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hotcards to match fiery growth with flaming guinness world record-setting attempt

Earlier this year, Hotcards CEO John Gadd moved the local printing and marketing company's headquarters to the former Futon Factory at 2400 Superior Ave., expanding from 14,000 to 22,000 square feet and giving the company the opportunity to do a ground-up renovation of new offices.

"We were able to do it from scratch, the way that we wanted, in order to reflect the culture we're trying to build," says Gadd, who has injected new life into Hotcards since he bought the company a few years ago.

The new space features 15-foot ceilings, expansive windows and walls adorned with tons of Cleveland artwork. Eleven people work in the Cleveland office. The company also has offices in other parts of Ohio as well as a Columbus manufacturing facility.

Gadd says the company's growth can be attributed to its "customer-obsessed" culture, which "takes care of people we serve" with utmost attention to detail.

Now Gadd aims to make the company burn even hotter -- and seek some thrills and raise money for worthwhile charities in the process -- by setting 20 people ablaze along the banks of the Cuyahoga River in a Guinness World Records-setting attempt.

"It's a magical spectacle to watch -- people lit on fire look like an art display," he says. "Because we’re Cleveland, we'll turn a negative [burning river thing] into a positive. We'll also raise a bunch of money for charity and make some news."

Gadd has brought in stunt expert Ted Batchelor of Chagrin Falls to manage the event. He says it's so safe it almost takes the excitement out of it. The current record is 17 people set on fire at one time, a feat that Batchelor himself pulled off in 2009.

The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 19, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, with spectators invited to watch from Shooters (tickets start at $15). The fire department and Coast Guard will be on hand in case of emergency. Local YouTube superstar Madi Lee will sing the national anthem before the big burn.

Gadd isn't sure how much money he'll raise for charity, since the event costs about $50,000 to produce. But any additional proceeds will go to the Cleveland Foodbank and Brick by Brick, a nonprofit group that builds schoolhouses in South Africa.

Source: John Gadd
Writer: Lee Chilcote

phoenix coffee opens roomy new cafe on coventry road

Phoenix Coffee, known for setting the standard for Cleveland coffee culture throughout the past two decades, recently moved into a airy new digs on Coventry Road. The roomy, contemporary storefront boasts large windows and a design that incorporates reclaimed materials.

Coffee Director Christopher Feran says that Phoenix's goal was to relocate from its unworkable space down the block to a storefront that it could completely customize, adding to the renaissance of local businesses near the northern end of Coventry.

With help from a low-interest storefront renovation loan from the City of Cleveland Heights, Phoenix completely renovated the space, which formerly housed C. Jones Coffee and Tea. The design incorporates reclaimed materials such as Mason jar lanterns, old subway tile, a wood planking design accent with Phoenix Coffee logo and a cream station made from an old cog from Bethlehem Steel. AODK, Rust Belt Welding and the Foundry Project all helped with the project.

The new Phoenix coffee shop also has a pour-over bar, where customers can sit and watch coffee being made to order by the cup, a growing trend in artisan coffee over the past several years.

Next up: Phoenix is scouting for a fourth location with commissary space, a central kitchen where food and coffee can be prepared in an open and viewable space. Ideal locations include the near west side, including Ohio City.

Source: Christopher Feran
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bike composting biz among those competing in idea challenge

The Enterprise Nurture an Idea Crowdrise Challenge offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to win $10,000 by competing to raise the most money online. Eleven innovative ideas in Cleveland are competing between now and November 8th for that big grand prize.

Ideas include a bike composting business in Gordon Square, an initiative to open retail startups in former shipping containers in downtown parking lots, a healthy corner store in Tremont, and a food cooperative distribution center in St. Clair Superior.

Daniel Brown of Rust Belt Gardens studied successful operations in other cities before setting his sights on launching a bike composting business. He says that such a business not only can be profitable, but also can help homeowners divert waste from landfills, create green-collar jobs and improve soil at community gardens.

"We need to buy specialized bikes and trailers, get the website up and running, and start to educate people about what is compostable and not compostable," Brown says of his startup. His partners in the challenge are Detroit Shoreway Community Development, Bike Cleveland and Groundz Recycling.
Cleveland Bike Composting would charge $10 to $25 per month to pick up five-gallon compost buckets from a home or business, depending on how often it is scheduled.

"At our community garden, we can't compost enough," says Brown of the demand. "Purchasing compost is expensive, but the process to make it is fairly easy if you know what you're doing. People in Cleveland are really buying into the local foods movement, and that lends itself to there being demand for a composting service."

Currently, there is no business in Cleveland that helps individual homeowners to compost, much less that does so by bike, which raises the sustainability to a new level of green.

Source: Daniel Brown
Writer: Lee Chilcote

music-themed bar in ohio city aims to create 'jukebox for the city'

It's no easy feat to win unanimous approval from the City of Cleveland's Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) for a variance to open a new bar in Ohio City. With parking scarce in the densely built neighborhood, such a prized variance typically is required for opening any kind of new establishment.

Yet Jukebox, a new bar set to open in the Hingetown area of that neighborhood early next year, earned that approval from BOZA this week, and owner Alex Budin is set to begin the build-out process.

"I want people in Ohio City and Cleveland to embrace this as their jukebox for the city," says Budin, a 29-year-old who is in the process of relocating to Cleveland from Chicago.

Budin has purchased a 100-CD jukebox that he will fill with a mixture of rock and roll classics, music by artists who are coming through town, local artists, obscure picks and even crowd-sourced suggestions from social media and other sources.

The music selection will change frequently and the jukebox will be free or "pay what you like," akin to how Radiohead has released recent albums.

To ensure that tipsy patrons don't program six Michael Jackson songs in a row, Budin is planning to establish some tongue-in-cheek jukebox rules. He also will create a "juke-book" that will help familiarize patrons with less familiar artists, albums, and tracks.

"You're not going to see Katy Perry in the jukebox, but you'll see familiar artists," he says.

Aside from the music, the cozy 1,300-square-foot tavern will feature six to 10 draft beers (many of them local), cocktails, wine and a limited food menu that includes flatbread pizzas. Just don't say the phrase "sports bar." There will be TVs, he allows, but that's not going to be the focus.

"Ohio City has become such a vibrant place -- it's really a destination," Budin says. "As Hingetown evolves, my hope is this becomes more of a neighborhood spot for local residents. There are 200-plus new apartments set to open here. I'm hoping it's a walkable place, and that people can get their coffee at Rising Star in the morning, then grab a beer and light food at Jukebox in the evening."

Jukebox will be located in the Striebinger Block at the corner of W. 29th and Detroit.

Source: Alex Budin
Writer: Lee Chilcote

city repair cleveland takes urban placemaking to the streets

A grassroots urban placemaking movement that started in Portland has made its way to Cleveland, and a few weeks ago, residents from three Cleveland neighborhoods came together to remove blight with community-led art.

City Repair, which started in Portland as a guerilla movement to add splashes of color to city streets, is so new here that the City of Cleveland denied a permit request at the last minute, forcing organizers to scramble to adapt their project. The original idea was to paint city intersections, and Cleveland officials now acknowledge that they need a new policy to deal with these requests.

In the end, City Repair Cleveland created three successful projects and built a greater sense of community in the process, says Adele DiMarco-Kious, consultant to the effort.

"This is about neighbors getting to know one another and taking shared action about things important to them in their neighborhood," she adds. "You get people to come together, take ownership of the public realm and start taking action and it has a multiplier effect. People build trust, take action and build a sense of power."

In Buckeye-Shaker Square, residents created a vision for a mural that they hope will be painted on a bridge over the RTA tracks that historically has divided their two neighborhoods; Clark-Fulton residents beautified the long-neglected Newark Court alley by painting a mural of the river that once ran through the community; and Stockyard residents covered up a blighted retaining wall with colorful designs.

DiMarco-Kious says the impact goes far beyond the physical projects themselves, as neighbors work shoulder-to-shoulder and families come out of their houses to help paint.

City Repair Cleveland was supported by Neighborhood Connections, a small grants and community building program affiliated with the Cleveland Foundation.

Source: Adele DiMarco-Kious
Writer: Lee Chilcote

opportunity corridor could be missed opportunity without better planning, advocates say

Opponents and proponents of the Opportunity Corridor, a 3.5-mile planned roadway that would connect I-490 with University Circle, don’t agree on much. Opponents say that the road is a glorified highway that will encourage drivers to bypass east side neighborhoods without providing much local community benefit. Proponents say the roadway will connect low-income communities with transportation networks and jobs while spurring new development.

“We think this is an example of outdated planning,” said Angie Schmitt of Clevelanders for Transportation Equity at a forum on the Opportunity Corridor, held at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “For decades, we’ve built a highway system and been told that prosperity would follow. A lot of times, this has been way oversold.”

Schmitt believes that the Opportunity Corridor could “entrench auto-dependency” and hurt neighborhoods, and says younger workers want pedestrian-friendly development.

Yet Vicki Eaton-Johnson of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation says that the Opportunity Corridor is a true opportunity if done right. “Our neighborhood has planned with anticipation of this roadway for 10 years,” she said, pointing to the proposed New Economy Neighborhood on E. 105th Street as a benefit.

“Fairfax’s responsibility is to leverage what happens for community benefit,” she added, arguing that the medical and technology businesses that the Opportunity Corridor is expected to attract will provide some jobs to community residents. 

However, there is increased consensus that the Opportunity Corridor must be better designed or it will be a missed opportunity. Panelists said it should be a truly multi-modal roadway that not only maximizes development opportunities, but also works for cyclists and pedestrians while making the area more attractive and vibrant.

“I am a proponent of getting this right, and we need to create complete neighborhoods and complete streets,” said Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle Incorporated.

Schmitt criticized a proposed 10-foot-wide, multipurpose path on the south side of the roadway as a “bone” that was thrown to cyclists in order to pacify some vocal critics. The car lanes are 12-13 feet wide like a highway, which will encourage speeding, she argued. She also said the intersections are not designed to be pedestrian-friendly. Moreover, Schmitt argued that there aren’t enough intersections (13 are planned).

Although Opportunity Corridor proponents refuted Schmitt’s notion that the roadway represents dated thinking, some agree that more planning is needed to get it right. “Angie is right that we’ve got to plan this thing at the intersection level,” Ronayne commented, lamenting a short timeline and lack of funding for alternative plans.  

Architect Jennifer Coleman commented that the City of Cleveland needs to develop a form-based zoning plan for the area in order to foster the kind of development that will lead to community revitalization. “We can do better,” she said in response to drawings showing single-story, office-park development on the vacant land around the roadway.

Moderator Steve Litt called on panelists to lead a community-based planning process and present an alternative plan to the Ohio Department of Transportation, which has awarded $331 million to the corridor. The project is expected to start in fall of 2014.

Source: Angie Schmitt, Chris Ronayne, Vicki Eaton-Johnson, Steve Litt
Writer: Lee Chilcote

developer breaks ground on custom home project in the flats

A veteran urban developer has broken ground on a three-unit, single-family development on Columbus Road in the Flats. Phase I of the project is sold out, and the owner is planning three additional high-end, custom-built homes on an adjacent parcel.

David Sharkey of Progressive Urban Real Estate, who is both the sales agent and a developer of the Columbus Hill project, says the development is unlike anything else currently on the market. The homes mesh with the topography of the Columbus Road hillside to offer outstanding views of downtown, the Cuyahoga River and the Flats.

"It's a very unique spot down there," says Sharkey. "It's in the middle of nowhere and the middle of everything at the same time. The amount of development will be limited because there isn't much land, but you can walk to West 25th Street."

The homes, just up the hill from Hoopples bar and the Columbus Road bridge, feature living rooms with 12-foot ceilings, 3 or 4 bedrooms, attached garages and massive roof decks. They are selling in the upper $300,000s. Tremont-based developer Civic Builders is spearheading Columbus Hill.

Asked if Cleveland's high-end new construction market is on the rise, Sharkey says, "Absolutely. The biggest thing holding it back right now is appraisals. We had a hard time getting the first unit appraised... I hear that other developers are holding back because of that. Right now, the market's topping out at 400."

The buyers primarily are empty-nesters from out of town who wish to customize their finishes and are willing to wait 9 to 12 months for the new homes to be built.
Source: David Sharkey
Writer: Lee Chilcote

city of euclid celebrates opening of park, pier along revitalized waterfront

The City of Euclid recently completed Phase I of its ambitious Waterfront Improvements Plan, creating an expanded fishing pier, a new multi-purpose trail and an accessible switchback ramp to the lakefront.

Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik says the $1.7 million project is part of a larger, $30 million push to expand Euclid's waterfront with a new, three-quarter mile beachfront and marina that he hopes will become a regional draw.

"We want to re-establish the historic beaches along the shoreline and make sure they're accessible, as Cleveland and the Metroparks are trying to do," he says.

Phase I of the waterfront plan was funded by $1.4 million from the City of Euclid and $355,000 from the State of Ohio. The city will seek additional aid to support future phases of the plan. "We'll be stopped dead in our tracks if we don't have assistance from the federal, state and county governments," Cervenik says.

Euclid now owns the majority of the three-quarter mile stretch of lakefront thanks to a donation from the K&D Group, a large apartment developer that owns lakefront property.

Over the long-term, Cervenik envisions a paved multi-purpose path along the entire stretch of cobble beach, which would include restored natural habitat. He also envisions sailing and kayak lessons and boating at the new marina once built.

For now, Euclid residents and visitors can enjoy the revitalized Sims Park, which Cervenik says complements nearly $14 million of recent development downtown.

Source: Bill Cervenik
Writer: Lee Chilcote

beaumont breaks ground on $9.5m STEM building to prepare girls for cutting-edge careers

Beaumont School recently broke ground on a $9.5 million addition that will include a STEM education building, student commons, administrative offices and new school entrance that fronts North Park Boulevard.

The 25,000-square-foot building will house eight science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms that replace a dated science wing. The expanded labs will allow for more hands-on learning that can be integrated into the entire curriculum.

“An education at Beaumont provides our young women with excellent opportunities for academic achievement, but also inspires them to give back to the community to make a difference in society," says Sister Gretchen Rodenfels, OSU, president of Beaumont School, in a release. “With an improved campus and dynamic STEM presence, Beaumont students will be given a strong foundation to solve the problems affecting society now and in the future.”

With the U.S. falling behind other countries in math and science education, many schools have been renewing their focus on STEM education. Beaumont's new STEM building will help young women advance in cutting-edge careers.

Source: Sister Gretchen Rodenfels
Writer: Lee Chilcote

hildebrandt artist collective to open studios, art gallery in historic warehouse

The Hildebrandt Artist Collective is set to open studio and gallery space in the historic Hildebrandt building, a gigantic warehouse located on Walton Avenue on Cleveland's near west side, sometime next month.

The group joins existing tenants Rust Belt Welding, Soulcraft Woodshop and Wake Robin Fermented Foods in the sprawling complex, which was built a century ago as a meat packing company but has evolved into a hub for local food and art.

Fiber artist Katie Simmons says that she launched the space with about 10 other artists to provide affordable, collaborative workspace for young, emerging artists.

"A lot of these artists have just graduated from college, and they don't have a lot of extra funds, yet being an artist is difficult if you don't have space," she says. "By having a shared space, everybody brings something to the table and we can collaborate with one another, and yet we each have our own space, too."

The group also plans to open a gallery called The Lunchroom, and the entire building will be open for a First Friday art walk beginning in December.

"The building is always evolving," says Simmons, who also works at Great Lakes Brewing Company. "There are more artists moving in here."

Source: Katie Simmons
Writer: Lee Chilcote

st. vincent de paul steps in to keep second-largest food pantry in northeast ohio going

Ninety two percent of residents in the Central neighborhood live below 200 percent of the poverty line, qualifying them to receive food from food pantries. Yet until recently, the future of the city's largest food pantry -- and the second-largest food pantry in Cuyahoga County -- was seriously in doubt.

Recently, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Cleveland (SVDP) stepped in to assume management of Brother Hubbard's Cupboard in the Carl Stokes Building at 6001 Woodland Avenue, which serves 1,700 people per month and over 20,000 annually.

"The need is still going up based on the number of people we're serving at food pantries, and the working poor tend to be the last ones affected by an economic upswing in a positive way," says John Litten, Executive Director of SVDP. "Northeast Ohio has been slower to recover than we've been led to believe."

The pantry previously was managed by the Capuchin Franciscan Brothers under the direction of Brother Walt Robb, but was in danger of closing when it was announced that Robb was leaving for another assignment.

Litten says SVDP has risen to the task of managing a massive food pantry that requires almost daily deliveries from the Cleveland Food Bank. Yet he stresses that it's about a lot more than just giving out food. "It's the human side that really gets to our mission, the person-to-person service," he says. "For many people, this may be the only person who's helping you today, smiling at you, asking how you're doing."

Although word is still getting out about the newly renamed SVDP Woodland Pantry, Litten says it's already making a difference. "The impact on the neighborhood is huge."

Source: John Litten
Writer: Lee Chilcote

noaca director touts bikes, multi-modal transportation in annual address

Speaking last week at the annual meeting of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the regional transportation planning agency for Northeast Ohio, Executive Director Grace Gallucci promised a more strategic distribution of money for projects and greater emphasis on multi-modal transportation options.

"We want more choices; that's what freedom -- being an American -- is about," she said. "NOACA is not trying to vilify the automobile; we're trying to attract the best and the brightest. Bicycling is increasingly popular, and more communities are integrating bike plans. Americans are driving less for the first time in a generation, and that trend is clearly led by the Millenial generation."

NOACA also has launched a far-reaching plan to assemble information on the condition of every highway, road and street in five counties, and use this information to make objective decisions about transportation spending. "Making decisions in an objective, data-driven way is more important now than ever. If there ever was a time to make decisions make economic sense, the time is now."

Gallucci touted NOACA's new Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan, a $15 million investment in the City of Cleveland's W. 73rd Street Extension Project and the Clifton Boulevard streetscape project among NOACA's recent, big ticket investments.

Peter Rogoff, Federal Transit Administrator, gave the keynote address. He argued that transit-oriented development projects can spark urban revitalization if done right, citing Cleveland's bus-rapid transit along the Euclid Corridor as one example of success.

Cleveland is a "national model for doing" with the Euclid Corridor project, Rogoff stated, because the project cost a lot less than light rail but resulted in big ridership gains and major economic development along the corridor. Other cities are studying how Cleveland did it and replicating our success, he added.

Source: Grace Gallucci, Peter Rogoff
Writer: Lee Chilcote

piccadilly artisan yogurt to open design-focused shop in ohio city, clifton up next

The entrepreneurs behind Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt, who opened their first location in the old Grog Shop space on Coventry Road less than a year ago, will open their second location in Ohio City this fall.

Adrian and Cosmin Bota, Romanian-born brothers who grew up in Parma, have also signed a letter of intent on a retail space at West 117th and Clifton.

The Ohio City location is a slender, 1,100-square-foot storefront that's sandwiched between Crop and Bonbon Cafe in the 2500 block of Lorain Avenue. Adrian Bota says the location, which will offer the same organic, locally-sourced frozen yogurt that's available in the Coventry store, is perfect for the urban-oriented company.

"Our whole focus was not to be in the suburbs, and to focus on urban areas we’re both interested in and want to promote," says Bota. "We were looking for areas in Cleveland that had same vibe [as Coventry Village] and that we could be a part of. Ohio City was our top choice for expansion. It's a great place because people are moving back and they're really interested in reviving that neighborhood."

Bota says the new store will feature unique, creative design with an urban flair. Ariel and Otelia Vergez of design firm Vergez Inc. helped design the interior, which will feature refinished plywood design accents, tables made from reclaimed wood, and a lounge area that might feature a porch swing (the Botas haven't made up their minds yet). Local architect John Williams developed the interior plans.

Bota says the Coventry location has been successful enough that they were able to use some of their profits to launch additional stores. Construction is underway on a third location next to Melt in the Short North district of Columbus. He is talking with representatives of Downtown Cleveland Alliance about a downtown shop.

The Bota brothers, who worked at the West Side Market as teenagers, intend to source as many ingredients as possible from the market and other local vendors.

Source: Adrian Bota
Writer: Lee Chilcote

150k-sq-ft victory center nears completion in health-tech corridor

Core and shell renovations of the 150,000-square-foot Victory Center, a $26 million project located along the Health-Tech Corridor, are almost complete. Tenant build-outs will follow, and although none have signed leases yet, developer Scott Garson says that will change as his team finishes the common spaces and shows the property to more prospective tenants.

"Everybody thinks it's wonderful, great… The trick is getting the first one in," he says. "I have enough letters of intent out there that I'm confident it's only a matter of time."

Garson says the demand is there for flexible, ready-to-grow office space geared towards biomedical, research and technology companies, which is why he decided to undertake the project. He points out that nearby buildings owned by Geis Companies and Cumberland Development are almost completely full.

So far, Garson has completed the project without a bank loan, using partner equity and a $720,000 loan from the city, $2.5 million in tax increment financing, federal and state historic tax credits, and a $1 million State of Ohio job ready sites grant. Garson expects to secure bank financing in the near future for tenant build-outs.

The building's unique features include a new interior with a historic waffle slab ceiling, window wells that allow plenty of natural light, copious backup power, fiber-optic connectivity, and the right mechanicals in place for laboratory space. The building will be certified LEED Silver, saving tenants 20 percent on utility costs. Finally, it has views of downtown, free parking and HealthLine access.

"We went through a recycling program with the materials and our landscaping uses stormwater management strategies," says Michael Augoustidis of Domukur Architects, the firm that designed the project. "It's very energy-efficient."

Although he's not ready to declare victory yet, Gardon says the historic building, which was built in 1917 as the Arts Center, is nearing the goal line and ready to score.

Source: Scott Garson
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cleveland cyclewerks to open first exclusive dealership in gordon square warehouse

Cleveland Cyclewerks (CCW), a startup that manufactures and sells its own motorcycles, is set to open the first Cyclewerks-exclusive dealership at its warehouse in the Gordon Square Arts District. The owners will host a party on Saturday, October 5th with food trucks, kegs of free beer and tours of the shop, which sells accessories and also repairs bikes.

"A year ago, this place was a mess," says general manager Jon Dale. "We cleaned it out, pressure washed everything and built a new plywood floor. We wanted to keep the old building feel, though, with the brick walls and the concrete floors."

The shop at Herman and W. 65th Street will be open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, and will soon be open on Saturdays, as well. The repair shop specializes in vintage British and Japanese bikes, and the staff can custom-build CCW bikes based on a customer's preferences. All of the company's models, including the soon-to-be-released ACE, will be on display in the store.

Owners Scott Colosimo and Jered Streng created CCW after getting laid off from their industrial design jobs in 2009. The lightweight bikes have 250cc engines, are inexpensive to maintain, and get 100 miles to the gallon. They've been described as having a "retro-futuristic" look and are priced at only $3,295.

Dale says that Colosimo and local architect Robert Maschke purchased the vacant, 70,000-square-foot warehouse, which was last home to a rubber stamping plant but built as a meat packing plant, for a small sum. They are slowly refurbishing portions of it and leasing it out to small companies or using it for CCW's operations.

CCW has grown tremendously over the past few years, and now sells bikes at 40 dealerships in the U.S. and 15 countries throughout the world. Dale, a Cleveland native, says that the company has allowed him to stay in the city and do what he loves.

"Not only is my passion my job, but I get to help revive the city," he says.

Source: Jon Dale
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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