| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Little Italy : Development News

47 Little Italy Articles | Page: | Show All

600 residential units coming to University Circle, more in the works

Midwest Development Partners, along with Coral Company and Panzica Construction, quietly broke ground in late December on Centric Apartments, formerly known as Intesa, at 11601 Mayfield Road, marking the beginning of a residential construction project that was delayed for almost three years.
 
“It’s a really good achievement,” says University Circle Inc. (UCI) president Chris Ronayne. “We are very excited about it.”
 
The seven-story Centric building, which sits on 2.2 acres and borders Little Italy and Uptown, will have 272 one- and two-bedroom apartments, averaging 750 square feet and running about $1,600 per month; 27,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial space on the ground floor; and a 360-space parking garage that will accommodate both residents and visitors to Uptown.
 
“I’m very excited about this project because it’s a connection between Little Italy, the Little Italy–University Circle Rapid Station and Uptown,” says Ronayne, adding that greenspace is part of the $70 million project investment. “It offers great walkable-friendly development.
 
But the Centric project is just one of many new apartment buildings going up in the neighborhood, bringing more than 600 new units to the University Circle area by late spring 2018, with even more projects in the works.
 
Also slated for completion by 2018 is the 20-story, 270-apartment One University Circle building being developed by First Interstate Properties and Petros Development on the former site of the Children’s Museum at E. 107th Street and Euclid Avenue.
 
“Together, 542 units will come online in 2018,” says Ronayne. He says the timing should coincide with “match week ”— the time in March when medical students find out where they will be placed for residencies. “We have 3,000 to 5,000 medical residents each year through University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic,” says Ronayne. “It’s a mad rush [for housing]”
 
Meanwhile, this summer Berusch Development Partners plans to open its Euclid 116, 31 apartment suites at 11611 Euclid Ave, which will cater specifically to students. The one- to four-bedroom suites are let by the room. Rent covers internet and utilities.

Already complete is the Finch Group's phase one of the 177-unit Innova Apartments, 10001 Chester Ave. The parking garage, part of phase two, is scheduled to be completed this summer.
 
The massive mixed-use plans for Circle Square, formerly known as University Circle City Center (UC3), spearheaded by Midwest Development Partners, are still in the works, Ronayne says, with a groundbreaking date for the site at E. 105th Street and Chester Avenue still a bit in the future.
 
All of this new residential development stems from a plan created in 2007 by the University Circle Land Bank to build 1,000 new apartments and houses. “We’ve now reached that goal and we’re well on to the next 1,000,” says Ronayne.
 
Additionally, the Greater Circle Living Incentive Program encourages residents who work at non-profit agencies in the Greater University Circle to also live there. The program offers the first month of a rental lease, up to $1,400 for free, or up to $30,000 in a forgivable loan on a house if the resident stays for five years.
 
“We’ve accepted nearly 1,000 applications,” says Ronayne, noting that eligible neighborhoods include Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, Little Italy, Buckeye-Shaker and parts of western East Cleveland.
 
The program furthers UCI’s goal of creating a true live-work community. “We’ve been trying to achieve a walking-friendly, high density, populated neighborhood,” says Ronayne. “Today’s employees have a healthy appetite of walking to work with a community that has [amenities such as] restaurants, a grocery store, a library ...

"We’ve done that.”

Perkoski's 'These Walks of Life' is a study in frozen motion

Those who walk religiously know the activity can be highly personal. A walking person may be in a rush. They may be deeply engaged in thought or a complex audio experience. They may be giggling over a podcast. Perhaps they are misting up over a lover's last whisper. Maybe they're tired. Maybe their feet hurt. Maybe those feet are the only mode of transportation they have.
 
In a new solo show, "These Walks of Life," Fresh Water's managing photographer Bob Perkoski has captured the essence of walking and its nuances with a collection of more than 40 images on display at Negative Space Gallery, 3820 Superior Avenue. "Walks" will run through mid-February.
 
The practice started out casually, with Perkoski taking clandestine photos capturing images of people while he drove around town – to and from shoots, grocery runs, wherever. Eventually, it became an intentional cataloging.
 
"I consciously started doing it in 2012," says Perkoski. "I put my camera on a high shutter speed so I'd catch it fast without getting a blur." The entire collection numbers in the hundreds and also includes people waiting for the bus or just standing along the street. Yet another category includes photos of bicyclists.
 
"I have people sitting on the corner, laying in the street," says Perkoski of some of his other images that are outside the scope of "Walks."
 
As for those included in the show, he took them at points all across town, including Playhouse Square, Ohio City, Clark Fulton, Little Italy, Woodland Avenue and Slavic Village among others. There are also two shots from out of town, one taken in London and another in Chicago.
 
All of the images are evocative and ironic in the sense that they are frozen images depicting motion. To be sure, the static background in each photo lends scale and contrast to the moving subject. One of the most jarring aspects of the show is also one of the most subtle: the voyeuristic feel of the images cannot be ignored – the majority of the walkers had no idea they were being photographed.
 
"I try to catch people that aren't looking at me. I just want them to be natural," says Perkoski of his subjects.
 
"You're wondering what they're doing and where they're going and what they're thinking."
 
"These Walks of Life" is on view on the second floor of Asian Town Center, which is a fascinating mall worthy of a visit on its own. The gallery housing Perkoski's work is in an annex to Negative Space and open for visitors whenever the mall is open, which is seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact Negative Space for extended evening hours.

American gastropub aims to shake up tradition in Little Italy

For decades, Cleveland’s Little Italy has been the city’s mecca for Italian cuisine, with dining venues in business across generations. Classic eateries such as Guarino’s, La Dolce Vita and Primo Vino feature authentic dishes cooked a casa, with recipes tracing back to the Old World.
 
But what about ordering a burger and a beer?
 
That's what Dominic Gogol had in mind when looking to start his Tavern of Little Italy, an American-style gastropub set to open later this month at 12117 Mayfield Road. On the site of the former legendary Mayfield Café and more recently a barber college, the newly chic 2,200-square-foot tavern features a modern bar with 14 taps, a burgundy interior designed by co-owner Eric Kennedy, and a slim alleyway patio that is scheduled to open in the spring. As for its American appeal, Gogol affirms he’s fine with delineating from tradition.
 
“Everywhere else in Little Italy you can get some good calamari, good chicken piccata, good veal Parmesan, good osso buco,” says Gogol. “Yet there’s no place in the neighborhood where you can get good American food. This is primarily what we’re doing.”
 
Along with co-owners Kennedy and Brian Hamilton, Gogol has opted for this venerable neighborhood spot in his hometown because, he says, “it was just natural to do so.” After breaking ground this past February, Gogol set out enlisting others to help build or invest in the venture. Almost all of then were friends and family, which makes the project, he says, “similar to an old barn raising.” Others joined on as part of the 20-person staff.
 
In fact, the communal vibe is where the Tavern of Little Italy inspired its slogan: “From The Hands of Many.”
 
With head chef Ian Esses as chief menu designer, Gogol hopes to capitalize on the more modern taste of today’s Little Italy residents. Hence, the two-floor, 80-seat pub will boast a 25-and-counting craft beer list and specialty wines to be paired with the likes of fish tacos and turkey burgers with homemade mustards -- all made from mostly local ingredients.

Yet both Esses and Gogol aren’t neglecting the heritage entirely. “Yes, there’ll be some garlic here and there, of course.” Gogol says. All because, Esses adds, “we need to remember where we’re at.”
 
With the mere mentioning of words such as “IPA” and “hamburger” it would seem that veterans of the neighborhood would balk at the very notion of an American style tavern in Little Italy. Robert Fatica, the 67-year-old owner of Primo Vino, however, welcomes Gogol’s venture with open arms.
 
“What Dominic is doing… is a little different,” says Fatica, who will soon celebrate 33 years in business at the corner of East 125th Street and Mayfield Road. “To me, it’s one of those places I’m looking forward to seeing finished. And, of course, going in and having a beer myself.”
 
As for inviting the new tavern into a very traditional neighborhood, Ray Kristosik, the executive director of the Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation, believes the gastropub will fare well alongside established eateries like Primo Vino, noting that diners are attracted to variety and choice.
 
“It definitely changes the scenery for the better,” Kristosik says of the soon to open tavern.
 

Handcrafted jewelry studio moves to Cedar Fairmont, offers custom bridal sets

While prospective customers won't find rows of display cases in Wanderlust Jewelers, they will find something unique: a custom jewelry design and production experience from beginning to end.
 
Founder and jeweler Wes Airgood consults with clients over a small collection of sample pieces in order to "start a conversation," as he puts it. Then he sets out to design the work with hand-drawn sketches.
 
"I'm really interested in building a relationship with the client and getting to know them and their parameters for the work," says Airgood. When it's time to bring the concept to fruition, he sets out to craft "something that's very special to that one person." Airgood focuses largely on bridal sets. All of his work is handcrafted.
 
Previously housed in a 450-foot-space above Presti's Bakery and Café in Little Italy, Wanderlust's new location is just a bit more than a mile away at 12429 Cedar Road in the Cedar Fairmont neighborhood, right above the Starbucks.
 
"I guess we have a thing about being above coffee shops," quips Airgood. He moved the business, which he helms with wife Heather, earlier this fall.
 
"We needed a place where we could put down roots and be part of community," says Airgood. "It was really important to us." The couple has a two-year-old daughter and is expecting another baby in January. They live in a century home in Cleveland Heights.
 
At nearly 850 square feet, the new location begs for Wanderlust's expansion. To that end, Airgood has built three workbenches and hopes to add a part time craftsperson in the coming months, perhaps an intern from the Cleveland Institute of Art. After that, he envisions up to five or six people working in the space.
 
"That's the nice thing about being a jeweler," says Airgood. "Everything is very small; space isn't really an issue. We could make an entire body of work and it will fit in a shoe box."
 
Airgood founded the business in 2011 after working for other jewelers and doing custom work on the side.
 
"When we decided to go this route, we thought we had come up with a smart business model that no one had ever done before," he says. "Then as we got more and more established, we realized that this is the definition of what a local hometown jeweler was for hundreds of years.

"We found we reinvented a very old wheel," he adds, noting that the custom one-on-one service Wanderlust provides is rare. "You don't see much of that today. We go back to a much older tradition."
 
All of his business come from word-of-mouth referrals, which often bloom into something more.
 
"More often than not, we get invited to wedding because we develop such a fast personal relationship," says Airgood, adding that the connections endure over years, with clients returning for the fifth anniversary, the tenth, the birth of the first baby and so on.
 
"That's the thing that I'm proudest of what we've built: our clients," he says. "They're not just customers, they become almost instant friends."
 
Wanderlust Jewelers invites the public to an open studio event on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 12429 Cedar Road, suite 25.
 

Luxury high rise in University Circle set to break ground in January

Construction is slated to begin in January on a 20-floor luxury apartment building at Euclid Avenue and Stokes Boulevard in University Circle. The new high rise would add another high-end residential option in this booming, popular community.

One University Circle, at 10730 Euclid Ave., should be ready for occupancy by January 2018. The 280-unit building will include 268 units averaging about 1,000 square feet, 12 additional penthouses, a four-story parking garage, outdoor grilling area, fitness room and yoga studio. The building also will have a café and market, business center and residents’ lounge.

Dimit Architects designed the building, which includes a window wall and terracotta panel system for the exterior of the building. All of the units will have floor-to-ceiling glass, and some of them will have balconies or patios.

University Circle Inc. president Chris Ronayne, who likens the project to similar apartment projects in New York’s Central Park and Chicago’s Millennium Park, envisions a diverse group of tenants, from academics and millennials to empty nesters. “You’re going to see a pretty diverse cross-section of people in One University Circle,” he predicts. “People who appreciate the amenities.” The building will offer easy access to the RTA HealthLine.

Ronayne adds that the rising demand for city living in Cleveland will contribute to One University Circle’s appeal.

It’s all about density when it comes to revitalizing any neighborhood, he comments. The residential component is just one factor. Retailers and public transportation are the other components that contribute to a thriving city.

“When you’re looking at 280 units on 1.3 acres, you’re looking at the density of a major city,” he explains. “You need that kind of density to create foot traffic, retailers, for public transportation. We want a complete neighborhood where in a 20-minute walk you can find everything you need. The Circle has become a complete neighborhood.”

A portion of the land at 10730 Euclid Ave. currently houses the Children’s Museum, which will be moving to the Stager-Beckwith mansion in Midtown.
 
First Interstate Properties and Petros Development are partnering with University Circle Inc. on the project. Panzica Construction will be the general contractor.

PRE4CLE issues grants for four new classrooms

PRE4CLE, an extension of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that aims to expand high-quality preschool options across the city, has awarded three grants totaling $120,000 to start four new classrooms, each of which will house 20 preschoolers.
 
The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland will open two of the new classrooms at the Oakwood Child Development Center, 9250 Miles Park Avenue. Another will be the first preschool classroom at The Citizens Academy, 10118 Hampden Avenue, which is operated by The Centers for Families and Children. The fourth will be at the Buckeye-Shaker Fundamentals Academy, 12500 Buckeye Road, under the umbrella of the Fundamentals Early Childhood Development Academy.
 
"The grants cover things like furniture, small tables, chairs and shelves," says Katie Kelly, PRE4CLE director, adding interactive toys, enrichment activities, books, puzzles and blocks to the list. "It's all the basic -- but very critical -- parts of a high-quality early childhood classroom."
 
The grants, which total $30,000 per classroom, will not cover any new construction, but the funds may be used to cover minor facility upgrades to make the spaces safe, healthy and inviting. In addition, the funding will cover staffing, but only for a short time.
 
"They have to hire the staff and have them on board before the state will give them their license," says Kelley of the chicken-or-egg dilemma. "That is a upfront cost; so the funds from the grants will also cover very short term staff costs that are related to that startup effort."
 
The areas impacted by the grants (Glenville, Buckeye-Shaker Square and Union-Miles) all have a demand for those preschool slots and are near the top of their supply capacity.
 
"Part of our effort is to strategically expand high quality programs in neighborhoods that are in the highest need," says Kelly. "These neighborhoods that were chosen have a variety of needs. We wanted to make sure that we continue to build access."
 
The Buckeye Road classroom is slated to open this November, with the CEOGC classrooms in Union-Miles opening by year's end. Citizens Academy in Glenville expects to have its preschool classroom ready for an early 2016 opening date. All of the grantees have space that's available and ready to be used for programs.

"These early childhood programs that are community based (and not within the public school district) operate on tight margins," says Kelley. "So something like opening up a new classroom can be cost prohibitive. We don't want that upfront cost to be a barrier and often it is."
 
While the grants do not fund tuition, which is usually covered by the families, childcare subsidies and federal and state funding, Kelly is glad to be creating high-quality learning spaces for the area's preschoolers.
 
"The grants are only for classrooms, but we think it’s a great start," she says. "This is really our first brick and mortar venture into making sure that those neighborhoods have what they need," she adds. "This will serve 80 children, which we're really happy about."

Art, history, design define new Little Italy-University Circle Rapid Station

 
This week, the highly anticipated $17.5 million Little Italy-University Circle Station will open on Mayfield Road at East 119th Street, with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. this evening at the new station.
 
"University Circle is thriving," says Joe Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). He also notes that the area's growing success has gone hand in hand with parking challenges, which has its own peril. "People don't feel comfortable going there because of parking concerns."
 
Calabrese, along with a host of area partners including the Cleveland Foundation, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), Little Italy, University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University, hopes the new station will change that.
 
"The whole community is trying to do more to promote people going to University Circle--not necessarily by car, but by other means as well," he says. "So this will be a great option for them to get to that great area."
 
Construction on the $17.5 million project ($8.9 million of which came from a federal TIGER grant) began in October 2013. The contractor was McTech Corporation. Paul Volpe, founder of City Architecture and a Little Italy resident, led the design team.
 
Highlights of the new station include artistic lighting of the bridges leading to the station, a terrazzo floor designed by artist Suzy Mueller Frazier and lighting fixtures by artist Jennifer Cecere that will remind some of the handmade white doilies that festooned the side tables in Nona's parlor.
 
"This is little Italy and our design team really spent some time looking at appropriate art," says Calabrese, "to almost make you feel like you're in Italy."
 
Another fascinating design element begins with an historic oddity courtesy of the same gents who delivered unto us the Terminal Tower, the Van Sweringen brothers.
 
"They basically built the Shaker Rapid," says Calabrese, adding that the famed brothers planned other rail lines throughout the region. "When we did our investigation as to where we were going to relocate our station, we found this old foundation (we call it a vault) for a station that the Van Sweringens built but never finished." The structure dates back to the 1920s and will now serve as the entranceway and lobby for the new station. "It's an historic piece of transportation history," says Calabrese.
 
The new Little Italy-University Circle Station will replace the East 120th Street Station, which the Plain Dealer described two years ago as, "aging, outmoded, secluded and unsafe-looking." Per Calabrese, demolition plans are well under way, with a contract already in place.
 
"It was not in a good location," he says. "It needed significant upgrades. It was built in the 1950's"
 
These efforts are part of GCRTA's ongoing campaign to address and update an aging system in a changing city that is playing catch-up to other municipalities across the country.
 
"Public transit ridership is growing. It's growing nationally. It's growing here in Cleveland with a whole new wave of public transit advocates: millennials," says Calabrese, adding that the up-and-coming generation isn't nearly as concerned with car ownership as their parents. They want to live and work where walking, biking and public transit options are robust.
 
"If they can't get the lifestyle amenities they want here in Cleveland, they're going to go cities that offer those amenities like Boston, Chicago and New York City," he says, adding that the new Little Italy-University Circle Station is a stalwart step to attracting and keeping them here.
 
"Little Italy is such an important and iconic area of the city," says Calabrese. "We think this station will be a game changer."
 

Every Cleveland property to be photographed and rated

In a collaborative project between the City of Cleveland and the Thriving Communities Institute (TCI), which is a program of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC), more than 150,000 properties within the city (virtually every single one save for those dedicated to things such as roads, railways and utilities), will be visually assessed by September by a team of 16 people who are canvassing the city in teams of two. They started earlier this month.
 
"Their goal is to get 150 records a day," says Paul Boehnlein, associate director of applied geographic information systems for WRLC. That translates to 2,400 a day for the entire team. "They're doing really well. They're right up at that pace."
 
"They're almost done with all of Collinwood," adds Jim Rokakis, vice president of WRLC and director of TPI. "They're moving into Glenville."
 
Team members are equipped with mobile devices that have an array of information on each property, including the address, owner, whether or not there is mail service and utility service, tax delinquency status, etc.
 
"All the public data is there," says Rokakis.
 
They then make an assessment on whether or not the property is occupied or vacant and assess the general condition via a list of questions: Is there a structure? Is it boarded? Are there broken windows or doors? Is the siding damaged? Are there dilapidated vehicles in the yard? What is the condition of the porch and garage? Is the structure open or secure?
 
"The last step for them is to take a photograph," says Boehnlein.
 
"It will be the first survey of every property in the city attached to a photo and a rating system," adds Rokakis.
 
Data collectors are logging an estimated four to six miles a day, all on sidewalks or public right of ways. They were selected from a pool of more than 60 applicants and strive to keep their partner, who is usually working the opposite side of the street, within sight at all times.
 
"Safety is a really important consideration for this project," says Boehnlein.
 
Now for a bit of gloomy foreshadowing.
 
Last year, TPI was involved in the same sort of survey for the city of Akron that included more than 95,000 parcels. About 700 of them were categorized as being in need of demolition. That's less than one percent. When the organization conducted this sort of survey for the Saint Luke's Foundation on 13,000 properties in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant area (near Buckeye Road), "Eleven-hundred of them need to come down," says Rokakis. That's nearly 10 percent, which is a very troubling number and one that illustrates why the survey is so important.
 
"We need to know," says Rokakis, adding that estimates of the number of structures in Cleveland that require demolition go as low as 8,000, which would cost about $80 million.
 
"But what if it's actually 14,000 or 15,000?" poses Rokakis. "Well, do the math."
 
Boehnlein sees the project, which is supported in part by the Cleveland Foundation, as having another gentler impact. In addition to collecting valuable data for the WRLC and its partner organizations, he notes that those who own a vacant or abandoned property are struggling with a really difficult situation.
 
"If our work can help alleviate that situation," he says, "I'm pretty happy about that."
 

Thirty-two luxury apartments coming to University Circle

WXZ Development Inc. will expand their significant footprint in the University Circle neighborhood with their fourth residential project, 118 Flats – Oval, which will complement sister projects 118 Flats – Circle and 118 Flats – Square. Construction for the new project is expected to begin in a few weeks.
 
"These three are tied together by virtue of being on East 118th Street," says James Wymer, president and CEO of WXZ Development Inc., adding that the company's Hazel 8 project, which is in its fourth year of occupancy, is also in close proximity to the 118 Flats buildings.
 
When WXZ completes the $6 million Oval project, which will house 32 single bedroom units ranging from 630 to 900 square feet with rents from $1,350 to $1,800 in five buildings, it will have a total of 18 buildings housing 130 units on approximately 3.5 acres in the University Circle neighborhood.
 
"Density has certainly been our friend," says Wymer. "We've been masters at planning into very compact spaces and still making it feel comfortable." The Oval units are scheduled to be available for occupancy in May 2016. RDL Architects is the design lead on the project. WXZ Construction is the contractor.
 
Like the apartments in the previous 118 Flats and Hazel 8 projects, Oval's units will each have access to an individual garage, outdoor space (either a balcony or courtyard patio) and will feature a private entrance.
 
"There are no public corridors," notes Wymer, adding that he feels the most valuable amenity associated with all of his company's University Circle units is their location, which is within walking distance to area museums, dining venues, Case Western Reserve University and area employers.
 
While the units are almost always full, Wymer notes that WXZ's University Circle properties are always in a leasing mode due to the nature of the tenants.
 
"Predominately, they are graduate students oriented or associated with one of the hospitals in a medical/resident-type capacity, so they are somewhat transient," says Wymer. "They're in our market for one to three years, typically. Many of them are from out of town and we do have about a 25 to 30 percent international tenancy."
 
Wymer sees the company's University Circle development having two impacts. Firstly, it has contributed to the significant transformation of East 118th Street from a less than ideal pedestrian experience to a central walking corridor.
 
"The other impact that I think we've made is to raise the level of luxury rental options for that niche market," he adds.
 
David Swindell, president of WXZ Construction, notes that the firm has been obliged to balance fitting into the hallowed neighborhood while simultaneously delineating itself.
 
"We have been very respectful of the neighborhood and the Circle and all the other institutions and the architecture," he says, "at the same time we've tried to create our own unique distinctive addition. We've been very conscious of that in our planning: to make sure that when we're going into any pocket, we're going to blend in and yet create our own identity."

Small scale projects can be a big deal for downtown, says neighborhood group

In recent years, cities have utilized the concept of "tactical urbanism" to enhance downtown neighborhoods with short-term, community-based projects like pop-up parks and street art campaigns.

Cleveland planners have engaged the metro in its own urban improvement endeavors including SmallBox, an initiative that changed refurbished 8 foot by 20 foot shipping containers into startup small businesses. Livable city advocate Mike Lydon will discuss both local and national urbanism trends during a June 11 luncheon sponsored by Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation, Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation and PlayhouseSquare District Development Corporation.

Lydon is an internationally recognized urban planner as well as a partner in the Street Plans Collaborative, a group aiming to reverse suburban sprawl through walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Lydon's talk is opportune for a downtown aiming to jumpstart ambitious change via low-cost, potentially high-impact techniques, says Tom Starinsky, associate director of  both the Warehouse District and Gateway neighborhood organizations.

"Cleveland has a very strong community-led urban design community," Starinsky says. "(Lydon) is bringing these innovative ideas here so the city can stay in step with what's happening in the world."

Among other projects, the Cleveland organization has transformed parking spaces adjacent to the small-box stores into a pocket park. The park, decorated with shipping pallets converted into funky furniture, will host mini-concerts and other events, and is designed to be enjoyed by residents, office workers and visitors alike.

The Gateway District group, meanwhile, has plans for a parklet and bike corral on Euclid Avenue that will repurpose parking spaces in front of several businesses and create a semi-enclosed respite for pedestrians. In addition, the group is planning to build sidewalk parks throughout the neighborhood in areas where the pavement is especially wide, using a variety of seating types where people can sit and eat lunch. 

Urban planner Lydon, who has promoted similar efforts throughout the world, believes tactical urbanism projects can scale up without losing their connection to the neighborhoods that spawned them. This connection is a vital condition for any enduring successes locally, says Starinsky, particularly if new projects can empower a generation of engaged citizens, urban designers and policymakers.

"People involved with the city know more than anyone what will make it livable," he says. "There are infinite ways to make Cleveland better long-term."

First residents jump into Solarize Cleveland

"We're thrilled," says Barbara Hermes of the 23 new solar panels that grace the roof of her Parma home. The installation was completed just last week.
 
Hermes and her husband Rudy are two of the area's first residents to take advantage of Solarize Cleveland, an all-in-one program that allows homeowners to enter their address online and build a virtual solar installation that's custom to their home, complete with an estimate of their prospective energy savings.
 
"This is solar made easy for homeowners," says Mandy Metcalf, director of the Affordable Green Housing Center at Environmental Health Watch (EHW), which is helping to promote the program. "The program will walk you through all the options so you can make an educated decision."
 
Endorsed by both the World Wildlife Fund and Sustainable Cleveland 2019, Solarize Cleveland is administered by the national firm Geostellar, which aims to lower costs to homeowners with bulk purchasing power for the solar panels, inverters and mounting racks.
 
"They've got the cost of solar down to about $3.5 a watt," says Metcalf. "It's starting to make sense for more people."
 
Per Metcalf, the average residential installation costs between $10,000 and $20,000. Thirty percent of that, however, comes back as a direct rebate via a federal tax credit. Owners of energy generating solar panels may also sell Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), a market driven commodity. RECs in Ohio, however, have taken a hit on the market due to Ohio Senate Bill 310, which, per Cleveland.com, "(froze) state rules requiring electric utilities to sell more power generated by wind and solar." Governor Kasich signed SB310 into law last June.
 
If panels produce more energy than the homeowners use, they can sell the surplus back to the grid.
 
"I just love watching that meter," says Rudy of his new system.
 
Geostellar also offers financing options and arranges installation with one of four local contractors: Bold Alternatives, YellowLite, Third Sun Solar or Appropriate Applied Technologies.
 
While the program kicked off last November, the harsh winter months tend to eclipse the idea of a solar panel installation for most people. To date, the Hermes and one Cleveland Heights resident have committed to the program, although ten others are in the fulfillment process, which includes final design, permitting and/or financing. Approximately 100 people have pursued the program by establishing a solar home profile.
 
"The theory is that when it starts to get warm and sunny," says Metcalf, "people start to think about solar."
 
The Hermes are well beyond the thinking stage. The couple expects to see an energy savings of 60 percent on their future electric bill courtesy of the panels, which will generate up to six kilowatts per hour.
 
"We strongly believe in green technology," says Barbara. "Even on this relatively cloudy day, we're gathering sun. We hope that we will inspire other people in our neighborhood and in our community to follow suit."

Odeon Concert Club to reopen in May after nine year hiatus

Before it closed its doors in 2006, the Odeon Concert Club was a famous Flats entertainment venue that once hosted such eclectic acts as Nine Inch Nails, Björk and the Ramones. This spring, the sound of rock music will be shaking the walls of the East Bank club once more.

The Odeon is scheduled for a grand reopening on May 1st, in the same 1,100-capacity spot it held in the old Flats. Cleveland-based heavy metal group Mushroomhead will headline the event, kicking off what owner Mike Tricarichi believes can be a new era for the much loved rock landing place. 

"I don't know if people are going to expect a nostalgia trip or whatever," says Tricarichi. "This is going to be a destination compatible with what's forecast to be on the street with the (Flats East Bank) project." 

The Odeon's interior is getting revamped for its new iteration, Tricarichi notes. Though the room's basic design will remain unchanged, a new sound and lighting system will be installed. In addition, inside walls will be painted and the club's infamously grotty bathrooms will get an overhaul.

"Everything's going to be fresh," says Tricarichi. "We're trying to make people more comfortable."

Tricarichi, president of Las Vegas-based real estate company Telecom Acquisition Corp., owns both the Odeon and Roc Bar, a 250-capacity club located nearby on Old River Road. He bought the Odeon building in 2007, one year after it shut its doors. The decision to reopen Odeon came in light of early success Tricarichi has had booking acts at Roc Bar, which itself reopened in December. 

"We opened Roc expecting it to bring people down here, and it did," Tricarichi says.

Along with Mushroomhead, the Odeon has set a date for a Puddle of Mudd show and is working on bringing in horror punk act the Misfits for an appearance. Tricarichi, who spends part of his time in Las Vegas booking hotel shows, also expects to host comic acts at the refurbished Cleveland club.

"I've produced Andrew Dice Clay shows in Vegas, and he wants to play here," he says.

As Tricarichi owns the building, he views re-opening the Odeon as a worthy, low-risk experiment that can be a key component of a revitalized Flats entertainment scene.

"It's a stepping stone," he says. "We can be a piece of what's happening down there."

rising star announces plans to open 'coffee lab' in hildebrandt building

Rising Star Coffee Roasters, the artisanal coffee company that currently has locations in Ohio City and Little Italy, is moving its roasting operations to the Hildebrandt Building at 3617 Walton Avenue on Cleveland's west side.

The owners say the move is about expanding the company's roasting operation, continuing to experiment and innovate when it comes to local coffee and helping revitalize an older building that's coming back to life.

“Our history at Rising Star has been to try and breathe new life into properties that are currently underutilized,” said partner Kim Jenkins in a release. “That is what is exciting about our move to Hildebrandt. We feel like it is a great place for us to grow together.”

The Hildebrandt Building is the former home of Hildebrandt Provisions Company, a meat-packing operation. Currently, the historic building houses an array of businesses including artists, furniture makers and craft food companies. Rising Star will take over a large portion of the building's former electrical plant.

The building boasts high ceilings, large windows and loads of natural light. Here, the firm will "roast all the beans for their wholesale and online clients, as well as the beans for their retail cafes," according to the release. "The wholesale division will use this space to expand operations and offer additional products to wholesale clients -- things like cups, purocaffe and equipment."

Rising Star is also planning a retail location. “We are calling it a coffee lab,” said Robert Stockham, General Manager of Rising Star Coffee Roasters. “We want to use this retail location to try out new brewing methods, recipes and equipment. There will be things at the lab before we roll them out to the existing cafes. We want to make our coffee lab a destination location. We will offer tours, cupping events, training classes and more."

The move should be finished next month, with the coffee lab open this summer.

city tours aim to lure suburbanites, repopulate classic urban neighborhoods

Riding high on the success of the 2014 program, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) will kick off the 2015 City Life Tours in less than two weeks with six scheduled tours starting on Monday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. Other dates include Thursday, March 19 at 1 p.m. and a quartet of 10 a.m. Saturday slots: Feb. 28, March 21 and April 11 and 25.
 
Jeff Kipp, director of neighborhood marketing for CNP, is tour master both on and off the bus. In chatting with him, it's clear he's not simply aiming to entertain riders, but connect them to the city in a more profound—and permanent—way.
 
"We're looking at 50 years of sprawl," says Kipp of Cuyahoga County at large. "There's a lot of people that fully disengaged from our urban neighborhoods over the past few decades. We're looking to reel them back in and reintroduce them to the city that they call home." And maybe even get them to move back into Cleveland proper. After all, sixty percent of the more than 300 City Life Tour attendees in 2014 said they live in Cleveland, even though they hailed from the suburbs.
 
"Our ultimate goal in all of this," says Kipp, "is to repopulate Cleveland's urban neighborhoods." To that end, nine percent of his 2014 riders said they intended to do just that. In an interesting side note, 25 percent of the 2014 attendees were young professionals and 25 percent were empty nesters. Hence the call of the city harkens to all ages.
 
The 14-mile tour loop begins and ends in Ohio City and includes Downtown, Uptown and Midtown among other neighborhoods. The group also disembarks to explore a residential unit, which may be a townhome, traditional home or apartment. Offerings change with the tours and have included stops at Park Lane Villa in University Circle and the Painters Loft Condominiums in Detroit Shoreway.
 
"We're showing them things that they're reading about in the news: a resurgence that’s happening in Cleveland," says Kipp. "It's one thing to read about it or hear about it second or third hand. Its another thing to sit on a bus for two and a half hours and see it nonstop—the houses being renovated and the new construction."
 
All of the upcoming tours kick off at Paul Dunbar School, 2200 West 28th Street, save for the March 19 event, which will depart from the lot behind the West Side Market. While this batch of tours will roll out on a private limo/bus, in the fairer months, riders will embark on Lolly the Trolley for the adventure. The $12 price tag includes a tee shirt.
 
Future plans may include tours that spend more time in focus areas such as University Circle, the near West Side, Fairfax or Shaker Square/Larchmere.
 
"People will have almost a menu of tours to choose from," forecasts Kipp. "If we can condense our area, we can show more."
 
Kipp is not just selling historic housing stock, diverse neighborhoods and a connection to the area's urban roots; he's offering a lifestyle.
 
Of Cleveland's great museums and institutions he says, "Of course they're here, but they could be in your backyard if you live in the city. A lot of our audience is coming from a demographic for which coming Downtown is a big part of their day," he says, noting that it's an event that requires planning and travel time.  "Whereas when you live in the city, all of these assets and all of these gems are in your back yard."
 
Hence, a glittering venue such as the Art Museum's Ames Family Atrium transforms from an occasional destination to an everyday pleasure.
 
"You can just pop in and brown bag lunch it," says Kipp. "That's a lot better than an office park cafeteria."
 

eastside greenway aims to connect 19 cities with unified network of trails

Last week, two crowds of people interested in the expansion of greenspace, connectivity and alternative transportation converged on Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern and the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. They came to discuss and learn about preliminary plans for the proposed Cuyahoga County Eastside Greenway project. About 80 attended the first event and 40 went to the second.
 
"It was great turnout, considering the weather," says Anna Swanberg, project manager for Land Studio, which is spearheading the effort and will hold additional meetings tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Waterloo Brew, 15335 Waterloo Road and tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the University Heights Public Library, 13866 Cedar Road. Interested parties unable to attend a meeting can view the entire presentation online and offer input via an online survey.
 
The presentation outlines an ambitious vision for a new greenspace network that will ideally sprawl over the east side of Cuyahoga County, covering a diverse range of 18 communities such as the cities of Euclid and Pepper Pike and neighborhoods from Hough to Coventry.
 
"We do have such a diverse range of neighborhoods and socioeconomic groups and racial groups," says Swanberg. "It's just across the board. The great thing about this (project) is it would be ensuring access for everybody."
 
Meeting attendees were curious about what an Eastside Greenway would look like in reality.
 
"The answer to that question," admits Swanberg, "we don't have quite yet."
 
That said, the online presentation offers an array of maps and bullet points that give shape to the proposal. The project will target main thoroughfares such as the Euclid, Belvoir, Shaker and Gates Mills/SOM Center corridors. The centerpieces of the Greenway's infrastructure will be dedicated off-road multipurpose trails, the construction of which presents an array of challenges such as right-of-way constraints and property acquisition easements.
 
"It's very difficult to get an off-road trail built in a densely populated area," says Swanberg, "but that is the goal for those segments." She calls the Eastside Greenway a "career project," that will unfold over 10, 15 or twenty years.
 
A secondary network of connectors will augment dedicated trails, most likely by way of on-street dedicated, buffered or protected bike lanes or sharrows, which are shared lanes, marked by a stencil of a bike and arrows that indicate bikes may use the full lane.
 
A $118,000 Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative Grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is funding this initial planning phase of the project, along with $32,000 in matching funds raised by Land Studio and project partners.  
 
"We began with this last summer. Right now we're sort of at a midway point; our goal is to have a final report in July of this year," says Swanberg. "The great thing about a Livable Communities Grant is that it’s a federal grant. It's really designed to be the planning that sets you up to get federal implementation dollars down the road."
 
Intuitive goals of the Greenway include connecting pedestrians and bicyclists to employment and retail hubs, existing trails such as Morgana Run, the lakeshore and public services; but there is another lofty intent.
 
"We're looking at what this greenway means for health outcomes," adds Swanberg. "We're partnering with the county Board of Health on a health impact assessment, which is a relatively new planning tool that takes a research-based approach to looking at planning decisions."
 
The aim is to mitigate accidents, crime and fear of crime while promoting safety, physical activity and social cohesion between and within communities.
 
If you have a cohesive community in which people look out for one another, those areas tend to have less crime, says Swanberg, adding that one way to achieve cohesion is through equality.
 
But what does a greenway have to do with equality?
 
"The goal is to put everybody on the east side within a five or ten minute walk to one of these trails," says Swanberg, adding that the project enables transportation choices and access to amenities for everyone.
 
"Access is equality."
47 Little Italy Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts