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urban upcycle wins $375k grant to establish first-ever creative reuse center in st. clair superior

The St. Clair Superior neighborhood has seen some success in the past year with its efforts to fill empty storefronts. Several new businesses, including a bakery, are either planned or already have opened their doors on St. Clair Avenue in the East 60s.

Now the nonprofit will build off that success with a $375,000 grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of national foundations, banks and agencies dedicated to furthering creative placemaking efforts. The grant will allow the group to infuse an arts-based strategy into its efforts to attract more entrepreneurs and small businesses to the commercial district.

"This is a methodology for neighborhood revitalization," says Nicole McGee of Plenty Underfoot, an arts-based business that repurposes discarded materials into artwork, jewelry and home decor and a partner in the project. "The goal is to create more of an economy around upcycling. We will open a creative reuse center, offer classes for residents, and have retail opportunities for small businesses."

Michael Fleming, Executive Director of St. Clair Superior, says the Urban Upcycle project dovetails perfectly with existing retail recruitment efforts. Grant funds will help create artist studios and galleries, establish fellowships for upcycling artists, open the reuse center, create a Community Design Lab, rehab artist live/work houses, and establish a first-of-its-kind online marketplace for upcycled products.

Although the project is just getting off the ground, McGee already has identified a space for the creative reuse center just west of Empress Taytu restaurant. She envisions a "creative thrift shop," where crafters can shop bins full of discarded wine corks, vinyl flooring samples and other trash-to-treasure. "We're taking materials that others haven’t assigned value to, looking at them and deciding what could be done differently," says McGee. "Then we're transforming them into something bigger and better. We want to do that whole process on a neighborhood level."

Other projects will include affordable incubator space for retail pioneers and a storefront for Collective Upcycle, the artists' collective that McGee founded with artist Lauren Krueger. McGee is working closely with Stephanie Sheldon, a fellow maker and entrepreneur who is managing the new monthly Cleveland Flea event.

Sheldon plans to renovate the historic "coppertop" building at 6202 St. Clair Ave. with the help of St. Clair Superior's Retail Ready program. She intends to create what she is calling the "Indie Foundry creative clubhouse" -- an incubator and coworking space wrapped into one. Creative small businesses will be able to set up shop here and get help on things like marketing, branding, web design and more.

The intention of the Urban Upcycle initiative is not only to help attract new businesses, but also to lift up the residents of this low-income community.

"We'll be revitalizing the downtown strip of this neighborhood in ways that create new learning and skills in residents," says McGee. "We’ll be inviting them in."

Source: Nicole McGee, Michael Fleming
Writer: Lee Chilcote

third federal breaks ground on trailside at morgana run project

Banks typically lend money to projects; developing them typically is left to homebuilders. Yet Third Federal, which started in a Slavic Village storefront 75 years ago, has taken the unusual step of assembling land and breaking ground on a huge community here.

Construction is underway at Trailside at Morgana Run, a 95-home development that will feature affordably-priced homes within a completely new urban subdivision with access to green space and a rail-trail. The project is located at Aetna and E. 71st Street next to the bank headquarters.

"Slavic Village really is the phoenix rising up in the city," says Jennifer Rosa, Public Relations Manager with Third Federal. "It's not that we couldn't find a developer; it's that the project is so important to us, we want to hold it to our standards and control it. We wanted to provide additional funding to keep Slavic Village going."

The project has taken over a decade to get to this point. Third Federal acquired land from individual owners and cleaned it up using Clean Ohio funds and other sources. The bank formed a public-private partnership with the City of Cleveland, Slavic Village Development and Zaremba Homes and designed the project. Then the recession came along and walloped any plans to break ground until now.

Homes at Trailside at Morgana Run will be priced from $126,000-$132,000 and feature two to three bedrooms and a single-floor master suite option. With down payment assistance, monthly payments fall well below rental rates for similar units.

Rosa says the timing couldn't be better. "We're seeing more jobs being created, more people living in the city. This is a place where people can afford a home."

The first 10 homes are under construction and nearly to the point of being framed. A model home will be available to walk through in July. Although none of the homes are sold yet, Rosa says that buyer interest has been strong.

The urban pioneers who live here will be greeted by a "prairie-like feel," Rosa says. "There will be lots of green space with native Ohio plants and grasses."

Source: Jennifer Rosa
Writer: Lee Chilcote

community composting facility could become reality thanks to sustainability grant

San Francisco and Austin offer residential curbside composting, but such forward-thinking green ideas have yet to become a reality in Cleveland. A recently-awarded grant from Enterprise Community Partners, however, will help the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization think through how to develop a community composting facility for restaurants in the Cleveland EcoVillage.

Although citywide composting may not be in the cards right now, the pilot project could demonstrate ways to scale up composting in a range of city neighborhoods.

A similar $40,000 grant was also awarded to Burton Bell Carr Inc. to develop a safer streetscape plan for the Kinsman EcoDistrict. Forty percent of area residents do not have a car, and a recent multi-car accident here injured five people. BBC will develop a plan to improve the ability to safely bike and walk on Kinsman.

"Cleveland was the only city in the nation that got two projects funded through this program, which is pretty exciting," says Michelle Mulcahy with Enterprise Community Partners. "These projects are neighborhood-scale sustainability approaches that support the area's ongoing community development work."

Once the plans are finalized, these projects also could become national test cases for how to green cities, furthering Cleveland's reputation as a leader in this area.

Enterprise also recently issued a Request for Proposals to provide funding for a neighborhood-based climate action plan that would become part of a citywide plan.

Source: Michelle Mulcahy, Mark McDermott
Writer: Lee Chilcote

town hall cafe, bar and restaurant set to debut in ohio city this month

Town Hall will be the newest addition to Ohio City's growing list of food- and beer-centric establishments when it opens later this month. The bar and restaurant boasts a swanky interior with polished concrete floors and colorful wood tables imported from Indonesia. The venue also features a lengthy wooden bar and an open, airy feel thanks to garage doors up front.

But Town Hall is more than just another taphouse on a street that's now full of them, promise its owners. It aims to bring a new fast-casual dining concept to the street.

"There are a lot of good restaurants on the street, but we offer something different," says Christa Fitch, manager of Town Hall, which is owned by Fabio Salerno (Gusto, Lago), Bobby George (Barley House) and Sean Heineman (Ballantine, Willoughby Brewing Co.). "This is a place where you can grab soup, salad and a glass of wine or have a meal in the restaurant. We think it's the best of both worlds."

The space, which was gutted down to the studs and rebuilt, last housed Alaturka and Villa y Zapata. The new owners cut an opening between the two storefronts to create two connected businesses: a cafe and bar-restaurant.

The cafe side will feature a juice bar and menu items including flatbread pizzas and gluten-free salads. Comfortable chairs and a well stocked magazine rack invite lounging. The cafe, which is counter service-only, will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The restaurant will feature mostly fast-casual fare along with "supper plates" like grass-fed steak and scallop tacos. A good portion of the food will be locally grown and organic. The bar will feature 25 rotating taps of beer, many of them local.

Town Hall features both a front and a rear patio, the latter with a beautiful wooden gazebo that echoes the natural wooden decor found throughout the interior.

Fitch says she already has hired 35 people, many from the near-west side neighborhoods, and will likely hire more as the venue gets up and running.

The opening is presently set for May 27, with a grand opening weekend planned for June 20.

Source: Christa Fitch
Writer: Lee Chilcote

near west theatre announces plans to break ground on world's first passive-built theater

Near West Theatre's new home will be nothing if not active when it opens next year. It will be filled with youth and adults rehearsing for its signature brand of community theatre -- large ensemble productions that bring the arts to youth and city residents.

And when its shows are running, it will draw up to 275 patrons per show into a new, state-of-the-art theatre that caps off a string of investments in the Gordon Square Arts District.

The building not only will be active -- it will be "passive" when it comes to energy consumption. It will boast a super-insulated, passive design common in Europe but still relatively new in the U.S. The 24,000-square-foot ultra-energy-efficient theatre will be the first of its kind in the U.S., featuring super-thick walls, an energy-efficient heat recovery ventilation system, and a 75,000-watt array of solar panels.

"It will be unlike other buildings in the neighborhood," says Hans Holznagel of the new Near West Theatre, which will be located at W. 67th and Detroit in the Gordon Square Arts District. "We hope people will see the sign and say, 'Wow, that metal building looks pretty cool. What's going on in there?'"

Philanthropists Chuck and Char Fowler earmarked a special gift for the building's passive design, which is expected to save more than 35 percent in energy costs, or about $1.2 million over 50 years. That kind of savings appeals to long-term users.

"In a typical commercial building, 30 to 35 percent of the heat going into the building is just to offset air leakage," says Adam Cohen, a Virginia-based architect and passive house consultant who worked on the project. "There's more interest in passive design now, especially from end users who are going to own the buildings."

The project was far from simple. Most passive commercial buildings have fairly static loads, unlike a theatre whose use varies widely. On any given day there could be people working in offices or large casts rehearsing. Cohen helped NWT to develop a high-efficiency mechanical system that can handle such fluctuation.

Holznagel says the theatre will finally realize its dream of moving into a new home (with air conditioning, he says with glee) that offers the right amount of rehearsal, dressing room and backstage space, not to mention modern administrative offices.

"We'll feel very much at home in this energy-efficient building," he says.

Source: Hans Holznagel, Adam Cohen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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
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