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New Chagrin Falls Heinen's: "Urban in a suburban setting"

When brothers Jeff and Tom Heinen open their 23rd Heinen’s grocery store — 19 of which in Northeast Ohio and four in Chicago — in pedestrian-friendly Chagrin Falls next week, residents are sure to be pleased with not only the quality food offered by the Warrensville Heights-based chain, but also in its convenience.

“I think the number-one thing, is we’re very pleased to have a quality store like Heinen’s come to town and make an investment,” says Chagrin Falls Village mayor Bill Tomko. “With sidewalks everywhere in Chagrin Falls, to have a grocery store where you can walk to is a real plus.”
 
A series of grocery stores have occupied the new Heinen’s space since the Chagrin Falls Shopping Plaza opened in the 1980s, says Tomko, including two original grocers — Mazzulo’s and Fazio’s — and then finally, Russo’s Giant Eagle. Woolworth’s and CVS also occupied a portion of the original space.
 
CVS still remains, and Heinen’s will take over the 26,000 square feet at 20 Shopping Center Plaza that Giant Eagle left in 2014. The store will officially open on Wednesday, March 1 at 10 a.m with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
 
Tomko says the space didn’t quite fit the “big box” approach of Giant Eagle. “It didn’t fit the Giant Eagle format,” says Tonka. “It didn’t really receive the management attention and time it deserved.”
 
Tom Heinen agrees that the store needed work when they took the space over. “We gutted it,” he says of the renovations. “We made it a Heinen’s.”
 
With stores in Pepper Pike and Bainbridge, Tom Heinen says the Heinen's chain has carved a unique place in the far eastern suburbs. “The neighborhood demographic first the way we do business,” he says. “It’s just a good overall fit.”
 
Since 2014, Tomko says residents have been begging for a new grocery store to come into the plaza. “During the vacancy, the biggest complaint we received was ‘why don’t you put in a grocery store,’” he says. “Heinen’s stepped up.”
 
In almost as much time, while the Heinen’s downtown celebrated its grand opening in February 2015, the brothers were already in talks with the plaza owners about leasing space.
 
Tom Heinen calls the new store a bit unique, with narrower aisles and higher shelves than other grocery stores. “It’s kind of urban in a suburban setting,’ he says. “It’s a beautiful store.”
 
In addition to quality food and produce selection, Tomko says Chagrin Falls residents will enjoy Heinen’s emphasis on its ready-made chef-prepared foods and its close proximity. “On those days when you’re tired, you can walk up to the grocery store and get dinner and go home,” he explains. “Or when you’re grilling in the summer and you realize you forgot the ketchup, it’s a huge convenience.”
 
The food offerings fits with the lifestyle brand Heinen’s has created through its culinary team. “We’re always trying to create innovative, health foods,” Tom Heinen says of their offerings.
 
With 48 wines by the glass and 12 beers on tap, customers can also enjoy food and drink while they shop or try one of a series of food and wine classes, pairing seminars and other unique events.
 
Tom Heinen says two large garage doors will open up to curbside dining. “It’s going to be a fun gathering place,” he says, adding that Chagrin Falls has emerged as a popular destination for happy hours, small plates and casual dining. “We think this will be a nice addition to the Chagrin Falls array.”
 
Of course, the new Heinen’s will also offer its standard services, including an in-store butcher with source-verified meats, fresh seafood, quality seasonal and locally-grown produce, an assortment of organic products and a gourmet cheese department.
 
Regular store hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

PizzaFire spreads across Ohio and beyond

In August 2015, Fresh Water reported on the opening of PizzaFire on Public Square in downtown Cleveland. It was the second such location for the fledgling company. The first was established in Akron the previous October.

Since then, the fast-casual pizza franchise has spread like wildfire.

There are no less than 10 PizzaFires in Northeast Ohio, including eateries in Parma, Woodmere, Rocky River, Strongsville, Fairlawn and Kent. Columbus is home to two PizzaFires, with another in Toledo and one in Kettering, Ohio. There's even a Texas location, which brings the total to 15.

Back in 2015, Ryan Rao, the company's franchise development executive, told Fresh Water that the company had seven more locations in the works with its sights set far beyond that.

"We want to build out the Midwest with 100 units in six years," said Rao in 2015.

Considering they've realized 13 in just 17 months and have 23 new sites in the works listed on their Coming Soon page, with locations slated to bloom from Los Angeles to Long Island and Tampa — the company is well on track to meet that goal.

Fans of Romeo's Pizza won't be surprised to learn that the man behind that long-standing area favorite, Sean Brauser, is also PizzaFire's CEO.

"He really is a pizza genius," said Rao of Brauser. "He's very well recognized for his pizza creativity," he added, citing a host of awards and accolades that Brauser has garnered for his pies and a 2005 appearance on the Food Network's $10,000 Pizza Challenge.

PizzaFire credits its success to its build-your-own pizza model, with six sauce options, including the "Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Sauce," which is concocted from hand-crushed tomatoes, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and Italian herbs and spices. Five different cheeses and 40 fresh toppings round out the selection. Dough is made fresh daily and then let to rest for  24 to 48 hours to allow the flavor to mature.

After customers watch their pizza get built, the pies are baked in a domed brick oven that reaches 800 degrees and can turn out a pizza in less than three minutes.

"You throw that pizza in there," says Brauser of his ovens in a company video, "that dough immediately starts to cook."

He continues, "I really want [our customers] to get an authentic Italian pizza experience and then be able to customize it exactly the way they want it."

Hungry? Of course the Public Square location is open for business at 236 Euclid Ave., and PizzaFire also has deals in the works for University Circle, Mayfield and Broadview Heights.

April opening slated for first of 306 units at Gordon Square's Edison

Since 2015, residents in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have been eying the transformation of 10 acres of land between W. 58th and W. 65th Streets — from the demolition of 300,000 square feet of vacant factories, to the land remediation to, finally, the phoenix that has risen: The Edison at Gordon Square at 6060 Father Caruso Drive.
 
Officials with developer NRP Group say the project is moving ahead at full steam and they are pre-leasing the luxury apartments and townhouses, with the first tenants moving in on April 21. NRP broke ground in the fall of 2015.

The first building is almost complete, with a second building due for completion in May and a third in July.
 
“We’re actually a bit ahead of schedule,” says NRP senior marketing manager Nancy Arnold. “The whole community should be delivered to us by the end of September. Leasing has been going extremely well. We’re about 26 percent pre-leased. Hopefully we’ll keep the momentum going.”
 
The complex consists of multiple buildings that house 306 units, including 180 one-bedroom apartments, 102 two-bedroom apartments, six mezzanine unites and 18 townhomes. All units include either garage or surface parking. One-bedroom apartments start at $980 a month and one and two bedroom units go up to $1,770, while townhome rents range from $2,575 up to $3,975 for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse.
 
“I don’t think we’ve had too many people who have an issue with the price,” says Arnold. “Once they see everything they’re getting, they see value in the price.”
 
Each unit comes complete with stainless steel appliances, vinyl plank flooring, granite or quartz countertops and wood cabinets in either a dark stain or painted a blue-grey.
 
Other amenities include a heated, resort-style pool with fountains and cabanas. “It will feel like you’re in a five-star resort, not in Cleveland,” Arnold says.
 
The courtyard around the pool has fire pits, grills, a ping pong table and two outdoor televisions. In the fitness room, residents can take virtual Pilates, yoga or spinning classes with an on-demand video fitness system.
 
There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center, dry cleaning service, package concierge and a conference room equipped with Wi-Fi and a laptop.
 
“The fourth floor is open to rent for a minor fee,” says Arnold. “There’s a balcony with views of the lake and the downtown skyline, a fireplace and a kitchenette with a dining room table for up to 10. For those people who want to have a higher-end dinner party, that’s where they want to go.”
 
There is also a first floor event room with a kitchenette for smaller, less formal gatherings.
 
The advantages of living at the Edison extend beyond the complex itself. A bike trail connects the grounds to Edgewater Beach. The activities in and around Gordon Square are just a short walk away, not to mention the location’s proximity to Ohio City and Tremont.
 
“Truly, what we are doing is going to complete the community,” says Edison community manager Brittney Perez, adding that the Edison is geared toward young professionals and those attracted to an urban lifestyle. “People who use Edgewater, who walk up to the shops, are the people gravitating toward the [Gordon Square] community.”
 
The Edison should add to the growing allure of the neighborhood. “People are just starting to realize Gordon Square, and everything they’re doing to build up its name” says Arnold.
 
“We’re not trying to be an apartment community that takes over the neighborhood,” Arnold promises. “We don’t want to be the neighborhood, we want to be a part of the neighborhood.” She says they’ve already introduced themselves to other members of the Gordon Square community.
 
“We’ve been working with the merchants,” Arnold says. "We’re really working hard to build those relationships.”
 
Models are now open for tours. A two-bedroom model was designed by Cleveland designer Susie Frazier and a one-bedroom model designed by Akron-based David Hawkins. “We wanted to do a model that really represented the neighborhood and Cleveland,” says Arnold.
 
Edison management opened the leasing trailer on the grounds this week, and both Arnold and Perez invite potential tenants to stop by or contact them for more information or a tour.

Dinner-for-two, prix fixe specials and competitions in 56 local eateries for weeklong event

The 10th annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week will kick off this Friday, Feb. 17, in a 10-day competition between downtown restaurants for the title of Restaurant of the Year, as well as a chance for diners to shake off the winter blues and get out to enjoy discounts at some of Cleveland’s best and newest restaurants.

“The whole reason we produce Downtown Restaurant Week at this time of year is because February tends to be a slower month,” says Heather Holmes, marketing and public relations director of event host Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “It gives people the opportunity to get out to downtown and try something new.”
 
Fifty-six downtown restaurants will participate in Restaurant Week this year — with both the old favorites and some newcomers to the scene — and will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for $15, $20 and $40.
 
“Some of the restaurants even use those prices for dinner-for-two specials,” says Holmes, adding that Rose’s Braai in the Arcade plans to offer a two-for-$15 lunch special. Many newcomers, like Parker’s Downtown in the Kimpton Schofield, Nuevo Cleveland, Raving Med and the Burnham — just to name a few of the 12 new restaurants that opened downtown last year — will also be participating.
 
Another newcomer, Chicago’s Chicken and Waffles, at 1144 Prospect Ave. in Playhouse Square, chose not to participate this year.
 
This year, local chefs and restaurateurs in six districts — Public Square/Tower City, Gateway, Playhouse Square, Campus District, Warehouse District and the Flats — will also compete in The Hungry Games: Battle of the Districts for the title of Best Dining District.
 
"It’s a fun thing for the chefs to get behind, and what’s better than a little friendly competition” says Holmes of the battle. “I thought it would be fun to see the Zach Bruell [places] bringing their game and competing against the Michael Symon places.”
 
The winning district earns bragging rights, says Holmes, as well as a mention in an upcoming issue of Cleveland Magazine.
 
Other categories during Restaurant Week are Judge's Choice, Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year. Diners can view the participating restaurants and their menus, as well as vote for their favorites. For every vote cast, diners earn a chance to win free downtown dining for a year.
 
Last year, judges chose Johnny's Downtown as their favorite, while diners picked Elements Bistro and Cleveland Chop took home Restaurant of the Year. The Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club claimed the award for “most mouthwatering,” says Holmes.
 
Additionally, DCA will host a kick-off party this Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Cleveland in the Arcade, 401 Euclid Ave. Attendees can sample selections from more than 30 participating restaurants, enjoy cocktails from the cash bar and shop the Arcade’s retailers.
 
“Sponsors will parachute gifts off the balconies,” promises Holmes, and a panel of celebrity judges will name the Judge’s Choice establishment.
 
Tickets are $25, with all proceeds going to DCA’s GeneroCity Cleveland, an organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless population find permanent housing, get job training and other assistance. The Kick-off party is for people ages 21 and older.

State-of-the-art Taussig Cancer Center designed around the patient

When the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, 10201 Carnegie Ave., opens on Monday, March 6, cancer patients will be introduced to an immersive state-of-the-art experience.
 
Patients will have access to all outpatient treatment services in the new 377,000-square-foot facility, wherein the center’s entire team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, genetic counselors and social workers will be based. Currently, the oncology department is located in the Crile Building and patients receiving treatment on the Clinic’s main campus often have to navigate through four different buildings to make their appointments.
 
“The way we’ve designed this, through the physical layout, is to treat the patient like the focal point,” says John Suh, chairman of the Clinic’s radiation oncology department and associate director of the Gamma Knife Center at the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center. “We’ve integrated care so patients don’t have to go back and forth.”
 
The new $276 million Taussig Center is very “patient-centric,” says Suh, in that the seven-story building is organized by cancer type. Patients see all of their caregivers in the same area. In the new building the caregivers travel to the patient, instead of the patient having to travel to different locations for different appointments.
 
"It fosters communication and collaboration by having the physicians revolve around the patients," says Suh. “It optimizes outcomes and the patient experience.”
 
The 126 exam rooms and 98 treatment rooms on the second, third and fourth floors are all in close proximity to each other, while the fifth and sixth floors house offices. Private chemotherapy infusion suites, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, will overlook a tree-lined courtyard.
 
“One of the nice things about this large building is it was designed to let light into the building,” says Suh. “One side is all glass.”
 
Current and former patients, as part of the Voice of the Patient Advisory Council, were consulted in the design, as well as surgeons, oncologists and nurse caregivers. Stantec and the Boston-based William Rawn Associates worked on the architecture and design, while Turner Construction served as the general contractor.
 
The first floor lobby features floor-to-ceiling windows to let natural light pour in and serves as the main area for patient resources — including an information center; art and music therapy spaces; a boutique for free wigs, caps and scarves; a wellness center; a prosthetics fitting area; and a place for prayer and meditation.
 
“It’s a concentrated support system,” says Suh of the first floor resources. “Patients and caregivers can get support in one concentrated area.”
 
The 4th Angel Mentoring Program, founded my figure skating champion and former Cleveland Clinic cancer patient Scott Hamilton, will also be housed on the first floor, as will a cafeteria that will promote healthy, locally-grown foods.
 
The radiation treatment center, which includes six linear accelerators and a Gamma Knife suite, will be housed in the basement. Suh says Taussig also will be the first facility in Ohio to receive Gamma Knife ICON technology.
 
To brighten up the basement area, a 34- by eight-foot, six-foot tall skylight will pop out of the ground in the parking drop off area to bring in natural light into the otherwise dark space.
 
“I think it’s very important for natural light to come into the radiation oncology department,” says Suh. “Patients can see if it’s sunny out or raining. It’s a unique part of the building.”   
 
The new center will also have on-site diagnostic imaging, space for genetics and genomics testing and a dedicated area for clinical trials. While Clinic researchers will perform their phase one, two and three clinic trials there, emphasis will be placed on phase one trials.
 
“It’s really going to enhance what we do from a research standpoint,” says Suh. “It’s really a very exciting time in cancer care and [Taussig] will optimize that care.”
 
Architects and planners kept the patient in mind even when designing the parking and drop off area. “There are two lanes for the valet and patient drop off, and a third lane for passers-by,” Suh explains. “We don’t have a pile-up.”

The entire facility will feature from art curated by the Clinic's in-house team.
 
The Clinic will host an open house on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m., during which the public is invited to drop in and tour the new center. The event will also include health screenings, children’s activities and healthy refreshments.

Closer look: two eco-friendly townhome projects bloom amid urban—and green—settings

Developer Andrew Brickman of Brickhaus Partners create luxury living spaces in Cleveland’s urban areas that are not only eco-friendly, but also provide a park-like setting. So, what better location than along the borders of the Cleveland Metroparks?

The Emerald Necklace is what drew him to his latest projects: 95 Lake at 9508 Lake Road in the Edgewater neighborhood and Riversouth, 18871 Lorain Road in Fairview Park, both of which offer spacious, luxury city living with spectacular views of the Metroparks, as well as easy access to transportation, shopping and nightlife. Riversouth sits on the border of the Rocky River Reservation and Big Met golf course, while 95 Lake overlooks Lake Erie and Edgewater Park.

“We try to be near parks, public transportation,” Brickman says of his projects. “We’re near all the Metroparks”
 
Furthermore, both developments provide the amenities of city living that is so popular in Cleveland right now—another priority for Brickman.
 
“I try to develop in the city and inner ring suburbs to stop urban sprawl,” he says. “Because urban sprawl contributes the most to duplication of services. You know, Cleveland’s not getting any bigger, it’s just spreading out. So I’m trying to bring people back to the city.”
 
In the Edgewater neighborhood, the first residents are scheduled to move into their new townhomes at the end of this month, says Brickman. Seven of the 10 townhomes are sold, he says, with a “lot of interest” in the remaining three units.
 
Brickhaus broke ground on the project last April, on the site of the former St. Thomas Lutheran Church. The 95 Lake townhomes were designed by architect Scott Dimit, principal of Dimit Architects, as were the 32 units at River South.
 
The three remaining three-story homes range from approximately 1,800 square feet for a two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath floor plan to a 2,168-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home. Prices range from $499,000 to $649,000 and include 15-year tax abatements.
 
The townhomes come equipped with attached two-car garages, optional fireplaces and stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. The furnace and hot water tank are also energy efficient.
 
Brickman notes that energy efficiency is a standard in all Brickhaus properties, adding that the company’s Eleven River project in Rocky River is the first geothermal multifamily development in Northeast Ohio.
 
“Energy efficiency is important to us because we’re trying to bring a lifestyle to people, and that involves being a good citizen of the earth,” says Brickman.
 
Each residence has its own private rooftop balcony, ranging from 250 to 350 square feet and offering great views of the lake and Edgewater, as well as of downtown Cleveland and the neighborhood’s tree canopy.
 
Many of the residents who have already purchased properties at 95 Lake are local, with one buyer returning to Cleveland from out of town, and others coming from Tremont, Ohio City and Battery Park, says Brickman.
 
“What they said was they loved the inner ring suburbs and they love this Edgewater area because it’s older,” says Brickman of the typical buyers. “It has character like those other neighborhoods, it’s a mature sort of neighborhood.”
 
The Edgewater area also offers a sense of security, says Brickman, while still being in the Cleveland city limits.
 
“They want to be close to everything in those neighborhoods, but this has a different feel to it because we have the single family housing,” Brickman explains. “You’ve got the park and you’ve got lot of owner-occupied houses. These are people who want to be in the city, because it’s still the city.”
 
Residents will be moving in to 95 Lake through the next few months, says Brickman, with the entire project scheduled for completion by summer.
 
All but 10 of the 32 townhomes at Riversouth have sold, Brickman says, and all of the site work and landscaping is completed. In addition to the views, he points to the development’s proximity to Kamm’s Corners—a 10 minute walk—and Fairview Hospital as well as access to the biking and hiking trails right outside the door.
 
“Riversouth is surrounded on three sides by Metroparks,” says Brickman, “so your views are right there.”
 
The townhomes offer a seven-year tax abatement and range from 1,148 to 2,808 square feet. Prices start at $269,000 and go up to $539,000.
 
Brickhaus calls Riversouth “Ecohomes,” in that the townhouses are smarthomes with everything from lighting to the sound system integrated through the owner’s smart phone. Of course, everything is energy efficient, has bamboo floors, private decks and balconies, and two-car insulated garages.
 
Outside, like all Brickhaus properties, the landscape is planted with native perennial plants that do not require irrigation. A dry basin storm water retention system keeps everything in check.
 
“We expect to win awards for the landscaping and the creativity in which it was handled,” says Brickman of the storm water retention system at Riversouth.
 
In keeping with its commitment to develop in Cleveland and stop urban sprawl, Brickman says there are a few more urban projects on the horizon for Brickhaus. It’s what he loves to do.
 
“It’s a lot easier to develop a cornfield out in Avon because you don’t have any neighbors to deal with than it is to develop in an existing neighborhood,” explains Brickman. “Because you have the neighbors to deal with, and they don’t want change, and the guy next door doesn’t want to be living next to construction.

"It’s probably the most difficult kind of development you can do but to me, it’s been pretty satisfying.”

New hope for historic Scofield Mansion restoration

The 1898 dilapidated mansion of renowned Cleveland architect Levi Scofield is about to get a makeover and a new chance to become a crown jewel of the Buckeye Woodhill neighborhood, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and a team of volunteers.

Scofield’s vacant historic home, tucked away at 2438 Mapleside Road, has fallen into disrepair over the past two decades.

“It’s in a forgotten corner of this neighborhood, in an area you wouldn’t normally go to,” says CRS president Kathleen Crowther. “It’s like a haunted house. But if it’s restored and sold, it could be a showcase for the city and could really turn this neighborhood around.”
 
That optimism is why the CRS formed a blue ribbon task force last year with the hope of saving and restoring the home. “This is a last-ditch effort on this property,” Crowther says, noting the structure has been flagged for potential demolition. “It’s completely open to the elements, kids can get in there. It’s horrible. It’s now or never.”
 
Despite the repairs needed because of vandals and exposure, Crowther says the house is structurally sound. “The stone is Berea sandstone, the wood is hard as steel,” she says, adding that the original slate roof is still intact. “The wood that was used back then was hard, dense lumber. The building was very well-built.”
 
Saving the mansion is now looking like a possibility, as the property could be signed over to the Land Bank as earlier as the end of this week, says Justin Fleming, director of real estate for Neighborhood Progress.
 
The move was made possible through a legal deal in which the current owner agreed to donate the property to the Land Bank in exchange for the court waiving $55,000 on back property taxes. In turn, the Land Bank has agreed to hold the property for two years while Neighborhood Progress and the task force try to save the house.

“We’ve been working on it in earnest since last spring and not it’s really all hands on deck,” says Fleming of the effort. “This gives us time to clean it out, stabilize it and secure the house and really set the stage for what could happen.”
 
When Scofield, who is best known in Cleveland for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Public Square and the Schofield Building, now the Kimpton Schofield on E. 9th, was looking to move to the country in the late 1890s, he bought six acres of land on a bluff overlooking the Fairmount Reservoir and built the 6,000-square-foot, three-story Victorian home.
 
“It was designed in a very picturesque setting to overlook the city,” says Crowther. “He built it in a bucolic area to have magnificent views of the city.”
 
After Scofield’s death in 1917, his family remained in the house until 1925. Over the years the house served as a chapel, a convent, and finally a nursing home until 1990. Sometime in the 1960s, a second building was erected on the land as an extension of the nursing home.
 
Both buildings stood vacant and went into disrepair since 1990. In 2011 a buyer, Rosalin Lyons, bought the property for $1,400 at a foreclosure auction, thinking she was just buying the 60s building. But the sale included the mansion, according to Fleming.
 
“I can understand the thought process on the building because it has really good bones,” he says. “But Lyons was in way over her head and nothing ever happened to either property.”
 
Crowther says the owner had plans to transform the property into a rehab center, but nothing every came of it and Lyons ended up in housing court. “She had dreams of doing something good for the community there but that dream needed money,” Crowther says. “She was between a rock and a hard place.”
 
Now members of the task force are making preparations for stabilization work on the house as soon as they get the word the transfer is complete. “The clean-out, the stabilization and securing of the house really sets the stage for what could happen,” proclaims Fleming. “Let’s save the asset.”
 
Three companies have already committed their time, labor and services to stabilize the house, says Crowther, who calls the process “mothballing,” which means preserving the property for future renovations.
 
Joe DiGeronimo, vice president of Independence-based remediation company Precision Environmental, has pledged to clean up both the mansion and a 1960s building built on the property. The DiGeronimo family has roots in the neighborhood, says Crowther, and has an interest in revitalizing the community.
 
“They have been heroes in this endeavor,” says Crowther of Precision Environmental.
 
Steve Coon, owner of Coon Restoration and Sealants in Louisville, Ohio, sits on the CRS board of trustees and has committed to roof and wall stabilization as well as masonry work. Cleveland-based SecureView will measure all of the doors and windows and fit them with the company’s patented clearboarding—clear, unbreakable material. The help is a relief for proponents of the renovation.

“In the beginning we were knocking out heads because we didn’t know what to do—there were so many pieces, all moving at the same time,” says Crowther of the project. “But inch by inch, we got somewhere.”
 
Crowther says CRS continues to raise money for the project. Once the building is stabilized, CRS and Neighborhood Progress will figure out the next steps in saving the house, marketing it and selling it. Both Crowther and Fleming say there is no concrete plan yet for the final outcome of the project, but they say they are pleased with the initial progress.
 
“I think it illustrates what can happen with lots of partners willing to come in and do something,” Crowther says.
 
John Hopkins, executive director of the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation and task force member, says he sees restoring the Scofield Mansion as beneficial for the neighborhood in three ways.
 
“It would bring stability for the neighborhood,” says Hopkins. “It would not just stabilize the building, but stabilize the neighborhood. Second is the economic impact in that it would increase the value of some of the homes around it [the mansion]. Third, there will be a sense of pride in this great building we saved.”
 
Fleming says Neighborhood Progress must next bring in an architect to draft new floor plans for the home, as the originals are lost. “That will help us talk to a tenant,” he explains.
 
Eager to move forward, organizers on the task force are encouraged by the pending transfer.

“They are trying to save it as an anchor and a monument,” Fleming says. “The neighborhood deserves it. The house deserves it.”

High-end tea, local nibbles coming to vintage Slavic Village building

There’s something about that purple corn that Ryan Florio uses in his Inca Tea blends. After being inspired by a tea brewed by his Sherpa while hiking in Peru with college buddies, he started the company out of his parents’ North Royalton home in February 2014.
 
Today, Inca Tea can be found on store shelves in Cleveland and across the country, and in a small café at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He announced his latest expansions last month: a second café in the airport and his first free-standing site at 6513 Union Ave. in Slavic Village, which will house a cafe, production facility and warehouse.
 
When Florio launched Inca Tea, it was an immediate success. Within 10 months he had opened a small, 60-square-foot café in Hopkins Airport B concourse and his teas were available in more than 200 grocery stores and Bed Bath and Beyond stores nationwide.
 
Today, Inca Tea is available in nearly 500 stores nationwide, including 70 Bed Bath and Beyond stores, all 39 Earth Fare stores and The Andersons. Locally, Inca Tea is stocked in Heinen’s, Whole Foods, Mustard Seed and Giant Eagle Market District stores.
 
Inca Tea has made the Cleveland Hot List for the past two consecutive years as the area's favorite tea house.
 
Florio hopes to maintain that status as he expands, particularly at the more elaborate Slavic Village location.
 
“Now I have a true home base where I can do it all in one facility,” he says of the Union Avenue site. “Once I walked in, I knew it was the place.”
 
The “place” is a 1930s two-story red brick 15,000-square-foot building with 20-foot-high ceilings that originally served as an electric company substation and later a warehouse. Florio is converting the space to include a 400-square-foot café that will seat more 30.
 
Florio's customers will enter the cafe through a solid oak, 14.foot-high, three-inch-thick front door. The café will be furnished with high top tables and couches among exposed brick walls and the Inca Tea logo painted on a wood wall.
 
The entire café is furnished using recycled materials Florio found inside the building.
 
“We have benches made out of cast iron floor grates, we have the bar, which is made from the recycled corrugated metal that was on the back of the building,” Florio notes. “The main wall is made from the wood that was inside the back wall and the coffee tables are made from cast iron grates and iron piping.”
 
Customers in the cafe can watch the creation of more than a million tea bags a year through a window into the 4,500-square-foot production center. The second floor will have a conference room with a view of the first-floor café.
 
“It’s a unique and interesting building,” Florio says of the space, adding that Slavic Village officials were eager to bring Inca Tea to the neighborhood. “It has amazing curb appeal and is the epitome of what I was looking for to grow the business.”
 
In addition to Inca Tea’s four blends, Florio plans to serve plenty of goodies made by local vendors, including Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Cleveland Bagel Company, Anna in the Raw, Breadsmith, Garden of Flavor, Randy's Pickles, Pope’s Hot Sauces, Nooma, Good Greens and Sweet Designs Chocolatier.
 
“Our main objective for this café is to have a minimum of 90 percent local,” says Florio. “It’s always been my mission to focus on Cleveland-based products.”
 
While Florio prepares to open his Slavic Village café, he is simultaneously planning a second, 310-square-foot café on Hopkins C concourse. He signed the letter of intent to move into the new space last month.
 
“It’s five times the size,” Florio says as he compares the new location to his original location. “It’s more of a full-size café.”
 
Florio adds that the mission to stay local in the products he sells is especially important in his airport cafes. “Customers can come in and take home a little of what Cleveland has to offer,” he says. In addition to his regular vendors, Florio also plans to carry food from Aladdin’s.
 
A late March opening is planned for the Slavic Village Inca Tea, while the timeline for the  airport café has not been finalized.
 
Florio plans to hire five to seven employees at the Slavic Village Inca Tea Café, which will be open during the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

'Becoming Imperceptible' comes to MOCA in a post-election world

Last summer, MOCA Cleveland's fourth floor Mueller Family and Rosalie + Morton Cohen Family Galleries featured the works of Mark Mothersbaugh in a multi-media explosion of color and playful commentary with everything from a mutated Scion to the Booji Boy mask of DEVO fame.
 
Last Friday, Adam Pendleton's Becoming Imperceptible took over the space. Like the Mothersbaugh show, it's an immersive experience full up with sound and visuals that reflect the man behind it all. Unlike last summer's offering, the current multi-media exhibition is void of color. The ceramic floor sculptures, framed Mylar prints, collage, silkscreens printed on mirror and two film installations are all depicted in black, white and gray.
 
While the two shows have commonalities, the narrative arc in time, politics and culture that separates them could not be more stark. When Mothersbaugh's Myopia debuted, the city was on the verge of the gentle summer months and giddy with the prospect of the Republican National Convention. Cleveland was, essentially, preparing for its close up.

Adam Pendleton, Black Lives Matter #3 (wall work), 2015
 
Now a scant eight months later, division and uncertainty cloud the days. The city is covered in snow after an extended and eerie January thaw. Protests have filled Public Square with women and encroached on Cleveland Hopkins. More such events are scheduled.
 
Such is the current backdrop for Becoming Imperceptible. Different incarnations of the collection previously appeared in New Orleans and Denver, but both of those events closed prior to November 8, 2016. Hence, like the America it reflects, the exhibition woke to a new day when it debuted last week.
 
"I do think some of the things these images, these words, this language, signifies and represents will hit people differently now that we're post election," said Pendleton during an interview last Thursday, Jan. 26.
 
"We were sort of wondering what was coming and I think we're still sort of wondering what is coming, and I think one of the things we're all doing—as citizens, as artists, as Americans, as immigrants—we're trying to find the language to grapple with what's going on in relationship to democratic ideals.

"We're testing the health of our democracy and that's a very tenuous place to be. And I think art and the ways in which it can dwell and deal with abstraction is actually a very productive place to be when you don't know where you are."
 
He continues: "There's something about becoming—sort of perpetually becoming—that becomes urgent. Not to be fixed or stagnant, but to understand and accept that things change and you have to be a part of that change."
 
Looking forward, however, is often facilitated by a look back. Case in point: the video installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard features David Hilliard, founding member and chief of staff of the Black Panther party, as he recounts an April 6, 1968 encounter with Oakland, CA, police:
 
" … and I said 'oh fuck' because the police are coming and they're not looking around and there's other police and all of a sudden all this shooting. All these cars, people are scrambling. There had to been about 12 cars. They're running all over the place."
 
The three screens feature Hilliard speaking along with scenes from the surrounding Oakland neighborhood that capture the mundane and make it anything but: "That wire fence was not there. It was a very low fence like that. The lady that owns this house was my son's godmother so I jumped that fence. I don't remember that being there," says Hilliard of the scene.
 
"And then shooting this way and then they're shooting out from this direction And there's helicopters and the place is blocked off and just hundreds of police everywhere. Then Bobby Hutton came out with just his shirt off and the lady, Mrs. Jackson, I hear her screaming, 'oh my god, oh my god, they just killed the little one,' but I have no idea if that's little Bobby because I haven't seen him since we all broke up and was running  … "

So it goes, with Pendleton removing one layer after another. Call it being there, with a film about events that transpired nearly 50 years ago becoming ever more relevant as the nine minutes of My Education tick by.

While the film plays out behind a closed door, Hilliard's voice will not be contained. Hence, he continually narrates each viewer's experience as they take in the rest of Becoming Imperceptible.
 
Pendleton noted the irony of the show's historic perspective amid today's cultural landscape. "It seems we've completely forgotten any kind of historical reference or framework and we're just sort of hurtling towards a known political and social space—meaning a kind of unproductive violent chaos," he said. "We've witnessed the outcome of intolerance, of xenophobia, of homophobia."

Lisa Oppenheim, Landscape Portraits (Some North American Trees), 2014
 
"The perception was that we had moved away from these things. And we're kind of suddenly forgetting our past and kind of reliving it," he said. "There's a kind of violent déjà vu, if you will, and I think that's difficult to grapple with."
 
Yet another video offering, Just Back from Los Angeles: A portrait of Yvonne Rainer, subtly conveys that insidious transfer of violence. The 14-minute film chronicles a conversation between Pendleton and the famous dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer.
 
She is a woman; he is a man. She is white; he is black. She is in her eighties; he is in his thirties. They are both alive, supping at an unremarkable New York diner as she reads a work that details the following killings: Eric Garner, July 17, 2014, Staten Island, New York City; Ezell Ford, Aug. 11, 2014, Los Angeles; John Crawford III, Aug. 5, 2014, Beavercreek, Ohio; Tanisha Anderson and Tamir Rice; Nov. 13, 2015 and Nov. 22, 2014, respectively, Cleveland.
 
As 1968 and the bullets recalled by Hilliard suddenly feel very, very close, Just Back from Los Angeles concludes with clips from Rainer's most famous effort, the 1966 Trio A.
 
My Education and Just Back from Los Angeles are cogent centerpieces in Becoming Imperceptible. They reside amid Pendleton's other stark historical reference images, daunting all-cap text assertions and black-on-black paintings, each of which speaks for itself as singular statement and as a voice in the orchestrated chorus of the exhibit as a whole.
 
Becoming Imperceptible is on display through May 14, 2017. It is joined by Lisa Oppenheim's Spine in the Toby Devan Lewis Gallery; Transport Empty from Zarouhie Abdalian and Joseph Rosenzweig in Stair A; and Jeremy Dellar's Video Works in Gund Commons.
 
For those on a budget, admission is free at MOCA for all visitors on the first Saturday of the month, courtesy of PNC Bank. Gund Commons and MOCA Store are always open to the public during regular museum hours.
 
MOCA is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

Barrio to round out the Cedar Fairmount offerings by spring

When Sean Fairbairn and Tom Leneghan open their fourth Barrio location in Cleveland Heights in early spring, the restaurant known for its tacos, guacamole and margaritas will be a perfect fit with the Cedar Fairmount District’s vibrant nightlife scene.

“Our big thing is that we don’t want to compete with anyone. We want to complete that neighborhood,” says Barrio director of operations Jake Hawley. “We feel we will bring more people into the area. It’s just going to help everyone.”
 
Additionally, Hawley says the area is rife with Barrio’s target audience. “That neighborhood, there’s so much going on over there,” he says. “That little corner has so much going on. There are a couple of colleges in close proximity, and the kids love our food. We’re open until 2 a.m. every day, so we look for spots that can sustain the late-night crowd.”
 
The new location is the restaurant’s first foray into the east side, says Hawley, and the former Mad Greek space at 2466 Fairmount meets their needs. “We’ve wanted to expand to the east side,” he says. “That place was just perfect.”
 
The Mad Greek had been in business since 1976 when it closed permanently last September.
 
But it’s taking some work to get the 3,800 square feet up to Barrio standards. The team took over the lease six months ago and has been working ever since on an overhaul. “It was in pretty rough shape, shockingly bad,” says Hawley. “We were planning on doing some demolition, but it ended up being a complete gut job.”
 
Leneghan serves as the general contractor for all of the Barrio locations and is overseeing the Cleveland Heights project from start to finish.
 
The first task was to remove some walls. Originally, the entry lobby and bar were quite cramped. “We really opened up the space,” says Hawley. “We blew out the kitchen and created an octagonal bar in the middle of the space.”
 
The bar and open kitchen allow for better traffic flow and speedier service, says Hawley, adding that the kitchen is right by the bar, allowing for easy access for floor staff – not to mention room for the kitchen staff to work.
 
“Our model is to have a kitchen that looks out,” explains Hawley. “Bar backs and food runners don’t have to go in the kitchen at all. It’s hectic enough as it is.”
 
The main dining room and bar area combined will seat up to 150 people. Additionally, 16 additional tables will provide seating for up to 60 people on the back patio, where Hawley says an outdoor bar is planned.
 
Like the other Barrio locations in Tremont, Lakewood and Downtown, the décor will have a Day of the Dead theme, painted by Cleveland artist Michael “Mac” McNamara. While Hawley doesn’t yet know the story depicted in the new location’s mural, he promises it will be fantastic.
 
“We don’t get the story until the artist in finished,” Hawley admits. “But Mac is a very talented welder and painter.” Hawley does know that one of the painted skeletons resembles the image of LeBron James’ famous chalk cloud clap.
 
While Hawley says the mural is almost finished and the walk-in coolers arrived two weeks ago, there are just a few more finishing touches that need to be done before Barrio opens in the spring.
 
“You walk in and it looks like we could open soon,” says Hawley. “We really moved on this project and we’ve had a full crew working every day, five days a week. There’s a lot going on.”
 
Barrio will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The Cleveland Heights location will employ 50 to 60 people.

Steaks, craft cocktails, raw bar to be amid offerings in spectacular Marble Room

As designers, architects and construction workers hustle to transform the former National City Bank headquarters into Marble Room Steakhouse and Raw Bar, 623 Euclid Ave., owner and manager Malisse Sinito is juggling a variety of tasks.

But Sinito’s priority is to make sure the massive, three story restaurant, lounge and private party areas offer a warms and inviting environment for everyone who enters the magnificent space.
 
“We want guests to feel welcome, above all,” Sinito says. “We don’t want it to feel intimidating or stuffy; but special, comfortable and welcoming.”
 
The Marble Room will be housed in the banking hall of the Garfield Building, originally Guardian Bank and Trust. The space is the second largest banking hall in the world, second only to the massive L-shaped lobby of the 925 Building down the street.
 
The new Marble Room space encompasses nearly 21,000 square feet on three floors. Sinito and her husband, Frank, founder and CEO of Millennia Companies, bought the building two years ago, as well as the adjoining Garfield Building, which was built by two of President James A. Garfield’s sons. The Sinitos also own LockKeepers in Valley View.
 
Transforming the bank into a restaurant has been a daunting $6 million task. “The challenge has been with working with a non-restaurant space—transforming it, yet protecting and preserving its beauty,” Sinito says. “I’m proud of the amazing construction workers that are converting this historic gorgeous bank space into a new restaurant. It amazes me.”
 
Millennia worked with Morris Nathanson Design on the interior design elements of the Marble Room.
 
The 3,500-square-foot vault in the basement will be a private party area, complete with a pool table. In addition to the steel and reinforced concrete, three-foot-thick vault door, Millennia design and construction director Matt Solomon says the area also gives a glimpse into historic bank security measures.
 
“Back then it was high-tech security,” he says, adding that there is a separate ventilation system and “significant” vault door combinations, among other features. “The vault has view ports to see under the vault floor, lest someone digs underneath.”
 
Patrons to the private vault party area will also have private access through a hallway off of Vincent Avenue.
 
When guests enter through the restaurant’s front entrance on Euclid, they will be greeted by the 8,627-square-foot main dining room, which is flanked by two, 400-square-foot cocktail areas.
 
“They will have comfy couches and seating,” says Sinito of the lounges, adding that they plan on offering signature cocktails. “You don’t have to come in and have a steak, you can just have a glass of wine.”
 
A long bar will line one side of the main dining room. Behind the bar will be a two-story wine cellar, accessible by staff with a switch-back stair on the side wall.
 
A raw bar will be on the other side, featuring oysters, sushi and other items. The main menu will feature prime steaks, fish and “interesting” side dishes, says Sinito, although she says they are still working out those details.
 
LockKeepers executive chef Alberto Leandri will head up the cuisine. “We will be hiring an executive chef for Marble Room who will open alongside chef Leandri, promises Sinito, “so chef Leandri can stay very involved at LockKeepers.”
 
Booths will line the rest of the main dining room, with tables filling the center space. The Marble Room will seat 125.
 
Sinito says that timely service in the large restaurant was a concern. “We had to make sure we addressed service issues so guests wouldn’t have to wait,” she explains. So the main dining area was configured with smaller spaces within the room.
 
Overlooking the main dining room is a small balcony, which Sinito has wired for sound and may feature live entertainment.
 
To be sure, sound was one of the major issues around creating a restaurant in the former bank space. With its cathedral ceilings and marble floors, stairs and columns, noise tends to bounce around. Sinito is addressing the acoustics with planned ivory draperies cascading from the marble pillars and sound-absorbing wall tiles fashioned from teal fabric. Wood floors will also address the issue, as will colorful and funky carpeting. “It’s fun, playful and not too serious,” Sinito says of the contemporary animal-print carpet.
 
The 3,794-square-foot kitchen is in the rear of the space, with another lower level prep kitchen for the raw bar.
 
A marble staircase leads to a private banquet space for up to 150 guests, while the second floor in the front of the building will house 1,789 square feet of private dining space within three rooms. One of the rooms—the former office of the bank chairman—is entirely paneled in mahogany.
 
The third floor will house the restaurant’s administrative offices.
 
The team will incorporate a lot of the bank's history into the overall décor, Solomon says, with old ink bottles, a document stamping machine and other banking office tools on display as design accents. He says they are also considering displaying the original, hand-drafted floor plans.
 
Both Sinito and Solomon say they are in the middle of the entire project—the part that is always the hardest. “Getting decisions made as conditions are revealed are expected surprises,” Solomon says.
 
But Sinito says the work is worth it. “It’s still early on and the fun is yet to start,” she says. “I think the highlight will be when the vision starts to become a reality.”  

Otani Noodle expands menu, eyes second location

Joyce Luo is a self-proclaimed foodie. She’s lived all over the world and is always watching for new trends in dining. Now that she's landed in Cleveland, her radar is on the 216.
 
“I’m really picky for food,” she says. “I’ve lived in Hong Kong and California, so I’m really picky on food. And I love to eat.”
 
That particularity is what prompted Luo, her son Jacky Ho and business partner Janet Yee to open Otani Noodle, 11472 Euclid Ave. in University Circle Uptown last June.
 
“We could foresee that ramen is a trend. It’s so popular in the big cities like New York, Chicago and Toronto,” says Yee. “We travel a lot and been to those ramen places.”
 
The trio was correct in predicting the trend would take off in Cleveland—especially in a neighborhood nestled amid academic and cultural institutions and two major hospitals. Otani Noodle's popularity has taken off, especially with the lunch time crowds, says Luo.
 
“Lunch is really busy,” says Luo. “When you have [just] an hour, you don’t have to wait too long.”
 
Customers line up in the 750-square-foot restaurant for the traditional Japanese ramen: pork- or miso-based broth with noodles and then topped with pork, chicken or seafood. The dish is nothing like the grocery store ramen noodles that's a life-sustaining staple for so many college students, notes Luo, laughing.
 
“We’re doing well,” says Yee. “American people like noodles.” Luo adds, “Young people love this because it’s new.”
 
An open kitchen offers a direct view of the food prep while customers walk up to the counter and place their orders. The dining room has more than two dozen high-top tables. Take-out and some third-party delivery round out the options.
 
“It’s colorful,” says Luo of the striking red and black interior. “It’s a traditional Japanese theme.”
 
The menu offers 10 options, one of which is vegetarian. The most popular, both Yee and Luo say, is the pork belly with tonkotsu soup (broth made from pork bones) and noodles, topped with scallions, kikurage mushroom, seaweed and seasoned boiled egg. Prices range from $7.95 to $11.95.
 
In the scant seven months since opening, Otani's success has prompted the owners to start a search for a second location downtown. They've also added four donburi rice bowls to the menu just this week, because “I think it’s a good thing to add,” says Luo.
 
The partners are no strangers to operating restaurants and sensing food trends. Yee's family opened the Otani Japanese Restaurant in Mayfield Heights in 1978 and offered up sushi to the established meat-and-potato Cleveland crowd. But it caught on, as did the hibachi style entrees and noodle dishes. “We’ve served ramen for as long as we’ve been here,” Yee says of the Mayfield location. “But we never tried to boast about it. Our customers say we have the best sushi around.”
 
Luo also has a long food history She owned an American deli in Euclid before joining the Otani Mayfield team.
 
Yee says they had planned on offering sushi at the Uptown noodle shop, but ultimately decided against it because next door, Zack Bruell’s Dynomite Burgers, already had it on the menu.

The Otani team opted to be a good neighbor instead of a competitor.
 

Baby Munch launches in Hildebrandt building with 'Gimme a Beet,' 'Peas and Love,' others

Le’Anna Miller’s daughter, London, wasn’t supposed to arrive until January 2015. But her baby surprised her and came a month early on December 1, 2014.

“Any time you have a premature baby, you have a heightened sense of protection. Because she was born a month early her health was the most important thing," says Miller. "We had to feed her with a syringe at first.”
 
Today, London is a happy, healthy two-year-old. But the experience of having a preemie awakened Miller’s entrepreneurial spirit and her views on nutrition.
 
On Saturday, January 14, Miller officially launched production of Baby Munch Organics in the Hildebrandt Provisions Company’s 2,000-square-foot Community Kitchen, 3619 Walton Ave., sharing the space with other tenants such as Rising Star Coffee Roasters Storehouse Tea and Annie’s Sweet Shop in the transformed creative hub.   
 
The inspiration for Baby Munch came in June 2015 when London started eating solid food and Miller wasn’t satisfied with the selection she found on store shelves. “I didn’t like that the expiration dates were 365 days later, and I didn’t see any options,” she recalls. “So I got in the kitchen and started playing around with different recipes.”
 
Miller perfected her recipes, which are all certified organic and handmade in small batches using locally grown and sourced fruits and vegetables. “Even if it’s not grown here, the owner of the company has to be local,” explains Miller. “We want to keep the roots here.”
 
The small batches of baby food are immediately frozen, to lock in the key nutrients, Miller says.
 
London, now two, is Miller’s taste tester and kitchen assistant. “She spends a lot of time sitting in the kitchen with her bowl and her spoon,” Miller says, adding that London has a lot of experience with fresh produce. “I would take London to the Farmers Market every Saturday, and then on Sunday we’d make food.”
 
Now Miller herself is a vendor at the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market. She opened her stand there for the first time two weeks ago, the same day she began production at the Hildebrandt.
 
Miller offers seven seven varieties of Munch. Her Stage 1 line, aimed at babies six months and older, has apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and pears. The four flavors in her Stage 2 line, for kids nine months and older, mixes things up a little.
 
“We’re starting to add different combinations of fruits vegetables and spices to continue palate training and keep babies curious about trying new foods,” she explains of Stage 2. “Like Appleini – apples, zucchini and cinnamon – Gimme a Beet – beets, mango and cinnamon – Itzy Bitzy – apples, bananas and blueberries – and Peas and Love – pears, peas and mint.”
 
Some of Miller’s recipes are seasonal, such as Pumpkin Patch – pumpkin puree with spices and a graham cracker crust. All of her recipes are designed to develop the palate and offer bold flavors with hints of fresh herbs and spices.
 
This spring Miller plans to introduce a line of toddler snacks.
 
“Our goal is to ignite food curiosity through the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Miller says of her recipes. “It’s made at the peak of freshness and our colors are fun. Baby food can be fun and it doesn’t have to be bland.”
 
The food comes in pouches that stay fresh in the fridge for two days or frozen for four weeks. One pouch costs $3.25, four-packs are $12. Miller offers a monthly subscription service for $35 and can ship out of state.
 
Miller, who graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in finance, has some experience as an entrepreneur. In college, she participated in the 2011 Entrepreneur Immersion Week and Competition, where her team won first place for their custom nail polish business. Today she works full time as an auditing associate at a Big Four accounting firm downtown,
 
But Miller knew that she needed some training if she was going to create a business beyond her own kitchen. So she went through the Bad Girl Ventures eight-week entrepreneurial training program in 2015 and was one of the 10 finalists.
 
“It was great experience,” Miller says. “It provided support, networking and the business aspects.”
 
Then she participated in Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen’s food business incubator to learn about food safety, marketing and product labeling.
 
Although Miller is still perfecting her website, customers who are interested in ordering can email or call (216) 925-0818 for more information. When the Baby Munch website is complete, Miller will accept online orders for both delivery and pick up at the Farmers Market. For a limited time, she is offering free delivery within Northeast Ohio.

Trending Downtown: loft office space

Residential development in downtown Cleveland is going gangbusters, attracting the working millennial crowd and empty nesters alike. And much of the action is playing out in the city’s historic buildings.
 
The growth has interesting side effects. According to Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s fourth quarter Cleveland Office Market report, the conversions of vintage office and industrial buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) to apartments has effectively dropped the office vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 24 percent for class B office space and 22.4 percent for class C. Overall combined vacancy in the CBD is 19.9 percent.
 
However, Terry Coyne, vice chairman of commercial real estate for Newmark points out the vacancy is even lower when Newmark’s office space Zombie Report is factored in. The report does not include vacant space that is currently being renovated and off the market. Omitting these offices brings the vacancy rate down to 18.2 percent for class B and 15.4 percent for class C space.
 
Eleven such buildings are omitted in the Zombie Report because they are being converted to apartments or are functionally obsolete, Coyne says, including the Tower at Erie View, the Halle Building, the former Cleveland Athletic Club and the Standard Building, among others.
 
Part of the reason the office vacancies are declining is attributable to unoccupied office buildings being converted to apartments, says Coyne. And while he admits that the downtown living trend is encouraging for Cleveland, he says landlords and developers should also be thinking about converting downtown office space.
 
A new generation of offices
 
A new generation of workers are living and working downtown with educated millennials drawn to the city’s core. They are enamored by Cleveland’s history and its historic buildings, says Coyne. As residential living grows, he notes, so must attractive office space.
 
“It is not just millennials who like to live near their offices,” explains Coyne, adding that at one time residences and businesses were more centered in Cleveland suburbs. “People historically like to live near their offices. The difference is the offices are now moving downtown where the people live.”
 
The next generation of workers are driven to employers with what Coyne calls “cool loft office space,” which is often characterized by historic buildings with high ceilings, exposed brick and wood floors reminiscent of the structure’s original purpose.
 
“I believe there is great demand for loft office space and I think the numbers show it,” says Coyne, suggesting that as downtown buildings are converted to apartments, conversion into loft offices should not be forgotten.
 
“The overall health of the market is being driven by conversions,” explains Coyne, adding that the apartment conversions have stabilized. “The annual net absorption of office space in 2016," he also notes, "was approximately 254,000 square feet. However, the absorption for cool office space is currently keeping pace with supply.”
 
Leading the way
 
The successful developers downtown have noticed this change and are following suit with their developments. Coyne cites Tyler Village, 3615 Superior Ave., as one perfect example.  
 
Graystone Properties spotted this trend when they decided to convert the former Tyler Elevator building at East 36th Street and Superior Avenue, which they had owned since the 1970s, into loft office space,” says Coyne. “Without the use of tax credits, Graystone repurposed this million-square-foot-plus property into a neighborhood of retail, office and warehouse.
 
“The development is performing so well they are now able to charge for indoor parking in an area of town where parking is free and abundant,” he adds.
 
Coyne also cites the 1903 Caxton Building, 812 Huron Road, as another success story. “The leader in this trend—the Caxton Building—has seen an increase in rents over the past year for both parking and office that other landlords can only dream about,” he says. Quantifiably, the Caxton has seen a 90 percent occupancy rate over the past 10 years, according to commercial real estate broker Gardiner and Associates.
 
Meanwhile, Quicken Loans’ Cleveland offices garnered acclaim for its 2016 move into 81,000 square feet of space on the fourth and fifth floors of the Higbee Building at 100 Public Square. The company preserved much of the original architectural elements and historic nature of the building. Coyne says there is still 90,000 square feet of raw space available in the iconic 1931 art-deco building.

A fourth example is the renovation of the old Sammy’s Building in the Flats. With its views of the river and a rooftop deck, the owners are getting some of the highest rents in the city, Coyne notes.

While he estimates the overall vacancy rate of trendy office space in the CBD to be around 12.6 percent—or 2.9 million square feet—Coyne suggests landlords consider renovating their older buildings for loft-style offices, which drives drown vacancy rates and drives up rental rates.
 
Embracing change
 
Coyne asserts that the days of cubicles, dropped ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting are gone. “It’s a changing style of office,” says Coyne of the trend towards loft office space. Millennials, he notes, want more of a “SoHo look” in their workspaces. “The market changes and those people want a different style of office.”
 
It’s fairly easy to achieve this look and create a whole new office space, says Coyne, although some buildings are more conducive to it than others. “You can’t convert the KeyBank Tower into a loft building,” he says, “but you can expose the duct work and mimic an older, industrial type building.”
 
Coyne cites  the 1921 925 Building, formerly the Union Trust Building and later the Huntington Building, as being prime for redevelopment into loft space. He adds Hudson Holdings would be wise to consider loft offices in its redevelopment of the 925 Building.

“Overall, these changes in our market present opportunities for both tenants and landlords,” says Coyne. “And understanding these trends helps both sides make better decisions.”

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.”
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