Business Empowerment Team, ECEDC & RISE. With their generosity and support of the Mylander Foundation, the Startup Scholarship will now provide $625 to new businesses in Erie County completing 5 best-practice steps for establishing a new company. Help us spread the word!
Stay Tuned for Day 12: ECEDC's Days in Development
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The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio. Throughout the weeks of December, you will receive email spotlights on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2022 list! #ErieCounty12Days