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welcome weekend draws a dozen artists ready to sign leases, move here

Welcome to Cleveland, an artists' visitation weekend hosted by Northeast Shores CDC and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, drew about a dozen artists to Cleveland, many of whom have signed leases and are expected to move here.

"The weekend exceeded our expectations by far," says Brian Friedman, Executive Director of Northeast Shores. "We didn't know they'd be so ready to go."

The artists were impressed not only by Cleveland's affordability but also by the accessibility of the rich arts scene here, Friedman says. "For them it was really the connectedness -- there's a much stronger ability for artists to network and connect here than in many of the communities where they're from."

The artists came from Brooklyn, Boston and Atlanta, among other locations. They were responsible for getting to Cleveland, but the nonprofit partners put them up in a hotel and covered most of their costs once they got here. The group spent the weekend on a whirlwind tour of North Collinwood, Slavic Village, St. Clair Superior, Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit Shoreway. Activities included a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art and brunch at the Beachland Ballroom.

Northeast Shores and CPAC marketed to 12,000 artists nationally for the Artist-in-Residence program. Friedman says that since launching the effort a few years ago, he's seen 83 artists move to Cleveland, open a business, or do a project here.

Some of the artists who responded to the visitation weekend weren't sure if it was real. "They weren't sure if we would try to sell them a timeshare," says Friedman. "We told them, 'Really, just come. We want you to come be creative in Cleveland.'"

Once the artists move here, the nonprofit partners will help connect them to arts organizations and community efforts in their new neighborhoods. "We'll make sure that they get connected to the fabric of what's going on," says Friedman. "We anticipate that's the beginning of developing deeper roots in Cleveland."

Source: Brian Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

literary lots will bring characters to life in an underused ohio city park

Currently, visitors to the Carnegie-West branch of the Cleveland Public Library find an underutilized park across the street. But soon they'll stumble upon a literary wonderland of peanut butter sandwich boats with sails, spaghetti tubes and a stone soup mural.

Inspired by children's books, a love of reading and the ambition to bring families and community members together, Literary Lots will kick off Saturday, August 3rd in Novak Park in Ohio City and run for two consecutive weeks.

"This idea started with saying, 'We have a great anchor in the library, books are inspiring and we want an educated, engaged community,'" says Kauser Razvi, an Ohio City parent who has served as Project Manager for Literary Lots. "Tons of kids come to the library. Let's do this work together and offer it in a single place."

"Hopefully soon, the park is a place where people stop and say, 'What are those three sandwich boats doing there?' says Razvi, an urban strategist. "Then they want to come in and take part in a poetry slam or start doing some spaghetti art."

Programming will be offered daily at Novak Park, which is located north of Lorain on W. 38th, including art and writing events, author nights and movie nights.

The idea behind the event is to engage kids and families in reading and building a sense of community together. "The city needs to do more things for kids and families, because that's how you're going to help the city grow," says Razvi.

Project partners include Cleveland Public Library, Ohio City Writers, Art House and LAND Studio. Funders include The Cleveland Colectivo, Councilman Joe Cimperman, Neighborhood Connections and the George Gund Foundation.

Literary Lots will kick off this Saturday with community mural painting with artist Julia Kuo. Community members will help illustrate the classic story Stone Soup.

Source: Kauser Razvi
Writer: Lee Chilcote

collinwood couple launches new gallery for emerging artists on waterloo

John Farina and Adam Tully have been collecting art for years, and like many collectors, they've always wanted to open a gallery to showcase work of artists they love. That idea will become a reality next month as The Maria Neil Art Project opens up on Waterloo.

"There are a lot of artists in Cleveland who are either unrepresented or underrepresented," says Farina, who also recently bought a home in North Collinwood with Tully. "This work should be known. Having a space with low overhead, we can show off emerging artists that haven't been shown off before."

The cozy gallery at 15813 Waterloo will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting September 6th. The first exhibition will feature artist Michaelangelo Lovelace, known for his gritty, whimsical portraits of street life in the city. Frameworks in Bedford, a framing shop, will offer framing in the space.

Farina says that the Waterloo Arts District is definitely becoming known as a good community for artists, with multiple galleries now located on the street, artists buying houses in the neighborhood and arts groups setting up shop here.

Source: John Farina
Writer: Lee Chilcote

campbell's sweets set to open new store in lakewood, plotting more expansion

Campbell's Sweets, a homegrown business that has three stands at the West Side Market and a store on W. 25th Street, is set to explode across Cleveland, with an additional shop in Lakewood, a production facility in Slavic Village and an east side store in the works.

"It's been two years this August since we opened the W. 25th Street store, and it's gone really well," says owner Jeff Campbell. "We predicted that we'd steal business from our market stands, but that hasn't happened. Last year, we grew 40 percent from 2011 to 2012. This year, we're headed to do that again."

In Lakewood, Campbell's will soon occupy a corner storefront at Detroit and Warren Roads. The 2,000-square-foot store will feature a tin ceiling, clay brick display wall, open production area and upcycled doors. The exterior will feature eye-catching new awnings with pictures of popcorn and cupcakes. Big storefront windows will allow passersby to see into the facility.

Campbell intends to open the store this fall. Although he's put a possible University Circle location on hold until he proves out the Lakewood store, he's actively looking for a production facility on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village. "We're outgrowing our W. 25th space and it's challenging to keep up," he says. "We can still double our production, but we're headed to five to six times our production in the next 12 to 18 months. Fleet Avenue has us very intrigued because of the redevelopment happening there in 2014 [with the streetscape]."

Campbell's also now sells its popcorn in seven Giant Eagle stores, where it's visibly displayed in the fruit and produce area. Yet the Market District of Ohio City always will remain home. "Ohio City is the nucleus and we grow out," he says. "We're not going to go way out [into the suburbs] until we've saturated our market here."

Source: Jeff Campbell
Writer: Lee Chilcote

slavic village recovery aims to remake section of city with no public subsidy

Slavic Village Recovery, an ambitious effort to provide an extreme neighborhood makeover to a 530-acre chunk of the east side, has begun the process of purchasing 40 homes that will be rehabbed.

Two of these properties already have been put on the market with new mechanicals and other finishes for a mere $60,000, says Marie Kittredge, Executive Director of Slavic Village Development, a partner in the project along with Forest City Enterprises and Safeguard Properties.

"The model is: If my kids are 20-somethings buying their first house, what would that first house look like and what would be attractive to them?" explains Kittredge. "We have to build demand by telling the story. We believe our demographic is people who are already familiar with the neighborhood and ready to buy."

Slavic Village Recovery's innovative model focuses on renovating a majority of the vacant homes on a multi-block area around Mound Avenue and E. 54th Street, where 20- to 30-percent vacancy rates prevail. The homes are acquired from lenders and rehabbed using a model that includes all major items but does not include reconfiguring floor plans, adding bedrooms or other expensive options.

Kittredge says that the rehab costs will likely range from $40,000 to $50,000, allowing the partners to earn a small profit they can reinvest in the initiative.

"The key innovation is that there's no public subsidy," she says. "It's not possible to get the subsidy you'd need for a 25 to 50 home model. If you did just one [house], people would say that's scary. If you say, 'Hey, we're doing 20 to 25 and we have Forest City involved and major grants from Wells Fargo,' then that's different."

Kittredge expects additional homes to hit the market this fall. Last week, a group of volunteers from Forest City cleaned up 60 properties in the area. Some homes are being secured using SecureView, a new product that looks like glass but is far more durable, allowing houses to be secured without using ugly plywood boards.

Source: Marie Kittredge
Writer: Lee Chilcote

hemingway development and geis companies open third building of midtown tech park campus

Hemingway Development and Geis Companies have completed the third building of the MidTown Tech Park campus at 6555 Carnegie Avenue. The $9 million project brings the campus to a total of 242,000 square feet of new office space.

"When we arrived in MidTown, we wanted to develop one building a year, and we have exceeded that with the opening of this building,” said Fred Geis, a Hemingway principal, in a press release. "With the growth of the MidTown Tech Park campus, we have been able to create a real community where our tenants can interact and grow their businesses."

Radio One
, a national urban media company with four radio stations in Northeast Ohio, is one of the first new tenants. Regional Vice President Jeffrey Wilson says the developer's experience and the area's redevelopment attracted the firm.

"When I first looked at it, you might have thought I'd lost my mind, but we put our trust in Fred Geis," says Wilson of the building, which was raw prior to completion. "Now it's one of the most exciting spaces in all of Radio One."

The company will occupy 12,000 square feet on the first floor, including four main broadcast studios, production studios, a mix studio and a talk studio. Geis worked with Radio One to construct a 180-foot tower alongside the building, which will make it easier to transmit audio to the company's transmitter locations.

"To partake in the rebirth of the MidTown area really fulfills our creed," says Wilson. "We take a sense of pride in contributing to the rebirth of the area."

Talis Clinical, a Cleveland Clinic spinoff, is also leasing office space in the building. Geis says that the building will support 150 jobs and generate $300,000 in annual payroll taxes. The City of Cleveland provided $4.5 million in low-interest loans.

Source: Jeffrey Wilson, Fred Geis
Writer: Lee Chilcote

regional planning initiative says status quo is not sustainable, wants residents to imagine future

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) has mapped out what our region's future looks like if we stay on the same, urban-sprawl-lovin' course. Spoiler alert: It ain't good.

The group's "Business as Usual" scenario attempts to answer the question, "What will happen over the next 27 years if Northeast Ohio just keeps doing what it has been doing?" using sophisticated mapping.

NEOSCC's predictions include 2.4 percent growth in population and 6.2 percent growth in employment across 12 counties. Yet given our current land use patterns, about 92,500 acres will be used for new development and 77,100 acres will be abandoned.

That means Northeast Ohio is "on pace to abandon 10.5 percent of its housing units by 2040" or "18 units abandoned per day," according to the NEOSCC.

Although NEOSCC will not reveal its recommendations at this point, staff will present four scenarios to the public at open houses in the coming weeks.

These scenarios include "business as usual" (sprawl with limited growth), "doing things differently" (more sustainable development with limited growth), "grow the same" (sprawl with growth at a higher level than is occurring now) and "grow differently" (more sustainable development with greater growth). 

After receiving input from residents, NEOSCC will recommend a scenario to the four metropolitan planning organizations that help divvy up transportation dollars for the region and create long-term land use plans. Jeff Anderle of NEOSCC says that the group must create a "shared vision" to be successful with its efforts.

"We're not a governing organization; we don't have implementation power," he says. "It's been tricky, but we've gotten great participation from elected officials throughout the region. There's a lot of 'Let's see how and where this comes out.'"

To participate in the process, Northeast Ohio residents can attend one of the upcoming open houses or check out the Imagine My NEO tool on the website.

Source: Jeff Anderle
Writer: Lee Chilcote

former l'albatros staffer signs lease to open edwins restaurant at shaker square

Former L'Albatros GM Brandon Chrostowski just signed a lease to open EDWINS, a restaurant that will serve as a training program to help people reentering society after prison to gain relevant job skills. Chrostowski will open the eatery, which will be located in the former Grotto Wine Bar space at Shaker Square, this fall.

"The food will be industrial French -- I've only worked in French restaurants, so it's kind of like taking that cuisine and putting an industrial twist on it," Chrostowski says. "For the City of Cleveland, I think it's got to have that flavor and punch to it."

Edwins will offer a six-month training program modeled after Chrostowski's alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. Participants learn cooking fundamentals as well as "front of house" managerial skills. Chrostowski has relationships with judges and nonprofit reentry programs to help identify candidates and provide additional support.

After participants have completed the six-month program, they'll be paired with an industry professional through the "big chef/little cook" program. The long-term goal is to help trainees find meaningful employment in the restaurant industry.

Chrostowski, whose passion for the progam is motivated by a prior stint behind bars and the help he received getting back on his feet, is currently fixing up the space. The price points will be comparable to other restaurants at the Square, he says, adding that the experience will be professional and won't feel like a student-run restaurant.

Edwins is a nonprofit organization. Chrostowski raised money from foundations and individuals to support his dream since he first launched the effort in 2007.

"It's kind of amazing what a community can do when you believe in something," he says.

Source: Brandon Chrostowski
Writer: Lee Chilcote

high-profile merger will help community development efforts across city, leaders say

Three prominent community development groups in Cleveland have merged, and staffers say the resulting alliance will help strengthen community revitalization efforts across the city, foster more unified advocacy, and allow for greater efficiency in citywide efforts.

Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI), a community development intermediary that provides grants and technical assistance to community development corporations (CDCs), has merged with Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition (CNDC) and LiveCleveland. CNDC is a trade association of CDCs; LiveCleveland helps to market city neighborhoods.

That might sound like a mouthful of acronyms to the average city resident, but Joel Ratner, President of NPI, says the collaboration really is about improving Cleveland's neighborhoods.

"We'll have a greater ability to coordinate the marketing of neighborhoods along with advocacy, capacity building and all the other things we've traditionally done," he says. "This is really about uniting the strands of community development across the city in a way that's integrated and strategic rather than separate."

For example, says Ratner, CDCs will be able to have a stronger voice in education reform and other efforts that affect the entire city, residents will see an increased marketing presence, and CDC employees will benefit from shared services like healthcare. It adds up to more effective efforts to improve all of Cleveland.

"Our mission is to foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland," says Ratner, who acknowledges that NPI will still only have resources to provide core operating support to a subset of city neighborhoods. "There are lots of ways we can play a role in lifting up all CDCs and neighborhoods."

CNDC Director Colleen Gilson says that while the merger idea was far from popular among CDCs at first -- they feared losing their independence -- individual leaders saw the value in fostering a citywide community development network that provides more effective services to all neighborhoods, not just a select few.

The merger will be publicly rolled out in September, with NPI moving into its new offices in the Saint Luke's project at Shaker Boulevard and E. 116th by January.

Source: Joel Ratner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

the cleveland shop takes over former duohome space in gordon square

The Cleveland Shop, a 34-year old vintage clothing and costume rental store, has relocated from Detroit and W. 117th to the Gordon Square Arts District, adding to a growing fashion presence in this burgeoning near west side neighborhood.

The shop, which opened July 11th, took over the former duoHOME space at 6511 Detroit Avenue. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 12-6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12-9 p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday. It joins Turnstyle Clothing and Yellowcake in a mini fashion hub in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

"I think the space chose me," says store owner Jane Joseph, who had been looking since last year for a retail location with more foot traffic and greater synergy with other businesses. "We kind of have two personalities within one store, and this space is large enough that it allows us to have room for both sections."

"The Cleveland Shop's funky, eclectic brand of retail nicely complements the existing commercial businesses in Gordon Square," says Councilman Matt Zone. "Jane kind of rounds out the diverse blend of high quality fashion in [the area]."

The Cleveland Shop sells vintage merchandise "from as early as the roaring 1920s era through the funky fashions of the 1970s," proclaims its website. It also rents period costumes and carries vintage reproduction items like platform shoes.

So if you're looking for that perfect set of go-go boots or a sharkskin suit to add to your vintage collection, look no further. The Cleveland Shop has got you covered -- fashionably.

Source: The Cleveland Shop
Writer: Lee Chilcote

welcome to willeyville: fine dining reinvented in heart of the flats

The Willeyville is named after John Willey, the first mayor of Cleveland, who reputedly demolished a portion of the first bridge to Ohio City to keep a steady stream of business pouring into the Flats. In those bygone days, the area actually was nicknamed "Willeyville" because of the mayor's practice of protecting it.

The new restaurant, which opened at W. 10th and Front streets in the Flats, is a bridge to the city's past and future. With elegant, creative fare served in a lovely setting, Willeyville reminds one why he or she came to the Flats in the first place. It aims to raise the bar on the city's food scene without breaking bank accounts along the way.

"The concept has always been old-school cocktails and everything from scratch," says Christopher DiLisi, a restaurant veteran who has worked at the Baricelli Inn and Flour and waited two years to open Willeyville with his wife, Kristi. "I don't want to be a special occasion place; I want to be a place you go all the time. It's just more fun. Fine dining's not dead -- this is fine dining. It's just changed."

Willeyville, which seats 86 inside and 32 on its corner patio, is a beautiful space with concrete floors, large windows and a lofty ceiling. Homey touches like wood tables crafted from reclaimed lumber by A Piece of Cleveland and comfy benches upholstered in faux leather add warmth. The walls are painted an attractive shade of orange and the open kitchen thrusts into the dining room like a theatrical stage.

A few menu standouts include the "duck mic muffin" (duck sausage and an over-easy egg in a homemade muffin); the adobo shrimp in house-made tortillas (made of whole grain corn soaked in lime); and the Ohio-raised, grass-fed hangar steak.

DiLisi already has been doing 110 covers per lunch, he reports -- and that's despite the challenging parking situation. Options currently include a dozen free spaces, a paid lot or the Aloft Hotel garage. DiLisi hopes to work out more options down the road.

He is confident about Flats East, which will celebrate the opening of Lago restaurant next week. "This will always be a restaurant-bar, not just a bar that serves food. The Flats used to be party central, but now the developers are focused on getting a great mix."

As for the name, he's second-guessing it. "In retrospect, after paying for the sign, I wish it didn't have so many letters," DiLisi quips. "Maybe it should have been 'W.'"

Source: Christopher DiLisi
Writer: Lee Chilcote

w. 76th street underpass opens next week, boasting striking new public art

For Gordon Square residents and Edgewater Park visitors, the long wait finally is over. The bike-ped underpass at W. 76th Street that connects the west side to Edgewater reopens next week -- albeit a few years late and millions over budget. Public officials plan to celebrate on Tuesday, July 2nd at 5 pm with a ribbon cutting at Battery Park Wine Bar.

Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesperson Amanda Lee says the delays were caused by environmental issues that required a new retaining wall design. High water content in the soil forced them back to the drawing board. Essentially two connected tunnels, it goes under tracks and the Shoreway.

Not only is the underpass cleaner, better illuminated and more accessible, it also boasts a striking new work of public art, "Cold Front," designed by Cleveland artist Mark Reigelman. The piece plays off the natural history of the area, whose bluffs were carved out by glaciers -- known as pathmakers -- eons ago.

"This is what you see when you come out of the tunnel: Cleveland's best natural feature, Lake Erie, as well as the history of the lake and how it's been formed," says Riegelman, whose artwork at the entrance was built out of cast concrete by Great Lakes Construction.

The work, which consists of hexagonal shapes in shades of blue designed to mimic the water molecules in glaciers, was built so that it will be visible to all who pass. "From the neighborhood you see the crest of the glacier; trains can see a luminescent blue quality; and people can see it from their boats on the water."

LAND Studio coordinated the selection process for the public artwork, which was completed with funds from the State of Ohio, City and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

The underpass will better connect residents to Edgewater Park at a time when the Metroparks has just assumed management. Users report that the Metroparks already has made improvements, with staff picking up litter and combing the beach and long-awaited recycling bins set to be installed next week.

Source: Mark Reigelman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

nighttown opens two new patios in time for summer event season

The jazz institution Nighttown has opened two new patios -- one for people and the other for people accompanied by their four-legged friends -- at its home on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights. They're not what you might expect: Unlike the traditional look of the restaurant's interior, the patios are very contemporary.

"The whole back of the building is basically a patio complex," says owner Brendan Ring. "We created two side-by-side patios, one enclosed with stone from Missouri, and kind of wrapped the whole back of the building in a modern metal material. They will remind you of being in SoHo or maybe some cool place in Tremont."

The enclosed, 1,400-square-foot patio for people has a heated, stamped concrete floor that's built to resemble wood planks, bioethanol fireplaces and a small bar. Sliding glass panels will ensure that it can be used year-round. The 900-square-foot dog-friendly patio is where the singles like to hang out, Ring says.

"Especially in Cleveland Heights, everyone has a dog. Young people have a martini or smoke there. 'I've got a dog, you got a dog, we've got something to talk about.'"

The impetus for the patios came last year when Ring looked at the books and realized that his existing outdoor space was booked every Friday and Saturday night for months on end. "I kind of went, 'Holy shit, we have no place to seat regular people on weekends.' We got an architect, designed it and got it up."

Ring says he also built the patios to stand out and compete within Cleveland's increasingly vibrant foodie scene -- and of course, having a killer patio helps. "Audiences have gotten bigger in this town, but there are more stages, too."

Source: Brendan Ring
Writer: Lee Chilcote

first-ever cleveland waldorf school set to open in cleveland heights

A determined group of Heights parents who have long sought a creative educational experience for their kids are opening Cleveland's first-ever Waldorf school. It is expected to open this fall in the former Coventry Elementary School in Cleveland Heights.

"This is a great thing for Cleveland Heights," says Amy Marquit-Renwald, a Shaker Heights resident who grew up in Cleveland Heights and helped to create the new Urban Oak School. "We're going to see families move here for the Waldorf school, and families stay because of this."

Urban Oak will initially offer preschool, kindergarten and a combined first and second grade class. After the first year, the school will offer additional grades.

"We had people lining up to support the school," says Marquit-Renwald of the process to seek approval from the city and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board. "People are dying to have Coventry be a school again."

The school will be private because Ohio's charter laws were deemed too difficult to navigate for an alternative, Waldorf-style school. It will seek accreditation as a Waldorf school, a rigorous process, over the course of its first seven years.

"The model is really about helping kids develop all aspects of themselves," says Marquit-Renwald of the 100-year-old Waldorf model, a contemporary of Montessori education. "It offers more free time to develop creativity, deeper foundational work -- including delayed introduction of purely academic work -- in the early years to better prepare for critical thinking and complex thought in later years, and use of personal interaction as the main vehicle for learning and fostering empathy, as opposed to interacting with technology."

Urban Oak School is hosting information sessions in the coming weeks for interested parents.

Source: Amy Marquit-Renwald
Writer: Lee Chilcote

edgehill repaved with bike lanes, sharrows to aid east side commuters

The gradually expanding network of bike-friendly streets in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs just got a little wider with the addition of a bike lane and sharrows on Edgehill Road from Overlook Road down to Little Italy. The route, one of the most heavily-trafficked for east side bike commuters, was just freshly paved and restriped.

"This is part of the Circle-Heights Bicycle Plan," says Chris Bongorno, Director of Planning with University Circle Inc., which helped to shepherd the project through in collaboration with the City of Cleveland and the City of Cleveland Heights. "We did a study that showed that 25 percent of the University Circle workforce lives within a five mile bike commute. The idea is that there would be more people choosing to bike if we give them facilities that they're comfortable using."

The Circle-Heights Bicycle Plan was funded by the Northeast Ohio Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the regional body that is responsible for divvying up federal transportation funds and helping to establish regional planning priorities. The Edgehill Road project is actually the first aspect of the plan to be completed.

The project was carefully engineered to maximize safety and functionality for cars and bikes. In addition to the five-foot-wide bike lane, there is a four-foot "bike buffer" that adds greater separation between motorists and cyclists. The downhill lane on Edgehill has sharrows, signaling to drivers that bicyclists "share" the road. The reasoning is that bikes travel nearly as fast as cars down the hill (25 mph speed limit). The plan preserves on-street parking on one side of the street.

Other bike infrastructure amenities in the area that will be completed in the next few years include an off-street trail along Cedar Glen Parkway from Cleveland Heights to University Circle. Cleveland is building its portion of the trail this year, and Cleveland Heights expects to complete its portion by 2014 or early 2015.

Coupled with the Lake-to-Lakes Trail and Euclid Avenue bike lanes, the infrastructure is slowly being added to connect the Heights to University Circle and beyond via bicycle. That's one reason why Cleveland was recently awarded a Bronze-level certification as a bike-friendly community from the American League of Bicyclists.

Source: Chris Bongorno, Richard Wong
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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