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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Boris Music
Writer: Lee Chilcote

barroco brings latin american street food to the warehouse district

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Juan David Vergara
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Mark Jones
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Thomas Starinsky
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Cheri Ashcraft
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Adrian and Cosmin Bota
Writer: Lee Chilcote

crowdfunding campaign behind quest to open downtown coffee shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Charles Eisenstat
Writer: Lee Chilcote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Peter Debelack
Writer: Lee Chilcote

first-ever pay-as-you-go commercial kitchen set to open its doors on euclid avenue

The final inspections for Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen take place this week, and a customer is planning to come in the next day. The organizers behind Cleveland's first-ever shared commercial kitchen hope that's a sign of good things to come.

The kitchen's goal is to help local food entrepreneurs bring products to market. With so many food truck owners, caterers, urban gardeners and budding chefs making their products in cramped home quarters or church kitchens that aren't always available, the group behind the venture hopes to fill a growing need.

"We're a food launchhouse," says Carolyn Priemer, whose family-owned real estate company is a partner in the project, along with Tim Skaryd of Hospitality Marketing and Sales and the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI). "Ours is the only facility in Cleveland that you can pay as you use."

The facility allows entrepreneurs to lease time for $18-24 per hour. The kitchen, which was built by Cleveland State University before it moved to the new student center, has stations for baking, catering, canning, thermal processing and dry packing. The venue also has dry storage and walk-in coolers and freezers.

ECDI is available to offer loans to food entrepreneurs, and the partners plan to offer classes as well. Hospitality Sales and Marketing is a food brokerage, and Skaryd says he will help customers with small-scale canning and labeling.

So far, prospective customers that have expressed interest include food truck operators, an ice cream maker, tea maker and granola bar maker, among others. Priemer says that she's gotten inquiries with only word-of-mouth marketing.

The facility is available for use 24/7, and has its own security system and key card access. Users do not have to sign a lease, but must sign a basic user agreement.

Will it be profitable? Priemer says that will depend on the amount of usage, and right now it could go either way. However, she hopes entrepreneurs will see the value not only in the space, but in networking opportunities with other startups.

"There is no food hub for businesses," she says. "This seems to connect a lot of areas of the food industry here. We're planning to hold networking events to bolster the local food community, including bringing in some guest chefs."

Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen is located at 2800 Euclid Avenue.

Source: Carolyn Priemer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

gordon food service set to break ground on $4m store on w. 117th street

Gordon Food Service, a 115-year-old company that specializes in large package food items and kitchen supplies, is opening a new retail location on West 117th Street on a former J.D. Byrider car lot.

The new store, which has been fully approved by the City of Cleveland and is set to break ground this month, reinforces the strength of the west side Cleveland trade area, says Anita Brindza, Executive Director of Cudell Improvement.

"With the density of our population, we have a market here," she says. "They liked the proximity to downtown, the west side of Cleveland and Lakewood, and of course to I-90 for deliveries. It worked out that this would an ideal location."

GFS Marketplace Realty paid $1.25 million for the property last year. Plans have come together quickly, and company officials expect to invest approximately $4 million in the location, Brindza says. The store would employ about 20 people.

"We're always looking for additional locations that will serve our existing customer base as well as [new customers]," says Mark Dempsey with GFS. "We have locations in the suburbs of Cleveland, but we do not currently have a location that serves the city's near west side very well. This is really about convenience."

Dempsey touted the company's ability to deliver "restaurant-quality products in large packages" and items that consumers "can't get at a grocery store" in addition to its ability to help restaurants and institutions "keep their operations cooking."

Brindza says the family-owned company has accommodated local concerns. "They initially thought about a truck entrance off W. 116th, but both the Councilman and Cudell Improvement said that would be inappropriate. We said we'd like a pedestrian entrance off W. 116th to serve local residents, and they agreed."

GFS did not request any incentives from the City of Cleveland, says Brindza, whose organization helped shepherd the store through various city approvals.

Brindza believes GFS will happily coexist with local grocery stores as well as the planned grocery at the Shoppes on Clifton development. "You don't go in there to buy a single loaf of bread, but if you're looking for economy-size Betty Crocker cake mix. If you're having a party, family gathering, something with 50 people."

If development proceeds as planned, the store will be open before Thanksgiving.

Source: Anita Brindza, Mark Dempsey
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new korean-fusion eatery set to open in playhousesquare

PlayhouseSquare will soon add another delicious restaurant to the district, adding fuel to its quest to become a 24/7 neighborhood that encourages theater patrons to stick around long after the shows end. Entrepreneurs Jiyoung and John Sung will open Sung's House next month, adding a Korean and Japanese restaurant to the downtown scene.

"It's not traditional Korean food -- it's fusion style," says Jiyoung Sung, who moved from Michigan to be close to family. "We're also building a sushi bar."

John Sung worked as a sushi chef for 13 years before moving to Cleveland. The venue is a big leap for the couple. "We're happy and nervous at the same time. We're excited about having our own place, but it's kind of frightening, too."

The price range for lunch will be $8-10, while dinner items will be around $15, keeping the menu affordable for CSU students and downtown office workers.

"We think those who live, work and visit here will appreciate having yet another great choice of where to eat," says Cindi Szymanski of PlayhouseSquare, which owns the building. "The planned Korean and Japanese menu choices, including sushi, will bring a currently unrepresented style of cuisine to PlayhouseSquare."

Why did the couple choose PlayhouseSquare? "My uncle is a professor at CSU, and he knows the area very well," says Jiyoung Sung. "He recommended it to us."

The restaurant will be located at 1507 Euclid Avenue, in the former China Sea Express space. It is expected to open in May.

Source: Jiyoung Sung
Writer: Lee Chilcote

mcnulty divulges plans for market culinary building in ohio city

Sam McNulty has the best kind of problem an owner can have; he's selling so much beer at Market Garden Brewery and NanoBrew in Ohio City that he can hardly keep up with demand. Selling kegs to patrons or restaurants that want to carry popular varieties like Pearl Street Wheat or CitroMax IPA is out of the question.

McNulty and his partners expect to solve their space crunch by early next year with the redevelopment of the Market Culinary Building, a 43,000-square-foot warehouse at W. 24th Street and Bridge Avenue. McNulty has taken to calling the place the "palace of fermentation."

After purchasing the building last year for $800,000, McNulty, brewmaster Andy Tveekram and partners Mike Foran and Mark Priemer will spend an undisclosed sum rehabbing it into a hub for beermaking, cheesemaking, charcuterie, distilling, kombucha and other types of fermentation. They'll offer classes and tours from beermaking to sausage making to butchering whole, pasture-raised animals.

"Bar Cento was the first restaurant in the state to serve farm-raised venison," explains McNulty. "We had a big coming-out party for venison. We had a whole deer sitting on the bartop, and Chef Lambert did a demonstration of how to break down a whole animal. That event sold out within two hours of listing tickets for sale."

"People are very interested in artisanal food, who’s making it," he adds. "They want to know it’s local, fresh, and the animals are raised, harvested humanely."

The building, which sits on an acre of land, will solve the beermaking problem and then some -- the large space offers room to grow. McNulty says the foursome also plans to open a retail shop sometime next year to sell homemade products.

"We'll sell charcuterie, cheese, fresh eggs," he says. "Everything we put out will be on a very boutique level. We'll pick out four to six recipes we've perfected at Market Garden and then make them to distribute to restaurants in the area."

The point is to complement the West Side Market, which McNulty wholeheartedly supports but feels needs to boost local products and update its hours. "At one point we considered buying a stand, but we didn't want to limit ourselves to the impractical hours the market keeps. We'll be open on days the market isn't."

Source: Sam McNulty
Writer: Lee Chilcote

downtown jazz club debuts with unusual blessing from church pastor

"Jazz is like the kind of man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with." That might sound like a curious quote for a pastor to use in blessing a jazz bar, yet these were Mark Giuliano's words at the opening of the new Take 5 Jazz Club in downtown Cleveland. The quote comes from jazz legend Duke Ellington.

"We know how important live music is for gathering people; we're for that kind of community building," explains Giuliano, Pastor of Old Stone Church on Public Square and President of the Downtown Residents Association. "We want a place where you can have great food and a couple drinks, listen to live music, be able to visit and have a sense of community. What [the owners] have done is take an old, divey bar and brought new life to it."

Giuliano believes Take 5 will fill a gap in the Warehouse District entertainment scene by offering music that's geared towards an older, multicultural crowd.

"There are an awful lot of empty-nesters like my wife and I [downtown]," he says. "We're not really going to be doing the club scene over on W. 6th at two in the morning. This is a place where everybody feels welcome and has a place."

Take 5, which opened on March 21, offers live jazz, R&B and blues from Thursday through Sunday nights. It is located at 740 Superior Avenue, in the former House of Cues and Prime Rib Steakhouse location in the Warehouse District. The venue also offers an extensive tapas menu prepared by executive chef Jeremy Rolen.

Owners Brian Gresham and Claude Carson have renovated the once-shabby House of Cues into an upscale jazz venue that caters to a professional crowd. Gresham says he saw an opening in the scene due to all the development taking place downtown.

"With the casino, med mart and Flats being revitalized, we wanted to fill a niche," he says. "We more or less took concepts from places that were once in the area that did very well -- The Bop Stop, Wilberts and Sixth Street Down Under."

The owners renovated the interior with new lighting and other improvements. A black ceiling makes it "feel like you're in a true musical venue," Gresham says.

Take 5 welcomed trumpet player and vocalist Skip Martin for its opening weekend, and Gresham is currently working to bring Sean Jones to town, as well. The venue's performers will include a mix of regional and national acts.

Source: Mark Giuliano, Brian Gresham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

more bike boxes are coming to a cleveland neighborhood near you

Some creative, outside-the-box thinking by the city's leading urban design and cycling advocates has led to the creation of four additional "bike boxes," which are to be installed this spring in various Cleveland neighborhoods.

The newest wave of bike boxes are modeled after a successful pilot project at Nano Brew in Ohio City. That installation transformed a steel shipping container into a colorful curbside bike garage for two-wheeled visitors.

By offering secure, covered parking in a bike corral that also functions as dynamic, placemaking public art, the Bridge Avenue bike box does more than simply provide practical parking: It brands the city as a place that prioritizes cycling.

"It's really a center of gravity," says Greg Peckham, Managing Director of LAND Studio, the nonprofit that spearheaded the project with Bike Cleveland. "It's as much about a safe, convenient, protected place to park your bike as it is about making a statement that cycling is an important mode of transportation in the city."

Peckham says that Ohio City's bike box is very well used on days when the West Side Market is open and in the evening when riders coast in for dinner or a drink. With the street's bike racks often at capacity, the bike box was critical, he says.

The new bike boxes will be installed in time for Bike Month in May. The locations are Gordon Square (a barn-red beauty outside Happy Dog), Tremont (two "half loaves," as Peckham calls them, outside South Side and Tremont Tap House), St. Clair Superior (location TBD) and a final, undetermined community.

The bike boxes are being custom-fabricated by Rust Belt Welding, which is an entrepreneurial duo that has made creative bike parking a calling card for their work. Each of the boxes is being designed with neighborhood input -- hence Tremont's half-boxes, which amount to a shipping container split in two.

The project is being supported by Charter One Growing Communities, which has also funded retail attraction efforts in Ohio City, downtown and St. Clair Superior.

Peckham says the new designs accommodate more bikes and use lighter colors. Users can expect more innovations in the future -- LAND Studio is working to secure funding so that green roofs and solar panels can be added to the boxes.

The bike boxes are being maintained through partnerships with neighboring businesses, which agree to maintain, clean and keep secure the facilities.

Source: Greg Peckham
Writer: Lee Chilcote

shoppes on clifton project inching forward in spite of opposition, says developer

The Carnegie Companies, a Cleveland developer, has been around since the 1930s. The firm takes a long-term view on its properties -- very long-term. That may help to explain why, after more than a decade of planning and two co-developers that left them standing at the altar, the property at W. 117th and Clifton Boulevard still is undeveloped.

Nonetheless, the firm finally is preparing to move forward with the Shoppes on Clifton project, according to a representative who spoke on condition of anonymity. Carnegie Companies is aggressively courting a lead anchor tenant -- a small grocer store or market -- as well as other food or restaurant tenants.

"Our timeline is as soon as we can get something done," says the representative, citing the need to secure an anchor tenant to seek approvals and break ground. "We're pursuing a grocery or market very actively. I can tell you if we can put together the anchors we're talking to, we have oversubscribed interest for the smaller spaces up front. We're looking at restaurants, specialty food retailers."

The developer would not comment on a site plan that was leaked to the media by Neighbors in Action, a group of residents opposed to the demolition of the historic Fifth Church on the site. Neighbors in Action wants the developer to reuse the church and develop buildings close to the street with the parking in back.

The developer did confirm that the site plan was being actively considered, though he stated it is not necessarily the final plan. Developed by architect Brian Fabo, the plan shows three structures of 16,000, 10,500 and 6,000 square feet plus a parking lot at the corner of W. 117th and Clifton. One building would be close to the street on Clifton; the other two would be set back to maximize visibility.

The developer says that the City of Cleveland, which owns Fifth Church, asked the Carnegie Companies several years ago to consider incorporating the church site into their project. Councilman Jay Westbrook has previously stated that the city will pursue demolition of the church, which many consider structurally unsound and beyond saving. Neighbors in Action believes the church should be rehabilitated.

"It would be an incredible undertaking to try to reuse the church," the developer says. "It looks like it's been bombed out because of water infiltration and other issues."

The developer adds the unfortunate reality is that the church site is useless unless parking is placed in front. No major retailer would consider leasing a space in the development without maximum visibility. If buildings were constructed along Clifton to the corner, it would obscure the church site in the northwest corner.

"In today’s world, they prefer, if at all possible, to have parking in front," he says. "It maximizes visibility and reduces liability for the retailers. If parking is hidden from traffic sources... Things happen in hidden parking lots. It's been an issue in the past."

Neighbors in Action commented in a press release: "The Shoppes on Clifton plan, being developed by Carnegie Companies, is nothing more than a suburban style retail strip center ill placed in a historic district deserving of quality, character and good urban design, and is a far cry from actual shops on Clifton Boulevard."

Prior to groundbreaking, the Carnegie Companies must seek approval from the city's Design Review and Planning Commissions, which may push for a project that retains the traditional urban character of buildings that are close to the street. Developers in Cleveland and other cities have built new retail or mixed-use projects with little setback (Uptown in University Circle is one example).

The developer says they will pursue the project with or without the church property, but the new proposal involves salvaging and incorporating major elements of the church. Specifically, the main entrance along Lake Avenue could be incorporated into pedestrian-friendly entrance to the new development.

Neighbors in Action stated in a press release that a "source" had informed the group that Giant Eagle Express, Chipotle and a dollar store were being considered as lead tenants in the project. The Carnegie Companies would not discuss tenant negotiations, saying that it was premature since leases have not been secured.

There is no specific timeline for the project, but the developer stresses that Carnegie Companies is ready to pull the trigger as soon as it lands an anchor.

"We think that it is a very positive project for all stakeholders."

Source: The Carnegie Companies
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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