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st. ignatius teams up with st. vincent to brighten up a slice of lorain avenue

A vacant building is getting a major facelift and some new tenants thanks to a collaborative effort between St. Ignatius High School and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.
 
"This is a building we purchased a year and a half or two years ago," says Richard Klingshirn, vice president and chief financial officer for St. Ignatius, of the property at 2905 Lorain Avenue. "We didn't really have any plans at that point in time."
 
The school purchased the building, the previous incarnation of which Klingshirn describes as "multi-purpose commercial," mostly because of it's proximity to the St. Ignatius campus. During a subsequent discussion between Fr. William Murphy, the school's president, and St. Vincent's president and CEO, Dr. David Perse, the idea to put the 3,600-square-foot space to use as a doctor's office was launched. The two entities eventually agreed to a five-year lease.
 
Klingshirn notes that convenience was a factor, with St. Vincent's main campus at 2351 East 22nd Street being just over two miles from the new building, which is also on RTA's popular 22 route.
 
"For patients," says Klingshirn, "it's much better public transportation service with the number 22 and other buses right there."
 
Four doctors will be moving into the space: Dr. Joy Marshall, family practice; Dr. Jeremy Perse, podiatry; Dr. George Friedhoff, sports medicine; and Dr. Muhammad Zahra, cardiology. The doctors are expected to start seeing patients in the new location on Jan. 6, with a community open house to follow. A date for the open house has not been set; however, St. Vincent's Wendy Hoke, vice president of marketing and communications, expects it to be sometime in January.
 
"St. Vincent's and St. Ignatius are basically splitting the cost of renovating the building," says Klingshirn. " I won't give specifics," he adds, "but the total cost of project is in excess of one million dollars." Westlake Reed Leskosky is the architectural team on the project.
 
The building required a complete renovation, including all new electrical and plumbing. "The four walls and the roof were there," says Klingshirn, "everything else was redone."
 
But the best part, says Klingshirn, is the improvement to this tiny slice of Lorain Avenue. He describes the structure as previously looking like a "building you would build out of Legos—a very blocky looking building."
 
The addition of expansive windows and a smart façade have changed that.
 
"(The architects) took a really basic building and turned it into something very attractive," says Klingshirn. "Compared to what it was, it really spruces up Lorain Avenue nicely. It just dresses up that little 80- to 100-feet of frontage."

five perfect no-hassle gifts for cleveland expats

The clock is ticking faster and faster. You missed Cyber Monday and you're out of gift ideas for that homesick Clevelander who is so far away for the holidays.
 
Have no fear; Fresh Water is here.
 
We've put together a quick list of shippable 216 classics that will delight any Cleveland expat, whether they're across the state or across the country. The best part of this roundup is that someone else will deal with the boxes, tape and wrapping. You don't even have to wait in line at the Post Office.
 
1. The best beef jerky you will ever order in your jammies
 
Michael Symon described J & J Czuchraj's beef jerky as "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network's show of the same name. He buys a chunk every time he's at the West Side Market from one of their two stands, J & J Meats or Czuchraj's Meats (yes, they are both the same vendor). But you don't need to schlep over to 25th Street to ship an order of this oh-so-Cleveland delicacy to the meat lover on your list. Shop online and select from seven types of jerky, from beef to bison with a couple of chicken and turkey stops in between. If jerky's too quirky, other options include homemade smokies, smoked kielbasa and sausage.
 
2. The Guardians of Traffic
 
Yes, you can send a homesick Clevelander the Guardians of Traffic. No, the process will not involve defacing public property and an 18-wheeler. Just click on over to zJayne's shop and select one of her mini drawstring bags (use them to stow jewelry or as the perfect 216 accessory), or a reusable dryer sachets (filled with irresistibly fragrant organic lavender). Both are adorned with everyone's favorite stone men, which are holding bicycles instead of vintage vehicles (!). All items are made from 100 percent recycled tee shirts proprietor Jane Pierce purchases from area thrift stores (don't worry, they're thoroughly laundered).
 
3. A delicious dichotomy
 
Mix one part caramel popcorn with one part cheddar cheese popcorn and watch nonstop hand-to-mouth action until the tin is empty. Everyone craves Dichotomy Corn, this popular salty/sweet mix from Campbell's Sweet Factory. Order a box of bagged corn or a tin. Give your order some variety. Available flavors range from Beer Cheddar to Vanilla Butternut.
 
That you're supporting a homegrown Cleveland business makes it that much sweeter ... or saltier ... or both.
 
4. Earl Scheib, The Ghoul and Gold Circle
 
If you have an old school Clevelander on your list, Home Shirts has the world's most perfect gift. Yes, really. Where else can you buy a Zayre or Richfield Coliseum tee shirt or a hoodie festooned with the Lawson's logo? The oodles of options range from quirky to classic. Try a TV Guide ad for John Lanigan's Prize Movie or a simple Halle's logo. The recipient will think it's 1985 (or even earlier—remember the Barons?) all over again.
 
5. A nice Bordeaux
 
We're not talking about the kind of Bordeaux that has fruity notes and comes with recommended pairings. Who can figure any of that out anyway? We're talking about the gorgeous confection from a Cleveland institution—Malley's. Their Bordeaux candies are crunchy buttery chunks of English toffee and almonds covered in chocolate and then rolled in chopped almonds. It's no wonder these are designated as a "Founder's Favorite."
 
Anyone who harbors soft memories of Malley's will melt over a gift of Bordeaux. Order by the box or in a solid copper Moscow Mule mug. If toffee's not your giftee's top choice, hop on over to Sweet Moses—not the Gordon Square mainstay, but their online shop—and order a miniature solid chocolate Cleveland icon: the Terminal Tower in milk, dark or white.
 
It may not last, but you can call that a sweet little piece of Cleveland.

amasa stone house to be reborn as stonebrook montessori

Built in 1930, the Amasa Stone House, 975 East Boulevard, was a "home for aged women" with a history dating back to 1877. Ironically, this place designed for people near the end of life is transforming into a place for little people just starting out in life, the Stonebrook Montessori Charter School.
 
Renovations on the 40,000-square-foot structure in the historic East Boulevard neighborhood began in summer 2014 after Montessori Development Partnerships (MDP) purchased the building. MDP president Debbie Guren hopes to welcome as many as 20 three- and four-year-olds to the school this winter for a pilot program.
 
"We have interest from over 30 families," says Guren.
 
The school will formally open in fall of 2015 with slots for 100 three- to seven-year-olds, and then add a grade per year to eventually cater to 300 kids up to age 15 by 2020. Guren estimates the facility will have 30 to 40 employees by then.
 
The three-phase construction schedule reflects the enrollment plan. The Krueger Group is proceeding with the work and has completed what project manager Daniel Krueger, calls "disassembly," a process by which they peel back what exists to expose the "bones" of a facility.
 
"It was kind of like a hotel," says Krueger, noting the long halls with individual rooms and private baths. There were even suites outfitted with small kitchens. "We gutted the interior to the walls." The crew kept architectural points of interest such as fireplaces intact.
 
"It's built like a tank," adds Guren, noting that Samuel Mather oversaw the original construction on the structure and named it after his father-in-law, Amasa Stone. "It's so well built and so well designed—just as the Mathers would build something. To have that history is amazing."
 
Phase one, currently underway, focuses on the main floor. The upper level will be completed in phase two; and phase three will unfold on the lower level. The first part of phase one, a kitchen and a community room, will be complete this winter for the pilot program. The entire project is slated for completion in 2016, although progress depends on funding.
 
Thus far, MDP has raised more than $3 million of their $6.23 million goal, which has facilitated the purchase of the building, renovation, furnishings and operational funding for the first five years.
 
"We're almost halfway to our goal in less than a year," says an optimistic Guren.
 
While charter certification from the state and municipal entities is pending, the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation formally agreed to act as the school's sponsor, a mandatory and important step in the process. Enrollment will be open first to Cleveland residents, then inner-ring suburbs, then other Ohio residents.
 
"We're pretty sure we'll be able to fill up," says Guren.
 
Long-time senior living advocates McGregor last operated the facility, which went dark in 2002. McGregor eventually gifted it to the Northeast Neighborhood Development Corporation, with loans for maintenance and expenses. The property transferred to the Famicos Foundation when NNDC closed. MDP purchased the structure for $550,000, a substantial reduction on the property's valuation of $1 million. McGregor forgave interest on the outstanding loans to enable Famicos to sell at the reduced price.
 
The Krueger Group has worked on several projects at area Montessori schools such as Russing (Rocky River), Hudson, Cleveland and the high school at University Circle.
 
"We enjoy these projects and we enjoy just how tangible they are," says Krueger, adding that he and three of his siblings are former Russing Montessori students.
 
There are more than 4,000 Montessori schools in North America, notes Guren, while only 10 percent of them are public.
 
"It's very important to me that we bring this to Cleveland and offer a free option for a complete Montessori program that's the top of the line."

 


inside the bizarre cleveland bazaar and 10 years of peddling indie arts

While organizer Shannon Okey is expecting upwards of 7,000 shoppers to roam through Cleveland Bazaar's 10th annual holiday show on Dec. 13th and 14th, the event actually started more than a decade ago and quite a few miles away.
 
"I was living in Boston," recalls Okey of the early aughts. "The show started there. One of the originators used to do filthy embroidered things.*" Another participant was make-up artist Punk Rock Mary Kay. "It was hilarious," says Okey, who returned to her hometown of Cleveland in 2004 and decided to host a similar event for the 216.
 
She found a space, the 1300 Gallery (now 78th Street Studios). The first holiday show in 2004 had 15 vendors and approximately 1,000 attendees.
 
"It went well," says Okey. "We got pretty good traffic considering there wasn't social media to promote on."
 
Since then Cleveland Bazaar (formerly Bazaar Bizarre) has become a year-round mainstay, with pop-up shops at places across the city. They have included Shaker Quality Auto Body (a working garage), Market Square Park (across from the West Side Market) and the Dittrick Medical History Museum.
 
"People saw that we'd bring traffic wherever we were," says Okey of Cleveland Bazaar's rise in popularity. "Now we've got stuff going practically every month of the year." This month is particularly busy, with two shows at the 5th Street Arcades, one last weekend for Winterfest and another this weekend—the Manly Mart.
 
The big holiday show at 78th Street Studios will be on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. While the show is free, early bird tickets are available for $20 for entry at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
 
This year's show will be Cleveland Bazaar's largest with 140 vendors. Many come from Northeast Ohio, but vendors have traveled from Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville and even Los Angeles to peddle their wares in past shows. This year, the unusual offerings range from durable handmade bags made in the Screw Factory to pottery from Buffalo, New York, to screen printed posters made by a duo that collaborates between Cleveland, Ohio and Brooklyn, New York. And while many vendors knock on Okey's door, not all make it into the juried show.
 
"If I see one more thing that came from Pat Catan's with a 216 stamped on it," laments Okey, "I'm gonna … " Not to fear, Okey's made sure her 2014 vendor roster is first-rate. "On top of it, you get the building residents, which will be open too."
 
Cleveland Bazaar is only half of Okey's professional life. She's also a one-woman show with her niche business, Knit Grrl Studio, which she operates out of a Screw Factory studio space she shares with artist Arabella Proffer.
 
"Books are the primary business right now, but we're expanding that," says Okey of her LLC, which she founded in 2009 after penning 12 knitting books for other publishers. Knit Grrl also runs a digital magazine with more than 1,500 paid subscribers and sells knitting patterns that it promotes along with its books via a mailing list of 13,000. The company grosses $250,000 annually.
 
Clearly Okey has dived into the maker movement and made it work -- literally. That ethic is also the glimmering drive behind Cleveland Bazaar's indie mentality.
 
"A lot of us come from families where you made stuff. There's almost a heritage factor: grandma embroidered, grandpa made things out of wood. It seems to me sort of a Rust Belt thing: You're thrifty. You're saving things up. You're not just going to the mall and buying 18 pieces of jewelry at Claire's.
 
"The (Cleveland Bazaar holiday) show started before there was an Etsy, before there was a Facebook, before any of those things were around. It wasn't that sort of monkey-see/monkey-do stuff you see now. It wasn't informed by what Martha Stewart told you was cool."
 
*For those smoldering with curiosity over what "filthy embroidered things" entails, visit Greg Der Ananian's flickr pages—at your own risk.

cedar-taylor merchant group hits fundraising goal, plans for spring improvements

Having reached an important fundraising goal of $5,500 just last month, the Cedar-Taylor Development Association (CTDA) will see the fruits of its persistence come to fruition next spring.
 
The $5,500 figure is significant as it unlocks the second half of an $11,000 Cleveland Heights 2014 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). With $16,500 in its coffers, CTDA can begin prioritizing their streetscape plan, which was conducted by Michelle Bandy-Zalatoris and financed by a $5,250 CDBG issued by Cleveland Heights in 2013. Further sweetening the pot is an additional $10,000 CDBG from Cleveland Heights that will be available in July 2015.
 
Kevin Smith, CTDA president, estimates the total cost of realizing the plan will be $100,000. That's a lot of dough, but with $27,500 on the books, it's starting to look attainable.
 
"Our first source of funds came from going door to door to talk to business owners and suggesting a donation of $100 to be member," says Smith. "Some gave less. Some gave more." He also notes that a handful of residents and a generous anonymous donor helped to reach the $5,500, as did a Nov. 8 fundraiser wherein local vendors donated a portion of their sales to the effort.
 
The district covers Cedar Road between Hampstead and the end of the business district, and Taylor Road from Washington Boulevard to Sherwin Williams, 2193 South Taylor Road. While money from Cleveland Heights cannot be spent on the portion of the district that lies in University Heights (everything east of Taylor), the funds raised by CTDA can.
 
"University Heights is looking for funds as well," says Smith.
 
The group intends to "get their ducks in a row" over winter and prioritize spending, but Smith says they will likely start with items such as benches, planters, banner signage, trash receptacles and/or custom bike racks.
 
"We want there to be somewhat of a splash," he says, adding that they can't do everything at once. "If we wanted to, say, add ten benches total, maybe we do four benches this year."
 
Larger ticket items include adding a turn lane, angle parking and public art. Smith cites an example: instead of two simple white striped lines defining a crosswalk, "you make it into kind of an art piece. Maybe outside of Melt, the crosswalk is a painted knife and a painted fork." He adds that CTDA may reach out to Heights Arts.
 
"They're a great local Heights-based arts organization that we'd like to collaborate with."
 
Smith owns a 3,000-square foot building in the district that currently houses two tenants, Enroll America, 13437 Cedar Road, a nonprofit that helps people sign up for the Affordable Care Act and Critical Hit Games, 13433 Cedar Road. He and others founded the CTDA in 2012. The group of approximately 60 merchants, property owners and residents make up the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. There are six board members.
 
The group differs from Cleveland's many community development corporations and the special improvement districts in Cleveland Heights, which are all formal and complex public/private entities.
 
"We're much more grass roots," says Smith. "We're all volunteer. We have absolutely no overhead. We have no office. Everything we get goes directly into this programming/neighborhood."
 
But what is the impetus behind his fervent neighborhood advocacy?
 
"If we don't take the initiative ourselves, nobody's going to do it for us."

long-awaited makeover of mlk jr. drive and 'suicide circle' now open

The much-maligned traffic circle at East 105th and MLK Jr. Drive has been completely redeveloped and is now open to vehicle traffic. Fresh Water first reported on these planned improvements two and a half years ago.

"This traffic circle has one of the highest rates of vehicular accidents in the region -- they're mostly fender benders, because people are just confused by it," Chris Bongorno, Director of Planning with University Circle Incorporated (UCI), told us at the time. "The new configuration will definitely be more pedestrian and bike friendly, and will also help to connect people to Rockefeller Park and University Circle."

According to a press release from Cuyahoga County, which invested in the project along with the City of Cleveland, the $7.2 million infrastructure project "modified an existing roadway network at East 105th Street, MLK Boulevard, Mt. Sinai Drive, East Boulevard, and Jeptha Drive. An existing roundabout was eliminated and the remaining roadways geometrically realigned."
 
Mt. Sinai was moved south of its previous location, while Jeptha Drive was moved north. Meanwhile, East 105th Street was widened and now includes turning lanes. Finally, MLK Jr. Boulevard has been widened and realigned, and East Boulevard has been extended.

Additional improvements include new sidewalks, paths and the reconstruction of the Cancer Survivor Plaza. A new bio swale will have over 4,000 shrubs and perennials, apparently.
 
The project is pedestrian- and bike-friendly. A pedestrian boardwalk will serve to connect East 105th Street to MLK Jr. Blvd.

There are still a few items to be ticked off the completion list, including installation of the shrubs and perennials, permanent pavement markings and permanent traffic signals.

old brooklyn community cafe to be developed at cleveland library branch

Despite being home to over 30,000 residents, Old Brooklyn lacks a vibrant main street full of local businesses. And while its neighbors in Tremont and Ohio City enjoy a surfeit of options when it comes to cool cafes, including Rising Star and Civilization, Old Brooklyn residents unfortunately can't say the same.

That's going to change soon thanks to a bold new project that's been initiated by the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation in partnership with Cleveland Public Library. Their plan to build a new community cafe in the South Brooklyn branch of CPL was recenty awarded $30,000 from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) as part of its Neighborhood Solutions awards.

The plan for the new community cafe dovetails with existing plans to leverage and redevelop the historic streetscape along Pearl Road in the heart of Old Brooklyn. The half-mile stretch of Pearl is close to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and other amenities, and there are also about 1,500 employees in the immediate area.

"This café will reimagine a community asset that has been a keystone for 35 years," Old Brooklyn CDC stated in its proposal to CNP. "Now the asset can be repurposed as a 21st century gathering space to anchor economic development and connect to the community through opportunities for programming and engagement. The café will be built not only as a public-partnership with the library but also as a physical part of the structure, creating opportunities for both entities to support the other through programming and shared customers."

Essentially, Old Brooklyn CDC and CPL plan to renovate a portion of the library and create a new storefront where there's currently a blank wall. This new, glass-fronted storefront will be attached to the library. It will have a separate entrance, seating area and a patio, but will also be accessible from inside the branch. Visitors will be able to grab a cup of coffee and browse the collection.

Old Brooklyn expects to select a private operator through an RFP process. The branch is located at State and Pearl Roads, a high-traffic location in the city. It will join Drink Bar and Grill and Cake Royale as new, expanding businesses within the area, and leaders expect the new cafe to create about five full-time jobs.

The CDC still must raise additional funds to turn this innovative idea into a reality. The $30,000 grant award represents only about 25 percent of the total costs to "white box" the library space, so that it can be offered to a private operator.

Additionally, the following three programs or projects were chosen as Neighborhood Solutions Awards grantees, according to a release:
 
  • "Union-Miles Development Corporation will receive $35,000 to expand U-Mag, a program that supports entrepreneurship development specifically for the landscaping market through training, job referrals, networking opportunities and community volunteerism. 
  • Northeast Shores Development Corporation will receive $30,000 for the Collinwood Renter Equity Program which combines the rehab of low demand rental buildings into facilities that offer low-income artists both living and work space.  In addition, a component to build equity for the artist tenants is integrated into the program.  
  • St. Clair Superior Development Corporation will receive $30,000 for Hatch St Clair that will 'grow' new businesses for the neighborhood by providing a pool of funds and support available exclusively to home- based start-ups and existing businesses located in the SCSDC service area."
CNP stated that it expects these projects to be up and running within 12 months.

sneak peak of the new corner alley at uptown

Fun and high style collide at the Corner Alley's second location at 11409 Euclid Avenue in Uptown, from the giant colorful lattice of bowling balls suspended above the main bar to the mural giving a visual depiction of Northeast Ohio's population that hangs on the opposite wall. But the strikes, spares and gutter balls aren't ready to roll just yet.
 
Slated for a December 3rd grand opening and a soft opening on November 29th, the site is still thrumming with the buzz of drills and footfalls of workers as they rush to finish the nearly 23,000 square feet of this stunning new entertainment venue, which seats up to 500 and will employ approximately 100. Construction started in spring 2013. MRN Hospitality Group, which owns the business, has invested $5.5 million to see it come to fruition.
 
Designed by Dimit Architects, the first floor clocks in at approximately 12,000 square feet with 11 lanes. The second floor has six lanes, which Corner Alley sales and marketing director Mary Lessick classifies as "boutique." Downstairs bowling is $50 per hour for up to six bowlers. The boutique lanes go for $60 per hour. In either case, shoe rental is included. Both levels feature a bar as well as numerous seating and dining areas, all of which are available for private parties.
 
Rental opportunities for personal or professional gatherings abound in nooks such as the Catwalk Lounge ($150 an hour) and the Mezzano ($75 an hour). Four boutique lanes and adjacent seating – AKA  the Uptown Lounge -- runs $300 an hour. The entire facility can be had for $1,500 an hour. Staff can accommodate most groups. Food and beverages are not included in hourly pricing.
 
For tighter budgets, a "Friends and Family Fun Pack" is available for limited hours and includes two hours of bowling, two pizzas, sodas and shoe rental for up to six people. Lessick hopes to add other promotional events such as College I.D. Night in the future.
 
Until then, affordable drinks include happy hour pricing ($2 for PBR Tall Boys, $5 mini-margaritas), but lead bartender Jason Rutushin also promises delights such as house sangria, vodka infused in-house in oak barrels full up with peppers, olives and pickles for a custom Corner Alley Bloody Mary, and a host of handcrafted cocktails.
 
"Everything is made from scratch," adds culinary director Todd DiCillo of the kitchen's offerings. "Everything is slow roasted and hand pulled." He sources his ingredients locally whenever possible, and then whips them into dishes such as baked polenta points with roasted peppers and sausages (app, $10) and braised osso bucco ragout with rigatoni and pork shank (entrée, $17). Pizzas and sandwiches go for $10 to $12. The menu also features salads, sides, deserts and kids' plates.
 
Other amenities will include air hockey, a pool table, modern and vintage video games (Pac-Man, Asteroids), tabletop shuffleboard, a pinball machine and 37 televisions. Picnic table seating and two outdoor fire pits round out the spacious Euclid Avenue patio, where guests are welcome to people watch while sipping wine or a bourbon and berries cocktail. Valet parking is available, but Lessick also recommends the nearby Ford Garage or the Uptown North Station Pay Station Lot, which is directly behind the venue.
 
MRN Ltd., owned by the Maron family, is the developer and lead contractor on the entire mixed-use complex at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Ford Drive, which houses the likes of Cleveland Yoga, Constantino's Market and Cleveland Institute of Art students, although the dorms above will be shielded from the din of Corner Alley with soundproof building materials.
 
The area has undergone significant transformation over the years.
 
"This was called 'Hessler beach' right here," recalls MRN Hospitality Group's food, beverage and events director, Christine Connell, "with all the old hippies laying around without their tops on. The Tudor Arms was Job Corps, and it was really in bad shape." Connell moved from Manhattan to University Circle in 1992 and has worked with MRN since 1997.
 
Alternative dress codes of yesteryear notwithstanding, Chef DiCillo sums up the energy of the place.
 
"We just want people to be able to have a nice wine, have a nice entrée, and then look up and see a group of kids bowling. I think that's really fun."

78th street studios welcomes four tenants on new ramp level, anticipates arrival of artneo

Third Friday at 78th Street Studios is always a unique event, but this month's installment will include the grand opening of the new 20,000-square-foot "ramp level."
 
Four galleries have already moved into the new space and will be ready to dazzle attendees this Friday. In spaces that range from 1000 to 1500 square feet, the new tenants include The Nine 5 Gallery, an industrial art space; the Byzantine, which features eclectic home goods; Northcoast Promotions, an artisan craft market; and the second location for Hartshorn Studios, which has been at its Tremont storefront, 2334 Professor Avenue, since 2007.
 
"We absolutely love Tremont," says Hartshorn artist and gallery manager Lila Kole, "but we also wanted to be in a place where we have close access to lots of other peoples' ideas and artwork and kind of be working together in a hive."
 
"We want to sort of connect these growing areas," adds gallery owner and principal artist Rob Hartshorn of Cleveland's expanding art scene.
 
Dan Bush purchased the 170,000-square-foot complex on 78th in 2001. With the four new tenants, the studios now boast nearly 50 businesses. The newly opened ramp level features two suites, with an event venue and plenty of room for additional studios.
 
"We've got a ton of demand," says Bush of the space, which opened up when longtime tenant Grossman Inc. vacated in February of this year. "We hope to have at least another 15 businesses in the building by the end of 2015."
 
ARTneo, formerly the Cleveland Artist Foundation, will be occupying 2,500 square feet on the ramp level in early 2015 and will be programming an adjacent 5,000-square-foot gallery part of the year, while the rest of the building will direct shows and content for the balance. ARTneo is moving from their long-standing home at the Beck Center for the Arts.
 
"They've outgrown us; we've outgrown them," says Bush, who is also an ARTneo board member. "It's all a very good serendipity."
 
The ramp level grand opening will go one hour beyond the usual 5 – 9 p.m. Third Friday time slot, with festivities extending to 10 p.m. and including strolling accordion player Ralph Szubski, guitarist Victor Samalot, the ever-fabulous Lounge Kitty and a yet-to-be-announced neighborhood pub selling nibbles.
 
The Nov. 21 happening will also feature the opening reception for A Great Joy: The Women's Art Club of Cleveland 1912-2006. ARTneo and Dr. Lawrence Waldman are co-curating the show, which will be held in Suite 215, the site's pop-up shop on the second floor through Jan 17.
 

university circle transportation study: 'we have enough parking, but it needs to be easier to use'

While that quote comes from Chris Bongorno, transportation planning manager for University Circle Inc. (UCI), he is quick to point out that the complex parking situation in University Circle cannot be summed up in a single sentence. He also readily admits that the major thrust of the study's findings—that the existing 37,000 parking spaces in the University Circle area are sufficient in an aggregate sense—will likely raise some eyebrows.
 
"That will instigate a lot of reaction because that's not the perception or reality to some people," he says.
 
Although the findings of the District Parking Study, which is part of the larger Moving Greater University Circle Transportation and Mobility Study are still in the draft stage and not yet publicly available, Bongorno gave Fresh Water a fascinating insight into this otherwise utilitarian topic and the study's results.
 
"Where there are (parking) constraints is during peak times," he says, adding that identifying different parking supply and demand markets is critical. Rather than building more expensive parking garages that do not command sufficient revenue to cover the associated debt, says Bongorno, the informed option is to "find more creative ways to coordinate management and use of existing facilities."
 
He cites the Veteran's Administration Medical Center's two large garages, which are near peak use during the day, but no so at other times. "In the evenings, they make those garages available to the public," he says, which is convenient for attendees of events such as Wade Oval Wednesdays.
 
That's easy enough to understand. Who hasn't looked on with frustration at a No parking. Violators will be towed sign in front of a desolate office building parking lot on a Sunday? Hence, with 15 different organizations in the University Circle area giving 15 different messages about how to park and get around, there is significant room for coordinated efforts.
 
"This is not something that would be easily achieved," concedes Bongorno, adding that parking lot owners have reasons why they want to manage their own facilities, but that it can be done. He cites the recent transformation of Uptown, where surface lots were replaced with dense and dynamic mixed-use development. Getting UCI, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University to commit to shared-use of their area garages was instrumental in obtaining zoning variances for the new projects, which eliminated parking spaces and incurred more users.
 
"That's worked there," says Bongorno. However challenges persist, particularly with communication. People can't always find those spaces, which is often a problem with transportation management and will be addressed at large as the project proceeds.
 
A $100,000 Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative Planning Grant from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is funding the study, along with matching contributions from private philanthropic partners. Phase two, the Transportation and Mobility Study, began in September and is scheduled for completion in early 2015. Work on the final phase of the study, the Transportation Management Implementation Plan, will begin in spring 2015. Nelson\Nygaard, which specializes in developing transportation communities, is the lead consultant on the project.
 
"They're really experienced in multi-modal transportation planning around the world," says Bongorno, noting that they've done work in Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.
 
Evoking the image of enormous parking lots surrounding malls or big box stores that are often half empty, Bongorno asserts, "We can't build for the day after Thanksgiving. That's not the type of district that we want. We want a district that is very efficiently using its existing assets while maintaining and promoting a walkable and very vibrant 24/7 district."
 
Another goal of the project is, ironically, invisible results.
 
"We don't want people who go to MOCA or the museums or Piccadilly to say anything about their experience driving there or parking. That's not part of their memorable experience. We want it to be about what they saw, who they ran into, and how that ice cream tasted.

"We want transportation to be out of the conversation unless they're saying how easy it was."

lake affect artists' studios, event venue coming to campus district

A hip new studio space adjacent to the trendy ArtCraft building in the Campus District will soon be filled with artists. Professional photographers Dan LaGuardia and his partner Amanda Sinkey expect to open Lake Affect Studios, 1615 East 25th Street, in the first quarter 2015.
 
While a $30,000 vacant property grant from the city of Cleveland is pending, the two purchased the 30,000-square-foot building in March 2013 for $400,000 with funds from family. The space, which is actually three connected buildings, had been on the market since 2008 and had previously housed a manufacturer of display units and a mop factory. The oldest of the three structures was built in the early 1900s, and the newest was erected in the 1990s. The other building dates to the mid-1900's.
 
Eleven studio spaces are currently under construction, ranging from 535- to 1400-square feet with rents starting at $0.60 per square foot. Hence, monthly rents will start at $321 with an additional shared utility fee, prorated on the percentage of square footage each studio occupies.
 
"We wanted to get together a like-minded community of creative people that have a lot of energy and want to work together and bounce ideas off each other," says LaGuardia. Six tenants are already on the waiting list. They include photographers, a sculptor and a video production operation. LaGuardia and Sinkey will be "studio natives," occupying space other than the 11 units for lease. Their vision for the venture is reflected in the name. "Lake Affect is kind of a play on words that alludes to how we would like to 'affect' the area around us," says LaGuardia.
 
Sinkey works mostly with personal portraits and weddings. LaGuardia is a commercial photographer with clients such as JoAnne Fabric & Craft Stores, Philip Morris and Red Model Management. His work often requires travel, so why Cleveland?
 
"I was born in Cleveland and I wouldn't go anywhere else. I love it here," he says. "I can work regionally from Cleveland and still have my home base here." His work often takes him to Chicago and New York, which poses no problem. "Both are just a short plane ride away." As for the cultural comparison, "Cleveland is cheap and affordable. It offers every thing New York or Chicago could offer, just on a smaller scale."
 
The 6,000-square foot event space will be adjacent to an art gallery, which will serve as a cocktail area for event attendees and showcase for resident artists. LaGuardia has fielded healthy interest in the event space but one date, September 19, 2015, is already booked—for LaGuardia's and Sinkey's wedding reception. Decisions such as buttercream vs. fondant, however, will have to wait. For now, it's all about bringing Lake Affect to life.
 
"Our success depends on what we do from here on out," says LaGuardia. "I'm excited to get to work and pound the pavement and get the word out about this place and fill it up."
 
 


cuyahoga county now the 'gold standard' for abandoned property reclamation

Some of the most significant strides in Cleveland's renaissance come from the quietest corners, where people with rolled sleeves toil behind desks, taking on daunting challenges. While their accomplishments aren't often regaled with flashy grand openings and popping champagne corks, their impact is unmistakable.
 
Hence, when the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp (or more commonly, the Cuyahoga Land Bank) quietly celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 172 earlier this month, few noticed. The legislation, which was authored by Douglas Sawyer, special projects and policy counsel for the Cuyahoga Land Bank and Gus Frangos, the organization's president and general council, is an important link in an ongoing effort that has catapulted Cuyahoga County from the infamous "ground zero" of the foreclosure crisis to a nationally recognized pioneer in expediting and processing vacant and abandoned property.
 
"Cuyahoga County is considered the gold standard," says Sawyer of the county's reputation as a leader in the area of abandoned property reclamation. "It's really a credit to the city and county. All of the different players realized how big the problem was here and have come together to try and tackle these problems."
 
SB 172 improves and streamlines processes previously established in House Bill 294 (2006). That legislation included a nationally groundbreaking alternative to the traditional judicial tax foreclosure process for abandoned properties: the administrative tax foreclosure hearing. The administrative process, performed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision, takes between six and 12 months, whereas the customary judicial process can go on for one or two years. Once a property is foreclosed, it is essentially cleansed of delinquent taxes and other financial encumbrances, and can make its way into "someone's hands that can do some thing good with it" by way of the land bank, says Sawyer.
 
The original 2006 legislation, however, allowed for any number of entities such as lien holders or banks to "move to dismiss"—essentially putting the kibosh on an administrative foreclosure—and sending the case back to the judicial system completely anew.
 
"That's not good," says Sawyer, noting that the county invests much preparation, due diligence and funding (approximately $1,500) into each administrative foreclosure case. SB 172 saves all of that, allowing the case to remain intact and simply transfer into the court system along with all the associated documentation.
 
Sawyer describes another thing he likes about SB 172. The legislation removes the obligation for a local municipality, county or county land bank to obtain permission from owners of properties that have been forfeited to the state--who are often difficult (if not impossible) to find--in order to assess those properties. He cites the tiny Village of Glenwillow.
 
"Glenwillow is getting onto a property that was forfeited to the state," says Sawyer. "They're doing some environmental testing and as long as there's not something really really bad on it, they'll pull it from the forfeiture list through our land bank and they're going to do some good things on the property." Without SB 172, he adds, "they wouldn't have any ability to do that."
 
Since its inception in 2009, the Cuyahoga Lank Bank has transacted 4,600 properties, demolished 2,960 and facilitated the renovations of 980. It currently holds title to 1,330 properties. A founder of the land bank, former County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, went on to create the Thriving Communities Institute, a region-wide effort to help revitalize urban centers by transforming vacant properties.
 
"We are really one of the leaders," says Sawyer. "If you want to be doing this kind of work, this is a great place to be doing it. This is the cutting edge."

trailside homes in slavic village gains momentum as fifth buyer takes the keys

Adding to a small but growing group of new Slavic Village residents, the fifth homebuyer moved into the Trailside Homes development earlier this month. Slavic Village Development Executive Director Chris Alvarado says the group of new homeowners represents the neighborhood and then some.
 
"This is reflective of the entire city," says Alvarado. "We're bringing folks in from the suburbs as well," he adds, noting that the newcomers are young couples and singles that have also come from Cleveland proper. They've been moving in since late 2013.
 
The newest resident discovered the project during a Rooms to Let event earlier this year, which coincided with an open house at Trailside.
 
The homes range from $119,000 to $132,000 and 1,155 to 1,367 square feet. Financial incentives include down payment assistance and 15 year tax abatement.
 
"These are all energy star homes," says Alvarado, with estimated maximum utility bills of $70 per month, which includes winter heating. "You're talking about less than $700 a month for all of your home expenses."
 
Construction of Trailside started in 2013, with work focusing on streets, infrastructure, connections to Morgana Trail, and construction of the first ten homes. The development could eventually include between 70 and 100 homes, although the next construction phase is still in the planning stage. The project has been in the works for years, and the developers hope that sales will now pick up.
 
Third Federal Savings & Loan has driven the project and owns the unsold homes and future lots, which lie north of the organization's 175,000-square-foot Broadway Avenue corporate headquarters.
 
"Third Fed financed the entire project," says Alvarado, adding that they started back in 2011 when "the market wasn't that great." He lauds the company's commitment to the neighborhood.
 
"The partnership with them is not just in terms of expanding their campus and building Trailside," says Alvarado. "They have a foundation that is heavily invested in youth development and working with the schools." Other partners on the Trailside collaboration include Zaremba Builders and Progressive Urban Real Estate.

The Trailside project represents Slavic Village Development's vision for the entire Broadway/Slavic Village area, which offers a level of affordability that is largely unavailable in downtown Cleveland or trendier neighborhoods like Tremont. As the community slowly recovers from the devastation of the housing crisis, advocates hope that the neighborhood's assets will eventually drive growth.
 
"In order for us to stabilize the neighborhood and help people stay here and thrive, they need to have all the things that are a part of a strong neighborhood," says Alvarado, citing strong schools, youth programs and a "dense network of partners that work with one another so that whatever needs you have as a family, we're able to meet those needs and do it in an affordable way."

Perhaps the most unique feature of the Trailside project is that it backs up to Morgana Run, a two mile bicycling and walking path. The Towpath is also easily accessible, and plans are in the works to connect the trail to downtown.
 
"I want to make sure that this is a neighborhood that is beautiful," Alvarado says, "and has all the services and amenities you could possibly want."
 
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