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Village Market embraces Slavic Village

After only its second week, the Village Market in Slavic Village, hosted by Slavic Village Development (SVD) is already popular as a source for freshly-grown local produce, hand-made goods and a place to mingle with neighbors.

The market, which opened on June 13, is held each Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. through August 29 in Sonny Day Development’s outdoor space at 5106 Fleet Ave. It is the new and improved version of the former Broadway Famers’ Market, which closed in 2014 after struggling to attract vendors and shoppers.
 
In 2015, market manager Tiffany Andreoli began developing the concept with a focus on three things: making fresh produce easily available to residents, educating people on the importance of healthy eating and giving local businesses a place to sell their wares and grow their businesses.
 
“When they [SVD] approached me, I loved the idea because my husband and I live in this neighborhood,” Andreoli says. “I wanted to have vendors from the neighborhood and wanted to get attendance higher [than the Broadway Market].”
 
So far, she has succeeded. More than 150 people came out on opening day. And while attendance dropped a bit this past Monday, Andreoli attributes the Cavs’ NBA Finals victory the night before to a light turnout. “We still did some really good sales,” she says. “A few of our vendors sold out.”
 
A total of 18 vendors have signed up for the Village Market, although Andreoli says she expects an average of 14 vendors each week. “Half of the vendors are from the neighborhood,” she boasts. “We feel it’s very successful.”
 
The market participates in the EBT and Cleveland – Cuyahoga County Food Coalition Food Perks programs. Andreoli says she hopes the programs will encourage residents to come to the Village Market.
 
“This is a low-income neighborhood and it’s important to make it welcoming,” she says. “Many residents didn’t feel as welcome at higher-income neighborhood markets.”
 
In addition to locally-grown produce, the Village Market is also deeming itself a “makers market,” featuring local craftspeople. “The Slavic Village neighborhood has historically been a maker community of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers,” Andreoli explains. “Fleet Avenue is all mom and pop businesses.”
 
Vendors include Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend of Saucisson, which is in the midst of moving their butcher shop to the neighborhood, clothing designer Tourmaline Designs and Blue Lake Botanicals. Christy’s Custom Cakes owner Christy Barley sells her confections while her sons sell snow cones.
 
Produce vendors include the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland Farm, Community Greenhouse Partners and the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps.
 
The market has a variety of events planned throughout the summer. Next week’s market will have a cooking demonstration and MetroHealth will have a booth for health screenings and information. Monday, July 11, will be ArcelorMittal Day, which will feature live music and other entertainment.
 
MetroHealth and ArcelorMittal, along with Citizens Bank, helped fund the Village Market.
 
After the market closes for the season in August, Andreoli says the market plans to host small business training classes through the winter months.
 
The Village Market is still accepting vendor applications for select dates.

"Power in Politics" to open at History Center ahead of the RNC

With the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next month, the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society is launching its Power and Politics on July 14, just in time for Clevelanders to understand the region’s role in politics over the years.

The exhibit will feature everything from historic campaign buttons to the fashions worn to inaugural balls over the years – all with an eye on capitalizing on the RNC’s presence in Cleveland.
 
“We knew the convention was going to mean a significant increase in visibility for the city,” says Angie Lowrie, Cleveland History Center director. "Rather than going through the challenging process of getting downtown, we thought we’d make a nationally significant collection available to everyone.”
 
The exhibit will display a selection of political campaign buttons that date all the way back to the first presidential campaign to present day. “It is the largest collection of political campaign buttons in the nation,” says Lowrie.
 
Also included in the collection is a 1936 republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, who lost his campaign to incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
The exhibit will also focus on local themes such as statesman John Hay’s time as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Ohio senator Marcus Hanna’s role as William McKinley’s political manager and classmate of John D. Rockefeller.
 
“We’re looking at it nationally and on a local scale,” says Lowrie of the exhibit. “Our collection goes back to the beginning of the first election.”
 
The Chisholm Halle Costume Wing of the center will house the Political Fashion Statements exhibit, showcasing different fashions throughout history, from a dress made from the James A. Garfield parade bunting fabric to a World War II propaganda to one printed with defense stamps and yet another that abolitionist Elizabeth Blake of Medina wore to President Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861.
 
Six videos aim to support the oft-repeated mantra, “the road to the White House runs through Ohio,” by explaining the birth of the GOP, how the party figured so prominently in the abolitionist movement, women’s vote, and the birth of the modern campaign. “Learn how the Party of Lincoln led the nation out of the Civil War era to a time of prosperity,” says Lowrie of one of the videos.
 
The exhibit kicks off with the Historical Society’s History on Tap: Cocktails and Campaigns event on Thursday, July 14, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door, or $5 for Western Reserve Historical Society members and students.  
 
Power and Politics will run through January 2017. The center’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for children ages 3-12; children age 2 and under are admitted for free.

CPL to exhibit 17th Century Shakespeare works

The Cleveland Public Library (CPL) will focus on all things William Shakespeare this summer when it opens the Shakespeare’s First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare exhibit starting today.

The First Folio is a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays collected by actors John Heminge and Henry Condell in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Without the First Folio, the world would may never have known words such as Macbeth, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, which are included among the 18 plays that had previously not been published.
 
“This is a great opportunity to allow Cleveland to see a great cultural heritage treasure,” says CPL digital library strategist Chatham Ewing. “This is the only source of 18 of Shakespeare’s plays so it’s a fantastic opportunity for our region and our city to learn more about Shakespeare.”
 
It is believed that only 750 copies of the First Folio, originally called Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, were printed and only 233 exist today. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. owns 82 of the copies and is hosting the tour.
 
The First Folio is touring all 50 states this year in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The CPL is the only Ohio stop on the tour.
 
“About a year ago the library completed the [application] process to be on the tour,” says Ewing. “We were happy to be chosen.”
 
The approximately 20-inch First Folio will be open to Hamlet’s “To Be, or Not to Be” soliloquy in the tragedy Hamlet. The book will be enclosed in a special glass case for viewing.
 
“Folio” refers to the fact that, as paper making expanded to velum and parchment materials, the paper is only folded once, as opposed to a quarto or an octavo, in which the paper is folded over four or eight times.
 
First Folio will be exhibited through July 30 in the Treasure Room within the Special Collections on the third floor of the main library, 325 Superior Ave., during regular library hours. Because of the anticipated popularity, visitors are encouraged to make reservations for self-guided tours.
 
"The online reservations are free,” says Ewing, “because we’re going to have some large crowds this summer because of the convention.”

Additionally, every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m., librarians and professors will host guided tours through the Shakespeare exhibits. Digital copies of the First Folio are also available for download.
 
The library has a number of events designed around the First Folio exhibit, says Ewing. They include “Making and Faking Shakespeare,” An exhibit that explores the drama surrounding the early printed editions and Shakespeare forgeries from the last 400 years; “Digital Shakespeare,” in which patrons can learn about CPL’s Shakespeare collections and hear award-winning recitations from the English Speaking Union’s annual Shakespeare competition; and “Wonder of Shakespeare,” an exhibit that combines images, costumes, interactivity, stage, and screen to celebrate Shakespeare. 
 
"We have stuff happening,” says Ewing.

New Public Square recalls Cleveland's historic vision with fresh modern feel

As the refurbished statues of Moses Cleaveland and 1901 mayor Tom Johnson overlook Public Square, one would think that the pair would be impressed with the modern transformation of the plaza that originally served as a common pasture for livestock and later a grid for moving from point A to point B within downtown’s epicenter.
 
Almost complete, the fences that have been hiding Public Square since renovations began in March 2015 will soon come down and a new six-acre green space will be unveiled before the Republican National Convention begins July 18.
 
But the revitalization was not solely for the sake of the convention, says Nora Romanoff, senior project director for LAND studio and part of the Group Plan Commission charged with transforming the heart of Cleveland’s downtown.
 
“We didn’t just do it for the RNC,” says Romanoff. “We did it for Cleveland.”

Get the rest of the story and a host of photos here.

Downtown Hilton glitters with all things Cleveland

Last Friday, a group of visitors gathered in the lobby of the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown as they readied for the 2016 Transplant Games of America at the adjacent Convention Center. They blilnked in awe at the beauty of the 32-story hotel and also marveled over the professionalism of the staff of 350.

The positive reaction is exactly what the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials aimed to achieve when construction on the nearly 614,000-square-foot hotel, operated by Hilton Worldwide, began in 2014.
 
The 600-room Hilton was designed by the Atlanta architecture firm Cooper Carry to show off all of Cleveland’s assets while providing a world-class stay, says Carolyn Deming, director of public relations for the hotel.
 
“Nearly 500,000 visitors who have never been to Cleveland are expected in the first year,” she says. “We already have business groups on the books through 2020. There are really exciting things happening here and this is a chance to see what Cleveland has to offer.”
 
A mural composed of 2,800 selfies embodies that assertion. Located at the bottom of the escalators to the connecting Convention Center, the photos were submitted in the #MyClePhoto contest last year and were collected and assembled into a Cleveland skyline mural by North Carolina-based hospitality art curator Kalisher.

Get all the details on the new Hilton and see a host of gorgeous photos here.

Metroparks connects Flats East and West Banks with new water taxi

East Bank or West Bank?

Today’s Flats offer a variety of entertainment options on both sides of the Cuyahoga River, and now the Cleveland Metroparks has eliminated the need to make a decision on which side to dine, dance and play with last month's launch of the eLCee2 water taxi.

For $2, passengers get unlimited rides across the river on the 26-foot Crosby yacht. The taxi can take 18 passengers and four bikes at a time. It's also ADA accessible and dog-friendly.
 
“The water taxi is exciting for the Flats because it is another ingredient in the revitalization of the area,” says Metroparks director of communications Rick Haase. “For Cleveland Metroparks it is all about helping people connect to our trails and to our parks, while at the same time helping them connect from the East Bank to the West Bank of the Flats.”
 
The eLCee2 launched ahead of the Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 27 during a boating safety program hosted by the Metroparks, Flats East Bank and the U.S. Coast Guard. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman cut the ribbon along with Cleveland Metroparks board of park commissioners Bruce Rinker and Debbie Berry. Speakers included Zimmerman, Scott Wolstein with Flats East Bank and lieutenant commander Mickey Dougherty of the Coast Guard's Cleveland Marine Safety Unit.
 
After the ceremony, the eLCee2 made its maiden voyage across the river from the taxi station at 1170 Old River Road on the East Bank to the West Bank station under the Main Avenue Bridge and back. After that, eLCee2 had a spectacular debut, with 3,579 passengers taking the taxi over Memorial Day weekend alone.
 
Five Metroparks employees share the captaining of the eLCee2, which is named after a group that included Leadership Cleveland alumni, Metroparks representatives and members of a Kent State University entrepreneurship class. They began floating the idea of a Flats water taxi service in 2014.

eLCee2 runs Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.; Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The taxi will operate from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day each season.

Tiger Passage aims to inspire, connect people with animals

Last week, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened the highly anticipated Rosebrough Tiger Passage.

First announced last September, the $4.1 million installation occupies a staggering 48,000 square feet, which includes the space designated for the cats as well as their adoring fans. The new habitat includes climbing poles, meadows, shallow streams, soaking pools and outdoor overnight access. Visitors can enjoy highly interactive viewing as the animals have access to overhead catwalks. Large viewing windows and paths that traverse the environment round out the experience, which encourages visitors to explore and seek out the Zoo's two resident Amur tigers, Klechka, a 12-year old male, and Dasha, a 15-year-old female.
 
Per Andi Kornak, the Zoo's director of animal and veterinary programs, the two cats wintered at the Zoo's Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine while Panzica Construction Company of Mayfield Village completed the build-out of the new habitat. The Cleveland based firm Van Auken Akin Architects and WDM Architects out of Wichita, Kansas; which specializes in creating sustainable, authentic environments that immerse and inspire zoo visitors; designed the sprawling space.
 
The two cats were understandably shy during the grand opening, said Kornak.
 
"It will take them a few weeks to acclimate to their new exhibit," she noted during the event. "It's five times the size of the old one so there's lot of space to explore and become comfortable with."
 
The Zoo's executive director Christopher Kuhar said the space is designed to allow the animals to prowl, climb and saunter around in a way that they've never had the opportunity to do before.
 
"While it seems that we're focusing exclusively on the animals," said Kuhar, "the reality is that the best possible guest experience is to see animals performing their natural behavioral repertoire, to see them moving around and exercising and doing all those really cool things that cats do."
 
Kuhar added that the new exhibit also focuses on education as there are only 500 Amur tigers left in the wild.
 
"We want to connect people with wildlife, to inspire personal responsibility to take conservation action," he said. "What we hope is that people are going to see these great cats and be inspired to do something in their own way to help animals in the wild."
 

Goldhorn Brewery's offerings set to be on draft later this month

Later this month, East 55th Street will return to its roots with the opening of Goldhorn Brewery, 1365 E. 55th St.

While Ohio City usually comes to mind when thinking about local craft breweries, Goldhorn owner Rick Semersky says the St. Clair Superior neighborhood actually was Cleveland’s brewing hub at the turn of the twentieth century..

“East 55th used to be home to a lot of breweries and had one of the first neighborhood beer gardens in the city,” says Semersky, who also owns Sterle’s Country House next door and is developing the 42,000-square-foot Hub 55 complex. "Fifty-fifth Street has a long tradition of brewing business in the city of Cleveland.”
 
The Goldhorn Brewery lends its name from the Slovenian mythical goldhorn goat. Brewer Joel Warger, formerly the pub brewer for Great Lakes Brewing Company, has been busy since April at the 15,000-square-foot brewery, brewing Goldhorn’s signature beers including pilsner, stout, English pale ale and bock. The beers are brewed in nine fermentation tanks and nine brite tanks in the 10-barrel brew house on premises.
 
The beers will be tapped later this month. “The plan is to always have at least nine beers at all times,” says Semersky. Goldhorn Brewery will share a kitchen with Café 55, which serves breakfast and lunch. Semersky plans to serve “sharable plates. We’ll be sandwich heavy – more casual food.”
 
The Goldhorn tap room will seat between 125 and 150 people. Epoxy floors shine in the natural light, as do the bar and fixtures. “The bar and walls are made of reclaimed barn wood and the bar top is copper,” he adds.
 
The idea for Hub 55 first came about when Semersky’s construction company, VIP Restoration, outgrew the former Leiden Cabinet Company building. VIP is now located in two buildings down E. 55th.
 
With the building right next door to Sterles, Semersky decided to create a center for food, drink and business to the neighborhood.
 
“The Hub will bring jobs, education and access to fresh healthy food for not just our community but the city as well,” Semersky says. “A Hub, by definition, is a ‘center around which other things revolve or from which they radiate.’ Our goal is to bring a focus and attention to the St. Clair neighborhood, bringing new business to the neighborhood and at the same time promote the rich tradition and history of the people and business that are already here.”   
 
In addition to Goldhorn Brewery and Café 55, Hub 55 will also soon host a farmers market of some kind. The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation (SCSDC) is in the final stages of a feasibility study for the remaining space in Hub 55, according to Semersky.
 
“Our goal is to have final plans soon so we can move forward,” he says. “In the meantime, SCSDC plans to hold pop-up farmers markets on the weekends here at the Hub until the permanent market is completed.” 

Perplexity Games uncovers secrets from Cleveland's past

While the former Jay Hotel building at 2515 Jay Ave. in Ohio City may have a somewhat shady past, the new tenants in the lower level of the building are helping their guests relive other sketchy aspects of Cleveland history.
 
The 92-year-old building has served as the Ohio City Post Office and the Jay Hotel. It's also housed a bowling alley and a biker bar. Developer Tom Gillespe recently renovated the three-story building in a multi-million dollar project. Today, the Jay is home to Whiskey Grade apparel shop and motorcycle retailer Ohio City Moto on the first floor, while the second and third floors feature apartments.
 
On the lower level, however, Diana and Bill Molchan are fighting crime and solving mysteries. Their escape games business, Perplexity Games, offers role-playing immersive challenge games in which players attempt to rid a 1938 Cleveland of corruption during the reign of safety director Eliot Ness.
 
“It’s kind of like the game Clue, but with real rooms and real props,” says Diana Molchan. “I read about Ness and it was one of the most corrupt cities in the country at the time. He came into Cleveland and took on the Mob.”
 
Players act as sleuths hired by Eliot Ness to investigate a corrupt city commissioner with ties to illegal gambling. They have one hour to find evidence, prove corruption and avoid the Mob.
 
“For our first game we kicked around a vintage detective theme, but wanted to do a story line that was unique to Cleveland,” Molchan says, noting that the increasingly-popular escape games usually focus on bank heists and jail breaks. “The 30s was a very colorful period in Cleveland history.”

Molchan says they wanted to choose a realistic theme for their game. “When Eliot Ness was hired as public safety director there was a lot of organized crime, with Irish and Italian mobs running illegal gambling and liquor operations and paying off cops and judges,” she explains. “Ness investigated his own officers before there was any such thing as internal affairs and really cleaned up the city. So, that's the ‘true life’ background to our game.”

Players are given some context and instructions to begin, but then they are on their own. “They’re not given a lot of information starting out,” explains Molchan. “You’re looking for pieces of evidence, to find clues and piece it together.”
 
One area in the 3,000-square-foot space has been transformed into 1938 style. Molchan, who sold antiques for 10 years, did the decorating. “We wanted to do this in Humphrey Bogart-era style,” she explains.
 
The couple plans to add other escape games in the additional two rooms in the lower level, with one scheduled to open later this month and the other in July or August.
 
One of the themes Molchan is playing with centers around steampunk with a sci-fi twist on the Victorian era. “There will be mechanical, physical puzzles,” Molchan hints. “It’s going to be really amazing and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
 
The layout is such that the Molchans can customize each space for the game’s theme while using the structure's original features. “We have an original brick room with a huge, fabulous fire door that we are going to use for the second game,” she says. “We want to do something steampunk because it fits the space so well.”
 
In the Eliot Ness game, Molchan installed an antique office door between two rooms that players have to unlock with a skeleton key.
 
Each game will run for about a year and different games can run simultaneously in the space.
 
While Perplexity Games is geared toward adults, Molchan says families with children who are at least 10 years old are welcome to play. She says many players hit the bars and restaurants around Ohio City before and after the game.
 
“It’s the perfect location,” she says. “I like being within walking distance to Great Lakes Brewery, Nano Brew, TownHall. It’s the perfect gig to do dinner.”
 
The current Eliot Ness Investigation game runs Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person.
 
Perplexity Games is also available for private parties and corporate team building events.

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.
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