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mcnulty divulges plans for market culinary building in ohio city

Sam McNulty has the best kind of problem an owner can have; he's selling so much beer at Market Garden Brewery and NanoBrew in Ohio City that he can hardly keep up with demand. Selling kegs to patrons or restaurants that want to carry popular varieties like Pearl Street Wheat or CitroMax IPA is out of the question.

McNulty and his partners expect to solve their space crunch by early next year with the redevelopment of the Market Culinary Building, a 43,000-square-foot warehouse at W. 24th Street and Bridge Avenue. McNulty has taken to calling the place the "palace of fermentation."

After purchasing the building last year for $800,000, McNulty, brewmaster Andy Tveekram and partners Mike Foran and Mark Priemer will spend an undisclosed sum rehabbing it into a hub for beermaking, cheesemaking, charcuterie, distilling, kombucha and other types of fermentation. They'll offer classes and tours from beermaking to sausage making to butchering whole, pasture-raised animals.

"Bar Cento was the first restaurant in the state to serve farm-raised venison," explains McNulty. "We had a big coming-out party for venison. We had a whole deer sitting on the bartop, and Chef Lambert did a demonstration of how to break down a whole animal. That event sold out within two hours of listing tickets for sale."

"People are very interested in artisanal food, who’s making it," he adds. "They want to know it’s local, fresh, and the animals are raised, harvested humanely."

The building, which sits on an acre of land, will solve the beermaking problem and then some -- the large space offers room to grow. McNulty says the foursome also plans to open a retail shop sometime next year to sell homemade products.

"We'll sell charcuterie, cheese, fresh eggs," he says. "Everything we put out will be on a very boutique level. We'll pick out four to six recipes we've perfected at Market Garden and then make them to distribute to restaurants in the area."

The point is to complement the West Side Market, which McNulty wholeheartedly supports but feels needs to boost local products and update its hours. "At one point we considered buying a stand, but we didn't want to limit ourselves to the impractical hours the market keeps. We'll be open on days the market isn't."

Source: Sam McNulty
Writer: Lee Chilcote

downtown jazz club debuts with unusual blessing from church pastor

"Jazz is like the kind of man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with." That might sound like a curious quote for a pastor to use in blessing a jazz bar, yet these were Mark Giuliano's words at the opening of the new Take 5 Jazz Club in downtown Cleveland. The quote comes from jazz legend Duke Ellington.

"We know how important live music is for gathering people; we're for that kind of community building," explains Giuliano, Pastor of Old Stone Church on Public Square and President of the Downtown Residents Association. "We want a place where you can have great food and a couple drinks, listen to live music, be able to visit and have a sense of community. What [the owners] have done is take an old, divey bar and brought new life to it."

Giuliano believes Take 5 will fill a gap in the Warehouse District entertainment scene by offering music that's geared towards an older, multicultural crowd.

"There are an awful lot of empty-nesters like my wife and I [downtown]," he says. "We're not really going to be doing the club scene over on W. 6th at two in the morning. This is a place where everybody feels welcome and has a place."

Take 5, which opened on March 21, offers live jazz, R&B and blues from Thursday through Sunday nights. It is located at 740 Superior Avenue, in the former House of Cues and Prime Rib Steakhouse location in the Warehouse District. The venue also offers an extensive tapas menu prepared by executive chef Jeremy Rolen.

Owners Brian Gresham and Claude Carson have renovated the once-shabby House of Cues into an upscale jazz venue that caters to a professional crowd. Gresham says he saw an opening in the scene due to all the development taking place downtown.

"With the casino, med mart and Flats being revitalized, we wanted to fill a niche," he says. "We more or less took concepts from places that were once in the area that did very well -- The Bop Stop, Wilberts and Sixth Street Down Under."

The owners renovated the interior with new lighting and other improvements. A black ceiling makes it "feel like you're in a true musical venue," Gresham says.

Take 5 welcomed trumpet player and vocalist Skip Martin for its opening weekend, and Gresham is currently working to bring Sean Jones to town, as well. The venue's performers will include a mix of regional and national acts.

Source: Mark Giuliano, Brian Gresham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

more bike boxes are coming to a cleveland neighborhood near you

Some creative, outside-the-box thinking by the city's leading urban design and cycling advocates has led to the creation of four additional "bike boxes," which are to be installed this spring in various Cleveland neighborhoods.

The newest wave of bike boxes are modeled after a successful pilot project at Nano Brew in Ohio City. That installation transformed a steel shipping container into a colorful curbside bike garage for two-wheeled visitors.

By offering secure, covered parking in a bike corral that also functions as dynamic, placemaking public art, the Bridge Avenue bike box does more than simply provide practical parking: It brands the city as a place that prioritizes cycling.

"It's really a center of gravity," says Greg Peckham, Managing Director of LAND Studio, the nonprofit that spearheaded the project with Bike Cleveland. "It's as much about a safe, convenient, protected place to park your bike as it is about making a statement that cycling is an important mode of transportation in the city."

Peckham says that Ohio City's bike box is very well used on days when the West Side Market is open and in the evening when riders coast in for dinner or a drink. With the street's bike racks often at capacity, the bike box was critical, he says.

The new bike boxes will be installed in time for Bike Month in May. The locations are Gordon Square (a barn-red beauty outside Happy Dog), Tremont (two "half loaves," as Peckham calls them, outside South Side and Tremont Tap House), St. Clair Superior (location TBD) and a final, undetermined community.

The bike boxes are being custom-fabricated by Rust Belt Welding, which is an entrepreneurial duo that has made creative bike parking a calling card for their work. Each of the boxes is being designed with neighborhood input -- hence Tremont's half-boxes, which amount to a shipping container split in two.

The project is being supported by Charter One Growing Communities, which has also funded retail attraction efforts in Ohio City, downtown and St. Clair Superior.

Peckham says the new designs accommodate more bikes and use lighter colors. Users can expect more innovations in the future -- LAND Studio is working to secure funding so that green roofs and solar panels can be added to the boxes.

The bike boxes are being maintained through partnerships with neighboring businesses, which agree to maintain, clean and keep secure the facilities.

Source: Greg Peckham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

shoppes on clifton project inching forward in spite of opposition, says developer

The Carnegie Companies, a Cleveland developer, has been around since the 1930s. The firm takes a long-term view on its properties -- very long-term. That may help to explain why, after more than a decade of planning and two co-developers that left them standing at the altar, the property at W. 117th and Clifton Boulevard still is undeveloped.

Nonetheless, the firm finally is preparing to move forward with the Shoppes on Clifton project, according to a representative who spoke on condition of anonymity. Carnegie Companies is aggressively courting a lead anchor tenant -- a small grocer store or market -- as well as other food or restaurant tenants.

"Our timeline is as soon as we can get something done," says the representative, citing the need to secure an anchor tenant to seek approvals and break ground. "We're pursuing a grocery or market very actively. I can tell you if we can put together the anchors we're talking to, we have oversubscribed interest for the smaller spaces up front. We're looking at restaurants, specialty food retailers."

The developer would not comment on a site plan that was leaked to the media by Neighbors in Action, a group of residents opposed to the demolition of the historic Fifth Church on the site. Neighbors in Action wants the developer to reuse the church and develop buildings close to the street with the parking in back.

The developer did confirm that the site plan was being actively considered, though he stated it is not necessarily the final plan. Developed by architect Brian Fabo, the plan shows three structures of 16,000, 10,500 and 6,000 square feet plus a parking lot at the corner of W. 117th and Clifton. One building would be close to the street on Clifton; the other two would be set back to maximize visibility.

The developer says that the City of Cleveland, which owns Fifth Church, asked the Carnegie Companies several years ago to consider incorporating the church site into their project. Councilman Jay Westbrook has previously stated that the city will pursue demolition of the church, which many consider structurally unsound and beyond saving. Neighbors in Action believes the church should be rehabilitated.

"It would be an incredible undertaking to try to reuse the church," the developer says. "It looks like it's been bombed out because of water infiltration and other issues."

The developer adds the unfortunate reality is that the church site is useless unless parking is placed in front. No major retailer would consider leasing a space in the development without maximum visibility. If buildings were constructed along Clifton to the corner, it would obscure the church site in the northwest corner.

"In today’s world, they prefer, if at all possible, to have parking in front," he says. "It maximizes visibility and reduces liability for the retailers. If parking is hidden from traffic sources... Things happen in hidden parking lots. It's been an issue in the past."

Neighbors in Action commented in a press release: "The Shoppes on Clifton plan, being developed by Carnegie Companies, is nothing more than a suburban style retail strip center ill placed in a historic district deserving of quality, character and good urban design, and is a far cry from actual shops on Clifton Boulevard."

Prior to groundbreaking, the Carnegie Companies must seek approval from the city's Design Review and Planning Commissions, which may push for a project that retains the traditional urban character of buildings that are close to the street. Developers in Cleveland and other cities have built new retail or mixed-use projects with little setback (Uptown in University Circle is one example).

The developer says they will pursue the project with or without the church property, but the new proposal involves salvaging and incorporating major elements of the church. Specifically, the main entrance along Lake Avenue could be incorporated into pedestrian-friendly entrance to the new development.

Neighbors in Action stated in a press release that a "source" had informed the group that Giant Eagle Express, Chipotle and a dollar store were being considered as lead tenants in the project. The Carnegie Companies would not discuss tenant negotiations, saying that it was premature since leases have not been secured.

There is no specific timeline for the project, but the developer stresses that Carnegie Companies is ready to pull the trigger as soon as it lands an anchor.

"We think that it is a very positive project for all stakeholders."

Source: The Carnegie Companies
Writer: Lee Chilcote

deagan's owner to open humble wine bar in downtown lakewood

The once-dumpy strip mall in downtown Lakewood known as "Drug Mart Plaza" will no longer be boring. Dan Deagan, owner of the popular Deagan's Kitchen and Bar, plans to open a wine bar in the renovated plaza sometime this summer.

"Lakewood doesn't have any wine bars, and we sell a lot of wine here," says Deagan. "Lakewood has been good to us; I wanted to do something close."

Since Deagan named his first venue after himself, he said that he decided to go with a more modest name this time around. Thus, the new place will be called Humble Wine Bar.

The name also is a nod to the kind of venue he wants to create -- one in which wine snobbery is left at the door and anyone can learn about and enjoy good wine.

"A lot of people are intimidated by wine bars, and honestly, I'm one of them," he says. "I walk in and they hand me a War and Peace-size wine list, and it's overwhelming. We want it to be approachable and affordable."

Creating the right atmosphere is less about the size of the wine list than having a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and a knowledgeable staff that can educate customers about wine and make suggestions. "It won't be cold and stuffy," promises Deagan.

The 60- to 70-seat venue, which will employ 15 to 20 people, will have a full liquor license and also sell craft beers. A "simple but very good" cocktail list will also be available.

Humble Wine Bar's roll-up glass garage doors and new patio on Detroit will help transform the long-dumpy plaza into yet another pleasant outdoor venue in Lakewood.

Deagan says the open kitchen will offer thin, Neapolitan-style pizzas, antipasti, cheeses, cured meats and other small plates. He's shooting for a June opening.

Deagan is opening Humble Wine Bar with his wife Erika, business partner and soon-to-be sommelier Amanda Bernot, and business partner Dan Stroup.

Humble Wine Bar will be located at 15412 Detroit Avenue.

Source: Dan Deagan
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cleveland brew shop owner to convert vacant tremont lot into hop farm

This summer, the Tremont neighborhood will have a new gateway welcoming people to the neighborhood: Cleveland's first dedicated hop farm. Boasting 16-foot tall posts laden with vines, the parcel on W. 14th Street, just south of the I-490 bridge, will not only create a dramatic entranceway into the area, it will also be used to grow three to four different varieties of fresh hops.

"Shortly after opening, Cory Riordan [Director of Tremont West Development Corporation], came into the shop. He actually signed up for a beer-making class," says Paul Benner, owner of the Cleveland Brew Shop in Tremont and creator of the hop farm. "He mentioned they had a piece of land controlled by ODOT down the street. He asked, 'Is there anything you can do to help make it productive?'"

"It actually makes sense to grow hops there," says Benner, who got excited and soon struck a partnership with Tremont West. He will share the unused parcel of land with a group of Tremont gardeners who have raised crops there for years.

Benner's purpose is twofold: to sell wet fresh hops to homebrewers at harvest time, and to partner with local breweries to create a new, locally-sourced beer.

Fresh hops are not often available to homebrewers, who typically rely on dried hops that can be used year-round. Benner believes there is unmet demand. "If you can get hops immediately off the vine and use them in your beer, the flavor and aroma will be so much higher than if you buy something dried online," he says." A lot of times you can’t purchase fresh wet hops, or you can get them, but not to brew the same day. This is like picking a strawberry and eating it right off the vine."

Benner estimates that the plot will yield 20 to 25 pounds of hops, enough for about 50 five-gallon batches of beer (or 2,500 12-ounce beers). He has already gotten a strong response from the homebrewing community and volunteers. Because he is planting mature, three-year-old vines, he's anticipating a harvest this August.

The locally-sourced beer will come later. Benner will employ volunteers to help cultivate the site and will offer workshops on growing hops. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Market Garden Brewery and Nano Brew already use fresh hops from Ohio City Farm, but his plot will be the only farm dedicated to growing hops.

"This will be another great thing to see when you're coming into Tremont," he says.

Source: Paul Benner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bad racket continues to expand homegrown recording studio in ohio city warehouse

Although it wasn't obvious to Thomas Fox at the time, losing his job at Go Media several years ago may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. It led him to create Bad Racket Recording Studio with partners James Kananen and Adam Wagner.

Since launching the studio in 2010, the group has expanded its presence in the music scene. Last year, they took on additional space, bolstered sound panels to create a better recording experience, and began hosting additional live concerts.

"January was our busiest month ever -- we were booked almost every day," says Fox, who handles marketing and operations for Bad Racket. "We're building a community of people that we're working with. Our customers have come from as far away as Philly and West Virginia, but right now it's mostly Cleveland bands."

What's different about Bad Racket, which occupies a warehouse space at W. 45th and Lorain (below Go Media's offices), is that it has created a recording space that feels like a cross between a living room and a comfortable stage.

"We're not a clean, polished space, but our emphasis is on creating a space for performance," says Fox. "All you do is show up, play your songs at your best and the rest is taken care of. People prefer live recordings -- although we do both."

Bad Racket, which charges $45 per hour for studio time, also handles video production. The recording space doubles as a stage used for live concerts.

Fox and his cohorts self-financed the studio and have reinvested profits back into the space. They've built walls from rockwall insulation and acoustic panels from "rolls of bike helmet padding from Zero Waste Landfill and whatever is cheapest at JoAnn Fabric." The result? A 1,200-square-foot space with great acoustics.

It's a labor of love that's paying off. "When there's a project we really, really want to do, budget is not an issue. Everyone here just wants to make great music. Most of us have separate jobs, but if anyone asks us what we do, we'd say Bad Racket."

Fox is also a leading force behind Brite Winter Fest (he books the music), which recently attracted 20,000 people to Ohio City on a cold, snowy February evening.

Source: Thomas Fox
Writer: Lee Chilcote

thanks to more downtown visitors, rta extends trolley service

With over 11 million visitors expected in downtown Cleveland this year (up from nine million last year), RTA officials sought last year to better connect the city's neighborhoods via public transportation. Their goal was to ensure that RTA is the transportation mode of choice for visitors to downtown. 

Six months ago, RTA was able to launch expanded, free shuttle service downtown on weeknights and weekends, thanks to $2.88 million in federal transit money and $720,000 in donations. The program is funded for the next three years.

Speaking at a downtown tour last week, RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese touted the trolley service as a huge success for downtown Cleveland that will enhance the visitor experience as the Global Health Innovation Center opens.

"RTA experienced five percent growth last year," he said. "We think downtown growth will help us. We want to make public transit a viable option for tourists."

As downtown experiences a so-called "parking crunch," Calabrese said that RTA is increasingly becoming the transportation mode of choice. Trolleys run until 11 p.m.

There are five lines: The C-line, which links the casino with the convention center; the L-line, which focuses on lakefront destinations; the NineTwelve line, which helps shuttle office workers from large garages to offices on E. 9th; the E-line on Euclid Avenue; and the B-line on Superior and Lakeside Avenues. Trolleys start at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends, and they arrive every 10 minutes.

The trolleys also serve downtown's growing residential population, expected to swell from 11,000 to 14,000 as new apartment projects open in the next two years. Another benefit? Helping office workers get around downtown easily.

Source: Joe Calabrese
Writer: Lee Chilcote

tenant buildout weeks away, global health innovation center gets ready for closeup

On March 31st, Cuyahoga County will turn over the Global Health Innovation Center -- formerly known as the Medical Mart -- to its individual tenants so they can begin to build out each of their spaces. 

It will be a landmark moment for the project, says Dave Johnson, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the GHIC. He expects the project to be majority leased when the ribbon is cut in June.

"The project will open ahead of schedule and under budget," says Johnson, who also cites the building's LEED Silver (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) status, a sought-after sustainable building rating.

GHIC tenants include a partnership between the Cleveland Clinic and GE Healthcare, a partnership between University Hospitals and Phillips Healthcare, Johnson Controls, and the Health Information Management Society.

The GHIC will include a display of the "home of the future," which will be built out by vendors and will feature medical devices that allow people to stay in their homes. UH and Phillips will showcase scanning equipment, while Johnson Controls will display the latest in hospital operating systems. Visitors will be able to view the behind-the-wall systems that would otherwise be invisible.

The Health Information Management Society will rotate exhibits based on what's hot in healthcare management. "It will be like a pretend hospital," says Johnson. "This is the organization around healthcare IT. The display will show equipment and how it interfaces. This is an entity bumped from the cancelled Nashville Med Mart project. It will become a magnet for companies to test IT equipment."

Officials are planning a public grand opening in June with a weekend of festivities.

Source: Dave Johnson
Writer: Lee Chilcote

landmark detroit shoreway building saved from wrecking ball by out-of-town investor

Captain Jeff Sanders has spent the past few decades training ship captains. He operates a training school in Seattle, where he lives full time. Yet the Cleveland native has always wanted a place to stay when he comes back to Cleveland, which he does frequently to visit his 95-year-old mother in a nursing home. 

Recently, Sanders completed renovations on a historic four-unit property that seemed destined for the wrecking ball until Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation (DSCDO) steered it into the hands of the right owner.

The Trenton sits at 7418 Franklin Boulevard (at the corner of W. 75th Street). The unique property features Italianate architectural details, a two-story front porch and an interior courtyard that lets additional light into the apartments.

Sanders, who converted the home into a three-unit, just received a community improvement award from DSCDO for his efforts. The project received special financing from the Cleveland Restoration Society's Heritage Home Program.

The renovation was a gut job. Sanders tore off the vinyl siding and restored the exterior with a handsome olive and red color scheme, redesigned the interior and installed all new mechanicals. The property includes many sustainable features.

Sanders combined two units into a townhouse-style apartment. "We blew out the dining room and created a cool interior staircase," he says. "We retained the old fireplaces."

One surprise was the floors. Initially, Sanders did not believe the old, three-inch pine floors were salvageable, but once sanded down, they refinished quite nicely.

Sanders plans to rent out two of the units -- including the 2,000-square-foot townhome for $1,400 per month -- while keeping one apartment for himself.

Source: Jeff Sanders
Writer: Lee Chilcote

landmark fifth church likely to be razed to make way for shoppes on clifton project

Fifth Church of Christ Scientist, built in 1927 at W. 117th and Clifton, has sat vacant for over two decades with little in the way of maintenance or repairs. In that time, it has suffered from major structural deterioration that would cost millions to fix.

Giant Eagle donated the property to the City of Cleveland in 2002, but it was in severe disrepair even then. The city has been unable to find any developers willing or able to repurpose it. The building is landlocked and has no available parking.

Although a neighborhood group has formed in the hopes of saving it, Anitz Brindza of Cudell Improvement Inc., which has tried for years to find a buyer or tenant for the historic site, says it is likely a fait accomplis that the building will come down.

"A lot of people that [organizer] Jeon Francis of Save Fifth Church has whipped into a frenzy are under the impression that the church is in a salvageable condition," says Brindza. "It is not. It is so deteriorated from neglect and abuse that a $10 million price tag would probably only scratch the surface. The dome is supported by steel infrastructure that really could come down at any time."

Francis disagrees. "Preserving the building truly could be a fantastic catalyst for the economic and social revitalization of this neighborhood. We want to work with the councilperson and the CDC to champion repurposing of this historic building."

The Save Fifth Church group has initiated a petition drive to collect signatures in support of the church's preservation, is pressuring Councilman Jay Westbrook to support saving the church, and is trying to help find a donor, buyer or developer.

The City of Cleveland has not formally stated its intention to pursue demolition of the building, and Westbrook did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

Brindza says that after years of delays, the Shoppes on Clifton project at W. 117th and Clifton adjacent to the church could move forward soon. The developer, The Carnegie Companies, is in active negotiations with a major anchor tenant.

Although the developer is not at liberty to name that prospective tenant, Brindza says that the neighborhood has always expressed a desire for a grocery store at this spot, and Carnegie has pursued major grocery tenants.

Any future development plans would be presented to the community before being submitted for city approvals. Brindza hopes for a pedestrian-friendly project.

"This is one of the most highly-coveted corners in Cleveland," Brindza says. "It has tremendous traffic counts. But the beauty of it is that it's a pedestrian area too. Whatever is designed needs to be an urban center to serve both pedestrians and commuters."

Major architectural elements of Fifth Church could be repurposed into the retail project or made into public art in other areas of the community.

Source: Anita Brindza, Jeon Francis
Writer: Lee Chilcote

club centrum brings weekend dance club to historic coventry village theatre

An entertainment industry veteran who watched the rise and fall of the Flats has opened a nightclub inside the historic Centrum Theatre in Coventry Village. He believes it can add to entertainment options in the community and help bring the venue back to life.

Mike Mercer, who ran Club Coconuts and Howl at the Moon on the West Bank, among other properties, recently opened Club Centrum inside the theatre. The property is owned by TRK LLC, a development company based in Columbus. The owners have put $3.5 million into the property since they purchased it in 2007.

"Thursday is 18 and over college ID night, and that has been tremendously successful with Case, John Carroll and Notre Dame students," says Mercer, who opened the venue in mid-February. "We're making use of the 50 by 50 theatre screen and bringing that back to life. We put in a brand-new DJ booth and probably have $100,000 in light and sound -- it's pretty spectacular."

The video dance club is open Thursday to Saturday from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. There is a large dance floor and raised areas for the exhibitionists. The screen offers an added element of fun (think dancing in front of a 50-foot Diana Ross).

"I'm happy to be coming home to an area like Coventry Village, where there's so much fun to be had," says Mercer, a Cleveland Heights native. "We saw this as a missing element that would help to take the area to another level."

The property previously housed a Johnny Malloy's that closed after several years. Fracas, a white-tablecloth restaurant, attempted to make a go of it but closed after six months.

Mercer claims that he will avoid the pitfalls that beset so many other clubs by maintaining a strict attitude towards security and a proactive stance with the Cleveland Heights police. "I meet with the chief's office every single week."

The developers have also brought back to life the Centrum Theatre marquee, investing $10,000 -- $5,000 in light bulbs alone -- in its restoration.

Source: Mike Mercer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

community development leader says city's population can be stabilized, all neighborhoods can succeed

During a recent address at the City Club of Cleveland, Joel Ratner of Neighborhood Progress Inc. touted recent success stories that the nonprofit has invested in, including a new home for The Intergenerational School underway at the Saint Luke's campus.

Ratner believes that even though Cleveland has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, the city can stabilize its population and begin to grow again through promoting thoughtful, equitable, synergistic development that helps everyone succeed.

"For a long time, there was a debate over whether it makes sense to invest in people or place," said Ratner. "However, we believe it should be people and place."

Ratner cited Pittsburgh as an example of a city whose population has been right-sized and has even begun to grow again in recent years.

As examples of why community development matters, Ratner presented statistics showing that neighborhoods where NPI invested heavily over the past decade not only fell less steeply in the recession, but are also coming back more quickly than others. He also believes that every Cleveland neighborhood can be successful.

Ratner touted the recently-announced Slavic Village Reclaim Project, which leverages private investment by Safeco Properties and Forest City to help rehab 2,000+ properties on 440 acres, as one example of innovative best practices.

He also cited NPI's partnership with the Key Bank Financial Education Center to help low-income residents build wealth through savings and investment programs. Through a possible merger with Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition and LiveCleveland, Ratner hopes to begin serving additional neighborhoods.

Source: Joel Ratner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

duohome boutique set to move from gordon square to cleveland heights

"I don't know exactly how long gentrification is supposed to take, but after five years I now clearly understand it's a much longer process than I thought it was. It's just not happening fast enough for us."

That's Tim Kempf, co-owner of the design and home furnishings boutique duoHome, on the recent decision to uproot his homegrown business from the ever-evolving Gordon Square Arts District to a new home at Fairmount and Taylor in Cleveland Heights.

Kempf and partner Scott Suscowicz were lured by the appeal of a "dedicated design district" alongside Paul Hamlin Interiors, Paysage and others in the quaint district known as The Shoppes of Fairmount. Less than stellar sales prompted a citywide search.

"The particular retail term is gravity," says Kempf. "Our district has marketed itself as an arts and entertainment district. The councilman and CDC have worked hard to attract new businesses. There just isn't enough retail gravity there yet."

Although Gordon Square has made amazing strides in the past five years, Kempf says the area needs more like-minded retailers to be viable for design businesses.

Asked if there are lessons to be learned, he elaborates, "I don't think you'd ever say to your wife, 'Hey honey, let's go get a drink and dinner, then look at home furnishings, then go to the ballet.' People don't buy a sofa every other week."

In other words, destination retailers like duoHome fare best when located next to complementary stores. "It's a whole lifestyle block," he says of Taylor-Fairmount.

The decision wasn't made lightly or easily. Kempf received recruitment calls from nearly every corner of the city once word was out. "We looked at all different neighborhoods in Cleveland, east and west. Even the 'burbs, God forbid."

Kempf has mixed feelings about leaving Detroit Shoreway because he loves the area. "It's sort of like when you're a child and have to go to a new school," he says. "Scott and I walk into Gypsy and they know what we want so they just make it."

Although Gordon Square is now losing duoHome, it is also celebrating the success of other soon-to-open, new retailers, including Yellowcake and Honeycomb Salon.

Nick Fedor, Economic Development Director for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, stated in an email, "DSCDO wishes duoHOME the best of luck at their new location and thanks them for their contributions to the Gordon Square Arts District over the past five plus years.  We are proud that Gordon Square served as an incubator to launch their business, and others as well."

He added, "We have a number of interested potential tenants for the space and look forward to making an announcement when a lease agreement has been reached."

duoHome will continue to emphasize well-priced home decor and home furnishings with an eye toward midcentury design. The duo behind duoHome also plan to ramp up interior design services, a growing part of their repertoire.

duoHome's new, 1,200 foot store at 3479 Fairmount Boulevard will open April 1st. "April Fool's Day," says Kempf with a laugh. "We hope that it's a good day for us."

Source: Tim Kempf
Writer: Lee Chilcote

near west partners kick off planning process to reimagine lorain avenue

This week, Ohio City Incorporated and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization launched an unprecedented joint process to develop a streetscape plan for long-suffering Lorain Avenue.

The street, which runs through the heart of Cleveland's west side, was historically a bustling neighborhood retail corridor. Although it fell on hard times beginning in the 70s, it has recently drawn investment by entrepreneurs like Ian P.E. of Palookaville Chili and David Ellison of D.H. Ellison Architects.

The street's classic, character-filled architecture as well as investment by major players like St. Ignatius High School and Urban Community School have made it an attractive breeding ground for up-and-coming members of the creative class.

If this week's public meeting was any indication, neighborhood residents, businesses and stakeholders will have plenty of passionate opinions about the future of this main street. They won't hold back in sharing them, either.

A capacity crowd that showed up to the meeting at Urban Community School voiced concerns about on-street parking, bike lanes, retaining the mixed-use character of the street and ensuring that low-income residents are engaged.

Behnke Associates and Michael Baker Jr. Inc. have been hired to help develop a plan that will include "traffic analysis, utility and signage recommendations as well as cycling analysis, green infrastructure and complete streetscape treatments," according to a handout provided by OCI, DSCDO and the City of Cleveland.

Early signs indicate that the plan will be quite different from those developed for Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street. For one thing, Lorain Avenue is narrower than those streets, which will make it tougher to widen sidewalks and create dedicated bike lanes. Secondly, the street's tenants range from antique shops to manufacturing businesses, making it a distinct challenge to serve all of them.

Nonetheless, representatives of the city and both CDC's pledged to create an inclusive plan that could serve as a model for "complete and green streets" that incorporate all modes of transportation and minimize environmental impacts.

Want to voice your vision for Lorain? A survey will be available beginning March 11th on the OCI and DSCDO websites, and a workshop is scheduled for May 28th.

Source: OCI, DSCDO, City of Cleveland
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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