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Bottlehouse, Rising Star team up to offer day-and-night libations

It’s been nearly a year since Bottlehouse Brewery and Meadery's Brian Benchek opened his Lakewood location in the old Sullivan’s Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. as the hub for the company's sour beer production.
 
Now Benchek is partnering with Rising Star Coffee Roasters to open a pop-up pour over and aeropress bar, as well as sell beans, merchandise and pastries from Fire Food and Drink, in Bottlehouse during the daytime hours, beginning on Monday, Dec. 19. As it is, the bar sits empty during the day until Bottlehouse opens at 4 p.m.

The partnership came about after Benchek bought the 5,000-square-foot space he is currently renting, along with a 2,000-square-foot storefront next door.
 
“Bottlehouse has been in this location for a little while and [Benchek] had the opportunity to purchase the property,” explains Rising Star general manager Robert Stockham. “It’s a typical Lakewood storefront and it was really crying out for a business. They were looking for a business that would be complementary to them.”
 
After Stockham and Benchek got together, they found that Bottlehouse and Rising Star were a perfect match. In fact, Bottlehouse brews its flagship coffee stout using Rising Star coffee beans.
 
Rising Star will take over the new space in March or April 2017. In the meantime, the company will operate out of Bottlehouse.
 
“We came out to talk to them and we realized we really have the same philosophy toward business,” says Stockham. “They specialize in hand-crafted brews and meads, we specialize in hand-crafted coffees. We realized this was a good pairing and renting the space next door made sense.”
 
The pop-up store will help Rising Start get a head start on establishing themselves in the neighborhood. “We can start building a presence now,” Stockham says, adding that the company has a number of wholesalers on the west side of Lakewood but no retail locations in the city.
 
Rising Star currently has three retail locations – in Hingetown, the Arcade and Little Italy – in addition to its roastery at 3617 Walton Ave.
 
“We will come in during the day and get people excited about the space,” says Stockham of the pop up shop. “Then they can come back at night to get beer and mead.”
 
Rising Star’s opening in its permanent Lakewood location will depend on how long it takes for Benchek to close on the two properties and how much work has to be done on the adjacent storefront. “The space is in good shape so it won’t take a lot of work,” assures Stockham.
 
In addition to the Lakewood location, Stockham says they hope to open a retail outlet in their roastery next year to cater to Cleveland’s tourism industry.
 
Bottlehouse’s Lakewood location hours are 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays; and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays. The original Bottlehouse is located on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. The Rising Star pop up will be open from 6 a.m. to either 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, opening at 8 a.m. on Sundays.

Mural to bloom at Public Square bakery

Beginning next week, the employees at Bloom Bakery at the 200 Public Square location will tap into their creative juices to paint a 10-foot by 10-foot mural on the walls of the café.

Aiming to connect the arts with business, the project is a joint endeavor between Towards Employment, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment, the founder of Bloom and Negative Space Gallery executive director Gadi Zamir.
 
“We always wanted to do something with the space and tie in art,” explains Bloom general manager Logan Fahey. “This fits with our mission and uses art to represent what the business stands for. Through this mural, employees will be able to gain exposure to the artistic community and help create an artistic expression that is ingrained in Bloom.”
 
Five Bloom employees, all of whom recently came out of incarceration and are graduates of Towards Employment, volunteered to be involved in the project. Bloom employs 18 at its two locations, 16 of which are Towards Employment graduates.
 
“Everything we do is about providing opportunities to our graduates and employees,” says Fahey. “We want this mural to be emblematic of our commitment to providing training and employment opportunities to those with barriers.”
 
The mural is inspired by the painting “Purple Haze” by local artist James March, who specializes in abstract works.
 
Zamir, who is also an artist, will sketch the mural on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 and 9. The employees will begin painting it on Monday, Dec. 12. Zamir will help the employees through the process, then touch up the mural when it is complete.
 
Fahey says Towards Employment began talking with Zamir a few months ago about how to motivate the organization’s graduates through the arts. “He really has a passion for helping people with barriers to employment,” Fahey says. “He is an artist who was willing to open up to our graduates and let them into his studio.”
 
More than 6,000 people in Cuyahoga County are released from state prison each year, according to Towards Employment. The organization helps more than 500 of them with finding jobs. The organization helps a total of 2,000 people yearly in Cuyahoga County with its various programs.
 
Bloom Bakery plans two additional murals next year. Fahey says a second mural will be painted in the upstairs area of the Public Square location during the first quarter of 2017, while a mural at the Cleveland State University location – in collaboration with CSU students – is planned for next spring.
 
Bloom opened its bakeries earlier this year as a social enterprise venture.

Construction underway at new Ohio City music and early childhood education facility

Without fanfare, construction quietly began on the newest Music Settlement location in Ohio City in October, marking a huge step for the 104-year-old music education, music therapy and early childhood education institution.
 
“We’ve already started the initial groundbreaking,” says Patricia Camacho Hughes, the Music Settlement’s interim president. We’re moving forward and on schedule to open in August or September 2018.”
 
Settlement officials announced late last year that they had committed to 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the Snavely Group’s mixed use project on the corner of W. 25th Street and Detroit Avenue.
 
“It’s been really exciting to be doing it from scratch after 104 years of music,” says Lynn Johnson, the Settlement’s director of marketing and communications. “We’ve learned a lot.”
 
The Music Settlement was founded in 1912 and the institution has spent most of its time in an historic mansion in University Circle.
 
Hughes says they looked at multiple options for a second location and adds they are pleased to be constructing a building from the ground up.
 
“Starting from scratch, knowing what the square footage is and working with early childhood [education] requirements, we were able to work with the architects [VOCON],” she says, adding that factors like adequate soundproofing and layout were important.
 
The new location will house approximately 125 early childhood students and about 75 music and music therapy students. The settlement will employ a staff of about 50 at the W.25th campus.
 
The campus will include two music therapy suites with observation rooms and six ensemble rooms and a computer lab. The early childhood center will have six classrooms, a multipurpose room, dance studio, science lab, library, a secure playground, and a large-muscle room so children can move indoors during inclement weather.
 
The playground on site will help the Settlement fit right in with the neighborhood’s usual activity. “You’ll always hear the laughter of kids,” Hughes says. “But we’re used to hearing all those noises. People will understand what to anticipate – street noise, sirens, the sounds of music and kids laughing.”
 
Hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the classrooms used as practice areas once classes are over, in addition to the separate practice and music studios and therapy rooms. Instruction will run six days a week.
 
With the Music Settlement’s Bop Stop just steps away on Detroit, Johnson says the Ohio City community has already embraced the Settlement's growing presence in the neighborhood. “Ohio City and Hingetown have been so warm and welcoming,” she says. “They understand the value of keeping music and enrichment here.”
 
Hughes adds that the established artistic community in the neighborhood contributes to the excitement. “I love being on this corridor off of Detroit and the building is really a connector,” she says. “We’re actively working with other artists and nonprofits because we’re not in competition with each other.”
 
The Ohio City location is also a welcome addition for west side residents, who right now must make a rather long commute to University Circle. Hughes points out that some students come from as far away as Bay Village.  
 
“There’s a distinction between the west and east sides for those who use our services,” says Hughes. “Part of why we’re feeling so welcome is they’re aware of us, but they don’t have to travel across the river.”
 
Total enrollment at the Music Settlement is between 800 and 900, says Johnson, in addition to people who are served through the organization’s outreach programs at area high schools and community centers.
 
With the west side location, Hughes says she hopes community services will expand – especially with Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority’s  (CMHA) Lakeview Community Center just two blocks away.
 
“It’s also our mission to engage those residents to take part in our activities,” says Hughes. “We have fundraisers to expand endowment money to serve the underserved.”
 
The Music Settlement announced in early November that Geralyn Presti has been named the new president and CEO, coming from Forest City Realty Trust, where she served as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary. Presti has an extensive history with the Music Settlement, and her real estate law experience will prove helpful in the development of the new campus when she takes over in early 2017.

Construction of Harness Cycle's new downtown location underway in historic Garfield Building

When Anne Hartnett opened Harness Cycle in 2013, her motivation was fueled by her love for spinning and interest in fitness. The cycling studio immediately took off in the Hingetown location, becoming Ohio City’s most popular place for an indoor cycling workout.
 
Now, Hartnett is in the midst of opening her second Harness Cycling studio – downtown in the historic Garfield Building on E. 6th Street and Euclid Avenue, 1965 E. 6th St. In addition to the studio, the new facility will also house a retail shop offering clothing and fitness gear from local makers.
 
“We’re really excited to go into the downtown market and build brand awareness among people who live and work [there],” Harnett says.
 
Hartnett asserts the Harness workout is perfect for people looking to get some exercise on their lunch hours. The 45-minute session incorporates hand weights into a spinning workout, which occurs in a darkened room with music and without computer metrics.
 
“We call it active meditation,” Hartnett explains. “It’s based on heart rate and beat. You’re really getting a full cardio workout. Lunch hour is a great time to unplug, ride for 45 minutes and get an awesome workout – a little reboot.”
 
While looking for a downtown location Hartnett originally eyed at a space in the basement of the Garfield Building before viewing the 5,000-square-foot space on the first floor. “It’s more than double the size of our Hingetown space,” she says, adding that she will have 35 bicycles at first but the space has the capacity for as many as 55.
 
Hartnett fell in love with the historic building and its marble pillars and large windows. While the Hingetown location has a more rustic feel, the new space will be designed more for the downtown clientele. To that end, she's working with John Williams of Process Creative to create a modern studio that embraces the building’s historic architecture.
 
“He has a great way of merging young and old in his architecture,” says Hartnett of Williams, who designed the downtown Heinen’s rotunda. “We’re keeping the integrity of the space and creating a modern studio.”
 
The new, larger location also allows Hartnett to offer men’s and women’s locker rooms with a total of five showers to accommodate clients coming in on their lunch hours. She also plans to use the lobby for collaborations with food entrepreneurs, many of which will stem from the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen.
 
“We want to streamline and create a more full-service experience,” Hartnett says. “Come in on your lunch hour and then grab-and-go lunch.”
 
While Hartnett signed the lease a year ago, construction just began with demolition of walls to make way for restrooms and to create the studio space. While she does not yet have an exact opening date, Hartnett anticipates they will open sometime in March. She plans to employ 15 additional people at the new location.
 
In the meantime, Harness Cycle has been holding CycleLab Tours – pop-up cycling classes at unique venues downtown. Hartnett has already hosted CycleLabs at the Rock Hall and House of Blues. Today, Wednesday, Nov. 30, Harness Cycle will bring out more than 40 bikes at the Cavs’ practice courts inside Quicken Loans Arena from 5 to 7 p.m. Pop-up workouts at CycleLabs last about 45 minutes.
 
While today’s event is sold out with a waiting list, the next one is planned for Friday, Dec. 16 at Whiskey Grade’s Moto showroom in Ohio City, followed by a whiskey tasting by Tom’s Foolery. Future tours are planned in the new year.
 
Hartnett says the CycleLab Tours are at once an introduction for prospective customers to Harness Cycle and a way to do some market research on the downtown clientele. The tours don’t make any money, she says, and each event requires loading, hauling and unloading more than 35 bicycles.
 
“It’s a lot of work, but way worth it,” she notes. “Even if we don’t make money off the event, we spend more for people to learn who we are.”
 
While Hartnett’s original vision with Harness Cycle was to convert the energy used in pedaling into electricity, that dream has been put on hold until the technology is perfected and she has enough studios to make an effective impact on Cleveland’s power grid.
 
“It wouldn’t be cost effective now,” Hartnett explains, “but the goal still is to harness the energy of individuals to keep the sense of community.”

GLO opens in Artcraft building as a creative space for everyone

With its stunning views of downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie, GLO Cleveland is creating a reputation for being a collaborative studio and event space for those who want to express themselves in a supportive environment.
 
GLO manager Shelly Gracon, owner of Butterfly Consulting Group, and artist and entrepreneur Mike Bruckman had the vision of creating a space that both serves the community and uses a collaborative approach to building business. GLO is open to artists in all media, from film and production to painting and music.
 
“We came together with the mission of creating a collaborative space for all types,” says Gracon. “The name GLO signifies that bright and positive energy in the community. We want to bridge that gap with a creative space where [people] come to see each other, connect and build relationships.”
 
GLO’s 4,000-square-foot space on the fifth floor of the historic Artcraft Building, 2530 Superior Ave., has been open since late September, but officially kicks off its programming with an open house on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3rd and 4th during the building’s annual ArtCraft Holiday Sale.

During the open house, one of GLO’s artist collective members, AyyeDeesMM – a multimedia hip hop collective – will perform. “They focus on the foundational pillars of the Hip-hop culture, which include hip hop music, spoken word, graffiti art and graphic design, hip hop dance, and DJing,” Gracon explains. “Through their performance, education and brand they promote the values of peace, unity, love, and having fun.”

GLO has already hosted an after-hours party after a Night Market Cleveland last summer, a D.J. for an event and the filming of two music videos in the space. Gracon says she wants to keep the momentum going with yoga classes and wellness programming and artist uses in other mediums.
 
“We’re trying to get some photographers in here because the natural light is so incredible,” Gracon says. “We really want to open it to everyone and not be an exclusive space. We want to work together.”
 
GLO will also rent the space out for private events, says Gracon, which will help fund artists’ projects and programming. “The private event money allows us to offer space to artists,” she explains, adding that GLO is attractive for private events “because we have the view that we have. We want to use it all day, all evening, every day of the week.”
 
Memberships in the artist collective start at $100 per month and offer access to studio space, networking events and workshops and discounts on GLO rentals for private shows and parties. And additional fee gives members access to GLO’s wellness collective, which includes yoga, meditation and other fitness classes.
 
This weekend's open house is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Anyone interested in touring the space can also contact Gracon for an appointment.

Family shelter opens as first of four Salvation Army capital projects

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland officially opened its Zelma George Emergency Family Shelter, 1710 Prospect Ave. adjacent to its Harbor Light Complex, on Thursday, Nov. 17. The organization broke ground on the new facility in November 2015.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility replaces the previous shelter housed on two floors in Harbor Light, allowing the Salvation Army to provide better services to homeless families and victims of human trafficking.
 
When it opened earlier this month, Zelma George was already at capacity – housing 116 people, says Harbor Light executive director Beau Hill. The new facility has 35 family units, some of which are handicapped-accessible, and a three-bedroom apartment suite for up to six victims of human trafficking.
 
Hill says the opening went well. “There are still some quirks we need to work out, as with any new building," he says. “It has truly been an answer to the program.”
 
In addition to the living units, there is a flexible multipurpose room, a five-computer area, a common area for residents and staff and a cafeteria.
 
A walkway connects Zelma George and Harbor Light, with a newly-constructed playground in a courtyard. “It’s your typical school playground, with nothing too tall,” says Hill, adding that there’s a slide and a funnel ball structure targeted at elementary school ages.
 
In addition to family-specific programming offered at Zelma George, all of the residents will have access to the programming and services available at Harbor Light. Families can stay at Zelma George for up to 90 while they get back on their feet and find permanent housing.
 
The opening of the shelter marks the first of four construction, expansion and renovation projects being done as part of the Salvation Amy’s $35 million Strength for today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow capital campaign, which launched after a 2012 study showed the need for enhanced services for the more than 143,000 Cuyahoga County residents it serves each year.
 
The three other associated projects include the Cleveland Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood, which is starting up its operation, says Hill, while the East Cleveland facility should open in January or February. The West Park Community Center expansion will be finished in March or April.
 
Thus far, the organization has raised $32.3 million toward its goal. “We have a little under $3 million to go,” says Hill, who notes the campaign is now in its third year but was only made public a year ago. “We were hoping to be done, but we’re going to keep pushing.”

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  
 
But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand.
 
The season kicks off today with May Dugan's annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.
 
“It’s out biggest distribution of the year,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. GIE Media sponsors the distribution, while Platform Beer Co. stores the birds until distribution day.
 
Then on Thursday, Dec. 1, the holiday season really gears up as May Dugan adorns the 35-foot-high tree on the corner of Randall Road and Bridge Avenue – one of the tallest trees in Ohio City – with thousands of lights.
 
More than 400 people are expected to gather around the tree for the seventh annual lighting ceremony and May Dugan open house from 5 to 7 p.m. The joy of the season will be spread by the Urban Community School Choir and Mae Dugan’s Rhythm and Roots Senior Choir, formed out of a partnership with the Music Settlement’s music therapy program..
 
“The seniors here really enjoy performing,” says Trares of the choir. “The songs are important but their attention to the details is also important. They really like to go all-out and they take great pride in it.” For instance, last year the group dressed in all black and wore Santa hats.
 
There will also be kids’ crafts, a raffle and refreshments. “It’s a nice event that culminates in front of the building with the lighting of the tree,” says Trares. “It has become a tradition now.”
 
After the tree lighting Jukebox, 1404 W. 29th St., will host an after-party from 7 to 9 p.m. A portion of the total bar tab will go back to May Dugan. “Grab a little bit of food, a couple of drinks and support May Dugan,” encourages Trares. Both the tree lighting ceremony and after-after party are free and open to the public.
 
May Dugan's annual Adopt-A-Family program helps make the holidays a little brighter for select clients who have made progress in the center’s various programs. Thanks to sponsors who adopt a family and receive demographic information and a list of gift ideas, each selected family gets a few gifts to put under the tree.
 
“It gives a motivating factor to keep going,” says Trares of the program, adding that the requests are usually for practical items. Last year 160 people were served, thanks to 11 different sponsor groups. Trares says May Dugan now adds children’s books with all gifts donated. Interested sponsors can contact Trares to sign up.
 
“Holidays when folks are in need can be really tough,” says Trares, “Parents work around the clock and hear all the talk about Christmas gifts, and the kids see the commercials. I’m glad we’re able to fill that gap at this time of year and make it a little more special.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Euclid 116 apartments to cater to University Circle students

As the former vice president of commercial development at Case Western Reserve University, Russell Berusch has spent recent years developing the burgeoning Uptown district into a lifestyle center that caters to both students and residents.
 
Now, as president of Berusch Development Partners, Berusch is building an apartment building that uniquely caters to students at CWRU and the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA).
 
Euclid 116, 11611 Euclid Ave., will offer “smart suites for serious students,” says Berusch, who will lease the one-, two- and four- bedroom units to tenants by the bedroom, as opposed to leasing by the unit.
 
“The scale is small enough that it feels like a manageable community of residents, but on the other hand, it’s a large enough space to be a defendable place,” says Berusch.
 
Berusch bought the property from the owner of Mi Pueblo Mexican restaurant a number of years ago, and broke ground this past July on the new 39,000-square-foot, five floor building. Euclid 116 is scheduled to be completed by August 2017.
 
New Jersey-based Feinberg and Associates served as the architect on the project, while American Preservation Builders in Valley View is the general contractor.
 
Each of the 31 apartments with a total of 89 bedrooms will be completely furnished, and each bedroom will have its own lock. Roommates can lease a unit together, or Berusch will provide a roommate matching program. There are 14 four-bedroom units, 13 two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units.
 
The distinctive aspect of this complex, says Berusch, is that all utilities – gas, electric, water, high-speed internet and cable – are included in the rent and the associated Foliot furnishings are top-of-the-line. Every apartment will feature granite countertops and plank flooring as well as an inclusive array of energy efficient appliances.
 
“What’s unique about this particular project is it is at the East end of Uptown in University Circle, which is increasingly becoming a place people want to live in and shop at,” he says. “The rents are all-inclusive, we’re wrapping it all in and the furniture is luxury quality that will last for many decades.”
 
Rents start at $1,299 a month for a 591-square-foot one-bedroom unit; $1,025 per bedroom a month for a 737-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite; and $1,055 per bedroom per month for a 798-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. Four-bedroom suites range between 1,168 and 2,338 square feet and rent for between $925 and $950 per bedroom per month.
 
Berusch points out that each bedroom comes with a full sized bed, desk, chair and nightstand.
 
While Euclid 116 targets students, Berusch says he will rent to anyone who is interested. “We welcome all comers, but we’ve kept the vibe of students housing,” he says. “These are grown-up, adult quality family apartments. They’re not college dorms.”
 
In addition to the apartments, Berusch has leased 750 square feet of retail space to a tenants who will open an Asian restaurant featuring fresh and healthy dishes.
 
While Euclid 116 won't be ready for tenants until the beginning of the 2017-18 academic school year, Berusch says he has already received a number of lease applications and heard from even more interested parties.
 
Euclid 116 is hosting a grand opening through this Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11607 Euclid Ave., at the corner of Euclid Avenue and E. 115th Street, where Berusch has set up a model suite and leasing office.
 
Berusch Development Partners is also developing the adjacent Euclid 115 as CIA student apartments.

Rock Hall comes of age, decks out for its 21st birthday

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame turned 20 years old last year, which prompted discussions of a new strategic plan to keep on rockin’ and give the museum an updated look and feel while keeping up with technology.
 
“We’re 21 years old and the inside joke is: ‘We’re of age. What are we going to be when we grow up?’” says Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We’re looking at this with a new set of eyes. It’s about looking at how we can really engage people and make it exciting for everyone.”
 
Achieving that goal means looking at every generation and rock music style. It’s about telling in-depth stories and connecting visitors to the artists and musicians showcased in the museum.
 
“We’re going deeper, telling stories and making it engaging,” says Mesek. “For the Baby Boomers, the Rolling Stones might be an entry point, but we want to take them to Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga – make that connection point. If you’re 17, there are a lot of connections to classic rock – who’s doing it today, who’s carrying on that torch.”

Many of the exhibits will be more interactive, Mesek says, like the new permanent exhibit on the first floor, Backstage Stories, which chronicles how live concerts are produced, or the Paul Simon exhibit that includes film footage of the musician in his everyday life.

“It’s not just the music, the artist, the genre,” says Mesek. “It’s how it crosses over in other parts of their lives.”

The planned Garage Zone, will be a true hands-on experience with an educational element, where visitors can make their own music. “It’s a space where they can touch instruments, pick up a guitar or mix a soundtrack and learn what happens in a mix down,” Mesek explains.

Another future planned project is the Signature Experience, which will combine enhanced inductee exhibits with a signature multimedia presentation production by Oscar-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

The experience will begin before visitors even step inside the Rock Hall, though. The giant Rock Boxes, installed before the Republican National Convention, are now permanent public art pieces lining East 9th Street - AKA Rock and Roll Boulevard - playing music and drawing visitors to the museum.

“It’s a long walk so we wanted the space to really come alive,” says Mesek of the trek down East 9th to North Coast Harbor.

Last Thursday, Nov. 17, the Rock Hall officially dedicated its giant welcome message – seven-foot-high red letters, spelling out LONG LIVE ROCK on the 65,000-square-foot entrance plaza. “People are climbing on them every single day,” says Mesek of the letters. “And they light up at night, adding energy to it.”

The atrium also has a new look, painted red, gold and black. “The red symbolizes the passion and energy of rock and roll; the black represents the edge and grit of rock and roll; while the gold, used sparingly, represents the inductions,” says Mesek.

The museum store has been redesigned to better meet the needs of visitors looking for more than just a souvenir t-shirt, as well as create a better layout with a relaxed atmosphere.

“There’s a place for people to sit down and charge their phones,” says Mesek of the new store, which is also keeping up with the times in a way. “There are fewer CDs, but more vinyl in matching consumer trends. We have lifestyle products that are co-branded with the inductees, like women’s scarves and cool unique t-shirts you’d wear out to a club.”

An “all-access” café, featuring cuisine from local celebrity chefs Michael Symon, Jonathan Sawyer, Rocco Whalen and Fabio Salerno, will offer unique, tasty dining, and no admission ticket is required. Mesek says people are encouraged to dine at the café for a casual lunch or as part of the whole Rock Hall experience.

“They’re so excited,” Mesek says of the chefs involved. “Rocco was joking about changing his name to RockHall. We wanted something that is fresh and forward-thinking.”

By next summer, a permanent stage with new sound and lighting systems will grace the entrance plaza for live entertainment. The popular beer garden and food trucks and plenty of greenspace will also add to the outdoor venue. “Sit down, have a beer, grab something to eat,” Merek says by as a welcome to future visitors. “It just adds to the experience.”

Other improvements include an updated ticketing system, which will speed up on-site and online advance ticket purchases and motorcycle parking.

Stalwart local advocate champions Cleveland Refugee Bike Project

More than 1,000 refugees are resettled in the Cleveland area each year, and many of them struggle with transportation as they adjust to their new homes and secure jobs. Many people in the refugee population don’t have cars, and public transportation routes often don’t travel to all the places they need to go.
 
After hearing stories about the demand for bicycles among the refugee population, Tim Kovach started to see a possible solution. “They’re looking to get their hands on bikes,” says the avid cyclist who bikes to his job as an air quality planner at Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency nine months out of the year.

The refugee situation moved the Ohio City resident to initiate a campaign to get more bikes to that vulnerable population with an ioby crowdfunding campaign: the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project.
 
The Bike Project aims to raise $7,863 to provide refugees with 50 to 100 bikes and training to give them better access to work, education and social opportunities. The Cleveland Climate Action Fund will match dollars raised, up to $5,000.
 
The idea first came about after Kovach’s wife, who works at Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, began telling him stories of Cleveland refugees needing bikes to get around.
 
Kovach heard of one Congolese boy who was excited to bike to his new school and was told “don’t bother, we don’t even have a bike rack.” Another man in his 50s had trouble walking but could ride a bicycle. The man just couldn’t find an affordable one.
 
“It really clicked on me,” Kovach recalls of hearing these stories. “The number of refugees settled in Cleveland has basically doubled in the last few years. I started to think about a way I could help.”
 
While organizations like Cleveland Catholic Charities help refugees settling in Cleveland by providing assistance, including RTA passes, it’s still often tough for them to get to jobs that can be in remote locations, Kovach explains.
 
“It can be very difficult, especially with the jobs they are trying to get,” Kovach says. “The jobs are in places that are not well connected to [bus lines], and there’s a language barrier and a skills [gap].”
 
Last January, Kovach began talking to Bike Cleveland and Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) about ways he could secure bikes and provide culturally appropriate training for Cleveland’s refugee community.
 
The conversations were put on the back burner, but then in August, Matt Gray, the director of the Cleveland Mayor’s  Office of Sustainability, told Kovach about the Cleveland Climate Action Fund’s newest round of grants.
 
“I wrote up a proposal and sent it to them,” Kovach recalls, adding that he requested the full $5,000. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from the bike community as well.”
 
To date, Kovach has raised nearly $4,000 towards his goal. If he meets it and gets the matching funds, he will start a pilot program in 2017. The bikes will be sourced from OCBC, which will also provide in-kind support through bike accessories.
 
Kovach will organize bicycle training and skills classes at the OCBC or Catholic Charities with the help of refugee interpreters with the former. He says the classes will be based on majority language groups – Somali, Arabic, Swahili, Bhutanese and French – depending on the interest.

“We’re creating jobs and opportunities for refugees,” says Kovach of his program and the use of the interpreters. He is also hoping to have enough funding to install bike racks at Catholic Charities.
 
There are 10 days to go until the Friday, Nov. 18 ioby campaign deadline.
 
Additionally, Platform Beer Co., 4125 Lorain Ave., will host a fundraiser for Kovach’s cause this Thursday, Nov.  10 from 4 to 8 p.m. Platform will donate $1 for each house beer sold. Organizers will raffle off gift baskets from Platform, OCBC, and Bike Cleveland. All proceeds will go toward the project.

Tim Kovach's advocacy goes beyond his work with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and this project. He contributed this informative article on the impact of freeways on our neighborhoods to Fresh Water earlier this year. The story garnered thousands of hits.

Wrecking ball kicks off celebration, clears way for new downtown Shaker

After years of planning and infrastructure improvements, all that remains of the Van Aken Center will come down this weekend to make way for the new Van Aken District.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the city, RMS Investment Corporation, representatives of Cuyahoga County, ODOT and the merchants in the new district will host the New Starts Now Demolition Celebration.
 
“We will look back a little and then look forward,” says Shaker Heights economic development director Tania Menesse. “Van Aken Center basically looks like it did in the 50s when it was built. It took a long time to get to this point, and then it happens really quickly.”
 
The whole redevelopment was first initiated with the city’s strategic investment plan in 2000 and is on schedule to be completed by June 2018.
 
The celebration begins with a wrecking ball taking the first swing at the shopping center on the north side of Van Aken. When the demolition is complete, the only remaining structure at Van Aken Center will be the former Fresh Market, which will become the food hall in the new Van Aken District.
 
The rest of the space will be reborn as 100,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, 60,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 100 apartments. The current parking lot at Van Aken Center will be a public park. A 325-car parking garage will be erected to supplement a 70-car lot and street parking.
 
Additionally, much attention has been trained on the public transportation hubs in the area as well as creating a cycling and pedestrian friendly infrastructure.
 
After the wrecking ball takes its swing, the New Starts Now party continues with a celebration and welcome from tenants of Shaker Plaza on the south side of Van Aken and in the Shops of Chagrin on Chagrin Boulevard.
 
“This is an event to thank the community for their patience and let them know the best is really yet to come,” says Menesse.
 
The event includes shopping, food and drink from vendors such as Pearl Asian Kitchen, J. Pistone, Rising Star Coffee, Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, Nina Lau'rens Cakepops, and Restore Cold Pressed Juice. Goldhorn Brewery will provide adult beverages and music will be provided by By Light We Loom. Proceeds from the sale of Goldhorn Brewery beer will benefit the local non-profit organization, Christ Episcopal Church.
 
Many of the previous tenants of Van Aken Center, including Pearl, Donato’s Pizza, Subway, MoroPhoto and Frames Unlimited, have already moved over to Van Aken Plaza, while established tenants like QDoba, Walgreens and Juma Gallery continue to operate during the construction.
 
“We encourage the community and all of Cleveland to come see this,” says Menesse, adding that construction will not interfere with access to the existing businesses. “We want to make sure the larger community knows all of these are open for business.”
 
Many future tenants will host pop-up shops, including Tremont-based clothing retailer Evie Lou, which will open its first east side location at Van Aken District. Other newcomers to the district include men’s clothing stores Whiskey Grade and Brigade, Mark Anthony Salon and Day Spa and New Balance.
 
Families are invited to explore the new and pop-up stores via the “Be an Original” treasure hunt, which takes seekers on a quest for prizes through District stores. “People can go into every store to get something fun,” explains Menesse. “It’s a fun way to get people to explore the businesses in Shaker Plaza.”
 
The will be other family friendly activities, such as Face Painting by Suzanne, sponsored by Le Chaperon Rouge childcare, which will be opening a Shaker location in September 2017.
 
Cleveland Heights public artist Debbie Presser is organizing a community art project at the event. Attendees are invited to come draw, decorate and paint on a 16-foot long canvas. The work will ultimately be incorporated into a permanent public art piece in the Van Aken District.
 
In the meantime, Andrea Wedren, marketing and event coordinator with Boom, says the public work will be displayed along the construction site fencing. “People can just come and doodle and create, then we will take what is created and use it in the construction site,” she says. “It will be included in the [permanent] piece and be inspiration for the permanent piece.”
 
The demolition ceremony begins at 12 p.m. For best viewing of the wrecking ball’s impact, gather in the former Starbucks site at the corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center Road. The festivities then move inside at 12:30 p.m. - next to Pearl Asian Kitchen at 20156 Van Aken Blvd - and continue until 5 p.m.
 
Juma Gallery, 20100 Chagrin Blvd., will host an after party from 6 to 8 p.m. with wine, beer, small plates and music by Jim Carr.
 
The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at Shaker Plaza or in the lot on Farnsleigh Road.
 
"This whole effort is to create a true downtown for the community,” says Menesse. “I really think this is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Holiday decorating goes over the top, meets steampunk, the British and Higbee's

The holidays are approaching quickly and creating that perfect table décor for the season can be difficult. Want to see how the pros do it?

More than 25 of Northeast Ohio’s top interior designers will show off their tablescapes at Ohio Design Center’s Entertaining by Design, this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5.

All proceeds benefit Malachi House, a non-profit organization that serves the terminally ill who have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in the final stages of life.
 
The juried competition began in 2012 as a small demonstration, but has grown to a much larger event. In recent years, attendance has grown to as many as 900 during the two-day event.
 
“It started as a one-day event with one person doing a how-to demonstration and then we realized how popular it is,” says event spokesperson Latoya Hunter. “It seems that every year the designs are becoming more and more elaborate and taking up more space.”
 
An open call for designers was issued back in March, and those who showed the best ideas will display them at the show. Some of the designs are over the top, Hunter says, with some of this year’s themes including Holiday at Higbee’s, Steam Punk Masquerade and British Invasion.
 
Holiday at Higbee’s, created by Cuyahoga Community College design students, harkens back to 1984, with Mr. Jingeling preparing for the holiday season at the once-beloved department store.

Steam Punk Masquerade, by 2 Sisters Design, represents a fusion of Victorian design and 19th century industrial elements in a futuristic masquerade atmosphere.

British Invasion by Kelly Millstone Interiors is inspired by the designers’ time living in London and their admiration of the spirit of the British people, complete with a stroll along Abbey Road.
 
Other designers are using hand-made plates from Italy, hand-made crystal table mats and thousands of dollars in exotic flowers, says Hunter. “They’re elaborate,” she observes.
 
A three-judge panel will choose winners in four categories: best of show, best interpretation of a theme, most over-the-top and best student presentation. A fifth award will be given to the design team garnering the most votes from attendees.
 
Event-goers will also have a chance to shop in many of Ohio Design Centre’s showrooms for furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs, art and other items.
 
The public event runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ohio Design Center, 23533 Mercantile Road in Beachwood. A VIP party is planned on Friday from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. In addition to the tablescapes, party attendees will be treated to dinner and live entertainment.
 
General admission is $10. Tickets to the VIP celebration start at $125. Tickets for both admissions can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Former Sammy's building emerges as a renovated gem in the Flats

With its outstanding views of downtown Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River, Sammy’s in the Flats maintained a presence at 1400 W. 10th St. as the signature place in Cleveland for weddings, celebrations and other special events for more than three decades. Then in 2013, the iconic event hall closed it's doors.
 
Last Thursday, Oct. 27, the building came to life once again during the grand opening of Settler’s Point, a 34,000-square-foot loft-like office complex on the Flats East Bank.
 
Developer Joel Scheer bought the Sammy’s property, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, out of receivership in December 2014 with an eye on restoring it and an admitted fascination with both the property and the area.
 
“That building - I’ve always been looking at that building ever since I was a little kid,” Scheer says. “It’s where Moses Cleaveland landed, it has fabulous views, and it has tremendous potential. It was kind of like a high profile place at the time for parties. People got married there.”
 
After buying the complex, Scheer spent much of 2015 working on a renovation plan with Dimit Architects and Vocon interior design architects before Welty Building Company began work on the project as the general contractor around Thanksgiving last year.
 
The renovation has transformed and modernized the space. “It doesn’t really look the same,” says Scheer, adding that the building had undergone many rounds of construction over the years. “There were layers and layers of previous renovations. We uncovered windows behind walls, floors upon floors. One floor was actually a roof.”
 
Scheer invested in new HVAC, electric and plumbing for the century-old building, and installed in new energy-efficient, yet historic, windows and a new roof. He left the exposed brick walls and wood beams. “We basically took it down to its shell,” he says of the renovations.
 
Decks and patios make up 5,529 square feet of Settler’s Point, each with views of the city and the river. The gem of the building, however is the 1,325-square-foot penthouse, available to all tenants. “Three sides are all glass with amazing views of the city,” says Scheer. The penthouse features meeting and event space, a kitchen and bathrooms.
 
Off of the penthouse is an 815-square-foot deck made of ipe, a Brazilian maple hardwood known for its beauty and durability.
 
Welty Building and Environments for Business are already tenants of Settler’s Point. “There’s room for more,” quips Scheer. There’s about 15,000 square feet still available for leasing.
 
About 75 people attended the grand opening last week, including representatives from the Cleveland’s economic development department, members of the architecture team, real estate brokers and other partners. The Gatherings Kitchen in Lakewood and other local food vendors provided catering for the event.
 
Scheer says those who have fond memories of special occasions at the former Sammy’s are impressed with the renovations. “People are excited to come in and look since I bought the building.”

West 25th Street Lofts merge historic architecture with contemporary design

A group of buildings built in the late 1800s on Church Avenue between W. 25th and W. 28th Streets in Ohio City were once the hallmark of a manufacturing town – housing everything from the original Baehr Brewing Company and Odd Fellows Masonic Hall to a machine shop and a tin and sheet metal shop, among other business and residential dwellings. 

Exhibit Builders last owned and operated the buildings fronting W. 25th Street. More recently, the heavy industrial buildings housed the Phoenix Ice Machine Company, Lester Engineering Company, then a charter school and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.
 
Today development partners Rick Foran of Foran Group and Chris Smythe of Smythe Property Advisors are converting the structures into contemporary apartment lofts with a nod to their unique history. “You know you’re in historic buildings, but with modern amenities,” says Smythe.
 
The project has been nine years in the making. Smythe and Foran bought their first property in the group from CMHA back in 2008 with a bank loan. Then the real estate market tanked.

Continue reading.

Silent auction, mingling, 70's Soul Ball to support Glenville revitalization

For years, the Glenville neighborhood, just steps from the cultural attractions of University Circle, struggled with a reputation of being poor, rundown and just plain desolate.

When the Famicos Foundation took over as community development corporation for the neighborhood in January 2014, the organization set out to do what it does best: “Create an engaged, vibrant, diverse, healthy neighborhood; where residents decide to stay, invest, and help shape a neighborhood of choice.”
 
In leading Glenville’s revitalization, Famicos developed a My Glenville Master Plan in March 2015 to improve housing, spur economic development and create a place that engages its residents.
 
“We want a neighborhood we can call home,” explains Famicos executive director John Anoliefo. “There’s a perception [about Glenville] we want to debunk. The ultimate goal is the transformation of Glenville into a mixed income neighborhood of choice in Northeast Ohio.”
 
To begin implementing the master plan, Famicos is having a two-part fundraiser this Thursday, Oct. 27 at MOCA, 11400 Euclid Ave.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Famicos officials and neighborhood representatives will present “Growing Glenville” to go over plan implementation, hand out awards and encourage residents to get involved in the revitalization plan.
 
“We want as many people as possible to get our message,” says Anoliefo, “and the massage is: We need you - all hands on deck. When great people work together, great things happen.”
 
Then, from 7 to 11 p.m. Famicos will host the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball with DJ Knyce and a live band. “People will have fun,” Anoliefo says, adding that he hopes for a full house.
 
One of the main objectives of the Growing Glenville initiative is to get additional feedback from residents on what they want to see happen in the neighborhood. Anoliefo says they have spent the past year soliciting input from residents about what the neighborhood needs.
 
He concedes that while the neighborhood has gone through its hardships, it continues to be a stalwart home of lifelong residents. “Like most urban areas in the city, particularly in the Rust Belt, it needs a renaissance,” Anoliefo says. “But it’s still well-regarded. We have to retain the people who have weathered the storm,”
 
Anoliefo says the housing stock – many homes are boarded up, abandoned, or in disrepair – needs to be improved, but nonetheless includes classic architecture. “They are beautiful homes,” he says. “We still need to attract people who can take care of them because they are beautiful, but a bit large. The housing stock is second to none.”
 
Anoliefo also says they need to attract a good mix of people and this fundraiser is intended to do exactly that. “Solid Gold is kind of an intergenerational event that brings everyone together,” he explains. “We’ll have young professionals, long-time residents and first time residents. They can learn about Glenville, its assets and all Glenville has to offer.”
 
The event will also be an opportunity for Famicos staff to introduce themselves, the organization, and the master plan to the residents, Anoliefo says. “We need the people we are serving to tell us what they want,” he adds.
 
Famicos has already orchestrated some neighborhood activities to bring residents together. This past summer monthly Gather in Glenville block parties along E. 105th Street between Superior and Ashbury Avenues on Sunday afternoons offered food, music and a chance for residents to get to know one another.
 
“It’s a neighborhood of friendly people, a neighborhood where everyone’s welcome,” says Anoliefo. “There was a time when neighbors knew their neighbors, and this brings old and young together. People are beginning to talk to one another.”
 
The organization also began offering free legal services for those who need advice, as well as the summertime Gateway 105 Farmers’ Market. Another program targets neighborhood youth -- paying better than minimum wage for mowing lawns.
 
Growing Glenville and the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball will have heavy appetizers and drinks, as well as a 50-50 raffle and a silent auction. Tickets are $150 for both events; $75 for young professionals; or $25 for just the Solid Gold Soul Ball. All proceeds will go toward implementation of the Glenville Master Plan.
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