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Jamilla Naji art at 78th St Studios - Photo Bob Perkoski
Jamilla Naji art at 78th St Studios - Photo Bob Perkoski | Show Photo

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popular east-side pub parnell's coming to playhousesquare

For 15 years, Declan Synnott has owned and operated the popular Parnell's Pub on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. In the ever-fickle bar biz, that's eons.
Synnott, who moved to the States from Dublin, purchased the bar (nee The Charles Stewart Parnell) from its previous owner in 1997. He expanded the bar into the adjoining space in 2004.
Synnott's next expansion will be a tad more ambitious: In March, Parnell's Downtown will open in PlayhouseSquare, in a space that has seen its share of short-lived operations. Most recently, it was home to Corks Wine Bar, which lasted a little less than three years.
"I plan on doing the same thing as Parnell's in the Heights, but just do it downtown," Synnott explains.
That means offering a casual, comfortable atmosphere, live soccer on the tellie, good prices on whiskey and the best Guinness drafts in town, and zero food.
"I want to cohabitate with all the restaurants down there like I have for all these years in Cleveland Heights," he adds. "There is a fine array of restaurants down there already. My expertise is in the beverage side of things. I'm going to stick with what I'm good at."
Other than some cosmetic changes, Synnott does not foresee making any significant changes to the space at 1415 Euclid Avenue (next door to the Allen Theatre), which in recent years also was home to Hamilton's Martini Bar.
Outgoing owner Greg Bodnar says that the crowds never materialized for him at Corks.
"The biggest problem down there is that nothing much goes on unless there's a show; and even then, it's an hour before the show and maybe an hour after," Bodnar explains. "If anything is going to make it there, an Irish bar will have the best chance."
In addition to the theatre crowd, Synnott hopes to attract commuters, neighborhood residents and of-age college students.
Synnott's partner in the business is Joseph Rodgers, who for 16 years was a bartender at Flannery's.

Sources: Declan Synnott, Greg Bodnar
Writer: Douglas Trattner

yellowcake inks deal to open brick-and-mortar store in gordon square

Valerie Mayen is both nervous and excited as she talks about taking Yellowcake, the independent clothing company she built from the ground up, from pop-up to permanent. In March, the 31-year-old Texas native, who came to Cleveland to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art and appeared on Season 8 of "Project Runway," will double her current retail space at W. 65th Street and Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District.

Yellowcake's new 1,500-square-foot space will offer expanded clothing lines, more menswear and additional kids' clothing. Mayen also will teach classes and offer shared workspace. D-day will be in January when Mayen punches through the wall of the former podiatry office next door. When the dust settles, she'll outfit her shop with new lighting, flooring, paint, sewing equipment and shared work stations.

"We've been here for 18 months as a pop-up store, and we decided to stick it out because we love the neighborhood," says Mayen. Although sales of her higher-end, locally-made women's dresses, coats and clothing haven't been what she hoped, she inked a three-year lease out of confidence in the area's upswing. "We're working our asses off to make this corner spot look amazing," she says.

Mayen also benefited from a $10,000 grant from Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization's inaugural Best Business Plan Competition. She will receive free rent during the buildout followed by a graduated payment schedule. The competition was funded by Councilman Matt Zone and Charter One Bank.

Mayen's long-planned co-working space for entrepreneurs in the fashion industry, Buzz and Growl, will take up residence in Yellowcake's new headquarters. She will sell a handful of memberships initially and plans to offer classes and tours as well.

Mayen urged her fellow Clevelanders to shop local and independent businesses during the holiday season -- and beyond. "People are conditioned to think that Forever21 and H&M prices are the norm. I recognize that $98 for a cotton dress is a lot. Honestly, our prices should be about 20 percent higher. We don't put them higher because I understand that there's a price people are willing to pay."

While she's excited about her new permanent store, the ambitious designer, who has built Yellowcake with her own sweat equity and hard cash, is not one to rest. "I'm happy with who we are, what we are and where we're at... ish," she says.

Source: Valerie Mayen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

lorain-carnegie bikeway opens, making bridge safer for pedestrians, cyclists

Nearly 100 years after it was first constructed, the Hope Memorial bridge, which is home to the famous Guardians of Transportation statues and connects downtown to Ohio City, is now considered to be "complete."

That's because a 14.5 foot protected bikeway just opened, making the street safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists who would prefer not to ride in the street. The $4.5 million investment is consistent with the city's new Complete and Green Streets law, which requires sustainable transportation options to be incorporated into new road projects.

"We really want to encourage more people to bike more often. Anytime you can create an environment where you can take kids out, you know it’s a safe place," says Jacob Van Sickle, Executive Director of the nonprofit group Bike Cleveland. "We're always advocating for infrastructure that makes biking as safe and stress-free as possible. To create a mode shift, that's where we need to be."

The Ohio Department of Transportation agreed to pay for the bikeway as well as bike-friendly enhancements to the Abbey Road bridge a few years ago. At the time, it was offered as a concession to multimodal transportation advocates who had pressed for bike lanes to be built on the new I-90 Innerbelt bridge.

The Carnegie-Ontario intersection also has been made safer for pedestrians and cyclists thanks to a new pathway along the bridge's northeast end. That pathway will lead cyclists and walkers to cross at Eagle Avenue. Finally, the Guardians of Transportation statues will also be lit at night as part of the roadway project.

Source: Jacob Van Sickle
Writer: Lee Chilcote

ohio city residents oppose mcdonald's development for local, global reasons

Belying a recent assertion by Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik that some Ohio City residents who oppose a new McDonald's at Lorain Avenue and Fulton Road are "a bit snobby" and part of the "$6-a-beer crowd," hundreds gathered at Franklin Circle Church on Tuesday to express their fears that it would be detrimental to the entire community.

"There is a misperception that it's white, middle-class people who don't want this," explains Krissie Wells, who has garnered over 700 signatures on a change.org petition opposing the McDonald's. "That couldn't be further from the truth. There are people from all backgrounds who support this [petition effort]. There are other affordable food options in the neighborhood, though not as many as I'd like."

McDonald's has proposed relocating its restaurant from Detroit Avenue and W. 70th Street to the site of the former Hollywood Video, which has been vacant for several years. The proposed McDonald's would sit close to the street, have an outdoor patio, and a two-lane drive-through in the rear of the property.

Despite efforts by McDonald's to incorporate feedback from the neighborhood and adhere to design review guidelines in the Lorain Historic District, the majority of residents at the meeting opposed it because they fear that it will bring traffic, trash and noise to the area. They would prefer to see development occur here that better fits with the area's historic character. Many residents also believe that McDonald's food is unhealthy and contributes to our nation's obesity problem.

Mike Fiala, a resident of W. 38th who lives adjacent to the site, argues that Lorain and Fulton is not the right location for a McDonald's. "The pedestrian retail overlay district here is all about promoting... pedestrian-oriented density," he said. "We need a building with greater massing. This will be a sea of concrete and asphalt."

McDonald's representatives and Larsen Architects presented an extensive proposal that showed how the restaurant would help activate a dead corner of long-struggling Lorain, but attendees remained largely unconvinced.

"I don't think this is the right spot for this use, based on one simple thing: Would you want a drive-through next to your home?" asks Councilman Joe Cimperman, an Ohio City resident whose ward includes the site at Lorain and Fulton. "To people who say something is better than nothing, I'd remind them that before W. 25th was W. 25th Street, there were proposals for a state liquor store and check cashing place [that were ultimately rejected]."

McDonald's has said that it will continue to pursue approvals through the City of Cleveland's Design Review, Landmarks and Planning Commissions. The project may also require variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals. At this time, it remains unclear what power residents have to stop the project. If they do, the future of the site also remains unclear, as no alternative use has been identified. An affordable housing development was proposed here earlier this year, but it was not awarded the necessary funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

Source: Krissie Wells, Mike Fiala, Joe Cimperman, McDonald's, Larsen Architects
Writer: Lee Chilcote

better bit of butter brings cookies, catering to near-east side

It's a match made in culinary heaven, to be certain. Bursting at the seams of their respective home-based kitchens, an artisan cookie maker and a scratch baker have joined forces to open a cozy bakeshop and catering kitchen at 4261 Mayfield in South Euclid.

"It's busier than I expected -- we've got nice foot traffic and neighborhood traffic," says Bob Sferra, owner of the full-service catering company Culinary Occasions, who partnered with Christine Mehling of Better Bit of Butter Cookies to open the Better Occasions Shop. Sferra, who got his start under famed Cleveland chef Parker Bosley, has studied French pastry arts and sources many ingredients locally.

Mehling is known for her creative, artisan cookies, including the cranberry-coconut with lemon glaze and apricot-cashew with lime glaze. She uses only natural products, including real butter and eggs from free-range chickens.

Sferra's business is up about 20 percent from last year, something he attributes to his growing referral-based business and the storefront. "The front is nice. It opens up the conversation to someone wanting to cater a party for the holidays," he says, adding that the shop is "somewhere in between homey and a little bit hip."

Adds Sferra: "When you take butter, eggs, sugar, chocolate and dried fruit and make something without adding any junk… For me, it’s almost like when I was a kid growing up in an Italian family. It’s just good. It’s good and it’s uncomplicated."

The Better Occasions Shop is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Source: Bob Sferra
Writer: Lee Chilcote

the langston leases first batch of 370 apartments on csu campus

With the opening of The Langston, a market-rate apartment development on Chester Avenue between E. 21st and 24th streets, Cleveland State University has taken another step towards becoming a vibrant, mixed-use residential community.

The apartments are part of a $45-million real estate project being developed by Polaris Real Estate Equities of Gates Mills in partnership with CSU. It is the largest downtown apartment development to be built in several decades.

The Langston features over 370 apartments in nine buildings. A parking garage, outdoor pool, clubhouse and shops also are part of the project. Approximately one-third of the units are completed; the rest will be done by June 2013.

"We're doing very well and are over 90 percent leased already," says Guy Totino, President of Polaris. The first units opened this past September. "The product has been received well. Students today are used to the same luxuries and amenities they have at home. That's the model that's occurring across the country as universities are having housing developed on or near their campus."

The apartments are evidence of a rising development trend -- that is, leveraging campus assets to spur urban development -- which has grown in popularity across the country. The developer says the suites are drawing both students and non-students alike who are interested in the excitement and convenience of downtown living.

"The strength of the corridor is tremendous," says Totino. "To the east, you have the Clinic and University Hospitals. A few blocks to the west, you have the Central Business District. Cleveland State is one of Cleveland's best kept secrets. It's a great economic driver that hasn't been tapped that well. We're excited about making this kind of investment and we think that we'll be very successful."

The suites have open layouts, contemporary decor, built-in study areas, high-speed Internet and in-suite laundry. The clubhouse has a kitchen and media room. The project also has private conference rooms and a fitness center.

Once it is fully built out next summer, the project will include an amenity center featuring a small movie theatre, business services area and a party room with billiard tables. The outdoor area will feature grills, a fire pit and picnic tables.

Studio apartments start at $800, one-bedrooms at $998, and two-bedrooms at $1,450. Tenants have the option of renting a unit within a large, four-bedroom apartment home. By doing so, they do not have joint liability for their roommates.

By the end of 2013, 10,000 square feet of restaurant space will also open. Totino has signed 4 to 5 Letters of Intent, but can't reveal the names until they sign leases.

If the project goes well, there is opportunity for expansion in the future. CSU owns about 20 acres of land adjacent to the site that could be repurposed for housing.

Source: Guy Totino
Writer: Lee Chilcote

st. clair superior celebrates new retailers, upcoming public art project

This summer, the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation launched an initiative called "Retail Ready" with the objective of filling a slew of vacant storefronts along St. Clair Avenue. In partnership with local landlords, they offered enticements such as reduced rent, free buildout and marketing support. The goal was to create a "big bang" effect in which a number of shops opened simultaneously, bringing new life to this historic street.

Although the project has taken longer than anticipated, it has sparked a lot of fresh interest in the area, says St. Clair Superior Executive Director Michael Fleming. The faded strip also recently celebrated a new tenant, Nx Dance Studio, which opened its doors on Sunday with a room full of line dancers and music spilling out into the street. Three additional retailers are expected to open early next year.

Now, thanks to a $25,375 grant awarded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, St. Clair Superior is gearing up for a major public art project this summer that will beautify the street between E. 62nd and Addison. "Hope-Sketch: St. Clair Avenue Reimagined" will create large-scale public art with community input.

"We've always known that a major component to the 'pop-up neighborhood' would be public art," Fleming says. "Hope-Sketch will involve neighborhood residents and businesses in working with an artist to put together ideas as to what their hopes are for the neighborhood. Then they'll create a temporary art installation for one weekend and the whole street will come alive. Afterwards, a professional design firm, Agnes Studio, will distill the concepts into permanent public art."

Hope-Sketch will be completed in summer of 2013. In February, St. Clair Superior is also planning to celebrate kurentovanje, a Slovenian carnival event that is based on Pagan tradition. By then, Fleming hopes that new retailers such as an art gallery, coffeeshop and bakery will be open, with more on the way.

Source: Michael Fleming
Writer: Lee Chilcote

heck's revival, hip vintage decor store, opens in cudell neighborhood

Caley Coleff first began collecting vintage furniture from flea markets with her grandfather when she was a little girl. Once the furniture was home, she'd watch her grandfather refinish it, absorbing his techniques even when he thought she wasn't paying attention.

This month, Coleff unveiled a vintage store that pays tribute to those early experiences while adding her own unique twist. Located at 11102 Detroit Avenue in Cudell, Heck's Revival is named after her grandfather, whose last name was Heck.

"I started doing stuff from my home because you can't afford nice, well-made furniture anymore," she explains. "If you buy something it's the cheapo [stuff] that falls apart. I had a lot, so I started doing custom orders and selling to friends. I never realized I was actually good at it, I was just making stuff that I liked."

Then Coleff met her business partner, Jill Krznaric ("It's Croatian, even though I'm not"), and a business idea was born. Krznaric is into retro items like old barstools, while Coleff likes to take French Provincial furniture and paint it with cool designs. Together, they found a space with hardwood floors that they liked and signed a lease.

"A lot of our stuff comes out of the trash," says Coleff, who is 26 years old and also tends bar. "It's beat up and broken and people think it's out of style. We stain it, prime it and put it back together. Then I paint it with cool colors and designs."

The most expensive item in Heck's Revival is a $400 dresser that Coleff painted with a white background and a black outline of Marilyn Monroe's face. The least expensive items are old retro kitchen stuff that sell for a buck apiece.

"As new as we are, I thought it would have taken a lot longer to pick up. We've been doing really, really well," effuses Coleff, who aims to create a younger, more accessible kind of vintage retailer. "People like it enough to tell their friends."

Heck's Revival, which opened in mid-November, has regular hours on Mondays from 12-7 p.m., Wednesdays-Fridays from 12-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-4 p.m.

Source: Caley Coleff
Writer: Lee Chilcote

eddie 'n eddie brings 'burgers, bourbon and apple pie' to lakewood

Since Eddie 'n Eddie opened its doors in downtown Lakewood, the place has been jamming, a testament to the growing foodie culture that has sprung up in the heart of this inner-ring suburb.

"With all of the restaurants here like Deagan's, Melt, and the Beer Engine, downtown Lakewood is really becoming a destination," says co-owner Eddie Cerino Jr., who created the restaurant along with his father, Eddie Cerino Sr. "It's not just locals. People are coming in from the 'burbs, and that's a great thing."

Eddie 'n Eddie is described as Americana-style food with Southern flair. Propping up the tag line "burgers, bourbon and apple pie" is a menu of prime and choice cut ground beef burgers, an extensive list of handpicked bourbons, and apple pies baked from scratch using the family's recipe.

"This is a concept that I have always wanted to open, inspired by a couple of restaurants in New York City," says Eddie Jr., who also owns Eddie's Pizzeria Cerino in Seven Hills. "I saw how big and hot bourbon was at these places."

At Eddie 'n Eddie, bourbon isn't simply on the menu -- it is soaked deep into it. The apple pies, desserts and sauces all have a touch of Wild Turkey. "It's gonna add that distinct caramel sweetness to it -- that's why it makes a fantastic barbeque sauce," says Eddie Jr. "When we do pecan pie, we do a bourbon glaze with it, and that light cream sauce really complements the pie."

Cerino is excited for World of Beers to open a franchise next door in February. The venue allows patrons to carry in food from other establishments. With Eddie 'n Eddie right next door, Cerino is chomping at the bit for a piece of the action.

Source: Eddie Cerino Jr.
Writer: Lee Chilcote

glazen's operation light switch picking up juice in collinwood

Alan Glazen admits that opening a bar on Waterloo Road in North Collinwood might sound crazy. After all, others have tried and failed before him. He also admits that it doesn't make apparent business sense to recruit his own competition, something he's also trying to do.

Still, he insists he's not crazy. Here's why.

Glazen's ambitious Operation Light Switch project aims to simultaneously open a host of new bars and restaurants on Waterloo Road, building on the area's artsy, gritty authenticity while ensuring critical mass from the get-go.

It's a risky idea, but he's willing to try it. And while no formal announcements have yet been made, others too apparently are. (There's a rumor that Steve Schimoler of Crop and other chefs are close to inking deals.)

As he works to recruit other restauranteurs to join him, Glazen is acquiring, fixing up and repositioning properties on Waterloo, a street that already is home to the Beachland Ballroom and other indie shops. Glazen bought the old Fotina's Diner, offering six months free rent to a new hand-picked proprietor. A few weeks in, owner Mary Kean's Chloe's Kitchen Diner already is doing twice the business of the old place -- and still offering $2.99 breakfasts all day.

Befitting its old-school-meets-new-school reputation, Chloe's tagline is "Wi-Fi and pie."

Glazen also currently is renovating the shuttered Harbor Pub -- which needs a serious facelift -- into a rock-and-roll bar. He also just signed a lease for the bar and bocce courts at the Slovenian Workmen's Hall. "This is the real deal; it's absolutely authentic," he says of the courts, which apparently are lined with a surface of crushed oyster shells. "We're going to do what we do: polish it, rather than change it."

Translation: Glazen will remove the ugly, glass block windows on the outside of the building and replace them with glass, dig up the old, cracked tile floor and replace it, and make other needed repairs. Of the bocce, Glazen explains, "It'll be on the honor system. You'll put your 50 cents in a box, get your beer and go play."

Glazen ancipates opening the Slovenian Workmen's Home in April. He also is expecting that 2013 will be the year that all the lights come up on Waterloo. He's talking to other top name chefs in Cleveland about empty spots along the strip.

"This is way more of a give back than a take away; we're not going to make much money for a while," he says. "But my dad grew up in this neighborhood. We love our neighborhoods. This is the last best opportunity in Cleveland, in my view."

Source: Alan Glazen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

'our cle' group forms to oppose casino skywalk, but faces an uphill battle

Downtown resident (and Fresh Water contributor) Joe Baur doesn't have a lot of experience as a community organizer, but he jumped into the political fray after learning that Rock Gaming, owner of the Horseshoe Casino, intends to build a skywalk to the historic Higbee building.

"Skywalks are vibrancy-killers," Baur says of the proposed glass-and-steel bridge, which would traverse diagonally the intersection of Ontario and Prospect, providing a direct link between garage and casino. "Rock Gaming said they'd mesh their enterprise into the existing fabric of downtown Cleveland. This mars a historic building. We're not in a position to risk what street life we have."

Councilman Joe Cimperman, who represents downtown Cleveland, supports the skywalk, arguing that it will ensure pedestrian safety while continuing to foster economic development.

"Am I part of the pro-skywalk lobby? Do I wear a button supporting it? No. But I support this one," says Cimperman. "The historic aspect is worthy of debate, but these are debates that growing cities are going to have. The question is, how do you preserve the best of what you have while also creating opportunities?"

The simmering debate over the proposed skywalk raises the question of how urban casinos can best be woven into the fabric of cities while maximizing spinoff to other local businesses. Casino owners have long sought to keep their patrons inside their venues -- many casinos don't even have windows -- yet Cleveland's casino is notably different. Situated in the historic Higbee building, the developers went to pains to carefully restore the long-vacant structure.

Cimperman says that nearby restaurant owners have reported spikes in traffic as a result of the casino, while Baur maintains that the skywalk will kill off hopes of revitalizing the vacant storefronts in lower Prospect Avenue. The debate -- which is far from finished -- is garnering buzz on Facebook and social media.

To fight the proposed skywalk, Baur has formed a social media group called Our CLE and launched a petition drive aimed at Cimperman and Mayor Frank Jackson, who has also expressed support for the project. So far, the group has garnered over 100 signatures and attracted attention from local TV media.

Rock Gaming has said that the skywalk is necessary to provide casino-goers the comfort, security and convenience they've come to expect. Yet Baur cites urban planning studies showing that skywalks discourage pedestrian traffic and deaden street life. They also feed into the perception that downtown is unsafe and discourage visitors from patronizing other businesses, he maintains.

"How are we going to fight the perception that downtown isn't safe if we're going to placate to that perception by building a skywalk?" he asks. "If Rock Gaming really believes that their visitors will feel unsafe and cold with that grueling 270-foot walk, then the shuttle that runs 24 hours per day should be sufficient."

Jennifer Kulczycki, a spokesperson for Rock Gaming, says that ensuring comfort for casino-goers is the primary motivation behind the skywalk -- not perceived criminal activity downtown. "Many of our customers are elderly, and people have been asking us for assistance getting back and forth," she says. "The whole effect of putting the casino in the Higbee building has been rejuvenating that area. We wouldn't build the skywalk if we didn't believe the street would remain active."

The skywalk would shave 100 feet off the trek from garage to casino, Baur says, reducing it to 170 feet. The venue began offering a 24-hour shuttle earlier this year, yet Rock Gaming has continued to pursue plans for the skywalk.

For the skywalk to be built, the city must review technical construction documents and issue a building permit. It could not deny the skywalk for design reasons, since it was approved by the Planning Commission last year. Currently, the developers are fighting a ruling by the National Park Service that would threaten millions of dollars in historic tax credits claimed by building owner Forest City Enterprises.

This week, an appeal filed by Rock Gaming will be heard by the Chief Appeals Officer of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington D.C. In essence, the park service has said that the skywalk is not in keeping with the historic character of the building, and Rock Gaming is contesting that decision.

Yet even if Rock Gaming loses its appeal, the project could go ahead, says Thomas Starinsky, Associate Director of Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation. Forest City has only a few years until its tax credit period expires -- meaning it could go ahead and add the skywalk now, forgoing a prorated amount of the credits, or wait until the period is over and do so without incurring a loss.

The developers also believe that the skywalk is necessary for Phase II, a $600-million project slated to be built behind Tower City Center overlooking the Cuyahoga River. The two phases will be connected via Tower City.

According to projections that were deemed conservative when it opened, the city is expected to earn about $20 million per year in tax revenue from the casino. Yet Baur says that the decision by Cimperman and Jackson to support the project is short-sighted. It does not take into account the long-term negative effects of the skywalk on the historic integrity of downtown and viability of area businesses.

"The City of Minneapolis won't allow skywalks in historic districts -- they realize that because of the ones built in the '60s, they're struggling to get their retail back," he says. "Some cities, like Baltimore, are demolishing skywalks."

Cimperman vehemently disagrees. "The casino is employing 1,800 people," he says. "The key is balancing economic development with good design. We had the same debate about the Medical Mart because it's located on the Malls designed by Daniel Burnham. We ended up creating something that people are really proud of."

Kulczycki says Rock Gaming and its architects have carefully designed a skywalk that fits into the streetscape. Yet Baur maintains that there's no way to dress up the skywalk -- it is what it is. "You can't make it work [at the Higbee Building]."

The skywalk, which was first proposed last year, may seem like an about-face from the pro-urban approach that Rock Gaming promised when its leaders launched efforts to legalize gambling in Ohio in 2009. Yet Cimperman cites multiple public meetings that were held to allow input. "This is not something that was done behind closed doors," he says. "It was part of the original proposal."

If the skywalk project moves forward, it won't be the first time that Rock Gaming has developed a controversial project in the face of organized community opposition. Last year, the corporation successfully purchased and demolished the historic Columbia building on Prospect Avenue to build a parking garage.

The casino skywalk is also not the only one that's being considered right now in downtown Cleveland. The developers of the Westin Hotel on St. Clair Avenue across from the Medical Mart and Convention Center have also proposed a new skywalk. Many preservationists deem that skywalk, which would link the hotel to Public Auditorium, as being even more injurious to the city's historic fabric.

Source: Joe Baur
Writer: Lee Chilcote

fire's doug katz to turn historic diner cars into cafe, catering kitchen

Doug Katz, chef-owner of the popular Fire Food and Drink at Shaker Square, has purchased the vacant diner cars on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, planning to use them as home base for a farm-to-table deli and his growing catering operation.

"It's a perfect catering kitchen," says Katz of the 3,000-square-foot kitchen in the rear of the diner cars. "In one of the diner cars, I'm going to create a Fire-quality diner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the other one, I'm going to create a space people can use for a catered function."

Katz, who lives in Cleveland Heights, fell in love with the diners 10 years ago when one of his neighbors, Big Fun owner Steve Presser, purchased and relocated them from out of state. He later opened Dottie's Diner and Sweet City Diner. Since those closed, a string of short-lived eateries followed.

Katz hopes to realize some of Presser's original vision.

"We want to do something that the neighborhood really could use," he says. "The location is just sort of sleeping right now. The Bottlehouse is there. We're going to create a little district for ourselves and extend the Cedar-Lee District north."

The yet-to-be-named diner will offer egg dishes, locally roasted coffee, housemade baked goods that may include sticky buns and donuts, and classic diner items like hot and cold sandwiches, soups and salads that can be enjoyed in or taken to go.

"This will not be the $1.99, blue plate special diner," he says, citing prices in the $10-15 range for main dishes. "It's going to be all about supporting local farmers and offering people the kind of diner experience I can be proud of."

Katz will also offer deli trays for parties. "We're going to do it in a really awesome house-made way," he says. "If we do a club sandwich, we'll make our own bacon."

Katz is shooting for a March opening.

Source: Doug Katz
Writer: Lee Chilcote

pace gets to work on adding locally themed retail to colonial marketplace

Many people probably would look at the half-empty retail spaces inside downtown's Colonial and Euclid Arcades and see small, dated spaces from another era. When developer Dick Pace looks at them, however, he sees nothing but unmet potential.

"We don't hit the formulas of the national brands, but instead of wringing our hands and giving up, we can take a different approach," he says. "This could be a unique place to shop where you can get local brands. This is a chance to provide the kind of product that you just can't get at Crocker Park."

Pace recently signed a master lease to manage 70,000 square feet of retail space at the two arcades. He will also move his offices there. He envisions a future in which food vendors, merchandise retailers and services exist side by side.

"We have some good food vendors in Sushi 86, Vincenza's and others, but what's missing is the merchandising side -- clothes, books, gifts," he says. "We're also looking at services such as concierge dry cleaning, shoe repair and tailoring."

Pace generated original concepts for the shops with the aid of downtown residents at a recent party. Ideas included a fresh fruit market, an extended gift shop for Cleveland institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a collective shop for Cleveland fashion designers, a gallery filled with work by local artists, and a showcase for Cleveland Institute of Art students.

Pace already has recruited two new tenants -- the downtown farmer's market, which needed a winter home, and the Collective Upcycle pop-up shop. He also has rebranded the complex as the "Fifth Street Arcades," thus retaining the historic name while highlighting its position between E. 4th and PlayhouseSquare.

Pace is not worried about the recent closure of Dredger's Union on E. 4th. "It was the only merchandise on a street filled with restaurants, and it was a higher price point than most residents were looking for," he says of the venture, which lasted one year. "The feedback was, 'If we want to go to Saks or Nordstrom, we know where to go.' We're looking at cost-effective local retail, not jeans for $120."

Allen Wiant of PlayhouseSquare Real Estate Services, who helped broker the deal, believes that Pace will be successful. "This is a prime location close to rich capital assets, yet it had no relationship with those assets," he says. "I believe that it can be repositioned if you look at doing something thematic in nature."

The Colonial and Euclid Arcades, now known as the Colonial Marketplace, sit below a 175-room Residence Inn Hotel -- but there has never been an attentive focus on repositioning these retail assets. That's something Pace aims to change.

Source: Dick Pace, Allen Wiant
Writer: Lee Chilcote

as part of green neighborhoods initiative, south euclid builds 'idea house'

With the housing market finally picking up, the City of South Euclid has sold five rehabbed bungalows and recently built a green "Idea Home" on a vacant lot as part of its Green Neighborhoods Initiative, an effort to rebrand itself as a green, innovative community.

"We're attracting the kind of resident that thinks green, that's concerned with liveability," says Keith Benjamin, Director of Community Services for the city.

"It's been promising and inspiring to see these green rehabs sell for more than the homes around them," adds Sally Martin, the city's Housing Manager, who cites sales prices that often more than double the value of area homes. "It really speaks to the value of green and modern design as things that buyers are looking for."

The Idea Home features a 1,500-square-foot open floorplan with a first floor bedroom and granite countertops on a corner lot. It also has an attached garage and plentiful outdoor space. It meets Enterprise Green Community standards.

Although South Euclid historically has not had a reputation of being a place that attracts young people, the city's new image has begun to attract a new type of homebuyer, Martin says. "The demographic is getting younger and younger."

The Green Neighborhoods Initiative also has spawned a flurry of other green projects, including five community gardens and three pocket parks thus far.

Recently, South Euclid also created a nonprofit organization called One South Euclid that will function as the community development corporation for the suburb. It is led by an independent board of residents and business owners.

"We wanted to take a grassroots approach to revitalization," says Martin. Some of the projects the CDC may take on include rehabbing additional homes, assisting target streets with improving the curb appeal of their homes, improving the streetscape in business districts, and branding individual neighborhoods.

To spur more greening activities, the city has begun offering lots for sale to individuals for yard expansion or home construction. Designs developed by the city can be used for free, and a five-year, 75-percent tax abatement is offered.

"We wanted to show what's possible in an inner-ring community," says Martin.

"We're the number one destination for grad students looking to rent houses," adds Benjamin. "We wanted to make our community attractive so they purchase their first home here, then keep them here after they buy their first starter home."

The Idea Home, which recently entertained its first offer, is for sale for $150,000. The house is located at 4088 Linnell Avenue, which is off of Miramar Boulevard.

Source: Sally Martin, Keith Benjamin
Writer: Lee Chilcote

flats forward will champion redevelopment of cleveland's birthplace

Last summer, leaders of the Flats Forward initiative assembled a diverse group of area stakeholders and sent them in a boat down the Cuyahoga River to talk about how they could solve their problems together.

If ever a vivid metaphor was needed, the experience provided one. "It was the first time that people from Cargill Salt were able to talk to people from the bike community in a real, honest, transparent way," says Dan Moulthrop of the Civic Commons, which helped to facilitate the event. "This was not a meeting up on the 24th floor somewhere."

The boat ride was part of an inclusive process designed to spur the revitalization of the Flats Corridor. For years, Cleveland's historic birthplace lacked an effective advocate. Now, after more than a year of work, a new group has formed.

Flats Forward Inc., Cleveland's newest community development corporation, will oversee the redevelopment of the Flats District. The group has a diverse board of stakeholders and a search is underway for an Executive Director. The group is currently housed within the offices of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority.

At a recent meeting, Flats Forward representatives touted the East Bank project, the Port Authority's stewardship of the lake and river, the steadily advancing Towpath Trail and Rivergate Park as signs of positive progress in the area.

"When I got here, I was immediately drawn to the Flats and the industrial river valley, and I knew that the Port would get involved," said William Friedman, CEO of the Port Authority, of his organization's commitment to the Flats. "This is one of the most unique maritime environments in the world, and we can tap into that."

Source: Dan Moulthrop, William Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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