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benjamin rose set to open 6,000 s/f training center overlooking downtown

The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, a nationally-recognized research organization, service provider and policy advocate that works with older adults and caregivers, is set to open a new 6,000-square-foot administrative headquarters and training center.

"What's new about the facility is that we intend to broaden the scope of our training to a couple of new audiences," says CEO Richard Browdie of the building at Fairhill Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. "There are many professions that interface with older people and their families on a routine basis but may or may not have any training available to them."

The building also provides Benjamin Rose with the first permanent home for its training programs. Traditionally, such programs had been conducted at off-site locations. Browdie finds it poetic that the organization is building its home in the Shaker-Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland where they've been for many years.

"The board just really came back to the conclusion that, no matter what they did, they wanted to remain here in the city," he says. "We have replications of our evidence-based practices all over the country, but our home is in Cleveland."

The building cost about $7.5 million and the project cost $11.4 million. Funds came from the sale of another facility to Kindred Hospital, New Markets Tax Credits and other sources. Browdie says the facility will also be available for rent for retreats and other events hosted by nonprofits organizations with compatible missions. The hilltop location offers sweeping views of downtown Cleveland.

Benjamin Rose will celebrate with a free afternoon celebration on Sunday, May 19th from 2-4 p.m. The new BRIA training center is located at 11890 Fairhill.


Source: Richard Browdie
Writer: Lee Chilcote

shaker heights renovates two blighted homes near launchhouse to create 'tech village'

Building off the buzz created by Shaker LaunchHouse, an entrepreneurial incubator, the City of Shaker Heights has partnered with LaunchHouse, Cuyahoga County and Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland to renovate two homes on Chelton Road into affordable housing for entrepreneurs.

The homes at 3553 and 3599 Chelton Road, directly behind Shaker Launchhouse in the South Moreland neighborhood, were vacant before the city acquired them. Shaker renovated the homes using $250,000 of Neighborhood Stabilization Funds, and is now in the process of transferring the properties to Neighborhood Housing Services. The agency, which specializes in affordable housing, will own and manage them.

The houses feature a total of nine "units" (a bedroom in a shared house with ample common space) that can be rented for $395 apiece. Amenities include high-speed Internet, free utilities, a comfortable green home with air conditioning, hardwood floors, free laundry and a ceiling projector hook-up in the living room for presentations. The homes are part of a multi-million dollar investment the city has made in the South Moreland community.

"We already have more applicants than we have units," reports Kamla Lewis, Director of Neighborhood Revitalization with the City of Shaker Heights. "We wanted to create a concentrated, collaborative community -- an environment for startups in the neighborhood, but a place where they could afford to live, as well."

Lewis says the first tenants will move into the completed homes as early as this week, and she expects all nine units to be fully occupied by June 1.

Applicants must be entrepreneurs at Shaker LaunchHouse. Its accelerator program begins this summer and has attracted entrepreneurs from outside of Northeast Ohio, who move here while engaged in starting their companies.

Lewis says the project is the first of its kind that she is aware of, and that the city's investment in South Moreland has already attracted further private investment, including several new businesses and a new $5 million apartment complex.


Source: Kamla Lewis
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cle school board set to vote on using funds from building sale to help fund downtown school

A Cleveland School Board member who has helped revitalize Ohio City and turn it into a destination for young families has proposed using funds from the sale of the district's headquarters to create a new school downtown -- and believes he's got the votes to do it.

Eric Wobser, an Ohio City resident and parent who is Director of Ohio City Inc., wants to reinvest $4.5 million from the sale of the district's headquarters into serving the growing base of young families in downtown and near-downtown neighborhoods.

"Downtown is growing quickly and so is the number of families," he says. "Campus International has a 70-person waiting list in a 400-seat school, and they'll outgrow their current facility by the end of next year. Because downtown is accessible to all parts of the city via public transportation, a school could serve the entire city."

The resolution that Wobser is introducing, which will be voted on at the board's May 14th meeting, will direct the HQ sale proceeds to be used towards a new downtown school. However, it does not stipulate what kind of school or where it would be located. Instead, if it passes, board and district officials will work with downtown stakeholders to create a decision-making process with public input. Funds could be used to help existing schools expand or create a new school.

Although Wobser introduced the proposal, he says he's got the support of school board chair Denise Link and believes others will back him. He acknowledges that the issue has been controversial, with some public opposition at meetings.

Although Wobser sees an opportunity to serve a diverse set of families and keep them in the city, critics have called it elitist. "They say you're doing this for rich kids who don't exist yet, and I think those arguments fall short of what's possible. How do we turn five-year residents of the city into 50-year residents? If you want to build a complete community downtown, you can't do that without a school."

The school would serve the entire city, he says. "Downtown has the ability to reach a broad community of families in the city." As evidence, Wobser cites the fact that the number of young families in Ohio City has grown within the past 10 years, but contrary to popular perception, they're not all young professionals.

"Some are relocating from other parts of the city to these areas for perceived opportunity or access to employment," he says. Wobser cites an increase of 4,000 new 25-34 year olds in downtown and near-downtown neighborhoods compared to 10 years ago, and a bump in hispanic and black families. "Where will they go?"

Although Cleveland's population declined 17 percent and the city lost 30 percent of its school-age population from 2000 to 2010, Ohio City experienced a one-percent bump in the number of families. Families downtown rose 25 percent to 539.

Wobser also argues that a downtown school will leverage state matching dollars and be catalytic for downtown, whose property taxes help fund the schools.

Yet the main point, he says, is to serve Cleveland families and keep them in the city. "We know the flight exists," says Wobser. "The idea is to stop the flight."


Source: Eric Wobser
Writer: Lee Chilcote

growing construction firm builds dream home in nine-twelve district

Project and Construction Services provides owner's representation and design-build services to clients, so it's appropriate that the growing 53-person firm custom built its new offices. Now that it's settling into its new space in the Erieview Tower, executives are experiencing their Goldilocks moment: Just right.

"We decided to right-size our space for our present needs, forecasting into the future," says CEO Bob Strickland, who downsized from 12,500 to 10,300 square feet -- despite adding staff -- by designing the space efficiently. "We have staff that come in from the East Side, West Side and Akron, so we've found downtown serves our needs the best, and we enjoy the vibrant downtown atmosphere."

The new 21st floor headquarters offers views of the lakefront and a kitchen outfitted with pendant lights from Ohio City-based Glass Bubble Project. Strickland and his wife recently moved to Tremont after living for 28 years in Mentor, and they've become big fans of the eclectic glass blowing studio behind the West Side Market.

PCS right-sized its offices by reducing conference rooms and support areas, creating a "huddle space" in the lobby that can be used as a meeting space, and reducing the number of storage, IT and work rooms. The office includes open work stations to accommodate future growth. Strickland says designing offices more efficiently has become a major trend in 21st century workplace design.

PCS looked at a number of spaces downtown but selected Erieview because of the potential to customize the space within an existing shell. The firm worked with owner Werner Minshall and HSB Architects on the design and buildout. Strickland says that being in the NineTwelve District is a plus, as the area has recently gained new restaurants and employees enjoy the food trucks on Walnut Wednesdays.

The company is working on a number of projects in Cleveland currently, including the Victory Building, W. 25th Street Lofts and Residence Inn. The company has offices in Wheeling and Charleston, West Virginia, with 26 staff downtown.


Source: Bob Strickland
Writer: Lee Chilcote

developer set to break ground on phase II of clifton pointe townhomes in lakewood

Abode, developer of the Clifton Pointe Townhomes in Lakewood, is set to break ground on the next phase of the project. As soon as this month, the company could break ground on an additional five units to complement the 17 that have already been sold.

Principal Andrew Brickman says that buyers are drawn to the high-quality, green-built construction, the walkable location in the West End of Lakewood, and the views of the Rocky River Valley and Lake Erie. "I wish we could build another 30 of them," he says. "I think we could sell them."

The five units that are planned have drawn the ire of some local residents. About a dozen attended a recent Lakewood City Council meeting to protest the developer's request for a zoning change to allow townhomes, as well as the 10-year tax abatement.

The Lakewood Planning Commission recently unanimously voted to approve the rezoning and the project now moves to the regular council meeting for a full vote.

Brickman claims Abode is set to break ground on Phase II even though Phase I is not finished. All Phase I units are sold, but construction work is not complete and they haven't yet closed. He attributes his confidence in the market to the buyer response to Phase I, as well as the increased number of buyers in the market.

"Our buyers are people who put a high premium on lifestyle, who want open space for entertaining and no-maintenance living," he says. "They're people who get it. They're people who aren't waiting in line for an hour and a half at the Cheesecake Factory to eat a mediocre meal. I have a couple coming all the way from Solon, another from Chagrin Falls. They're coming because the product is unique."

The units feature classic modernist design, sunken living rooms with high ceilings and large windows, living-level decks and roof decks. They are priced from $379,000 for a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath unit with 1,770 square feet. Phase I offered a 10-year, 100-percent tax abatement on the improvements.

Brickman says his project is a chink in the armor of urban sprawl. "We’re trying to turn around the trend, bring people back to the core and walkable neighborhoods."

Abode is working to obtain bank financing for Phase II. Brickman says that he is seeing more and more buyers wade into the housing market this year. He and his partners are also shopping around Cleveland for another development project.

As for whether or not prices will go up with Phase II, he just says, "We're trying."


Source: Andrew Brickman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

11 new businesses will serve growing base of downtown residents and workers

With downtown Cleveland's office vacancy rate three percent lower than it was two years ago and vacancy rates hovering around four percent for apartments, new retailers are leasing empty storefronts in the area. Eleven new retailers will open this year, bringing fresh concepts to the local scene.

New offerings include Cleveland Chop in the former Cleveland Chophouse location on St. Clair, Mirch Masada, Red the Steakhouse, four new shops in the Fifth Street Arcades, Walk in the Park Cafe, Table 9 Martini Lounge and Market Creations Cafe.

Michael Deemer, Vice President of Business Development and Legal Services for Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA), cites Walk in the Park and Table 9 as two examples of downtown's resurgence. "We're seeing the area around Perk Park in the NineTwelve District attract new investment in long-dormant retail spaces formerly occupied by One Walnut and the Atlanta Bread Company," he says.

Although Red the Steakhouse isn't slated to open until late summer or early fall, Walk in the Park and Table 9 could open within the next month, Deemer says.

It's a sign of the market's health that empty spaces are being filled. "Cleveland Chop is being reopened by the original owner of Rock Bottom Brewery," he says. "It really does speak volumes that as places like Cleveland Chophouse and Bricco close and are in need of freshening the concept, they're reopening right away."

"There was a lot of concern initially when Cleveland Chophouse closed, but we knew... that there were literally dozens of inquiries as soon as the news hit."

Although office vacancy increased slightly in Q1 2013, Deemer says this is because of Eaton's departure. "We've had 25 new businesses move into downtown committing over 4,000 new jobs in the last two years," he says. "Retailers are responding exactly how we would expect them to, following where the people are."


Source: Michael Deemer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

playhousesquare breaks ground on star plaza renovations, first phase of $16m transformation

PlayhouseSquare already is a gem in the crown of downtown Cleveland, yet its sparking renaissance will become even more breathtaking with the addition of a 20-foot-tall LED "chandelier spectacular" at E. 14th and Euclid in the theatre district.

That chandelier, boasting over 4,600 crystals and hoisted 40 feet in the air, is the centerpiece of a $16 million transformation that will bring the beauty found inside PlayhouseSquare's historic theatres out onto the streets of the district.

The project will also feature new electronic signage and lighting, gateway entry points to define the neighborhood, and the addition of a full-service cafe and state-of-the-art outdoor stage to the Star Plaza outdoor space. The district will gain some of the drama found in Times Square in New York City and Millenium Park in Chicago while retaining the elegant, historic character that's uniquely Cleveland.

"We believe this will be transformational," says Art Falco, President and CEO of PlayhouseSquare. "It's not just a district anymore, it's a neighborhood. We see it as an economic development project as well as a physical enhancement project. It will draw more office tenants and spur more residential and retail development."

The project was designed by the experiential design firm The Barycz Group, which has completed similar projects in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dubai.

PlayhouseSquare has not yet raised all of the funds necessary to complete the project, but Falco expressed confidence in the project's success. Star Plaza is already under construction and work will be completed in time for a slew of summer events. The remainder of the project will be completed in 2014. Public-private partnership, naming rights and philanthropic contributions will fund it.

"We feel we're going to set a very high level of design standard," he says. "I think that others who follow us will be compared to us."


Source: Art Falco
Writer: Lee Chilcote

ground breaking takes place on ambitious hansa house redevelopment in ohio city

Even in Ohio City's Market District, where monthly announcements of new businesses opening are not uncommon, this one is noteworthy. Boris Music, the Slovenian-born owner of the Hansa Import Haus at West 28th and Lorain, is set to break ground on a multi-million-dollar expansion that will transform a dated store into a restaurant and microbrewery.

For years, Hansa Import Haus has been a favorite of locals and those in-the-know -- its faded, faux-German exterior concealing the treasures of European chocolates, cheeses, meats and beer within. To outsiders, it was like: "That place? Is it even open?"

Yet Music, who owned eight other businesses in Cleveland but has shut them all down to start this project, says that the Ohio City neighborhood has finally been redeveloped to the point where he can jump in and pursue his dream project.

"The building was built as a fortress 30 years ago because we had to keep the vandals out," says the 56-year-old. "Now we're moving in the opposite direction. It will be much friendlier, with lots of windows that let the natural light in."

Although Music will roll out his new business in stages, the new Hansa House will hold an exclusive license to brew Pivovarna Lasko beer, Slovenia's largest beer producer, and also feature a European-style restaurant that offers lunch and dinner service. Later, Music plans to add a wine cellar and offer breakfast.

Designs for the new venue show the defensively-designed exterior opened up with large storefront-style windows and a new addition on the current parking lot. The design looks a bit like an Austrian ski lodge crossed with an ethnic beer garden.

As for the menu, Music says that he'll serve simple, high-quality food priced well. "Good ingredients, good quality," he says. "If you put something good in the pot, you get something good out. If you put garbage in the pot, you get garbage out."

More specifically, Music plans to bring in rotating chefs from Europe to deliver a menu that will focus on cuisine from a specific region for several months at a time. Cuisine from Hungary, Italy and Slovenia are likely options. Music says it's a concept he's seen work well in New York City that he wants to import here.

The Hansa Haus will also have a full bottling line. "This is nothing bombastic, it's not Great Lakes Brewery," he says. "We'll still be a microbrewery, and we want to help local breweries be more effective by offering them a cost-effective service."

Music intends to begin brewing beer in July and open the brewpub by October.


Source: Boris Music
Writer: Lee Chilcote

barroco brings latin american street food to the warehouse district

Barroco, a Colombian and Latin American restaurant with another location is in Lakewood, recently opened a small cafe on W. 6th Street to bring its signature Latin American street food to the Warehouse District.

The new eatery, which can seat about 40 inside and outside on its patio, offers the popular arepa -- thick corn tortillas that are split like English muffins and filled with a variety of meat and veggies -- as well as other favorites such as a Cuban sandwich, Colombian chicken and Barroco burger.

The joint truly will be jumping when the W. 6th Streetscape project wraps up later this summer, allowing Barroco's patio to flourish. Co-owner Juan David Vergara says the clientele includes downtown office workers, residents and late-night revelers.

"This is a faster version of our restaurant," he says. "We still specialize in arepas, but we're also throwing in a couple of new items such as a loaded baked potato."

Vergara is working on some new concepts, including collaborating with Bank Street Wine and Spirits next door to allow BYOB, adding a larger chef's menu for dinner, and displaying what he calls "Barroco TV" (viewers can watch their food being prepared). Barroco is open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

"Latin American street food is pretty much drinking food, bar food," he says. "People go out and stop by the street carts early or late. That's our concept."

Barroco makes its own arepas by hand, a three-day process that Vergara says is "like the ancients" -- they use hominy corn, not corn flour. The restaurant has been getting attention for its food and just won Best Latin Restaurant in Scene.

"So far it's been phenomenal," he says. "We're getting office people for lunch, people who live around here for dinner, and drunk people after the clubs let out."


Source: Juan David Vergara
Writer: Lee Chilcote

alexander mann solutions expands steadily after choosing cleveland as its u.s. hub

Talent management firm Alexander Mann Solutions unexpectedly chose Cleveland as the hub for its U.S. operations last year. The company was all but set on Raleigh, North Carolina, when a full-throttle pitch by business leaders changed their minds. Afterwards, CEO Rosaleen Blair said the firm was "love-bombed" into choosing Cleveland. A package of incentives from the State of Ohio reportedly helped to seal the deal.

Now the firm is quickly expanding into its temporary offices in the Erieview Tower in downtown Cleveland. It has doubled in size since opening in August -- the firm now employs 40, and plans are in the works to ramp up to 60-75 employees by the end of the year.

"It's getting smaller by the day," says Mark Jones, Head of Global Client Services for Alexander Mann, of the current, 8,000-square-foot office. Jones moved here from the U.K. with his family. "We are looking at all options downtown."

Based in London, AMS employs more than 1,800 people, and assists clients in more than 60 countries. Cleveland is the firm's fifth operations center, with additional hubs in the U.K., China, the Phillipines and Poland. The firm has said that the hub in Cleveland could grow to become as large as 300 employees.

Finding the right talent for AMS in Cleveland has been harder than he anticipated. "Part of the challenge is that what we do is not straightforward. We're not a staffing firm. We are a specialist organization that deals with large corporate clients, handling all aspects of talent management for those clients. Not only does that mean finding candidates, but the complete onboarding of candidates."

Alexander Mann is currently hiring qualified individuals with experience in recruiting. Jones says he's been happy with the level of talent they've identified so far. "The caliber of people we've been able to hire is very, very strong."


Source: Mark Jones
Writer: Lee Chilcote

w. 6th street to get $1m facelift with new streetscape, public art

Construction work has begun on a $1 million facelift to W. 6th Street, which will soon be transformed into a more attractive pedestrian-friendly environment that will include wider sidewalks, larger outdoor cafes, new public art and a branding campaign.

Thomas Starinsky of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation says that the impetus for the project came when officials realized that most of the buildings in the area had been restored, and that neighborhood leaders now needed to focus their attention on improving the "space between buildings."

"As the Global Center for Health Innovation, Convention Center and Ernst and Young Tower became a reality, we realized we needed to kick it up a notch," he says. "We pushed the City of Cleveland to make sure this project would be completed before the Global Center and the Convention Center open."

The project, which should be completed July 18th, is being funded through federal transportation enhancement dollars combined with a 20 percent city match. New banners and flower baskets are being paid for by sponsorships and memberships.

The downside is that businesses along W. 6th Street will sacrifice their patios this spring. "They're excited, but not about four months of construction," says Starinsky. "But we're taking it off like a band-aid and getting it done fast."

Although W. 6th perhaps is best known for its (occasionally infamous) clubs, Starinsky says the district's identity is not only diverse -- he cites a range of excellent ethnic cuisine in a few compact blocks -- but also quickly evolving.

"We have 3,000 residents and employees today, and we're adding 2,000 more employees with the Ernst and Young Tower," he says. "We recognize there will be a different type of person walking around here from the Convention Center and Global Center. We look at this as an opportunity to step up the Warehouse District."

Starinsky cites Take 5 jazz club as an example of the kind of new business that he hopes will add to the Warehouse District's ever-blossoming entertainment and dining scene. "There needs to be more diversity of food and entertainment."

The project also will include public art that tells the story of the Warehouse District. The 11-foot tall displays, which will be installed in the streetscape on W. 6th Street and eventually throughout the district, are designed by artist Corrie Slawson and authored by Warehouse District Director Tom Yablonsky.


Source: Thomas Starinsky
Writer: Lee Chilcote

k & d banking on downtown resurgence with 500-plus apartments coming online

Downtown Cleveland's apartment occupancy rate currently is 96.2 percent, and there are waiting lists at many buildings. The leading downtown developer is K&D Group, a Willoughby-based company that has made downtown a centerpiece of its investments.

K&D currently has 540 downtown apartment units either under construction or in the pipeline -- more than half of the 1,165 units underway in the area. Although the firm was not able to provide exact numbers regarding the scope of its investment, the total likely exceeds $100 million.

K&D's latest project is the Residences at Hanna, a former office building the firm purchased from PlayhouseSquare and is converting into 102 apartments on eight floors. The one- and two-bedroom units have new kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite counters and tile floors, a washer/dryer in every suite, and large windows with great views. Square footage ranges from 525 to 1,400, and monthly rents from $750 to $1,750.

"I have leases in hand sight unseen -- 25-plus already," says Cheri Ashcraft, K&D Director of Corporate Outreach. "When a client calls me and says 'I need a one bedroom' -- I've answered three calls today alone -- I tell them 'If you can’t give me a reservation right now, I can’t guarantee it will be available this afternoon.'"

The Residences at Hanna, located at E. 14th and Prospect, will welcome its first residents in July. The building has an attached garage and will have a second-floor fitness center. Service-oriented retail is being planned for the first floor storefronts.

On a recent tour, Ashcraft showed off large windows, a spacious kitchen, walk-in closets and stackable washer-dryer. One corner two bedroom under construction has dramatic wrap-around windows that fill the suite with natural light. On the upper floors, Ashcraft says, you can see the Flats, downtown and Lake Erie.

Parking is available for $80 per month in the open lot across the street, and for $115 in the attached covered garage.

The building also has 11 suites reserved for short-term corporate housing, a unit type Ashcraft says is in demand right now. "Many of my clients are bringing back intern groups, trainees and transferees who are coming to the city. Cleveland is once again on an economic upswing. K&D wants to be able to respond to that."

K&D is also working on two other projects: the conversion of the Embassy Suites at Reserve Square into 200-plus apartments and the renovation of the East Ohio Gas building into luxury apartments. Reserve Square is under construction and set to come online this summer; the East Ohio Gas building will be done in 2014.


Source: Cheri Ashcraft
Writer: Lee Chilcote

romanian-born brothers open organic frozen yogurt shop in coventry village

The journey that led Adrian and Cosmin Bota to open an organic, self-serve frozen yogurt shop on Coventry was a long, winding one that included illegally trekking across the Romanian border with their family to escape their tumultuous homeland.

The Bota brothers, who recall traveling miles at a time at night with their parents and three siblings, were just kids then. Eventually, the family made its way to the U.S. and was granted asylum. The family moved to Parma, where the boys grew up.

After stints living in New York and Florida, Adrian (who works for Cleveland Clinic Innovations) and Cosmin (a real estate entrepreneur) decided to pursue their dream of opening a small business. After studying the market, they landed on an organic, self-serve "fro-yo" concept and targeted the Coventry neighborhood. Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt, located at 1767 Coventry Road, is the result.

The shop, which sells yogurt and assorted toppings for $0.57 per ounce (yielding a healthy portion for a few bucks), is well-lit with big storefront windows, colorful tables, high ceilings and furniture built of reclaimed wood and other materials.

The fro-yo is touted as "full of healthy probiotics, vitamin D, calcium, protein and yummy goodness" while free of "high fructose corn syrup, hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives." Toppings include fresh fruit sourced from the West Side Market. It's tasty stuff -- this writer can vouch for that.

"We wanted to couple health-conscious, quality-conscious food with a walkable, urban location," says Adrian Bota. "Places like Menchie's tend to go in malls. We went away from the franchise model from the beginning. We wanted it to be local."

Although the Botas have not yet been able to obtain local dairy, they're working on that. Meanwhile, many other products are sourced locally.

Coventry denizens will hardly recognize the former Grog Shop space, which has been vacant for 10 years. Landlord Michael Montlack apparently has been waiting for just the right tenant. He seems to have found it. The design-savvy duo transformed the club's front door into a table, keeping the sticker-laden graffiti on its underside.

The Botas are working with Cleveland Institute of Art students to program local artwork on the walls and hold regular openings. They envision the space as a community hub. Next up, they're dreaming of expanding to Ohio City.


Source: Adrian and Cosmin Bota
Writer: Lee Chilcote

crowdfunding campaign behind quest to open downtown coffee shop

Charles Eisenstat thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but after living in Chicago and D.C. and experiencing their "advanced coffee culture," he realized his true passion lies in brewing the perfect cup of java.

Now, after spending countless hours studying the finer points of law as well as watching baristas make coffee in some of the best coffee shops in the world, the would-be entrepreneur plans to open POUR Cleveland. This new coffee shop in the 5th Street Arcades will offer handcrafted beverages including pour-over-style coffee.

"We won't feature any batch coffee, it will be strictly handbrew or pour-over, individually by the cup," explains Eisenstat, who started his quest by creating a coffee bar at home several years ago. He'd craft the perfect cup before heading off to work at a bank. "We'll be the first shop downtown to feature coffee that way. This is taking a culinary approach to it -- the way people do wine and beer."

POUR was recently named a finalist in the 5th Street Arcades Retail Development Grant Competition, a collaboration between Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Charter One's Growing Communities Initiative and Cumberland Development, the lease-holder for the 5th Street Arcades. Eisenstat has launched a crowdfunding campaign; Charter One will match up to $1,000 of whatever he raises.

In addition to brewing single-origin and estate coffees that would be hard to find in other Cleveland coffee shops, Eisenstat wants POUR to become a center for coffee culture. "We want people to geek out with us and get excited about coffee," he says in his Indiegogo campaign message. He promises "passionate baristas" and low countertops so customers can see how their coffee is being made. He also aims to create a place for coffee education, so classes and workshops will be offered.

Unlike Rising Star in Ohio City, an artisan venue that has a devout following but remains largely a roaster with little seating space, POUR aims to be a comfortable space where office workers and residents can hang out.

If all goes as planned, Eisenstat hopes to open POUR in a retail space with street frontage in July. He plans to buy his coffee from Counterculture in Durham, North Carolina, and the average cup will cost range from $2 to $3. He will launch the operation with little help, but plans to eventually hire six to 10 people.


Source: Charles Eisenstat
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cle furniture designers collaborate on soulcraft gallery in 5th street arcade

A group of Cleveland furniture makers who have earned national attention for their work plan to open a gallery in the 5th Street Arcades in downtown Cleveland in order to showcase their work.

They believe a downtown gallery can be successful by co-locating with other like-minded retailers, serving the growing base of downtown residents and hosting shows to attract crowds. Thus far, 12 Cleveland furniture designers have signed up to take part.

Soulcraft Gallery was recently named a finalist in the 5th Street Arcades Retail Development Grant Competition, a program that will award grant funding, favorable lease terms and discounted space to five startup retailers.

The other finalists are Bliss Books (indie bookseller), Bright Green Gift Store (organic gifts and home wares), POUR (coffee shop) and Sushi 86 (restaurant). All of the finalists have launched crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo to leverage the funding they've been awarded by Charter One Growing Communities.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Cumberland Development, which is the master lease-holder for the 5th Street Arcades, are also partners in the unique effort.

"The furniture scene is really growing here," says Peter Debelack of Soulcraft Woodshop, a cooperative woodshop that is located in the Hildebrandt Building in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. "Cleveland is a good fit for this in part because of how decimated it's been. We have so much amazing industrial space that Joe Schmoe can get for a really low cost. Then there's the wealth of reclaimed materials like industrial salvage. For pure designers, we're also in close proximity to the Amish, who are some of the finest furniture makers in the world."

The 900-square-foot gallery will feature 40 feet of window space on the corridor. It will function as a gallery with regular hours, but will also host special events and openings. Debelack plans to run it along with designer Shelley Mendenhall. Other furniture makers include A Piece of Cleveland, 44 Steel and Rust Belt Welding.

Debelack says the store will contribute to the revitalization of Cleveland and downtown while growing the furniture making scene here. He also wants to nourish the burgeoning maker movement, calling Soulcraft an "open source gallery" where talented amateurs will also be able to proffer their work.

Although no date is set, Debelack expects Soulcraft Gallery to open this summer.


Source: Peter Debelack
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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