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5th street arcades adds several new retailers, nears 100 percent occupancy

The historic Colonial and Euclid Arcades in downtown Cleveland suffered from 40 percent vacancy last year, yet this year they added a slew of new shops and have gone from half-empty to nearly completely full.

Renamed the 5th Street Arcades, the once-moribund properties have been turned around by Dick Pace of Cumberland Development, who has breathed new life into the spaces by luring entrepreneurial tenants with fresh concepts and excitement about downtown.

"Step by step, we're getting there," says Pace, who has focused on locally themed retail that serves downtown residents and office workers. "Each month, there's something new going on. Our tenants cross-market and help each other."

Last year, a retail grant competition netted Soulcraft Furniture Gallery, which opened earlier this year, and Pour Cleveland, which will open by November 1st.

Several of the businesses in the 5th Street Arcades will soon add outdoor seating, including Pour, Sushi 86 and a yet unnamed food tenant that Pace is working with.

Additional businesses that will open this fall include Herron Starr Apparel (a shoe store), The Tea Lab (a tea shop run by Bob Holcepl of City Roast), The Olive and the Grape, and a take-out vendor called C'mon Let's Eat (CLE).

Finally, Sushi 86 is expanding to create space for banquets and cooking classes, and Alphonso's, a men's and women's accessories shop, will open later this year.

"Tenants are drawn here because this is becoming known as a retail area, an area for shopping," Pace says. "That says a lot about downtown and what's happening."

Source: Dick Pace
Writer: Lee Chilcote

aerial silks classes offer cirque du soleil style training in the heart of cleveland

Leslie Friend will be the first person to tell you that what she does is dangerous, but it's also a real thrill and great workout. She teaches aerial silks classes, best known as the acrobatic art form of Cirque du Soleil, at two different locations in Cleveland, the Studio Cleveland and Sokol Greater Cleveland.

"It utilizes every aspect of the body: core strength, balance and flexibility," says Friend. "Most importantly for most people, it builds confidence. A lot of people have a fear of doing stuff off the ground, and this builds up their confidence."

Aerial silks athletes climb and perform acrobatic maneuvers on nylon fabrics that are rigged to the ceiling. Friend starts class participants low to the ground, and as they advance in ability, she allows them to climb higher into the air to perform tricks. She's never had an accident, although participants sometimes do get tangled.

"We've had to build a tower of mats to reach them," she says. "We always tell people, 'If you're ever in doubt, back yourself out, lower yourself to the floor.'"

In Friend's classes, silks climbers can reach heights of up to 20 feet in the air. They entwine themselves in the silks to perform spins and hang upside down.

Although aerial silks classes are growing in popularity, there still are very few places in Ohio where you can even try it. Friend's classes have become so popular this year that she's introduced software on her websites allowing people to sign up in advance.

Classes typically cost between $15 and $20, with discounts available for five-class packages. All of the classes are open to beginners as well as more advanced aerial silks athletes.

Source: Leslie Friend
Writer: Lee Chilcote

lutheran metropolitan ministry celebrates grand opening of new hq, central kitchen, metal shop

Next week, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) celebrates the grand opening of its new headquarters in a former textile manufacturing shop at E. 45th Street and Superior Avenue. The redeveloped office not only makes LMM more efficient, sustainable and accessible, it also contains a 2,400-square-foot central kitchen and 6,000-square-foot metal shop that allows the group to advance its social enterprise branch.

Michael Sering, Vice President at LMM, says that the organization is able to churn out hundreds of bike racks a year using the new metal shop. Recently, LMM inked a contract with the Cleveland Clinic to build and install an additional 136 racks. LMM employs individuals from 2100 Lakeside, a men's shelter, to make the racks.

The new, spacious central kitchen will allow LMM to continue its work to employ individuals reentering society after time in prison. LMM already prepares about 1,500 meals per day for area homeless shelters and other social service facilities.

LMM is preparing to break ground on a new community garden adjacent to 2100 Lakeside. Sering hopes to build a custom fence for the garden in the metal shop.

LMM's new administrative headquarters are named after Richard Sering, Michael Sering's father and LMM's former director. Richard Sering died of cancer 10 years ago.

Source: Michael Sering
Writer: Lee Chilcote

indie foundry set to open creative clubhouse in slovenian mansion in st. clair superior

The founder of the successful Cleveland Flea will soon move her growing business, The Indie Foundry, into a historic mansion on St. Clair Avenue. The location will function as a co-working and classroom space aimed at helping small creative businesses to grow and flourish. It joins a growing list of new startups on that street.

"This is the business development side of a business incubator, a place where you meet other creatives," says Stephanie Sheldon. "You’re making things in the kitchen, crafting things or making stuff in the woodshop -- but when it’s time to work on your business, where do you do that? 'Hey, have you found great insurance agent? Who do you use for bookkeeping? How do you deal with a growing company?' These are the kinds of questions that the Indie Foundry is dedicated to."

The stone mansion, located behind the Slovenian National Home, is a bit of a "time capsule" that has beautiful hardwood floors, natural woodwork and two ballrooms.

Sheldon says the Indie Foundry will offer desk space and wi-fi for freelancers and creative entrepreneurs as well as classes, workshops and a slew of pop-up events.

Examples include a lecture series from Bad Girl Ventures and workshops hosted by Soulcraft, the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, and Craft Connection.

Sheldon will also work closely with the Slovenian National Home to help improve their operations over the next year, including making the home's courtyard a signature outdoor space for events, pop-up dinners and other activities.

Source: Stephanie Sheldon
Writer: Lee Chilcote

high-end linen shop joins 20 new businesses in and around downtown lakewood

Cotton, a high-end linen store recently launched by Plantation Home owner David Stein, joins an impressive list of new businesses opening in Lakewood. The store sells mid- to high-end sheets, duvets, tablecloths and linens. It also offers tableware and "one-of-a-kind" ladies handbags, according to Stein.

Cotton opened in the ornate stone building where Kucinich once maintained a district office. The rehabbed storefront at 14400 Detroit Avenue boasts new landscaping and signage. The interior features a dramatic, high-ceilinged layout.

The new business appears to be in good company. According to Dru Siley, Director of Planning for the City of Lakewood, at least 20 new businesses have opened or are breaking ground this year in and around the downtown Lakewood core.

New downtown businesses include Humble Wine Bar, World of Beer, Avalon Exchange, Pizza Bogo, Falafel Express, Get Go, and Bob Evans (which is breaking ground this year and will open in 2014). Additionally, Paisley Monkey recently doubled in size and Eddie n' Eddie rebranded as Cerino's Casual Italian.

Outside of the downtown district, new businesses include El Carnicero, Barrio, Discount Drug Mart, Vosh, That's Nutz, G.V. Art and Design, Stem Handmade Soap, Cleveland Pickle (opening in November), Crossfit Birdtown and Sushi Raxu.

Source: Dru Siley, David Stein
Writer: Lee Chilcote

metroparks ceo divulges plans for lakefront park improvements, amenities

Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman often says that park system founder William Stitchcomb's original vision embraced the city's lakefront. Now that Cleveland's lakefront parks are being managed by the Metroparks, that vision -- and the Emerald Necklace itself -- are several steps closer to completion.

In an interview with Fresh Water, Zimmerman outlined his vision for the parks based on a slew of community meetings, public comments and ongoing facilities assessments.

The Metroparks, which began managing the new Lakefront Reservation on June 6th, is focusing its first year on "Clean, Safe and Learn." The reservation includes Edgewater Park, E. 55th Street Marina, Gordon Park, Villa Angela, Euclid Beach and Wildwood. So far, approximately 3,500 cubic yards of sand have been moved back onto the beach at Edgewater, 20 40-yard dumpsters of debris have been hauled off the beaches, and dozens of picnic tables have been repaired.

And the Metroparks is just getting started, with the best still yet to come. While nothing is set in stone, Zimmerman mentioned new restroom facilities, kite and bike rental, a splash pad, new picnic pavilion and expanded concessions as options for Edgewater Park, which offers one of the most glorious sunsets in the entire Midwest but has long suffered from insufficient amenities. He also referenced improving bike and pedestrian trails and enhancing access to Perkins Beach.

"We're looking at the question, 'What does the park need to be a regional and even national destination?'" said Zimmerman. "We're listening to what the community is looking for, then applying what we've learned in managing the parks so far."

The Lakefront Reservation could eventually function more like Huntington Beach, which has a concessionaire with a wider range of food and beverage offerings than is now available at Edgewater Park, Zimmerman says. The other parks have no concessionaires at all, and it's possible that these could be added down the road.

Although the region's eyes are on much-used Edgewater, a report by LAND Studio also touted opportunities to enhance amenities and neighborhood connections at Gordon Park, better link Collinwood's parks to new development on Lakeshore Boulevard and add more signature Metroparks programming to all the parks.

"Lakefront parks can be anchors for new development, neighborhood connections and prior investments by community development leaders," argued a LAND Studio presentation given to the Metroparks Board of Directors last month.

The Metroparks' ability to effectively manage and add new facilities, amenities and programming to the lakefront parks will depend in part on the passage this November of a new 10-year levy. Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township voters will be asked to approve a 1.8-mill renewal and 0.9-mill increase for the parks. This would add $32 to the annual homeowner tax bill per $100,000 of value.

Based on revenue projections, the Metroparks will create a new 10-year capital plan for all of its parks, including the Lakefront Reservation, sometime in 2014.

Source: Brian Zimmerman
Writer: Lee Chilcote

right school right now launches bold campaign to inform families about school choice

There are now dozens of high-performing charter and public schools in the City of Cleveland. Yet a culture of school choice still is not the norm in many Cleveland neighborhoods, and as many as 60 percent of city families have not yet chosen a school to attend.

With the deadline looming on August 19th, those families that do not proactively choose a school will be enrolled in their neighborhood school, which may or may not be the best option depending on how the school is ranked on State of Ohio report cards.

Perhaps most startling is the fact that many high-performing schools in the city have empty seats waiting to be filled even as kids are enrolled in failing schools.

That's why the Transformation Alliance has launched an unprecedented campaign to "promote one common goal of driving enrollment to high-performing schools," says Megan O'Bryan, a nonprofit veteran who is its new Executive Director.

"The ultimate goal of the Transformation Alliance is to ensure that every child in Cleveland attends an excellent school and every neighborhood has a portfolio of high-quality school choices," says O'Bryan. "Our goal is to fill empty seats in the high-performing schools, and over time, drive demand to these good choices. In the marketplace, that demand will then naturally drive out low-performers."

Parents can learn more about school ratings at the Right School Right Now site. The group has completed three different mailers to 25,000 households promoting school choice options. Fliers have been passed out through local community groups. Families can also call 211 to learn more about school ratings.

"The goal is to get parents to look at the info and say, 'My child's school is in Academic Watch, but two miles away there's a school rated Excellent. Why?'"

Although the Transformation Alliance and this campaign are so new that they do not yet have formal goals, O'Bryan says the aim is a "cultural shift" that will take time. "I took this job because it’s an opportunity to create that cultural shift. It's very important for every single resident and the region that this shift occurs. It's a matter of equality and social justice. It's about economic success for our region."

Source: Megan O'Bryan
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new collinwood bakeshop fears' confections promises 'sweets to die for'

You can add one more to the list of artisan businesses choosing North Collinwood as the place to launch and grow. Fears' Confections, a sweet shop specializing in scratch-made brownies and candies, has opened in the former Arabica space at 818 E. 185th Street.

The business, launched by Cassandra and Jeremy Fear, uses "sweets to die for" as its tagline. The bakery and confectionery offers "thick, fudgy, decadent creations made from scratch using only the freshest ingredients," its Facebook page says.

The Fears launched their business in January 2009 when Cassandra was laid off from her engineering job. What started as a part-time obsession has blossomed into a real business, even though she has since found gainful employment again. This is Fears' Confections first brick-and-mortar location (they also do catering).

Brownies became their specialty when they discovered that there was less competition in this space than in the ever-trendy cupcake and cookie category. The range of flavors includes dark chocolate orange, raspberry, peanut butter and jelly, lavender and pumpkin blondies. The candies take an hour to cook and are all hand-cut and hand-dipped.

Fears' Confections opens at 6:30 a.m. and serves Troubador Coffee out of Fairview Park. The space is shared by Simply Sweet Cupcakes, also based in Fairview Park.

Source: Fears Confections
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bruell's new burger shack dynomite debuts in star plaza at playhousesquare

Zack Bruell used to watch PlayhouseSquare office workers sit outside at Star Plaza and eat sandwiches in the park. He thought, They could be my customers. Now, thanks to Dynomite, a new fast-casual burger shack in the Star Plaza kiosk, many of them are.

During its first week, Dynomite frequently had lines 30-people deep and ran out of hamburger buns by 3 p.m. (don't worry, they ordered more). Bruell hopes this is an omen.

"I was basically opening it so that we could bring more people to the area," says the restaurateur, who owns five other venues in Cleveland (Parallax, Chinato, Table 45, Cowell and Hubbard, L'Albatros). "I wanted to see more street traffic. This is one of the great neighborhoods in the city, and it's in transition."

You can think of Dynomite as a kind of Zack Bruell burger clearinghouse. Modeled after the legendary Shake Shack in New York City, the venue offers four kinds of burgers that are also available at Parallax, L'Albatros, Chinato and Cowell and Hubbard. Each is different and unique. Additionally, Dynomite offers a killer chicken sandwich, regular burger, vegan burger, hot dog and chili dog.

Sides include fries, chili fries, chili, pickles and soft serve ice cream. The most expensive things on the entire menu are the signature burgers, which are priced at $8.

"We're just doing basic food, but we're doing it right," says Bruell. "We're using the same products that we're working with in all of our restaurants."

Dynomite will soon have a full liquor license. Bruell expects the revamped Star Plaza -- which is nearly complete and includes additional outdoor seating, a fire pit and concert stage -- to look and function like a downtown beer garden.

The venue is the latest addition to PlayhouseSquare, which has in recent years been evolving into a dining destination and vibrant 24-7 neighborhood.

Source: Zack Bruell
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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
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