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Apartments coming to historic Wagner Awning building in Tremont

Since 1895, the Wagner Awning building at 2658 Scranton Road in Tremont was a sewing factory. For more than 120 years, workers at Wagner Awning, later renamed Ohio Awning, made everything from tents and sails to awnings.

“If you ever are in a submarine and begin to sink, you likely will be in a flotation device sewn at 2658 Scranton Road,” says Naomi Sabel, Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) co-owner.
 
So when Ohio Awning announced it was relocating to Slavic Village last year, Sabel and her SCA partners Josh Rosen and Ben Ezinga were quick to buy the historic building for development into apartments.
 
The developers of the Fairmont Creamery on the Ohio City-Tremont border are attracted to old Cleveland factories, with the mission of repurposing them into apartments. After working with Tremont West Development Corporation on the Fairmont Creamery, the trio was eager to start another project in the neighborhood.
 
“We fell in love with the building,” says Rosen. “It has operated as a sewing factory of some sort since it was first constructed. There are incredible beams and columns - and maple floors from 1895 are hard to duplicate in a new construction project.”
 
The sale was completed last spring and work on converting the Wagner Awning Building into 59 one-bedroom apartments began in January by designer Larissa Burlij with Dimit Architects. General Contractor Welty Construction is overseeing more than 100 workers on the site each day to ensure the renovations are completed by November 1.
 
Of the 88,000 total square feet, the 59 apartments will all be complete one-bedroom units, ranging from 650 to 1,250 square feet. “We don’t believe in micro apartments,” says Rosen. Monthly rents will range between $900 and $1,500.
 
Each unit will feature the refinished original maple hardwood floors and high ceilings. The 420 new large windows will provide bountiful natural light. A section of the third floor of the L-shaped building that was destroyed by a tornado in the 1950s is also being repaired.
 
A 14,000-square-foot area in the basement of the building, which also has ample natural light, will be converted into office space. About 90 outdoor parking spaces in a gated lot will be available to residential and office tenants. The exterior will be painted a light grey.
 
A raised 2,000-square-foot elevated deck in the courtyard will serve as a socializing area for residents and office users and a buffer to adjacent Scranton Elementary School. The building itself is close to many Tremont attractions such as the Tremont Tap House and Tremont Athletic Club.
 
SCA also owns two 1.5-acre lots across the street, which Sabel says they are considering for future projects. “We need to do our due diligence and talk to folks about the right fit,” she says. “But the opportunity to do a significant four corner development really excites us.”
 
The $14 million project was eligible for $4 million in tax credit equity through federal and state historic tax credits. The tax credit investors are Enhanced Capital and Nationwide Insurance, while Village Capital Corporation provided a mezzanine loan.
 
“Both [Fairmont Creamer and Wagner Awning] required a challenging capital stack and many partners in both the public and private sector in order for the visions to become fully realized,” says Sabel.
 
Rosen is thrilled to be adding another residential repurposing of underutilized factory space to Tremont.
 
“Tremont is a pretty rich tapestry of folks who have been here for generations, newcomers to Cleveland, young families moving back into the city and people who have been working in the grassroots for 20-plus years to improve the quality of life in Tremont,” he says. “The neighborhood is really welcoming and civically motivated and we have a strong CDC in Tremont West that is always willing to help.”

There is already a waiting list for apartments at Wagner Awning, but SCA will begin conducting tours today for prospective tenants and community members. Contact SCA to schedule a tour.

CDCs: the quiet but powerful engines driving neighborhood revitalization

The economic recession that began in 2007 impacted nearly every United States city. Compounded by the burst of the housing bubble in 2008, many Cleveland neighborhoods took a hard hit.
 
“Every neighborhood was affected by the Great Recession pretty much everywhere,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), an organization committed to neighborhood revitalization. “Every one of our neighborhoods suffered.”
 
Many Cleveland neighborhoods have successfully recovered, with thriving places like Ohio City, Tremont and Collinwood being ideal examples. There are pockets in the city, however, that continue to struggle. “Most are coming back,” Ratner says. “The question is: where have they come back to and where were they?”
 
Ratner cites the Hough and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods as two areas that have not quite climbed out of the housing crash. “There are several east side neighborhoods that continue to have vacancies and abandonments,” he says. “The Hough neighborhood continues to struggle and places like Mount Pleasant really have a lot of work to do to restore the real estate market.”
 
For those neighborhoods that are beginning to bounce back, Ratner says the key to success is an active community development corporation (CDC). “We believe that where there is a strong CDC, they are able to lift up the neighborhood,” he explains, naming Tremont, the Detroit Shoreway, Central and University Circle as areas with robust CDCs. “Where there are great CDCs we’re seeing community benefits.”
 
Slavic Village Recovery Project, for example, is a collaborative effort between the neighborhood’s CDC, CNP, Forest City Enterprises and RIK Enterprises that acquires and renovates vacant homes, then sells them at affordable rates. The idea is to stabilize the housing market in Slavic Village while also making it an attractive neighborhood for potential home buyers.
 
At the same time Northeast Shores Development in Collinwood and other agencies have spent the last decade creating a destination for arts and culture with efforts such as the Waterloo Arts District. “Waterloo and Collinwood have a lot of exciting things going on,” says Ratner. “People are starting to see market recovery.”
 
In Glenville, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens reflect the neighborhood’s rebirth. “They’re beginning to see a renaissance there,” says Ratner. “The housing stock is really a treasure.”
 
St. Clair Superior and the Campus District CDCs teamed up to host Night Market Cleveland, creating a popular new destination event that brought exposure to AsiaTown and Quarter Arts District and encouraged appreciation for the diverse cultures that characterize the area. The effort garnered a CNP’s 2016 Vibrant City award.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office also received a Vibrant City Award for its part in bringing La Placita to fruition. The Hispanic-themed open air market provides business development opportunities to entrepreneurs and easy access to local goods and fresh foods for residents in the surrounding Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.
 
Ratner notes other projects, such as Goldhorn Brewery on E. 55th Street in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood, the Innova apartments straddling University Circle and the Hough neighborhood, and quieter endeavors in the Central neighborhood such as the small but mighty Ka-La Healing Garden and Resource Center show signs of revitalization.
 
"There are a lot of promising efforts going on around our city,” says Ratner. “There’s a lot of great stuff going on.”
 
And people are noticing, he adds. While previous generations moved out of Cleveland in favor of the suburbs, the city’s booming residential construction today is evidence that the locals are coming back. “They’re beginning to see the joys of the city and what a treasure it is,” he says. “Now people are coming in to Cleveland, especially the boomerangers.”
 
Newcomers to Cleveland are attracted to city living as well. “Someone comes in and doesn’t know the city, or they’ve been away, they have a fresh eye and they are not encumbered by the previous notions of ourselves,” Ratner says. “One of our burdens is our too-negative view of ourselves. As more people come here, we have an updated view.”

Building a big dream on a tiny slip of land

As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. In Lakewood, that package is tucked away at 1427 Scenic St. near the city's westernmost border, the Rocky River.

Three years ago, the Cuyahoga Land Bank took over a tiny abandoned house on a 35- by 95-foot parcel in Lakewood’s Scenic Park neighborhood.
 
As the Land Bank razed the 348-square-foot house, cleared the property and laid grass seed, LakewoodAlive, a community-centered non-profit organization focused on maintaining vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood, took notice.
 
“We identified this vacant property in March 2015 while knocking on doors to introduce ourselves and our Community Engagement Program,” recalls LakewoodAlive executive director Ian Andrews, adding that the program focuses on the Scenic Park and Birdtown neighborhoods to make sure everyone has the resources to create healthy and safe homes. “We saw this vacant property and thought: what can we do with that?
 
After neighbors on either side of the property declined to annex the 3,290-square-foot parcel, LakewoodAlive began working with the Land Bank and Lakewood officials to build a new house. The organization took title to the property in January and then transferred it to Lakewood developer Dana Paul with Prairie Stone Group in March.
 
Paul broke ground on a 1,425-square-foot, two-story home with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths on April 30. “It has a deck overlooking the Rocky River Reservation,” says Andrews. “It’s going to be a beautiful home.”
 
Last Wednesday, May 18, a group of community members, mayor Michael Summers, Paul and LakewoodAlive representatives gathered at the site to celebrate the project. Because construction has already begun, with concrete work well underway, officials dubbed the event the “Scenic Park House Project Launch Party” instead of a groundbreaking.
 
Attendees honored the future home by breaking beer bottles over a rock at the construction site.
 
Andrews says the market is hot for a house like the one being built on the pint-sized parcel. “There’s a big market for historic, other people want funky,” he says, adding that the neighbors are pleased. “They’re glad to see this little lot is finally getting some love.”

$3.5 million in improvements commence on Lee Road

After a few delays, the Lee Road Streetscape Improvements plan is underway in Cleveland Heights. Last Monday, May 9, the city and the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District (SID) began a six-month project that will include street resurfacing, new sidewalks and new traffic lights on Lee Road between Corydon and Superior Roads.

"I think it's great," says Adam Fleisher, co-owner of the Wine Spot. “As a merchant, I’m really excited about it. Lee Road is a great destination place, but it needs updates.”
 
The $3.5 million project is part of a master plan that was created in 2008, just before the economy soured. The plan was taken up again in 2011 with a preliminary engineering analysis, which led to an application for public funding.
 
The city received $1.5 million from Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and $1.6 million from Cuyahoga County, as well as $20,000 from RTA for the bus stop on the corner of Lee and Cedar Roads and $45,000 from the Ohio EPA to fund the project.
 
The Cedar-Lee SID is responsible for funding the landscaping, planters and other street furnishings. The SID funds come from merchants in the district who contribute to it.
 
After the only bid that came in 2012 was too high, the city hired CT Consultants to revise and execute the plan. S.E.T. Inc. is doing the actual construction.
 
Running north to south from Cain Park on Lee and Superior Roads to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library just past Corydon Road, Cedar-Lee is the longest commercial district in Cleveland Heights, says SID president and owner of Zagara’s Marketplace John Zagara.
 
Lee Road has been reduced to one lane in each direction without turning lanes, and is lined with orange pylons as construction began yesterday on the west side of Lee from Superior to Coleridge.
 
On-street parking has been eliminated during construction, but Zagara says there are plenty of parking alternatives.
 
“Lee Road was designed originally [for patrons] to come up the side streets and enter through the side entrances and the back,” Zagara explains, adding that there is plenty of parking available in the lots and garage off of Silsby, Meadowbrook and Cedar.
 
The valet parking service that is available on weekends will move to side streets and the parking lots.
 
Current traffic light poles and will be replaced with poles painted hunter green or black, says Zagara, “to create a differential of the district.”
 
When the street is torn up, new electrical systems will be installed to put in LED pedestrian lighting on the sidewalks. “We placed a priority on better lighting throughout the district,” says Zagara, adding that the street becomes very dark late at night when bar patrons are leaving and other stores are closed. “We wanted to get the lighting for safety.”
 
ADA compliant drop off locations, handicap spaces and crosswalks will be added to the road once it is resurfaced.
 
The large rectangular planters along the street will be removed and replaced with other landscaping to make the sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. “Our current curb appeal is impacted by a hodge podge of street furnishings,” explains Kelley Robinson, director of the Cedar Lee SID. “We will be purchasing new planters that will complement the new street furnishings and help create a more inviting atmosphere.”
 
While the sidewalks will not necessarily be larger when portions are replaced, Robinson says the removal of the current planters will make it easier to for pedestrians to navigate.
 
Fleisher is impressed with the plan. "More sidewalks mean more seating space,” he says, referring to Wine Spot’s front patio.
 
Zagara calls some of the improvements, such as the painted light poles and landscaping, “niceties” that help the district keep up with surrounding shopping districts. We’re competing against places like Legacy Village,” he says.
 
No major improvements have been made to the district since 1983, says Robinson. 
 
The six-month project should be done by October or November, Zagara says. Robinson is having maps made to show patrons the streetscape plans, which merchants can display in their shops.
 
Fleisher plans to display one at the Wine Spot. “Time will pass quickly,” he says. “It will be ready by the holidays. The people who come to Lee Road will appreciate it when it’s done.”

Former Fleet retail space to emerge as 12,000-square-foot artists' mecca

Ben Domzalski’s family has long been a staple of the Slavic Village business community, operating the tax and accounting firm Commercial Enterprises on Fleet Avenue since 1952.
 
So when his father and business partner, Jeff Domzalski and Chester Cuiksa, bought the old Magalen Furniture building at 5203 Fleet Ave. three years ago, Domzalski voiced his idea of what to do with the 12,000 square foot space – the largest building on Fleet Avenue.
 
“[Jeff and Chester] believed it could carry a great influence on development of the Fleet Avenue commercial district,” recalls Domzalski. “Both being Fleet Avenue merchants for over 40 years, they were very concerned with the direction of the neighborhood, Fleet Avenue in particular, and wanted to do what they could.”
 
Domzalski immediately saw a way to bring arts to the community. “When I first saw the building I saw its potential for gallery and studio space,” he recalls. “I felt very strongly the size, unique features and location could help this building become a true destination.”
 
In January, Jeff and Chester gave Domzalski control over the space and, he promptly started making plans to convert it to The Magalen a mixed-use art gallery and studio space.  
 
Domzalski’s inspiration came from listening to Cleveland Public Theatre founder James Levin speak ten years ago about community development through the arts. “His words stuck with me,” he recalls. “Artists beautify their surroundings, they are patrons of the local establishments and, most importantly, they're courageous as seen in Waterloo, Tremont and Gordon Square. Each of these areas focused on arts first.”
 
Domzalski calls the artists who helped shape those areas “courageous” because of their influence on revitalizing neighborhoods. “Artists are courageous because of their willingness to venture into new neighborhoods, ones where development has yet to happen or is currently happening,” he explains “They're at the forefront of neighborhood development.”
 
He says he hopes Slavic Village will be the next such example in Cleveland. “As the Magalen grows and we open the studio spaces, I hope for more artists to move to Slavic Village, and in turn attract more people to the neighborhood.”
 
The two-story Magalen dates back to 1908, when the front section and a rear carriage house were built. The two sections were later connected by additional rooms and a loading dock. For decades, the space housed a neighborhood staple, Magalen Furniture.
 
While the front area, with large windows overlooking Fleet Avenue, will serve as a gallery and event space, the rear areas will provide two studios for artists and the second floor area will service as meeting space or additional studios, according to Rachel Hunt, events curator for the Magalen.
 
Hunt shares Domzalski’s vision of how the Magalen will give Slavic Village a boost. “The Magalen will be the only multi-use arts facility in the area that is run not only by management, but by the artists,” she explains. “It will eventually be available for use by artists with studio spaces 24/7. We've been inspired by other art facilities in the Cleveland area and want to bring Slavic Village up to date with what other desirable communities such as Waterloo and Ohio City are doing for their neighborhoods.”
 
Although the entire project will not be complete, the Magalen gallery will be open in time for Rooms to Let this Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22. The event transforms Slavic Village homes slated for demolition or restoration into galleries and art installations.
 
The Magalen will host an after-party during its gallery debut, Reimagined, from 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Four artists will be featured, including Michael Marefka, Dustin Nowlin, Riley Kemerling and Maggie Duff.
 
The gallery will also be open on Sunday for pickup of purchased works. Otherwise, regular gallery hours have not yet been set.

Port of Cleveland adds major client, equipment

In its quest to be the largest inland port in the United States, the Port of Cleveland made some significant announcements last week, ranging from new overseas shipping business to beautification of Cleveland Harbor.

Last Tuesday, May 10 Lubrizol Corporation, one of the largest European exporters in the state, announced it will now be shipping its container loads of specialty chemicals made in Northeast Ohio to Europe through the Port of Cleveland via the Cleveland-Europe Express service. Previously the company was shipping its products via rail to coastal ports in New York, Norfolk, VA and Charleston, S.C.
 
Now Lubrizol’s shipments will ship directly from Cleveland’s port and travel via the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. “For them to go through the Port of Cleveland is really a game changer,” says Jade Davis, the port’s vice president of external affairs. “Other companies called us within hours [of the announcement] to see if the port fits their needs.”
 
The new Liebherr cranes Cleveland is the only container port on the Great Lakes and port officials are working to meet the needs of other companies like Lubrizol. The port's business has grown between 500 and 600 percent since 2014, estimates Davis. “If we can get greater volume, the costs can go down,” he says of shipping to Europe via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
 
Meanwhile, the port dedicated two new state-of-the-art Liebherr 280 cranes to assist with the increased loads. The cranes are 40 percent more efficient than the port’s previous cranes and have 40 to 50 percent more lift capacity, according to Davis. “We can do bulk cargo with these,” he boasts. “We can load and unload container ships directly from the dock to a ship, or vice versa.”
 
The port did not have container cranes before the arrival of the Liebherrs, named Crane A and Crane B. The new cranes can handle 20 to containers per hour, Davis says. “Less time on the ground loading and unloading means less cost. It definitely helps us compete and be more efficient with service and production.”
 
The International Longshoreman Local 1317 added 40 jobs to its approximately 125 workers on staff at the port last year and will probably add a few more workers this year, says Davis, while the port itself employs about 20 people.
 
To top off the week, the Port of Cleveland announced plans to illuminate the 150-foot-tall cement silos at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. The project, dubbed “Harbor Lights,” was approved by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board of directors last Wednesday, May 11. Herbst Electric will install colorful LED displays to welcome people entering Cleveland via Lake Erie.

Coffee spot coming to Cleveland Hostel

In the nearly four years since Mark Raymond opened the Cleveland Hostel  at 2090 W. 25th St., tens of thousands of guests have lodged in the affordable Ohio City inn. They hail from more than 60 countries including exotic locales such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritania and Fiji, and range in age from six months to older than 90.

One of the main reasons travelers choose to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel is to meet new people. And while the Cleveland Hostel is located in a city hub that is bustling with social opportunities, it was missing one thing: good coffee. To remedy that, Raymond and partner Trey Kirchoff decided to embark on new venture, Passengers Café in the hostel lobby.

“The social aspect is one of the main things that make a hostel a hostel,” says Raymond. “We have the roof deck, the kitchen and common area on the second floor [and] now the cafe in the lobby.”
 
When completed later this spring, Passengers Café will offer drip coffee from different coffee roasters around the country, espresso drinks, locally-made bagels and a small toast menu. “We will have great coffee offerings from all over the country,” says Kirchoff, who has experience in the industry from his work with Gimme! Coffee bars in his native New York.
 
Kirchoff cites Philadelphia, Arkansas and Minnesota as some places that roast great coffee but don’t have the reputation of places such as Seattle or even Cleveland, which, he notes, is home to the likes of Six Shooter, Phoenix and Duck Rabbit. “They’re all really doing cool things with their beans. We want to start with beans from all over, beans that are probably not as well known.”
 
The cafe will have 15 to 20 seats in the 700-square-foot lobby as well as a few tables outdoors. “Really, right now, there’s no one else south of Lorain that has a presence on the sidewalk,” says Raymond.
 
Raymond and Kirchoff were introduced last year through the Ohio City Merchants Association. Kirchoff moved to Cleveland with his wife, Dana, a Cleveland native, in 2015 and was looking to start a coffee and sandwich shop. Raymond wanted to broaden his offerings at the hostel. By December, the two were working on plans for Passengers Café.
 
The result is a “medium sized, casual space,” says Raymond. “If they want to go on the roof deck and drink their coffee, they’re welcome to.”
 
Raymond also encourages Clevelanders to stop by the café and meet some new people. “I’m excited to bring locals in,” he says. “Travelers will get a more unique experience.”

Loren Naji to live in spherical home during tour

Sculptor Loren Naji has long been disturbed by the number of homeless people in the country. “It seems absurd that humane governments would allow homelessness to exist,” he says. “Our society should not have homeless people and we should not have all these empty houses.”

So, a year ago he set out to create an eight-foot diameter sphere to make a statement about the United States’ indifference to the homeless population and apathy toward unused homes.
 
“Our urban landscape is riddled with vacant homes, abandoned and boarded shut, while the homeless sleep on sidewalks in front of these empty houses slated for demolition and landfills.
 
The sphere is entitled Emoh – the word “home” spelled backwards – and is made entirely with materials Naji has salvaged from demolished homes, including trash, furniture and debris taken from curbs in Tremont and Ohio City.
 
“On the garbage day I drive around looking for things people throw away,” the 1998 Cleveland Institute of Art graduate explains. “The panels of the sphere are made of plywood, which I bought, but everything else is found materials.”
 
Beginning this fall Naji will live in Emoh and begin a nine-city tour, hoping to raise awareness of homelessness.  
 
“This signifies that as so-called humane, intelligent human beings we really do things in a backwards way when it comes to priorities,” explains Naji of Emoh’s meaning. “How is it possible that such intelligence allows its own kind to sleep in the streets without shelter while there are so many vacant structures boarded up, rotting and on their way to the landfills, polluting our home, the Earth?"
 
Naji will compete in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in September for the chance to win a $200,000 juried prize or a $200,000 prize based on public vote. Other planned stops on the tour include Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston. Locally, Naji will also be making a stop at SPACES.  
 
Naji will haul the 1,000-pound sculpture on a trailer to each city on his tour. He points out that Emoh also represents the Earth itself – with the panels forming graphic representations of streets and countryside.
 
While living in Emoh, Naji will have a bed, a camping toilet, a mailbox and a laptop computer. He will get electricity to the sphere with an extension cord, plugged into his hosts’ outlets. Small windows will allow visitors a glimpse into his life inside Emoh.
 
Emoh, is not Naji’s first foray into spherical art. While he studied painting at CIA, he developed an interest in painting on 3D surfaces. “My art seems to have somehow manipulated into making spheres,” he says. Naji went on to study graphic design in post-graduate work on Kent State University.
 
His 3,000-pound work They Have Landed, an eight-foot in diameter time capsule to be opened in 2050, is stationed at the Ohio City RTA station across from the West Side Market, while Global Beat is an interactive, spherical drum set made from repurposed pots, pans and miscellaneous items.
 

Local venues brim with bookings for RNC

Some 50,000 people are expected to descend on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention this summer, including 2,470 delegates, 2,302 alternate delegates and 15,000 members of the media. As the July 18-21 dates draw near, many of Cleveland’s popular entertainment and arts sites are seeing a great deal of interest in, and reservations for, private events.
 
About 70 establishments have registered as preferred venues in the RNC official venue guide. Fresh Water talked to event planners at just a handful of locations around the city about their RNC private event bookings. And while organizers won’t divulge all the details, excitement is definitely building.
 
The Breen Center
 
One event that officials can talk about is the announcement that Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be taping from July 19 through 22 at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School.
 
“They approached us some time ago looking for a venue,” says St. Ignatius director of communications Lisa Metro. “It’s a beautiful venue. It’s the most comfortable place to see a show.”
 
While the Breen Center parking lot will be reserved for the show’s trucks, the St. Ignatius student parking lot will be reserved for audience members. Metro says the center seats more than 300 people and has wheelchair access.
 
Other than the parking accommodations, Metro says the other details are being left up to The Daily Show staff. “The proceeds [from the rental] will be reinvested in the St. Ignatius education fund,” she adds.
 
Tickets for all four days of taping have already sold out.
 
W. 25th Street
 
Nearby on W. 25th Street, Nathan Carr, events coordinator for Market Garden Brewery, Bar Cento, Nano Brew, Bier Market and Speakeasy, has booked events at all the bars, mostly for state delegates, he says.
 
“Our arrangement is a little unique because we are multiple locations in one city block,” Carr says of the restaurant group. “One state requested beers from their home state. [The groups] want a lot of the same stuff, but we’re tweaking it a little to make it unique for everyone.”
 
Carr says that, beginning in July, they are making menu changes to give conventioneers a true taste of Cleveland. “We’re creating really neat new things to give them a unique Midwest/Cleveland experience,” he says. “They’re coming from all over the country and maybe haven’t had the Midwest farm-to-table experience.”
 
One parameter Carr says they must follow for the delegate events is that no forks, knives or spoons can be used. “They aren’t able to use utensils on the premises,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to create mouth-sized kinds of food, snackable finger food kinds of items.”
 
For instance, Carr says they are partnering with Mitchell’s Ice Cream to give guests a scoop of ice cream as they board their transportation back to their hotels, but they had to order little wooden paddle spoons for eating the ice cream.
 
Carr says he has booked groups ranging from 80 people to a complete buyout of one location for an event for 700. They are still in the process of booking additional groups. However, Carr urges the locals to come out to W. 25th as well.
 
“With all the hype," he says, "it’s really important for Clevelanders to come out and see how this week-long event really benefits the city and really highlights the city.”
 
The restaurant group is also working on a special brew for the convention: the GOP Pilsner,  “as a shout out for the reason everyone’s here that week,” says Carr.
 
University Circle
 
University Circle’s cultural attractions are also garnering interest from conventioneers. The Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society has already booked two events and has had “a number of showings,” says center director Angie Lowrie, adding that they are hosting a delegate luncheon for about 100 people that will include a self-guided tour and an evening event for about 250.
 
Lowrie says the center will host a cocktail party paired with a tour of nearby Lakeview Cemetery. “There will be a big focus on Rockefeller and his roots in Cleveland,” she says. “Weather-permitting, we will hold the cocktail hour in the outdoor garden and we will have a Rockefeller impersonator.”
 
The center will also have a Rockefeller exhibit open during the convention week.
 
The History Center is also partnering with other WRHS facilities, such as the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum for a dinner and tour and the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel for a fun diversion.
 
Elsewhere on East Boulevard, the Cleveland Botanical Garden has booked three events ranging from 120 to 400 people and has had “multiple groups come out for site tours,” says rental facility associate Bridget Hays.
 
Hays adds that the Botanical Garden can host up to 500 people on the Katherine Philipp Geis Terrace for a cocktail reception, or smaller events in its meeting rooms or gardens.
 
“It’s a great neighborhood," says Hays. "It’s a fun side of Cleveland over here. This is a chance to show off to the delegates such great culture in the city and leverage our collection to raise visibility.”

Playhouse Square
 
In Playhouse Square, Hofbrauhaus has made a few group bookings and is anticipating more. “We’ve received event inquiries and we’re getting everything secure,” says marketing and sales manager Andrea Mueller.
 
Mueller says some groups have rented the entire Hofbrauhaus space, which seats 1,600 and includes the bier hall, bier garden and the Hermit Club, while others have booked just one specific space for an evening.
 
While Mueller says she’s heard that a groups tend to wait until the last minute to book their events, the Hofbrauhaus staff is already in planning mode. “We have customized menus with each of the groups,” Mueller says. “We’ve been working very closely with our executive chefs. “We want to put our best foot forward.”
 
Mueller says they have also gotten calls from other venues in the area who want to partner with Hofbrauhaus. “It’s impressive how we come together to hold each other up,” she says. “I’ve never experienced such outreach and symbiotic support. We’re very excited to have this opportunity to show Clevelanders and guests alike what we have to offer.”

Roof at CIA's Gund Building set to transform into urban "meadow"

In just a few weeks, the roof of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s (CIA) George Gund Building will be in full bloom will rows of sedum covering 3,364 square feet, or half, of the 6,800-square-foot rooftop.
 
The roof was originally designed to be a green roof system, explains CIA director of facilities and safety Joe Ferritto, but the system was cut from the budget during the 2015 completion of the building. The garden got the green light this year after a successful $19,000 fundraising campaign.
 
The garden was designed by Cleveland-based Rooftop Green, which has a patented system for planting directly on a roof. “They gave us a proposal for a basic green system and tray system,” says Ferritto. “The trays are produced out of recycled water bottles to create a cellular material that is very dense and absorbs water.”
 
The trays, which each measure about 24 inches by 18 inches, are filled with dirt and sedum seeds and then covered with a poly netting material.  
 
Five members of the maintenance team spent three days last week hauling 38 palettes – with each palette holding 40 trays of sedum -- up to the roof via the service elevator. Half of the sedum, planted toward the back of the garden, will grow to be about 14 inches tall, while the front of the garden will have 8-inch tall plants.
 
“The guys thought it was pretty interesting when we put this up,” says Ferritto. “We had a carpenter, a painter, a HVAC guy and an electrician all hauling that stuff up there. It was kind of an all-hands-on-deck experience.”
 
Ferritto is keeping the garden off limits until the sedum has bloomed in about a month. When he does open it, the roof will be accessible only to students and faculty and by appointment. In the meantime, the garden can be admired through the window wall on the building’s third floor and CIA students in the adjacent biomedical arts department have a spectacular view.
 
“Once it hits 60 degrees we should see some seed pollination, then it’s a four to five week growth time. It looks very white right now," he says, adding that the trays will soon fill with color, mostly green. "It will look like a meadow.”
 
The whole rooftop garden system provides additional points toward achieving LEED certification for the building. “I’ve heard claims that it can increase the life of a roof by 50 to 100 percent, but studies are still being done on that,” he says. “There’s increased insulation the green roof provides, and [there is] reduced UV that [can] beat up the roof system.”
 
Now that the landscaping in complete, Ferritto has his eye on the other half of the roof. He says plans for hardscaping for the remaining 3,400 square feet include pavers, furniture and a canopy. “Once we get the hardscaping piece done, there have been discussions on hosting events or making studio space there,” he says. 

Giant jammin' Rock Boxes set to line East 9th Street this summer

Seven Rock Boxes, a public art project featuring giant amplifiers along East 9th Street, are almost ready to rock downtown Cleveland and connect visitors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
 
Commissioned in the fall of 2014 by Destination Cleveland and the Rock Hall as a way to promote our town's rock 'n' roll soul and the museum that embodies it, the $500,000 project was designed by Sheffield native and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Mark Reigelman for LAND studio. Reigelman's been the creative force behind a host of notable area projects such as the "Wrap" planters that dot downtown and "Cold Front" along the West 76th Street underpass.
 
“They were looking for a way to further the connection to downtown because the Rock Hall is a bit isolated being on the [North Coast] Harbor,” explains LAND studio project manager Sarah Siebert. “Destination Cleveland wanted a connective impact for folks downtown. The seven Rock Boxes – all located along E. 9th Street – will create a “bread crumb effect,” says Siebert, leading to the Rock Hall.
 
Locations include Progressive Field on Bolivar; Medical Mutual on Prospect; The RTA HealthLine stop median at Euclid; Rockwell Park; One Cleveland Center at St. Clair; the RTA North Coast Rapid station; and the Rock Hall.
 
The boxes will sound off in unison about two or three times a day, playing 30- to 90-second sound clips from a list of two selections from each of the Rock Hall inductees. “We want it to have a similar effect as church bells,” says Siebert. “Over time, folks will see a pattern.”
 
LAND studio is still testing the decibel level of the boxes. “We want to make sure they’re heard, but not be overwhelming,” Siebert promises, adding that the songs will have universal appeal. “Folks can relate to it, regardless of age, generation or time.”
 
While an exact date for the installation’s completion has yet to be determined, Siebert expects the Rock Boxes to be complete by the end of June, in time for the Republican National Convention in July.

Tidal Cool moves into Tremont incubator space

Since 2012, Andrea Howell has channeling her love for sewing clothes into a career with Tidal Cool – selling her colorful and funky designs at popular events such as Cleveland Bazaar, Cleveland Night Market and the Tremont Farmers Market.

Beginning next month, however, Howell will sell her designs at her new 370-square-foot storefront at 2406 Professor Ave. in Tremont.

As winner of the fourth Tremont Storefront Incubator program, sponsored by Tremont West Development Corporation  and the Hispanic Business Center, Howell will explore the pros and cons of running Tidal Cool as a brick-and-mortar shop for the next 10 months.
 
“The bulk of my sales are regional,” Howell explains. “This is something less nomadic that I’m used to. This is exactly what I’m looking for because launching a new business is difficult and there are so many things you don’t think of.”
 
Howell will receive three months of free rent, followed by seven months of below-market-rate rent in the Professor Avenue location that once served as the organization’s meeting room. Tremont West decided to use the space for retail five years ago, says Tremont West assistant director Michelle Davis, to promote area small businesses.
 
“We used to use our storefront for board meetings and community meetings,” she says. “We decided it would be more contributing to our businesses because Tremont has been quite a place where women come to do their shopping.”
 
Previous tenants and incubator winners include pop-up shops for Cosmic Bobbins and Yellow Cake ShopTremont Tails, the Beck Center and Brewnuts.
 
While some of these businesses have moved on to other ventures, Brewnuts is opening a permanent location on Detroit Avenue. While Davis says they wanted to see Brewnuts stay in Tremont, the Detroit Shoreway location suited the company’s needs.
 
“We’re happy that they had this experience,” Davis says of Brewnuts. “We just couldn’t find them space that worked for them.”
 
In addition to the storefront, Howell will meet monthly with Jason Estremera, director of business services for the Hispanic Business Center, to go over financials and budgeting. “It’s nice to have someone in your corner,” says Howell of the business advice.
 
Howell applied to be the next incubator tenant back in January and got word in April that she had won the space. “I had my eye out specifically in the Tremont area because the demographics are my brand,” she says.
 
Howell says she has painted and installed new light fixtures. “I’m making it look like my brand,” she says.  
 
While Howell will have a soft opening on Wednesday, her official grand opening is scheduled for Friday, May 13 during Walkabout Tremont, from 6 to 9 p.m. She will present her spring and summer collection, Cuba Libre, which features African and other imported prints.

ODOT conducts George Voinovich Bridge construction tours

Twice a month through September, the Ohio Department of Transportation is conducting free hard hat tours of the George Voinovich Bridge construction area. Tours are rain or shine, although if the weather becomes overly inclement, the event will be cancelled.

Tours are conducted by Trumball-Great Lakes-Ruhlin (TGR), a joint venture between Trumbull Corporation, Great Lakes Construction Company and the Ruhlin Company, which was the successful bidder on the $273 million project that included demolition of the existing 1959 Innerbelt Bridge and the construction of a new, five lane, eastbound structure. The project is slated for completion this fall.

Attendees walk the entire construction site and hear insider details about things such as the steel I-beams that support the concrete pilings, or the "HP18 x 204's," wherein the H indicates the shape, the 18 refers to an 18" measurement on the piling and the 204 indicates 204 pounds-per-foot.

"These piles come in at 90 feet long," said Karen Lenehan, public information consultant for TGLR, during a tour last week. "They're the largest piles manufactured in United States." She adds that the pilings are required to be driven down to bedrock some 200 feet below ground. They must be hammered twenty times with industrial driving equipment in order to move just one inch.

"How do you know when you reach bedrock?" mused Lenehan. "When you hit it twenty times and it doesn't move."

Lenehan also offered comprehensive details on the giant 28- by 28- by 10-foot concrete footers; the prominent concrete columns, which are hollow and include inspection doors; the steel knuckles, tension ties, deltas, bridge bearings and deck girders; and the permanent catwalks that web the area under the deck of the bridge, among other components.

Lenehan also told the tale of how the entire project was nearly held hostage by a pair of mating Peregrine falcons that threatened to delay the demolition of the old bridge. Fortunately, the babies learned to fly ahead of a critical date and vacated the nest.

"We got the okay," recalled Lenehan of getting the thumbs-up from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources when the junior falcons took flight. "We could go ahead with our big explosive demolition on July 12, 2014."

Other softer details of note include a forthcoming fish habitat that will be similar to one that was constructed for the westbound bridge. The protected area is essentially fenced off from the rest of the river by a slotted barrier and is planted with vegetation the fish can eat.

"Fish can swim out of the way of the freighters," said Lenehan. "They can rest; they can feed, and then they can swim back out."

Also included in the project is a protected area for humans - for walking, biking and running. The contract includes extending the southern terminus of the all-purpose trail along Scranton Flats to a point adjacent to Sokolowski's Inn, as well as a new green space for Tremont.

"We get sustainability points for that," said Lenehan, noting that those points are part of a formal sustainability component of the contract.

Lastly at the conclusion of the tour, attendees are given packages of commemorative mints that are shaped like tiny cars.

Registration for the free tours, which fill up quickly, is required and does not start until the beginning of each respective month. Details available here.
 

$4 million expansion coming to University Heights Library

In 2010, the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries began talking to community members about what improvements they wanted to see in the now 64-year-old library at 13866 Cedar Road.

After some talk and initial planning, library officials conducted surveys at various locales including the library, neighboring Whole Foods and John Carroll University.
 
“Participation wasn’t heavy, but there was repetition of key points, so we knew we were on the right track," says Heights Libraries director Nancy Levin, noting that lack of a rear entrance by the parking area was a familiar complaint. "People wanted to see us solve the back door problem, and we knew the building needed updates and repairs.”

The main entrance will be moved to the rear of the building, with new glass panels to be installed in the front. A side entrance with a ramp on Fenwick Road will also be added. 
 
In addition to obvious work such as updating the HVAC and electrical system, making the building energy efficient, fixing roof leaks and installing ADA-compliant bathrooms, the survey led to plans for a fully functional elevator, an easily-accessible back door and children's and teen areas.
 
The $4 million project will add 5,282 square feet to the existing building, which will bring the total space to 10,500 square feet. The cost of the project has already been worked into Heights Library's budget.
 
The lower level will include a dedicated area for kids with a story room, teen space, meeting rooms and ADA compliant bathrooms. The new children’s area and elevators will make a family trip to the library much easier, says Levin. “It’s obvious when you have a stroller and go downstairs for story time, or go down with a toddler who is potty training,” she notes of the current situation.
 
The upper level will have large meeting rooms, independent study rooms and bathrooms. The book collection will be split up, with children’s books going to the children’s area and adult books going to an adult section upstairs.
 
The new HVAC system is in dire need of replacement. “Now we have many systems that have been added, with multiple air conditioning and multiple heating [systems],” says Levin. “It will certainly save us in the cost of operating with a modern, efficient system that turns up during the day and down at night.”
 
The library has purchased three houses on Fenwick Road, which were sold willingly by the owners for $140,000 each. They will be demolished to make way for the addition. A new parking lot will provide 10 additional parking spaces, which will increase from 37 to 47.

Levin also hopes to add a patio off of the new addition. “We’re creating something beautiful for the community and it will become an asset,” she says. “It won’t be a park, but it will be really nice.”
 
This summer, a citizens' landscape committee will discuss ideas for trees and a garden sculpture at the bus stop in front of the library. “There will be a neighborhood component,” Levin says.
 
CBLH Design is the architect working on the project, while Regency Construction Services in Lakewood is managing construction. Plans will be finalized this summer with construction slated to begin in September. September 2017 is the estimated completion date.
 
Library officials a trying to find a temporary home during the renovation, but so far have had little luck. Levin says they want to stay close to their permanent location, to be accessible to library staff and patrons, many of whom rely on the bus to get to the library.
 
Levin says temporary space at Cedar Center may not be feasible because of long lease requirements and vacant space at University Square is in receivership.
 
“We have heard from a number of city officials with good suggestions but they haven't worked out yet because of location,” Levin explains. “We really need to stay in the Cedar-Warrensville area if at all possible. The alternative is to close the branch and store the materials but continue all of the programs in other locations.” 

Holzheimer Interiors carries on its century-old design tradition in new Larchmere home

Jackie Holzheimer fondly remembers spending afternoons at her family’s business at 10901 Carnegie Ave. as a fourteen-year-old, playing hide-and-go-seek, conducting treasure hunts and exploring the goods and fabrics of Holzheimer Interiors.
 
“I would go there on Saturdays and play designer,” she recalls. “It felt like a second home to me.”
 
Holzheimer Interiors was founded in 1902 by John Holzheimer as a store that specialized in interior and exterior residential painting. When his son, Frank, took over he added wall coverings to the company’s specialties. Frank’s sons in turn added furniture and custom cabinetry, upholstery and window treatments.
 
Holzheimer's aunt was a bookkeeper for the store. Her mother, Kathryn was a designer for the company and, although retired, still participates in operations and maintains her client connections.
 
As the fifth generation of Holzheimers to run the store, Jackie has transformed Holzheimer Interiors into a full-service design firm featuring the same quality and standards that established the company 114 years ago.
 
Long gone from its Carnegie Avenue home for 60-plus years, Holzheimer Interiors has always called Northeast Ohio home. In January Holzheimer opened the shop at 12733 Larchmere Blvd. in Shaker Heights in a 1920 store front that was once operated by the sisters of Shaker’s first mayor, William Van Aken.
 
"This, to me, is a nod to our history,” Holzheimer says of the new storefront, which, like the original Holzheimer store, has big windows that display changing vignettes of living areas.
 
Holzheimer moved into the 2,500-square-foot space the first of this year, taking some time to remodel it before she opened the doors to the public, who are invited by appointment only. A coat of paint and new lighting freshened the shop's look. Holzheimer is also having a replica of the store’s original sign at the Carnegie location made for the new Larchmere shop.
 
While updating the space, Holzheimer also discovered a pleasant surprise: the original maple hardwood floors. “When I pulled it up, I said ‘oh my god, we have to refinish this,’” she recalls.
 
Holzheimer installed four islands with white countertops as work areas. “There were certain things I knew I wanted to do with the floor plan, where things would be located,” she says. The large front windows and 10-foot ceilings provide plenty of natural light, while the off-white walls create a neutral palette for customers to evaluate different patterns and colors.
 
The open space allows Holzheimer and her designers to present different floor plans based on their clients’ room layouts – always presenting three distinctive options to each client. “There are thousands and thousands of options out there, so our philosophy is: have it be unique,” she explains. To that end, the store represents 3,000 manufacturers.
 
Holzheimer says she can work with any budget. “Our pricing is very competitive, or often cheaper, than the big box stores,” she boasts. “Everybody deserves good design,” she says. “You can have quality furniture that will last you for 25 years.” She travels all over to work with her clients, the vast majority of whom are referred by other clients. The firm does not advertise.
 
The lower level is reserved for an inventory of lamps, artwork and accessories to complete a room. “It gives an option,” explains Holzheimer. “That finishing touch of a room that bring it all together.”
 
While Holzheimer was previously based in Novelty, she says she chose Shaker Heights because of its history and retail neighbors that complement her business.
 
“Larchmere is a very fitting environment,” she says, adding that other area stores sell antiques, collectibles and Oriental rugs. “We’re a natural fit with our neighbors and all of us help one another.”

History and location notwithstanding, maintaining the Holzheimer Interiors reputation is the biggest priority for her. “To me, the history of the company is very important, the quality of the products and quality of service is very important,” she says.  

“Being fifth generation, I don’t know many people who have that legacy. I want to keep the name strong and keep that name alive.”
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