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Underfoot: polishing up for the RNC

While in high school in 1994 in Bay Village, Grant Alexander earned extra cash by starting a car detailing business out of his parents’ garage. He continued the gig through his college years and as business increased, Alexander knew he had found his niche.

GK’s Custom Polishing was officially established in 2001, offering car, motorcycle and watercraft detailing, transportation and storage. Then one day his father suggested Alexander get in to stonework polishing.
 
“Detailing in Cleveland is kind of an eight months of the year gig,” Alexander says. “I was looking for something to do in the winter.”
 
Alexander found that something in hard surface polishing – cleaning everything from natural stone and marble to tile and grout. In 2002 GK’s had a new division of the company.
 
Today, GK’s cares for the hard surfaces in most downtown Cleveland hotels, from the polishing and sealing of marble floors in lobbies to cleaning and polishing the tile and grout in bathrooms.
 
When the owners of the Drury Plaza Hotel began converting the old Cleveland Board of Education building into an upscale hotel, they called Alexander. “It was an old city building and they had marble floors everywhere,” he recalls of the job. “It was a three-month project with tons of marble. You don’t just go in and restore a commercial building overnight.”
 
With the Republican National Convention next week, Alexander is busier than usual, making sure the downtown hotels sparkle and shine. While as much as 75 percent of his commercial work is from recurring contracts with places like Marriott, Westin and Renaissance, Alexander anticipated his clients would want some extra work both before and after the convention.
 
“We sent letters to all of our commercial contracts three to four months ago to start preparing for additional work,” Alexander says, adding that the more foot traffic the hotels get, the more the floors have to be care for. “The higher the traffic, the more we get called in.”
 
Alexander’s clients started calling for hard surface work almost immediately, and they will keep calling after the convention is over and visitors are long gone.
 
"It's good for the front end, since our contract clients called us months ago and needed a lot of additional work,” Alexander says. “It’s good on the back end because there’s so much traffic.”
 
In fact, the company’s 30 employees will be working through most of the year.  “Business is up 30 percent over the course of the year,” Alexander estimates.

Long-awaited Arcadian offers unique dining options in Gordon Square

Three years in the making, Arcadian Food and Drink opened two weeks ago on Tuesday, June 28. While owner Cory Hess bought the building in 2013, he took his time to create the 4,000-square-foot establishment of his dreams.
 
“Quickly, we noticed how poorly it was taken care of for so many years,” he says of the building at 6416 Detroit Ave. in Gordon Square, adding that the first thing he did was secure a demolition permit. “We wanted to do it right, and do it once.”
 
Hess bought the building after noticing it was for sale while having a beer at XYZ Tavern across the street. “I did a walk through and bought it,” he says.
 
Hess originally envisioned a beer and sandwich place with offices and an apartment on the second floor. But that quickly changed as the restaurant veteran, who spent time in places like Lola and Bar Symon, teamed up with his wife and Arcadian executive chef Rebecca Hess, who has a background with Spice Kitchen and Blue Point Grille, and general manager Dave Hridel, who has a background at Spice and Greenhouse Tavern.
 
The Arcadian menu features sustainable seafood, entrees such as fried chicken or Piedmontese filet mignon, gourmet pizzas and craft cocktails. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.
 
Hess ensures that the fryers are kept gluten free, and two of the fryers are never used for meat or seafood. “We wanted to make sure we had all the options so you can meet a friend after work,” he explains. “We wanted to have things on the menu that are just good, but it was important to accommodate those things.”
 
The bar has 12 Ohio beers and eight wines on draft. Cocktails include the Shoreway Soda – fernet branca, Kahlua, honey and ginger soda – and the Theater Greeter –  saffron infused watershed gin, dolin dry, orange and spiced simple syrup.
 
The kitchen stays open until 2 a.m. with a full menu. “We’re trying to pick up a lot of the industry and late night crowds,” says Hess. There are also happy hour specials. He says he plans on experimenting with weekend brunch and weekly specials after the RNC.
 
Keeping to his mission to build it once and built it right, Hess worked with Robert Maschke Architects to create a modern look using bamboo, metal, concrete, Corian and glass. “Durability is key in the restaurant,” says Hess. “It’s physically appealing to look at, but structurally [solid] as well.” The building is so gorgeous and with so much attention to detail, it’s worth showing off.”
 
Hess credits Maschke’s talents with the restaurant’s transformation. “Robert didn’t leave a bad angle in the restaurant,” he says.
 
Maschke designed the Arcadian to cater to both the date night set and those who just want to stop in for a casual bite and a drink. The upstairs area is reservation-only, offering a raw bar menu and upscale entrees. Hess says “sexy” is the best word to describe the atmosphere upstairs.
 
“We really wanted to go after the Detroit neighborhood and theater goers,” says Hess of future upstairs patrons. “Especially given the number of theaters in the area.”
 
The lower level is more casual. “With the downstairs, we wanted to leave it open to the neighborhood,” Hess explains. “So it’s comfortable for walking in after work or in jeans and T-shirts."
 
Hess notes that the Arcadian fits the energy of the growing neighborhood, which is also home to superelectric pinball parlor and artists’ mecca 78th Street Studios. “It’s a nice, well-rounded area and we didn’t want to be just a special occasion restaurant,” he says. “We wanted to cater to everyone. There’s such a diverse demographic here.”
 
So far, the restaurant has been well received and worth the wait. “We put three years of our blood, sweat and tears into it,” says Hess. “We had a pretty good first week and I’m pleasantly surprised with the business.”
 
The Arcadian is open Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Happy hours run 4 to 6 p.m.

Politico to set up shop on top floor of the Huntington building

Politico, the non-partisan political magazine with a circulation of 33,000 and online resource for all things political reaching 21 million people each month, will set up offices on the top floor of the former Huntington Building, 925 Euclid Ave., for the Republican National Convention next week.

The organization will host live coverage of the convention activities, speakers and other events from Monday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21.
 
“Politico is excited to have our Politico Hub in the historic Huntington building in downtown Cleveland,” says Luiza Savage, editorial director of events. “This is the perfect space to bring our readers and convention goers live programming with the most influential people in politics as well as networking events, watch parties and nightly lounges.” 
 
Led by Politico reporters and editors, around-the-clock Hub programming will include daily Playbook newsmaker interviews, a live convening of the Politico Caucus and policy luncheons as well as performances and other social events to take in the news of the day and watch streaming speeches from the convention floor.

“The Hub will serve as a ‘home base’ for influential convention goers who are looking to work, network, attend our live programming, and watch the convention," says Politico media contact Christyn Lansing. “It’s a place where convention goers can learn more about the most important issues of the day but also relax and have fun.”
 
Lansing says the 925 Euclid building’s proximity to Quicken Loans Arena and sights of the city made the location a prime choice for them.

“We found the Huntington building to be the perfect fit because it's a beautiful, historic building, but also in close proximity to the official venue of the RNC, the Quicken Loans Arena, and will be convenient for Politico readers and convention goers to stop by,” she says, adding that the stunning views from the venue were another draw.
 
Lansing says she expects attendance at Politico events next week to be in the hundreds. The 21st floor, which housed the Mid-Day Club in the 1920s, can accommodate 500 people.
 
The nightly lounge, which will feature cocktails, conversation and live viewing of convention speeches, is free but reservations are required. Other programming requires registration as well.
 
Avi Greenbaum of Florida-based Hudson Holdings bought the 1.4 million-square-foot Huntington building a year ago for $22 million with extensive renovation plans. Terry Coyne, vice chairman of Newark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF), who handled the sale, says complete renovation plans have been postponed until the beginning of 2017 because of the convention.  
 
Coyne says there was a lot of interest in other areas of the building for the convention, and a total of three organizations have rented space. Management is eagerly expecting everyone’s arrival. “Other than making sure that the fire sprinklers work, nothing was needed,” Coyne says of 925 Euclid’s condition. “The building is in good shape.”
 
Coyne says revised plans for the 1.4-million-square-foot building now include 300,000 square feet of office space, a Hilton Curio hotel, 500 apartments and retail offerings.

Seven retailers to set up shop in Arcade storefronts before RNC

The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA), along with Skyline Investments announced today the arrival of seven local retailers to the historic Cleveland Arcade at 401 Euclid Ave., that will set up temporary storefronts during the Republican National Convention.
 
Officials hope that the stores will become permanent Arcade tenants after the convention activity is over, says Michael Deemer, executive vice president of business development for DCA.
 
“It’s very exciting because we’ll have the Arcade more active in retail as any time in recent memory,” he says. “Our hope is because of the strong residential population growth, workforce traffic and visitors during the convention, we’ll be able to persuade [the retailers] to make the Arcade their permanent home.”
 
Retailers setting up temporary storefronts include J3 Clothing Company from Moreland Hills, Cleveland in a Box, CLEan scented soaps, 216 Gallery, the Hidden Closet from Chagrin Falls, the Powder Room from Woodmere and Monica Potter Home from Garrettsville. They'll be offering up everything from Mrs. Potters Bear Oil to gift boxes full up with CLE sports fan merch.
 
Deemer says the convention serves as a timely vehicle for attracting these local retailers to the downtown area. “It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have not just 50,000 visitors to Cleveland, but the eyes of the national media will see what downtown has to offer,” he says. “But they [retailers] also see the same numbers we do, with 41,000 residents and an aggregate household income of $884 million in the downtown trade area. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
 
Additionally, Rising Star Coffee, Daydreams & Tea and Pizza 216 recently opened permanent locations in the Arcade and two others –  Rose’s Braai and Boney Fingers BBQ – are about to open their doors.
 
“All together, there are 16 retailers in the Arcade,” says Deemer. “We’re approaching capacity, with one vacancy on the upper level and a handful of vacancies on the lower level.”
 
Valarie McCall, Cleveland’s chief of government and international affairs, president and CEO of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee David Gilbert, president and CEO of DCA Joe Marinucci, vice president of asset management for Skyline Investments Mark Goldberg, and Monica Potter of Monica Potter Home were on hand to make today’s announcement.
 
After the event, the new tenants then opened their doors to visitors to the Arcade.

Hundreds volunteer, build new Fairfax Playspace

When the first intergenerational housing development in Ohio was built in 2014, Griot Village’s 40 units became a safe place in the Fairfax neighborhood for adults aged 55 and older to raise the minor children of whom they had custody.
 
Griot Village has been a success. However, there was one thing missing from the complex: A place for play.
 
To that end, last week, 249 volunteers from Morgan Stanley, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation (FRDC), Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), KaBOOM!, and community members from area construction companies, universities and churches joined forces to build a playground at Griot Village.
 
“It was awesome,” says Denise VanLeer, executive director of FRDC. “We always wanted to add a play space and garden area.”
 
The volunteers spent time ahead of the build cutting wood and getting everything ready, says VanLeer. Representatives from Whiting-Turner, Lake Erie Electric, Donley’s Construction and Ozanne Construction prepped the lot by removing tree stumps and old fencing and grading and leveling the lot.
 
The volunteers gathered early Wednesday morning to begin construction on "Playspace," a structure that was designed by the kids in Griot Village.
 
“We had a design day in May,” explains VanLeer. “They drew pictures of what they wanted to see there. Of course, they wanted a lot of stuff we couldn’t put in, but they were so excited.”
 
In addition to the brightly-colored equipment in purple, yellow and lime green, the group also installed picnic tables, planters, soccer goals and a rolling, oversized Connect Four game. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank donated vegetable plants for the garden.
 
The whole project, which is wheelchair accessible, was constructed on four housing lots that were specifically reserved for a play area. “We just knew we wanted to transform these lots,” says VanLeer.
 
The Cleveland Clinic, the Food Bank and FRDC made sure everyone was fed during the process.
 
While the structure had to sit for three days to let the concrete base set, the kids were able to get a preview throughout the planning, prep work and construction. “They were so excited, they could peek in through the fence,” says VanLeer.  
 
The crew was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing that they finished the playground an hour early. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held a few minutes before 2 p.m.
 
“It was such an awesome experience,” says VanLeer. “We got there in the morning and you have this vacant lot and you’re done by 1:30.

Morgan Stanley was the national sponsor for the project, while the Cleveland Clinic was the local supporter.

More to love at the Fairmount with new indoor patio, event room

Since taking over ownership of The Fairmount in 2011, Jake Orosz has quietly established the martini bar and restaurant as a friendly little place at the top of Cedar Hill, 2448 Fairmount Blvd., that offers up an eclectic range of drinks and light bites, from the Rhubarb Ginger Fizz alongside the Smoked Brisket Wonton Bowl to a no-frills Heineken enjoyed with a small plate of pretzel bites.

Last weekend, Orosz added to the Fairmount’s draw, celebrating the opening of a 40-seat 1,000-square-foot private event room with a wedding reception and an adjacent 800-square-foot “indoor patio” in the community atrium of the building.
 
Orosz began thinking about doing something with the space three months ago, he says, after neighboring Luna Bakery and Cafe relocated its cake decorating operations. “It's nice to finally be done with all the construction so I can focus on other aspects of the business,” he says.
 
Orosz hosted 85 people at the reception in the new event room, the indoor patio and a section in the main room.
 
“I like to call it ‘modularity,’” he says of the divided areas. “If there were no wall separating the area it would just be a wide open space. Modularity lets you do whatever you want – it lets you customize the space for whatever you want to do.”
 
The indoor patio features two-story ceilings, hanging plants and fountains on a slate gray floor. “I’d like to add a water wall,” Orosz says. “And it has big double doors that open to the street.”
 
Orosz adds that the indoor patio will also serve a double function when the outdoor patio behind the restaurant gets full. “When the patio gets packed outside, we can open the indoor patio,” he explains. “In the winter we can use it for regular service and I won’t have to lay off staff.”
 
Like the main bar and the patio in back, the private room has its own full bar with two beer taps. While the two satellite bars don’t have quite the full cocktail menus – servers must run inside to fetch one of the Fairmount’s single malt scotch offerings or certain varieties of wine – the three bars provide more space for customers to place their drink orders.
 
Patrons will be able to order the Fairmount’s signature cocktails, such as a coffee martini made with house-infused coffee vodka, a John Daley made with house-infused black tea vodka or a Moscow mule made with house-brewed ginger beer.
 
“We're constantly changing our cocktail menu, as well as our beer and wine list,” Orosz says.
 
Orosz also plans to host ticketed events such as wine tastings in the private room, which is equipped with audio visual capabilities and a separate stereo system.
 
Thanks to renovations to the kitchen last year, customers in any area of the Fairmount can order off an expanded food menu including chicken and waffle sliders, pizza and the Fairmount patty melt. And whether it's served on a plate or in a glass, offerings are often seasoned with herbs from the restaurant's indoor and patio gardens. Food and drink specials can be had during the weeknight happy hours from 4 to 7 p.m.

“I’m excited to be able to do special events and tastings,” says Orosz. “We’re getting all the kinks ironed out and I think it will be good.”

$2m incentive fund to lure business to Health-Tech Corridor

Since 2011 the Health-Tech Corridor (HTC), the three-mile stretch in Midtown between downtown and University Circle, has been quietly building a hub for health, high-tech and research companies.
 
Today more than 160 such endeavors in biomed, technology and other industries are operating in the HTC, creating an entrepreneurial hub touting amenities such as a 100 gigabits-per-second fiber optic internet pipe – the first of its kind in the country – and access to nearby universities and medical centers.
 
Now HTC officials have partnered with JumpStart to build a $2 million fund to foster even more activity. “We’re really excited to use the fund as a carrot to attract businesses to the corridor,” says HTC director Jeff Epstein, adding that 90 percent of the 500,000 square feet of renovated office and lab space is already filled.
 
But there is plenty of room for any company looking to relocate on the HTC’s 1,600 acres. “We’ve got space for whoever wants to come,” Epstein says. “Early stage companies can get anchored here.” He also notes that Geis Companies’ developments in the area, the Beauty Shoppe co-working space and the new University Hospitals campus add to the corridor’s draw.
 
The HTC and JumpStart raised $1 million for the fund through grants from the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland and private investments, which was then matched with another $1 million by the Ohio Third Frontier.
 
Companies seeking investment from the fund must have a unique or breakthrough idea, have at least a $1 billion addressable market and exit potential. They must also demonstrate excellence in their fields.
 
Epstein says a fund awareness campaign started last month, while officials at the HTC and JumpStart have been brainstorming attraction campaigns for the past nine months. “We launched social media campaigns in high-cost markets and targeted alumni from local universities,” he explains. “We going for the low-hanging fruit first.”
 
Epstein says more than 20 companies have already expressed an interest in applying for funding. Companies that do apply must go through a full vetting process with JumpStart.
 
“We don’t just give the money away,” explains Epstein. “But companies who don’t get an investment with us will hopefully be turned on to opportunities in Cleveland. The best problem we could have is too many companies interested.”

Cleveland Public Library plans to reopen historic South Branch

After closing the doors in 2013 to the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) South Branch building at 3096 Scranton Road in Tremont, the library announced last week that it will reopen the historic 1911 Carnegie building.

“It’s been a process for us,” says Tim Diamond, CPL’s chief knowledge officer. “We’ve been working on this for a while.”
 
The library’s board of trustees decided to close the facility three years ago after determining there were critical repairs needed. “The building was older and some of the major systems had not been updated,” explains Diamond. “An assessment of the building determined there were a lot of serious issues. We were going to repair them when the heating system began to fail.”
 
While a temporary location was set up in a storefront on Clark Avenue, the CPL board hired Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) to engage the community for feedback on what should be done and what services were needed at the branch.
 
“We were not making a decision without finding out what the community wanted,” says Diamond. “There were a variety of voices that were heard.”
 
Residents liked the location and the building’s rich history, says Diamond, explaining that the structure was designed by library architecture firm Whitfield and King and was the eighth branch built with funds from Andrew Carnegie.
 
“It was designed in a very flexible way, with shelving on perimeter walls,” Diamond says of the 8,350 square feet of usable space. “It’s like walking into the study of an old house with bookcases built in. When you look at it, in addition to being a beautiful building, there are all these possibilities for the space.”
 
Nationally-recognized library planning and design firm Holzheimer, Bolek & Meehan (HBM) in Cleveland has been hired for the $3.3 million project. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2017, with a tentative completion date of March 2018.
 
CPL historians discovered an interesting fact about the South Branch in their research. Diamond notes that one section of the library always appeared somewhat odd.
 
“The rear of it facing Clark Avenue looks unfinished, in a sense, and we never knew why,” he says. “We went in our records and found [the building] was never finished. They intended for there to be an entrance off of Clark to a small auditorium, but they ran out of money.”
 
Diamond says they found a document in the library board’s minutes noting that “when more money becomes available we’ll finish this later.”
 
With the renovations, that section of the library will now include that entrance, with ADA accessibility, and a small addition. “It got the architects really excited because they said, ‘it’s our chance to finish the building.’”
 
The CPL also owns a 50-foot wide parcel of land behind the building, which Diamond says they will determine a use for – either a complete build out, greenspace or a combination of both.
 
The renovation of the South Branch is part of CPL’s Community Vision Plan, in which all library branches will be evaluated for the services each offers to their respective communities by 2019.
 
To continue the community involvement in the South Branch’s future, the CPL will host an interactive design session on Wednesday, June 29 at 7 p.m. at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2592 West 14th St. in Tremont.

Village Market embraces Slavic Village

After only its second week, the Village Market in Slavic Village, hosted by Slavic Village Development (SVD) is already popular as a source for freshly-grown local produce, hand-made goods and a place to mingle with neighbors.

The market, which opened on June 13, is held each Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. through August 29 in Sonny Day Development’s outdoor space at 5106 Fleet Ave. It is the new and improved version of the former Broadway Famers’ Market, which closed in 2014 after struggling to attract vendors and shoppers.
 
In 2015, market manager Tiffany Andreoli began developing the concept with a focus on three things: making fresh produce easily available to residents, educating people on the importance of healthy eating and giving local businesses a place to sell their wares and grow their businesses.
 
“When they [SVD] approached me, I loved the idea because my husband and I live in this neighborhood,” Andreoli says. “I wanted to have vendors from the neighborhood and wanted to get attendance higher [than the Broadway Market].”
 
So far, she has succeeded. More than 150 people came out on opening day. And while attendance dropped a bit this past Monday, Andreoli attributes the Cavs’ NBA Finals victory the night before to a light turnout. “We still did some really good sales,” she says. “A few of our vendors sold out.”
 
A total of 18 vendors have signed up for the Village Market, although Andreoli says she expects an average of 14 vendors each week. “Half of the vendors are from the neighborhood,” she boasts. “We feel it’s very successful.”
 
The market participates in the EBT and Cleveland – Cuyahoga County Food Coalition Food Perks programs. Andreoli says she hopes the programs will encourage residents to come to the Village Market.
 
“This is a low-income neighborhood and it’s important to make it welcoming,” she says. “Many residents didn’t feel as welcome at higher-income neighborhood markets.”
 
In addition to locally-grown produce, the Village Market is also deeming itself a “makers market,” featuring local craftspeople. “The Slavic Village neighborhood has historically been a maker community of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers,” Andreoli explains. “Fleet Avenue is all mom and pop businesses.”
 
Vendors include Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend of Saucisson, which is in the midst of moving their butcher shop to the neighborhood, clothing designer Tourmaline Designs and Blue Lake Botanicals. Christy’s Custom Cakes owner Christy Barley sells her confections while her sons sell snow cones.
 
Produce vendors include the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland Farm, Community Greenhouse Partners and the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps.
 
The market has a variety of events planned throughout the summer. Next week’s market will have a cooking demonstration and MetroHealth will have a booth for health screenings and information. Monday, July 11, will be ArcelorMittal Day, which will feature live music and other entertainment.
 
MetroHealth and ArcelorMittal, along with Citizens Bank, helped fund the Village Market.
 
After the market closes for the season in August, Andreoli says the market plans to host small business training classes through the winter months.
 
The Village Market is still accepting vendor applications for select dates.

"Power in Politics" to open at History Center ahead of the RNC

With the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next month, the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society is launching its Power and Politics on July 14, just in time for Clevelanders to understand the region’s role in politics over the years.

The exhibit will feature everything from historic campaign buttons to the fashions worn to inaugural balls over the years – all with an eye on capitalizing on the RNC’s presence in Cleveland.
 
“We knew the convention was going to mean a significant increase in visibility for the city,” says Angie Lowrie, Cleveland History Center director. "Rather than going through the challenging process of getting downtown, we thought we’d make a nationally significant collection available to everyone.”
 
The exhibit will display a selection of political campaign buttons that date all the way back to the first presidential campaign to present day. “It is the largest collection of political campaign buttons in the nation,” says Lowrie.
 
Also included in the collection is a 1936 republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, who lost his campaign to incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
The exhibit will also focus on local themes such as statesman John Hay’s time as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Ohio senator Marcus Hanna’s role as William McKinley’s political manager and classmate of John D. Rockefeller.
 
“We’re looking at it nationally and on a local scale,” says Lowrie of the exhibit. “Our collection goes back to the beginning of the first election.”
 
The Chisholm Halle Costume Wing of the center will house the Political Fashion Statements exhibit, showcasing different fashions throughout history, from a dress made from the James A. Garfield parade bunting fabric to a World War II propaganda to one printed with defense stamps and yet another that abolitionist Elizabeth Blake of Medina wore to President Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861.
 
Six videos aim to support the oft-repeated mantra, “the road to the White House runs through Ohio,” by explaining the birth of the GOP, how the party figured so prominently in the abolitionist movement, women’s vote, and the birth of the modern campaign. “Learn how the Party of Lincoln led the nation out of the Civil War era to a time of prosperity,” says Lowrie of one of the videos.
 
The exhibit kicks off with the Historical Society’s History on Tap: Cocktails and Campaigns event on Thursday, July 14, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door, or $5 for Western Reserve Historical Society members and students.  
 
Power and Politics will run through January 2017. The center’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for children ages 3-12; children age 2 and under are admitted for free.

CPL to exhibit 17th Century Shakespeare works

The Cleveland Public Library (CPL) will focus on all things William Shakespeare this summer when it opens the Shakespeare’s First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare exhibit starting today.

The First Folio is a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays collected by actors John Heminge and Henry Condell in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Without the First Folio, the world would may never have known words such as Macbeth, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, which are included among the 18 plays that had previously not been published.
 
“This is a great opportunity to allow Cleveland to see a great cultural heritage treasure,” says CPL digital library strategist Chatham Ewing. “This is the only source of 18 of Shakespeare’s plays so it’s a fantastic opportunity for our region and our city to learn more about Shakespeare.”
 
It is believed that only 750 copies of the First Folio, originally called Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, were printed and only 233 exist today. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. owns 82 of the copies and is hosting the tour.
 
The First Folio is touring all 50 states this year in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The CPL is the only Ohio stop on the tour.
 
“About a year ago the library completed the [application] process to be on the tour,” says Ewing. “We were happy to be chosen.”
 
The approximately 20-inch First Folio will be open to Hamlet’s “To Be, or Not to Be” soliloquy in the tragedy Hamlet. The book will be enclosed in a special glass case for viewing.
 
“Folio” refers to the fact that, as paper making expanded to velum and parchment materials, the paper is only folded once, as opposed to a quarto or an octavo, in which the paper is folded over four or eight times.
 
First Folio will be exhibited through July 30 in the Treasure Room within the Special Collections on the third floor of the main library, 325 Superior Ave., during regular library hours. Because of the anticipated popularity, visitors are encouraged to make reservations for self-guided tours.
 
"The online reservations are free,” says Ewing, “because we’re going to have some large crowds this summer because of the convention.”

Additionally, every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m., librarians and professors will host guided tours through the Shakespeare exhibits. Digital copies of the First Folio are also available for download.
 
The library has a number of events designed around the First Folio exhibit, says Ewing. They include “Making and Faking Shakespeare,” An exhibit that explores the drama surrounding the early printed editions and Shakespeare forgeries from the last 400 years; “Digital Shakespeare,” in which patrons can learn about CPL’s Shakespeare collections and hear award-winning recitations from the English Speaking Union’s annual Shakespeare competition; and “Wonder of Shakespeare,” an exhibit that combines images, costumes, interactivity, stage, and screen to celebrate Shakespeare. 
 
"We have stuff happening,” says Ewing.

New Public Square recalls Cleveland's historic vision with fresh modern feel

As the refurbished statues of Moses Cleaveland and 1901 mayor Tom Johnson overlook Public Square, one would think that the pair would be impressed with the modern transformation of the plaza that originally served as a common pasture for livestock and later a grid for moving from point A to point B within downtown’s epicenter.
 
Almost complete, the fences that have been hiding Public Square since renovations began in March 2015 will soon come down and a new six-acre green space will be unveiled before the Republican National Convention begins July 18.
 
But the revitalization was not solely for the sake of the convention, says Nora Romanoff, senior project director for LAND studio and part of the Group Plan Commission charged with transforming the heart of Cleveland’s downtown.
 
“We didn’t just do it for the RNC,” says Romanoff. “We did it for Cleveland.”
 
The plan for a new Public Square has been years in the making. LAND studio initiated a conversation about it back in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2010 that officials started to move forward on the $37 million project.
 


 
“At the time, the Square was not pedestrian friendly and it was hardly a destination,” recalls Romanoff. “It wasn't until 2010, when investment in the city and the region started to ramp up, that the current process really started to move.”
 
Mayor Frank Jackson convened the Group Plan Commission in 2010 for the prime objective of improving the city’s public spaces and leveraging those investments. “When the RNC was announced, the project was well positioned to really ramp up,” says Romanoff.
 
The Group Plan hired New York-based landscape architect and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to create a new Public Square that respects both the vision of the Group Plan of 1903 while creating a modern-day public space that focuses on people. The result is a pedestrian-friendly sprawling city center that caters to just about every lifestyle. Since 2015, Veronica Rivera, project manager and an associate with JCFO, has been living downtown just steps from the site to oversee the project’s transformation.
 
“The goal of [the project] was to re-invigorate the historic center of Cleveland - a center point that held so much untapped potential,” Rivera explains. “To achieve this, we set out to connect what used to be four separate under-used quadrants into a unified whole to truly capitalize on the space available.”


 
Rivera describes the Square’s three new components.
 
--The perimeter gardens run along the outside of the square and features 30 species of grasses and perennials and more than 12 types of shrubs and flowering trees such as dogwood and Eastern redbud. “In the future it will only get better,” Rivera says, referring to the fact that the new plantings will mature, grow and bloom. “There’s always something to see, always different colors.”
 
--Geometry figured into the ribbon promenade, designated the Key Bank Promenade on account of the KeyBank Foundation’s $4 million grant – the largest gift in its history. “Circulation and desired diagonal connections where major drivers of the geometry,” Rivera says. “Generating the ribbon promenade served as a strong framework for the design of the square.”
 
The promenade is made up of granite cobblestones in an infinite arcing pattern that winds throughout the square, lined by a curving and escalating wall. “The walls in Public Square are sculptural features that are used to articulate the otherwise flat six-acre park,” explains Rivera. “The walls form numerous elements such as  lounge chairs, overlooks and planting beds, and are designed to make your eye move along the promenade – slowly unveiling the different areas of the park.”
 
--The third component makes up the civic spaces, which include the event lawn, or the Gund Foundation Green, named for that foundation’s $5 million grant, with an overlook hill and a concert hill. The civic plaza, or the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Plaza, named after the $8 million grantor, is home to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and has a café that will serve beer and wine.
 
Adjacent to the café tables is a water feature with a one-quarter-inch deep mirror pool that reflects the city skyline. “At the north edge is a jet crescent with 117 arcing jets that dance and invite visitors to interact with the feature,” says Rivera. “Each jet is individually lit, which creates a great visual center point in the plaza every evening.”
 
The design and its components give each area a unique feel. “My favorite aspect is our play with topography and the geometry of planters, seating and walls as a manner to achieve a balance between grand civic spaces, and intimate gardens and paths,” says Rivera.
 
Other grants that financed the renovation include $2.5 million from the Mandel Foundation and $3 million from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).
 
Part of the plan involved a $7 million investment in a green infrastructure system that will process up to three million gallons of storm water a year that is collected in a 50,000-gallon chamber under the square.
 
“The water collection is treated and pumped from the tank to a series of pipes that water the plantings,” explains Romanoff. “In the wintertime that captured water is pushed to the sandy soils below grade.”
 
Previously, Public Square was located above a tangle of ducts and wiring for more than 20 utility companies. About $13 million was spent merging and relocating those works. “It looked like a bowl of spaghetti,” recalls Romanoff. “We did the utility work primarily because there was an opportunity with the demolition of the old Square to access and upgrade utilities below. This meant improved infrastructure in the duct banks below with better constructed and better located manholes for future access.”
 
Accommodating the utilities and the water treatment systems together was fascinating to Rivera. “I think the overlap between systems is most interesting to me,” she says. “We have such large infrastructure below – massive utilities, as well as complex water harvesting systems – yet we managed to integrate all of these components into the design. It was an interesting juxtaposition of systems to coordinate and detail.


 
Portions of Ontario Street are now part of the plaza, and the section of Superior Avenue that used to intersect the square has been reduced from 77 to 48 feet wide and will only be accessible to busses and bicyclists. Drivers will have to navigate around the square to continue east or west on Superior.
 
Donley’s Construction is the general contractor on the project, although Romanoff says the company hired multiple subcontractors.
 
While officials have not yet released the official opening date of Public Square, Romanoff promises a nice rollout of events in the near future. Additionally, the Cleveland Orchestra will return to the Square on Friday, July 29.
 
As Rivera wraps up her year-long stay in Cleveland, she says she is pleased with the completed plaza and looks forward to people putting it to good use. “My hope is for them to embrace it, make it theirs – that they fall in love with it and see the great work that so many Cleveland hands put into building this park for them,” she says.
 
“I can’t wait to come back and be completely surprised when people are using it in ways I could not have foreseen,” she adds. “That would be the best of all. I hope people use it, for their day-to-day [lives] – not only when events occur, but on their lunch breaks, to walk the dog in the evening, or bring the children to play. I want to be surprised.”
 
Romanof expressed pride in the team that brought the project to fruition and is amazed by the spectacular support the city has shown for the project.
 
“This project is a labor of love on every level,” she says. “It was a huge, civic movement that acknowledged that Cleveland deserves a very special place. While I was involved from the beginning, I am still stunned by the beauty of the Square each time I am there. I cannot wait for others to feel the same thing."

Downtown Hilton glitters with all things Cleveland

Last Friday, a group of visitors gathered in the lobby of the new Hilton Cleveland Downtown as they readied for the 2016 Transplant Games of America at the adjacent Convention Center. They blilnked in awe at the beauty of the 32-story hotel and also marveled over the professionalism of the staff of 350.

The positive reaction is exactly what the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County officials aimed to achieve when construction on the nearly 614,000-square-foot hotel, operated by Hilton Worldwide, began in 2014.
 
The 600-room Hilton was designed by the Atlanta architecture firm Cooper Carry to show off all of Cleveland’s assets while providing a world-class stay, says Carolyn Deming, director of public relations for the hotel.
 
“Nearly 500,000 visitors who have never been to Cleveland are expected in the first year,” she says. “We already have business groups on the books through 2020. There are really exciting things happening here and this is a chance to see what Cleveland has to offer.”
 
A mural composed of 2,800 selfies embodies that assertion. Located at the bottom of the escalators to the connecting Convention Center, the photos were submitted in the #MyClePhoto contest last year and were collected and assembled into a Cleveland skyline mural by North Carolina-based hospitality art curator Kalisher.


 
The winner of the contest, a man and his wife on their wedding day in front of the Playhouse Square sign, received a weekend stay at the hotel.
 
The art throughout the hotel is primarily by local artists. Of the 194 original works of art by 54 artists, 46 artists are from Cuyahoga County, including a free-standing powder coated steel wall by public artist Steve Manka; photographic prints by Paul Duda; and a metal sculpture by Jerry Schmidt.
 
Twelve murals are repeated in each of the rooms, many of the designs done by local artists Duda, Stuart Pearl, Barbara Merritt, Garrett Weider and Erik Drost.
 
The 600 rooms, including 37 suites, feature floor-to-ceiling windows with city and lake views. Many of the rooms are ADA accessible. King bed rooms have walk-in showers, while rooms with two queen beds have bathtubs with showers. Two of the suites are themed, with one based on Rock 'n' Roll and the other celebrating graffiti arts.
 
Interactive digital reader boards in the Hilton public areas rotate through all the artwork in the hotel, giving visitors a quick overview of both Cleveland and the city’s wealth of talented artists. “It’s not just about us,” says Deming, “It’s about telling Cleveland’s story.”  
 
Four dining options include the Noshery, which offers snacks, coffee and gifts in the 24-hour lobby stop. Eliot’s Bar, named after notorious Cleveland safety director Eliot Ness, offers specialty coffee drinks by day and turns into a cocktail lounge at night on the upper level, which overlooks the lobby.


 
Cleveland restauranteur Zack Bruell served as consultant on the dining facilities, including The Burnham restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Creole fusion flair. “The culinary team traveled to Austin, Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans to taste and bring back flavor profiles,” explains Deming, adding that the staff makes using locally-sourced food a priority.
 
Deming says the culinary team is known as the “Young Guns” because the chef de cuisine, pastry chef, banquet chef and executive sous chef are all under the age of 30.
 
The Burnham has an open kitchen so diners can watch the chefs in action – a Bruell signature – and has open views of the Cleveland Mall and the Public Auditorium from both inside and on a large patio. The restaurant is named after Daniel Burnham, who designed the Group Plan of 1903.
 
Atop the Hilton sits Bar 32, with sweeping views of Lake Erie and the city from a large open-air terrace. The bar, which is slated to open on July 1, will feature craft cocktails and small plates such as flatbreads, seafood, charcuterie and cheeses. Former general manager of Porco Lounge and Tiki Room Shannon Smith will head up the Bar 32 staff as they make cocktails featuring liquid nitrogen and other unique concoctions.
 
“Shannon is an extremely experienced cocktailier,” says Deming.
 
Other features include carpeting depicting maps of downtown Cleveland streets in the elevator lobbies, more than 50,000 square feet dedicated to meeting and event space that can be configured to fit any size event, an indoor pool and four fitness rooms – two focused on cardio exercise and two centered around yoga. The hotel has also earned a silver LEED certification rating for its green building and attention to environmental efficiency.


 
At its job fair in February, Hilton interviewed 1,300 people and hired 267 on the spot. “More than 200 of them had never worked a day in hospitality,” says Deming, adding that newly-hired Hilton employees went through extensive training. “We hired for attitude, not aptitude. We believe in second chances.” The Hilton continues to hire additional staff. Prospective employees can apply here.
 
The hotel was built as a joint venture by Turner Construction,  Ozanne Construction and Van Aken Atkins Architects and officially opened June 1. Reservations are available now, and rates start at $149 per night. Not surprisingly, the hotel is completely booked for the Republican National Convention.

Deming heartily encourages Clevelanders to come to the Hilton for a "staycation" and enjoy the amenities the hotel and downtown has to offer.

“This is your hotel,” she says. “Come for your coffee, come for happy hour, come for dinner. This is a new downtown destination.”
 

Metroparks connects Flats East and West Banks with new water taxi

East Bank or West Bank?

Today’s Flats offer a variety of entertainment options on both sides of the Cuyahoga River, and now the Cleveland Metroparks has eliminated the need to make a decision on which side to dine, dance and play with last month's launch of the eLCee2 water taxi.

For $2, passengers get unlimited rides across the river on the 26-foot Crosby yacht. The taxi can take 18 passengers and four bikes at a time. It's also ADA accessible and dog-friendly.
 
“The water taxi is exciting for the Flats because it is another ingredient in the revitalization of the area,” says Metroparks director of communications Rick Haase. “For Cleveland Metroparks it is all about helping people connect to our trails and to our parks, while at the same time helping them connect from the East Bank to the West Bank of the Flats.”
 
The eLCee2 launched ahead of the Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 27 during a boating safety program hosted by the Metroparks, Flats East Bank and the U.S. Coast Guard. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman cut the ribbon along with Cleveland Metroparks board of park commissioners Bruce Rinker and Debbie Berry. Speakers included Zimmerman, Scott Wolstein with Flats East Bank and lieutenant commander Mickey Dougherty of the Coast Guard's Cleveland Marine Safety Unit.
 
After the ceremony, the eLCee2 made its maiden voyage across the river from the taxi station at 1170 Old River Road on the East Bank to the West Bank station under the Main Avenue Bridge and back. After that, eLCee2 had a spectacular debut, with 3,579 passengers taking the taxi over Memorial Day weekend alone.
 
Five Metroparks employees share the captaining of the eLCee2, which is named after a group that included Leadership Cleveland alumni, Metroparks representatives and members of a Kent State University entrepreneurship class. They began floating the idea of a Flats water taxi service in 2014.

eLCee2 runs Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.; Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The taxi will operate from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day each season.

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.

Tiger Passage aims to inspire, connect people with animals

Last week, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened the highly anticipated Rosebrough Tiger Passage.

First announced last September, the $4.1 million installation occupies a staggering 48,000 square feet, which includes the space designated for the cats as well as their adoring fans. The new habitat includes climbing poles, meadows, shallow streams, soaking pools and outdoor overnight access. Visitors can enjoy highly interactive viewing as the animals have access to overhead catwalks. Large viewing windows and paths that traverse the environment round out the experience, which encourages visitors to explore and seek out the Zoo's two resident Amur tigers, Klechka, a 12-year old male, and Dasha, a 15-year-old female.
 
Per Andi Kornak, the Zoo's director of animal and veterinary programs, the two cats wintered at the Zoo's Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine while Panzica Construction Company of Mayfield Village completed the build-out of the new habitat. The Cleveland based firm Van Auken Akin Architects and WDM Architects out of Wichita, Kansas; which specializes in creating sustainable, authentic environments that immerse and inspire zoo visitors; designed the sprawling space.
 
The two cats were understandably shy during the grand opening, said Kornak.
 
"It will take them a few weeks to acclimate to their new exhibit," she noted during the event. "It's five times the size of the old one so there's lot of space to explore and become comfortable with."
 
The Zoo's executive director Christopher Kuhar said the space is designed to allow the animals to prowl, climb and saunter around in a way that they've never had the opportunity to do before.
 
"While it seems that we're focusing exclusively on the animals," said Kuhar, "the reality is that the best possible guest experience is to see animals performing their natural behavioral repertoire, to see them moving around and exercising and doing all those really cool things that cats do."
 
Kuhar added that the new exhibit also focuses on education as there are only 500 Amur tigers left in the wild.
 
"We want to connect people with wildlife, to inspire personal responsibility to take conservation action," he said. "What we hope is that people are going to see these great cats and be inspired to do something in their own way to help animals in the wild."

The Cleveland Metroparks is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.
 
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