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cleveland kurentovanje fest seeks to ward off cold with mid-winter parade, festival

Winter shows no signs of abating with the impending arrival of another Polar Vortex and more of that white, fluffy stuff.
But have no fear! The Kurents are here. These mythical fuzzy creatures from Slovenia will be out in force this weekend at the second annual Cleveland Kurentovanje, an all-ages festival that seeks to ward off winter with a fun parade and day-long party.

"We have 10 fuzzy Kurents this year, six of which are waiting for us in customs right now," says Michael Fleming, Executive Director of St. Clair Superior Development, the nonprofit agency spearheading improvement efforts in the area, who expects a good crowd. "There's a lot of excitement this year."

Fleming and his co-organizers ordered the outfits directly from the city of Ptuj in Slovenia, which, in case you don't know, is the capitol of all things Kurentovanje.

Cleveland Kurentovanje takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair, with an after-party set for Sterle's Country House. The parade steps off at noon from St. Vitus Church, and will feature fuzzy Kurents, marching bands from area schools, floats from area businesses, and a DJ Kishka float. Family-friendly activities will take place in the basement of the Slovenian National Home, and kids can also march in the parade.

There will be plenty on tap at the Slovenian National Home, including krofe and sausage sandwiches, wine, beer, music, dance and crafting stations for kids.

Fleming says the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair and Sterle's on East 55th have become focal points for redevelopment activity in the area. The National Home has attracted new tenants including the Slovenian Genealogical Society, a dance studio and a bakery. Sterle's has reinvented itself with additional live music geared towards a younger crowd and an outdoor beer garden, yet it has retained the beer-and-schnitzel atmosphere that has worked for the past half century.

Source: Michael Fleming
Writer: Lee Chilcote

slavic village native son returns home to champion neighborhood redevelopment

Anthony Trzaska was born and raised in Slavic Village, where his family owns Fortuna Funeral Home. He left Cleveland to go to college, then returned home and settled in Lakewood.

Exploring the city as a young twentysomething, he became actively involved in efforts to improve Slavic Village. He watched as areas like Ohio City boomed with new development, and yet his beloved neighborhood continued to slide downhill.

"Every year, it was a much different neighborhood," says Trzaska, describing the foreclosure epidemic that devastated the streets where he'd once played as a kid. "I graduated from law school in the worst economy since the Great Recession, and that was layered on top of what was happening with the neighborhood."

Today, Trzaska is a business attorney who has reinvested in Slavic Village. He serves on the board of the Slovenian National Home (The Nash) and purchased a building on Fleet Avenue that he plans to fix up for a new commercial tenant. He doesn't believe that Slavic Village needs to be Ohio City, but rather, "the new wave of the Old World," where the past is respected yet change is embraced.

"I look at what's happening with the regentrification of historic neighborhoods, and I think that makes what I'm doing more probable and even likely," he says.

Trzaska's efforts to open up the Nash to more people and make it a joint that welcomes everybody from hipsters to longtime regulars recently was detailed in Scene.

The Nash's Facebook "likes" jumped by 42 percent thanks to that article, Trzaska says. He's expecting a good crowd at Friday's Open Bowl, where $10 buys you shoe rental and all-you-can-bowl for three hours. There's a cash bar, good tunes and Lebowski on the television. Trzaska himself has introduced Nash Nosh, updated versions of classic Slovenian food like stuffed and fried pierogis.

Trzaska also is heavily involved in revitalizing Fleet Avenue, which he views as one of Slavic Village's best shots at renewal. The city soon will spend about $8 million to transform Fleet into its first complete-and-green street, including bike infrastructure and green infrastructure, and there's already been some new investment in the area, he says, in the form of properties changing hands.  

Fleet Avenue already is home to classic ethnic delis like Seven Roses and butcher shops like Krusinski's. Trzaska sees an opportunity to add newer businesses to the mix, including an updated, younger version of the butcher shop. His building at 5014-16 Fleet Avenue will house the construction crew during the streetscape rebuilding. Once it's been completed, Trzaska will bring in a new tenant.

While there are many challenges to redeveloping Fleet Avenue, including convincing existing owners that change is needed, Trzaska sees the area as one with potential. With projects like Slavic Village Recovery underway, he believes that he can leverage neighborhood activity to achieve a new vision for the area.

Source: Anthony Trzaska
Writer: Lee Chilcote

shaker heights becomes latest city to vie for bike-friendly community designation

Shaker Heights is seeking to become the next city in Northeast Ohio to earn a bicycle-friendly community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. A crowdfunding campaign launched this month to raise funds for 25 additional bike racks for the city illustrates one way the leafy east-side community has redoubled its efforts to develop cycling amenities.

"The city just finished its second application," explains Rick Smith of the advocacy group Bike Shaker and the Shaker Heights Public Works and Safety Committee. "One thing the League encourages cities to do is provide bike parking around the community, so we figured that we'd try to focus on that as low-hanging fruit."

So far, the cities of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Lakewood are the only ones in Northeast Ohio to receive the increasingly coveted designation. Each one has earned a bronze-level award for its efforts. By comparison, Portland, Oregon, is the only major city in the U.S. to earn a platinum-level designation.

The IndieGogo campaign aims to raise $4,500 to help fund racks produced by Metro Metal Works, a project of Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries that employs low-income individuals. The bike racks will be installed at public and private locations throughout the city. The goal is to paint them "Shaker Red," pending city approval, Smith says, to enhance the city's brand as a bike-friendly community.

The city also is offering five cycling-related courses through its Department of Recreation, and plans are in the works to add more "sharrows." The next step is to revisit the Lee Road plan and add bike lanes/infrastructure there, Smith says.

"The city is getting serious," notes Smith, citing the fact that Shaker Heights now has a Bicycle Programs Manager and has issued a proclamation designating May as Bike Month throughout the city, similar to other communities around the country.

"It's slow going, but all agree that cycling is an asset to the community, and that cycling improvements improve property values and quality of life," says Smith.

Source: Rick Smith
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bistro to open this spring in long-vacant slavic village bank building

Christian Ostenson says that he wants to do for Slavic Village what Sam McNulty did for Ohio City. He's emulating that successful entrepreneur by opening Thee Six5 Bistro, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant in a renovated, historic bank building in the Warszawa District on E. 65th. And while Slavic Village isn't Ohio City -- and isn't necessarily striving to be -- the new venue seems destined to add to the area's hidden charm.

Ostenson says Six5 will be an affordable, all-American bistro with frequent Polish and Slovenian specials in a nod to the area's rich ethnic heritage. It will have an open floor plan, large push-open windows and a rooftop deck and bar. Situated directly across from St. Stanislaus Church in the heart of the historic district, the building offers great views in an area with plenty of foot traffic.

"We want to make Slavic Village a destination, to bring people back to see what the area has to offer," says Ostenson, who steered clear of pricier real estate in Tremont or Ohio City because he wanted a spot where he could be a "pioneer."

Ostenson, a custom home builder who also runs Best of Both Worlds catering, purchased the building a few years ago with his wife Sarah for just $31,000, according to county auditor records. The second floor ceiling had caved in, and the roof dated back to the 1930s. "The building had seen better days," he notes.

But the builder has completely renovated the place from top to bottom, blowing through his $15,000 plumbing budget and spending more than four times that amount instead. But he's not complaining -- this is a project of passion as much as profit, he says. "I plan on being here awhile, so I don't need to make it all in a minute."

While he won't yet reveal the name of the chef on the project, he promises fresh, upscale cuisine at affordable prices. "We don't even have a freezer in the restaurant."

Ostenson will launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his pizza ovens before Thee Six5 Bistro opens in April. He promises that the rewards will be stellar.

This spring, the City of Cleveland will spend nearly $9 million rehabilitating nearby Fleet Avenue as one of the city's first complete-and-green streets.

Thee SixFive Bistro was financed by Key Bank, the City of Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program and the Economic and Community Development Institute.

Source: Christian Ostenson
Writer: Lee Chilcote

city of cleveland installs 40 recycling bins downtown as part of 'year of zero waste' initiative

The City of Cleveland has installed 40 recycling bins downtown as part of its "ongoing efforts to increase recycling bins and materials diverted from landfills," according to a press release from the Office of Sustainability. The bins, which are being funded by Cleveland’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, are being rolled out as part of the Year of Zero Waste, which is part of Mayor Jackson's Sustainable Cleveland initiative.

“The presence of recycling bins downtown is a visible way for residents, employees and tourists to understand that Cleveland is committed to sustainability and to do their part by recycling,” said Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability, in a release. “These bins not only provide opportunities for the public to recycle in high traffic areas downtown, but also increase the City’s recycling rates. We look forward to collecting metric information from these bins to inform future expansion of recycling in public spaces.”

The blue-lidded recycle bins have been placed next to existing waste receptacles. They are located between West 9th Street and East 12th Street from Lakeside Avenue to Prospect Avenue, and there are also some locations on Euclid Avenue near Playhouse Square and Cleveland State University.

For more information on the Year of Zero Waste, click here.

Source: Jenita McGowan
Writer: Lee Chilcote

'rooms to let' to transform vacant slavic village homes into pop-up art galleries

An innovative art installation that transformed empty homes in Columbus into day-long art galleries is coming to Slavic Village.

Rooms to Let: CLE will take place Saturday, May 17 on Forman Avenue. The event promises not only temporary art installations that transform vacant homes into interpretive displays, but also a block party and street tour featuring live music on porches and activities for the whole family.

Ben Campbell, Commercial Development Officer with Slavic Village Development, says he got inspired to bring Rooms to Let to Cleveland after seeing the impact it made in Columbus. He also loves the idea of hiring mostly local artists to help transform the houses. So he partnered with other SVD staff, Zygote Press and Rooms to Let: Columbus to bring the project to vacancy-pocked Slavic Village.

Rooms to Let isn't just an art show in an empty house; the project transforms the house itself into an art installation, transforming telltale signs of abandonment like broken drywall into symbols of fortitude, loss and renewal.

"Among the 11 installations created by 28 artists, visitors will find fabric pushing out of holes in walls, kitchen images painted on the walls of a demolished kitchen and a giant hole in a floor exposing a message on floor joists," Jim Weiker wrote last year in a Columbus Dispatch article. "Structural issues that would have been major flaws in a gallery have been seized upon as artistic opportunities."

Several curators -- Westleigh Harper and Michael Horton of MAKER design studio, Barbara Bachtell of Broadway School of Music & the Arts and artist Scott Pickering -- will select specific artists interested in transforming the abandoned and foreclosed homes. The houses are located in the area surrounding the Slavic Village Recovery project, and they're all slated for eventual rehabilitation.

"Given the larger context of Slavic Village’s unique history and the national attention received in the wake of the American foreclosure crisis, Rooms to Let: Cleveland creates an opportunity to see one of Cleveland’s most historic neighborhoods in new light," touts the project's Facebook page.

Rooms to Let: CLE is supported by a Cuyahoga Arts and Culture project grant.

Source: Ben Campbell
Writer: Lee Chilcote

rising star coffee to open second location in long-vacant building in little italy

Cleveland has enjoyed a strong artisanal coffee scene for some time now, but Rising Star Coffee raised the bar to new heights when it opened its Ohio City coffee shop and roaster two years ago. Since then, the company has seen significant growth in its retail and wholesale business, while attracting other tenants to its Hingetown neighborhood.

Now, Rising Star is planning to open a second location in Little Italy, in the first floor of a long-vacant building at the corner of Murray Hill and Edgehill Roads. The new cafe will be about 1,500 square feet, says GM Erika Durham, roughly three times larger than the current spot. It will be strictly a coffee shop, she adds, featuring plenty of seating and other design elements that will allow for multiple uses.

"We've been playing around with the idea for a long time, because we get a lot of people who come to our Ohio City shop from the East Side," says Durham. "Like Hingetown, we think this area is seeing revitalization, and we'd like to add a new flavor."

The basic offerings will be the same, with made-to-order coffee drinks and light finger foods and pastries. Yet the space will be different than anything else in the Cleveland market, Durham promises. "It will be similar to larger, Third Wave coffee shops like Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle Coffee… ones that are a little more progressive," she says. "We'll have our own unique take on it."

The new location in the historic Piscopo building will feature cement floors and lots of natural light. The space, vacant for 20 years and last occupied by Theresa's Italian Restaurant, is being gutted and renovated by new owners Murray Hill Partners. Durham says the owners are dividing the space and seeking more tenants. The location, one of the most heavily traveled for east side cyclists, is sure to be a hit.

Durham says the area is underserved when it comes to good coffee, with only Starbucks, Algebra Tea House and the Coffee House in University Circle by way of competition.

Initially, the new Rising Star will be open from 6:30 a.m. til 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. til 6 p.m. on weekends. Hours will be adjusted based on customer demand, and Durham says that adding evening hours is a definite possibility in the future.

Rising Star founder Kim Jenkins left a job overseeing 110 people at Lockheed Martin to start a coffee roaster. Rising Star directly sources its coffee from farmers all over the world, aspires towards the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee, and uses preparation methods such as pour-over, aeropress and vacuum pot.

"We've grown significantly since we started, and that speaks to what we're doing in a really strong way," notes Durham. "We have the people of Cleveland to thank for that."

Source: Erika Durham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

tremont climbers propose renovating historic church into indoor climbing gym

A pair of Tremont-based rock climbers, Niki Zmij and Chick Holtkamp, has developed a proposal to transform the historic Fifth Church of Christ Scientist into a state-of-the-art rock climbing facility. They argue such a project would save and restore a dilapidated landmark, contribute to the Edgewater neighborhood, and add a sought-after urban amenity to Cleveland's growing portfolio of attractions.

Yet there are questions over the feasibility of the project, which Councilman Matt Zone calls "sexy and provocative" but difficult to pull off given the cost of renovations. He praises Zmij's and Holtkamp's ambition, yet says, "Two months ago it was a pipe dream; today it is more of a 99 yard Hail Mary."

Fifth Church is abutted by a now-vacant retail site owned by Carnegie Companies of Solon. The firm has proposed building a two-story Giant Eagle Market Express at the corner of Clifton Boulevard and W. 117th Street as part of a multi-tenant development. The development also calls for the church, which is owned by the City of Cleveland, to be demolished to make way for additional parking.

The church requires millions in repairs and has been waiting on a savior since Giant Eagle donated it to the city in 2002. During recent community meetings, the city has proposed a land swap that would allow Carnegie to take over a portion of the cleared site, while also allowing new townhomes to be built along Lake Ave. (Carnegie would not develop the townhomes; the city would issue an RFP.)

Yet Holtkamp and Zmij, who are meeting this month with Councilman Matt Zone, the developer and other stakeholders to discuss their proposal, say the demolition would be a tragic waste of a landmark. The church dates back to the 1920s and has an octagonal stone exterior, ceramic tile domed roof, and soaring interior hall unlike any other in Northeast Ohio. Holtkamp, a developer who helped kickstart Tremont's revitalization 30 years ago, says it could be renovated to historic standards and a new interior climbing facility could be built for $2.3 million. His estimates come from Sandvick Architects, an expert in historic rehabilitation, and Jera Construction, which renovated the once-dilapidated Gospel Press building.

"We can do this," says Holtkamp, who stresses that a climbing facility is the right use because it would preserve the church while creating a destination amenity.

"There's a growing market for climbing, and new facilities are popping up all over the U.S.," says Zmij, a visual artist and adjunct professor in the College of Business at Cleveland State University. "Climbing is a way to bring health and wellness into your life, and there's a great community that surrounds the sport."

Zone would like to see the church preserved, yet also doesn't want this proposal to hold up the retail development, which he says has signed major tenants and is ready to go. He questions whether Holtkamp's and Zmij's numbers are accurate, citing an engineering study that showed the cost of stabilizing the building alone at $3 million. "I'm a practical person," he says. "It's a long shot at this point."

Holtkamp and Zmij remain convinced that their proposal is feasible, and say they are committed to finding another location if the church doesn't work out. Indoor climbing is becoming a sought-after amenity for all ages, from kids to empty nesters, yet Cleveland's existing facilities are dated. "Everyone in the climbing community here is always talking about the need, but we took the next step and started doing market research and planning," says Holtkamp, who often climbs with friends on a building he owns at Professor and Fairfield in Tremont.

Holtkamp quickly dispatches concerns about the viability of a new climbing gym. Although it's expensive to build, he says the demand is there -- and could be grown -- to support it. Newer climbing facilities have kid-friendly options, smaller elements for "bouldering" (low-to-the-ground climbing without harnesses), and higher walls for more challenging climbs. Safety features are built into the facility, he adds. The pair also would add other fitness activities, including aerial silks, yoga and fitness workouts, and they are exploring a cafe and co-working space.

Zmij and Holtkamp say they will seek a mix of bank loans and private investment for their project, which they are calling The Sanctuary. If all goes well, it will open by the end of 2015, turn a profit within the first year, and employ about 30 people.

Carnegie Companies and Cudell Improvement Inc. were asked to comment for this story, but declined to respond. Holtkamp and Zmij would like to present their plan to the community after getting feedback from Councilman Matt Zone, the city and the developer. Ultimately, the city will decide the fate of Fifth Church as its owner, and the Landmark Commission must approve a request for demolition.

Zone says there are two options moving forward -- either the retail project will be redesigned to incorporate the church if a viable developer can be found, or the church will be deconstructed. He is meeting with stakeholders to find a solution.
Although the idea may seem outlandish, one must look no farther than Urban Krag Climbing Center, an indoor climbing facility retrofitted into an abandoned church in the historic Oregon District of downtown Dayton. Imagine climbing beneath the historic dome 55 feet in the air -- and if you're good enough, potentially ascending up into the dome itself. Now that would be a rush, maintains Holtkamp, who has climbed for nearly 40 years and has traveled throughout the U.S. and to China and Mexico to feed his climbing fix.

Zmij says a climbing gym in a historic church would be a tourist destination. "We hope that people would visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then go climb."

Source: Niki Zmij, Chick Holtkamp
Writer: Lee Chilcote

jonathon sawyer launches kickstarter campaign to help fund new university circle restaurant

Jonathon Sawyer, the award-winning chef behind Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat, is opening a new restaurant with his wife Amelia. The venue, to be called Trentina, will feature cuisine from the Trento region of northern Italy, where Amelia's family is from. It will open in the former Sergio's space in University Circle in the coming months.

Sawyer describes Trentina as a "passion project" that will allow him to pay tribute to his wife's heritage while introducing the cuisine of Northern Italy to a wider audience.

"I always had an affinity with 'the Boot,' as it were," he says. "When I started Bar Cento, it was really a Roman restaurant in the style of the street mongers of Rome. I didn’t want to repeat that, but I knew my wife’s family had tie-ins with Trento."
He traveled there and fell in love. "We subsequently returned -- more than 100 days in past four years, in fact. The thing I keep coming back to is how similar the growing seasons are in Trento and the Cuyahoga Valley. The indigenous people are very similar to the ethnic backgrounds of a lot of Clevelanders; there's Austrian, Swiss, Slovenian… so much more so than just straight-up Italian."

To help fund the restaurant and pay for some extras like a pasta extruder, wood-burning grill and double-sided hearth, Sawyer launched a Kickstarter campaign. The original goal was $21,999, but the project already has exceeded that amount by nearly $10,000 with 18 days still left to go.

So Sawyer set a new, loftier goal: "We want to be the most-funded hospitality Kickstarter campaign in Ohio, whatever that is," he jokes.

Sawyer certainly has earned his fan club, but the campaign rewards also don't hurt. For $100, you can take a cooking class that normally would cost $150. Three hundred bucks buys a cocktail named after you, while $600 gets you meals shipped to your home for six months. The list goes on and on, all the way up to dinner at your house for 20 of "your foodiest friends and family," cooked by the chef himself ($500).

Trentina will offer fine dining with showy tableside service like polenta seared over burning embers. Sawyer says, "For us, it will be the first time we'll be able to accurately portray cuisine with ingredients from just outside our back door."

Source: Jonathon Sawyer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

brownflynn set to relocate from suburbs to historic van sweringen offices in terminal tower

The historic Terminal Tower offices of the Van Sweringen brothers, the duo that built the iconic skyscraper and the streetcar suburb of Shaker Heights, will soon be occupied by a women-owned consulting firm that helps businesses and organizations embrace a more sustainable future.

BrownFlynn is relocating from Highland Heights to the tower's 36th floor. The firm, which provides sustainability consulting, communications and training, needs more space. The 7,000-square-foot office, boasting panoramic views of the city and located a few flights below the Observation Deck, will be completely renovated by the end of April.

"Clearly, we're committed to the city and want to be part of its vibrancy," says principal Margie Flynn. "We're committed to sustainability and want to make sure we're walking the talk in what we're doing. And the essence of sustainability is really historic preservation."

Flynn says her employees, many of whom live in the city, are very excited about being downtown. The office gives BrownFlynn room to grow, and the firm can welcome out-of-town guests via RTA's Red Line, which stops in Tower City.

"The space has a tremendous amount of natural light," Flynn comments. "We're going to adapt the space as a very open, collaborative work environment."

Vocon is helping to design the space, while Forest City, which owns the Terminal Tower and has been a major player in corporate sustainability nationwide, will facilitate renovations. Instead of reusing the massive corner offices as private suites, as the Vans once did, the principals plan to convert these spaces into open offices to encourage collaboration and stimulate creative thinking.

"The most important thing is to have a very open inviting environment for our team," says Flynn, adding that BrownFlynn could grow from 14 to 21 employees in the coming years to keep up with growing demand for its services.

BrownFlynn secured a job creation grant from the City of Cleveland to help facilitate the move.

Source: Margie Flynn
Writer: Lee Chilcote

city of cleveland awarded $10k for outdoor mountain bike park

The City of Cleveland has been awarded $10,000 from the International Mountain Bike Association to develop plans for a mountain bike park at Kerruish Park, a large green space in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood on the southeast side of the city.

Ward 1 Councilman Terrell Pruitt believes the project will be a significant addition to his neighborhood. "The idea of developing an outdoor mountain bike park in the city of Cleveland, and providing recreational access to the community, is a significant game-changer for our community," he said in a statement. "I look forward to taking this concept and making it a reality."

The project is just one of several initiatives underway to provide amenities for mountain bikers in Northeast Ohio, according to Brian Zimmerman, CEO of the Cleveland Metroparks, which is helping provide technical assistance on the design and maintenance of the trail.

"A few years ago, there was the perception that mountain bikers were going in and potentially not understanding the complexity of these ecosystems," says Zimmerman. "I find the exact opposite. There's a willingness to learn about natural resources. They'll actually build sustainable trails with our teams. There's truly a connection to community and place."

The Cleveland Metroparks currently has mountain bike trails at Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation and Mill Stream Run Reservation. A third mountain bike trail will open this spring at the Bedford Reservation.

"It's a shared use concept that's really focused on building a sustainable trail," Zimmerman adds, emphasizing that the trails can also be used for hiking. "With that comes a dedication to preserving our natural resource areas."

The Metroparks is also working closely with Pruitt, the City of Cleveland and neighborhood leaders to create trail linkages from the Towpath Trail to Garfield Reservation to Kerruish Park. Ultimately, Zimmerman says, it will be possible to ride your bike between all three green spaces.

"This project really falls in line with the Cleveland Metropark's vision and our strategic plan for 2020 -- connecting communities and neighborhoods to natural resource assets," he says.

Pruitt says that over $6 million has been invested in Kerruish Park in the last decade or so. New paved trails, pavilions and swing sets have been installed. The mountain bike track will help provide access to 100 acres of unimproved land and keep vandals out by focusing on positive uses for this underutilized property.

"The community is excited about this," says Pruitt, who describes a two-tiered concept of a basic mountain bike trail and a "pump trail" with jumps, hills and curves for more advanced riders. "Kids don't have the same knowledge about bikes that I did when I was a kid. This is helping to grow more healthy activity."

Once a plan for the mountain bike park is in place, Pruitt says he will seek funding from local and national sources and recruit volunteers to help build the trail.

Sources: Brian Zimmerman, Terrell Pruitt
Writer: Lee Chilcote

developer set to break ground on ultra-green tremont townhomes

The for-sale housing market remains tepid in many Cleveland neighborhoods, but it never really cooled down in Tremont. That's because this historic neighborhood remains popular, full of vitality and, frankly, small, which means there never is an abundance of houses on the market. When a properly priced Tremont house is listed, it usually sells.

And that's certainly true of the Cottages on Thurman, a new Tremont development. Developer (ARC) form of Tremont has pre-sold two detached, green-built townhomes off of plans. Principal and founder Jeffrey Eizember expects to break ground and go vertical within the next two months.

"It's a very efficient design," he says. "Our philosophy is that we want to help the buyer get a customized product that is not exorbitantly priced."

With starting prices at $379,900, the townhomes might become the first LEED-certified units in Tremont (the ratings are preliminary at this point) and the first to participate in the Department of Energy Home Challenge. Additionally, they have an unusual design feature: the bedrooms are located on the second level, while the living spaces are on the third level to best take advantage of the views.

"How often do you spend time in your bedroom other than going to sleep?" Eizember asks. "Why give all the good views to that area?" The benefits don't stop there. "This layout also puts the living level in closer proximity to the rooftop deck."

That rooftop deck will offer even better views of downtown Cleveland, the industrial Cuyahoga Valley and the church spires and steeples for which Tremont is well known.

The units, which are a little over 2,000 square feet, have attached two-car garages, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, 100-year-old reclaimed maple flooring, and tankless hot water heaters to maximize efficiency, among other features.

The developers also will harvest 60 percent of the rainwater accumulated on site. "It can be used for irrigation or to wash off your car," Eizember explains, adding that, "Ninety percent of the site is permeable."
(ARC) form is a design and construction firm that blends architectural services, contracting and interior design into one package. The firm specializes in "using conventional materials and techniques in unconventional means."

With just two lots available, the project already is sold out. "We didn't have a hard time selling them once they were listed," Eizember says. "They went pretty fast."

Source: Jeffrey Eizember
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bruell's kafeteria in former bp building expands downtown dining options, tastefully

Zack Bruell's Kafeteria, located on the third floor of 200 Public Square, is the latest to take advantage of the growing trend of chef-owned fast-casual restaurants. These venues manage to feed the masses quality food at reasonable price points, while creating economies of scale for multi-unit operators.
Kafeteria, which opened earlier this month, is an ideal spot to enjoy lunch on a frigid January day. The light-filled atrium, with its attractive gardens and fountains, is restful, and the spacious dining room offers views of downtown from a cozy perch.

Bruell has opened four eateries in the past five years, and this is his seventh restaurant within city limits. At 8,500 square feet, the cafeteria is designed to accommodate not only the 2,400 employees who work in the building, but also diners from across downtown and the city. With lofty ceilings and sleek, modern signage, the cafeteria space is divided into stations featuring a wide range of items.

Nonetheless, Bruell was not at all convinced that opening a cafeteria was a good idea. "I was looking for a space to do weddings and events," he says. "The realtor brought us in and dangled this cafeteria idea and I said, 'No way, that's not what I do, leave me alone.' And here I am."

What ultimately persuaded him was the fact that the building had thousands of employees with no dining options. The space, with its marble and granite walls, also inspired him.

"People inside the building are ecstatic," Bruell says of his reception. "I've opened restaurants where people said thank you, but this is different. They had no food here."

Kafeteria already is serving between 500 and 600 customers per day, and that's only the beginning, says Bruell. Just as he does at all of his new restaurants, Bruell is working the line while working closely with the 30-plus staff members to get the details right. "I don't do mediocre," he says.

Options include soup, salad bar, hot and cold sandwiches made to order, sushi, noodle station, braised dishes and fresh-baked pizzas. There's both a juice bar and an espresso bar. Dishes range from coffee-braised pork and cheese quesadillas to falafel-stuffed pitas and a Reuben-style burger, to name a few. Most items are priced from $6.50 to $9, yet this is no boring corporate cafeteria.
The dining room can accommodate up to 300 guests at breakfast and lunch, and will be used for corporate events, weddings and other functions.

In the long term, 200 Public Square owners Harbor Group International plans to renovate the building's atrium area, where there currently are some empty storefronts. That should bring even more life to this downtown landmark, and Bruell Events, the chef's catering company, plans to utilize that space as well.

200 Public Square, a Class A downtown office building that is just 30 years old, has been overlooked by the city for too long, says Bruell. "People are rediscovering the building, which has a great location," he says. "We've only touched what we're going to do."

Source: Zack Bruell
Writer: Lee Chilcote

mitchell's offers writer a peek into ohio city ice cream factory, set to open in march

The new Mitchell's Ice Cream in Ohio City is like Cleveland's version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in Roald Dahl's famous 1964 children's novel. There are no Oompa Loompas or glass elevator, but there is a giant factory floor where ice cream, sauces and roasted nuts are made, and huge glass walls that will allow visitors to watch the entire delicious process unfold.

The combination store, ice cream factory and HQ has been nearly three years in the making. Founders Mike and Dan Mitchell will open in March, and when they do, you can be sure that Clevelanders will descend upon the place with a frenzy as there's simply little else like it in the region.

Start with the building: the historic Rialto Theatre was built in 1919 as one of the West Side's largest vaudeville venues. It has served a variety of uses over the years, most recently as Club Moda, which was shut down in 2006 because of illegal activity. When the Mitchells bought the building in 2011, there were empty drinks on the bars, everything was painted black and the roof was leaking. Using historic tax credits, the brothers have restored the building's two-story terracotta-and-brick facade and gutted and renovated the interior.

The historic theatre, complete with new skylights and exposed trusses, is now the factory floor -- fitting for a company that has elevated ice cream to something of an art form.

"I thought, 'What would I want this place to be if I was a kid?'" says Mike Mitchell, who has taken the lead on the project. "I designed it for the kid I was... still am."

The building has been sustainably renovated. It features solar panels on the roof, interior lights that automatically dim when natural light is sufficient, and a harvesting system that will reuse rainwater as a source for non-potable water. Similar in design to the Rocky River shop, the interior is rectangular and features a giant electric train that will wind overhead, delighting the kid in all of us.

Mike Mitchell is particularly gleeful when he talks about the old theatre marquee, which now bears a prominent company sign. Light boxes will be placed alongside the entryway that highlight the farmers with whom Mitchell's works.
"The light boxes will provide the same feeling as if you're entering a theatre," adds Mike. "It will animate the front. But our performance is ice cream."
Outside will feature a large side patio along Gould Court, which officially has been closed off to traffic by the city. The original bricks will remain exposed, and the space will feature prominent public art. Mike says the goal is to make it a gathering place for the neighborhood, not just customers.

The ice cream shop will be a proving ground for new flavors and desserts, though Mitchell's is keeping mum on all the details. Mike describes the process as "a way for us to have fun." Guests will be able to take factory tours that include tastings. Two separate rooms, upstairs and downstairs, will function as community spaces that can be used for youth activities, birthday parties and neighborhood events.

Mitchell is excited about being a part of the Ohio City community, which he describes as having "great neighbors and local businesses [and] a lot of family life." Additional partnerships are planned with local businesses like Great Lakes Brewing Co. (what could possibly be better than beer and ice cream?).

The new headquarters will vastly expand Mitchell's production space, a major improvement from the cramped kitchen at the Rocky River store, where they currently make ice cream around the clock.
The Ohio City store represents Mitchell's eighth location.

"This has been one of the thrills of my life, my relationship to this building," says Mike Mitchell. "Ice cream has a place in people's lives and the life of the community that's pretty special."

Source: Mike Mitchell
Writer: Lee Chilcote

western reserve historical society sets date for historic euclid beach carousel unveiling

The hand-carved carousel that entertained the masses at historic Euclid Beach Park, though hasn't operated in decades, is getting a makeover. The newly restored gem is set for a November unveiling at the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) in University Circle.

When the restored 1910 Euclid Beach Grand Carousel opens in the Glass Pavilion of the History Center, it will be one of the few working carousels in town. Visitors will be able to purchase a ticket to ride what was deemed "the finest carousel ever made" when it first debuted over a century ago.

"This project has been 13 or 14 years in the making," says Alyssa Purvis, Communications Assistant with WRHS. "We still have people coming in and saying, 'I have a picture of my mom standing next to that horse. It's in my wallet.'"

The carousel also introduces a major new amenity to University Circle, providing yet another reason to visit WRHS. This nonprofit institution has undergone major renovations to its Crawford Auto Aviation Room to help reach a new audience and recently garnered a "Building the Circle" award from University Circle Inc.

The restoration of the historic carousel was undertaken in collaboration with the Cleveland Carousel Society, which helped recover the carousel from a park in Maine. The carousel operated in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland from 1910 to 1969, when Euclid Beach Park, a major attraction for generations of Clevelanders, shut down.

The colossal structure is remarkable, and it's housed in a stunning, light-filled room. The horses, which are some of the largest wooden carousel horses in the country, according to Purvis, are captured in dynamic running and jumping poses. Surrounding the horses are hand-painted chariots that also have been recently refurbished.

The centerpiece of the carousel, currently being restored by Carousel Works in Mansfield, is a massive automated music box that soon will crank back to life.

"The park was a real landmark in Northeast Ohio," says Purvis. "We felt that it was important to keep the carousel here in Cleveland and to make it run again."

WRHS has announced that the carousel will be ready to ride on November 22nd.

Source: Alyssa Purvis
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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