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The Milton to offer 16 upscale town homes on Superior Avenue

When Brent and Cary Zimmerman bought their townhome in what was then called the Avenue District in December 2007, they were expecting a huge influx of neighbors and additional residential construction projects. Unfortunately, the housing market crash stalled activity and the Zimmermans were left looking at an empty lot at 1533 Superior Ave. near East 15th Street.

Eight years later, the Zimmermans have a 14-month old son and love their neighborhood. “We were really the first people in and we love it,” says Brent. “It’s just a little community down here. We have lawyers and doctors, engineers and people who are retired.”
 
But that empty lot still was an eyesore for the community. So in June 2015 Brent Zimmerman bought the property out of receivership. Plans are now underway to build sixteen 1,200-square-foot, two-story market rate town homes on the land in a gated community.
 
Designed by RDL Architects, the Milton units will rent for about $2,200 a month, Zimmerman says, and will feature two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and two-car garages. The units will have hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a Sonos sound system and flat screen televisions. Many of the units will have balconies and city views.
 
Using energy-efficient appliances in all the units, Zimmerman estimates total utilities costs should be about $100 a month.
 
A private dog park will be accessible only to residents. “There are a lot of dogs living downtown,” Zimmerman says of the city’s residential rebirth. “I have one too.”
 
Perhaps the best amenity, says Zimmerman, is the Milton’s location. The development is a 10-minute walk to many attractions, and a short bike or car ride to the rest of the city’s charms. As a season ticket holder to the Cavs, the Browns and Playhouse Square, Zimmerman says he’s never experienced such convenience in any of the other metropolitan areas that he's lived in, including Boston and New York.
 
“There are no other cities on the planet where you can walk to three professional sports teams’ events and the theater in 10 minutes,” he says, adding that there’s a great selection of family-friendly restaurants nearby as well.

Zimmerman has all the permits in place and he says Geis Companies and Zimmerman Remodeling and Construction expects to break ground this month. The Milton should be complete by late summer or early fall this year. 
 
Zimmerman has a family history of residential development. To underscore his lineage, The Milton is named after his grandfather, who flew in World War II and was a developer in Zimmerman’s home town of Bellevue, Ohio. 

“This is a tribute to him,” he says. “He developed half the town I grew up in.”

Tremont General Store: fresh offerings, old-school style

With much anticipation, Tremont General Store opened its doors last Friday, Apr. 1 at 2418 Professor Ave. Owner Kevin Kubovcik’s believes it will fill a void in the quirky neighborhood.
 
“The area needs a store where people can get milk and bread and eggs,” explains Kubovcik. “A place for hanging baskets for their front porch or bloody Mary mix for Saturday afternoons.”
 
The 2,000 square-foot general store will stock all of these items – with a local spin. Kubovcik will carry everything from farm fresh eggs, milk from Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster and cheese from Lake Erie Creamery in the nearby Clark-Fulton neighborhood, to bread from On the Rise in Cleveland Heights.
 
Even that bloody Mary and other cocktail mixes will be on hand from Pope’s Kitchen, run by Clark Pope out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK) as well as a variety of CCLK products like Randy’s Pickles, and Cleveland Kraut.
 
Area beverage brewers and roasters such as Inca Tea, Rising Star Coffee, Old City Soda and Six Shooter Coffee will fill also the shelves.
 
“Local foods are what I’m really going to concentrate on,” Kubovcik says. “I want to be a hub for local artisan foods.”
 
The store will also carry locally-sourced meats, plants and flowers. “I’m going to specialize in organic and heirloom,” says Kubovcik of the plants. “I’m trying to get back to quality heirloom.” He will also carry specialized, grain-free cat and dog food.
 
The plants will be in the site's 40- by 150-foot outdoor garden center, which will open when Kubovcik receives a fencing permit. It will stock hand tools, rakes, shovels and pruners.

“Everything you need so you don’t have to go to Home Depot,” Kubovcik says. “Even the tools are locally sourced.” He plans to educate his customers on why his products are better.
 
The store's interior is festooned with re-purposed vintage ceiling tins. Many of the goods will sit on shelving salvaged from the shuttered Ridge Road Elementary School in Parma.
 
The concept for Tremont General Store came after Kubovcik went through a career change in 2010 when he left his corporate job to first grow lavender on an urban farm in Old Brooklyn and then serve as manager of the Detroit Shoreway’s Grace Brothers Urban Farm in 2012 until earlier this year.  
 
Kubovcik says the departure from Grace Bothers was amicable. “They love capitalism,” he says. “We’re on good terms. There’s enough for everyone and people aren’t driving to Tremont from West 65th Street to buy [their groceries]. In Tremont, it’s even more so – it’s a walking community.”
 
He bought the Professor Avenue space with the help of investor Alan Glazen of Glazen Urban, LLC. “It’s making a dream come true for me,” he says, adding that Tremont West Development Corporation also helped the project come to fruition.
 
Tremont General Store is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Kubovcik has already hired one part-time employee and plans to hire a full-time employee to help in the garden center later this spring. He says he hopes the part-time employee will transition into a full time position as the store takes off.

Judging from last Friday's opening, which attracted 48 walk-in customers, 27 of whom purchased goods, the take off has already begun.

“It was awesome,” says Kubovcik. “Many people have no idea of the concept of a general store.”

Cleveland Bazaar coming to Legacy Village with new Retail Lab

The Cleveland Bazaar has steadily grown since Shannon Okey started holding the pop-up independent craft show events in 2004.  
 
Beginning as a single holiday show in 78th Street Studios, the Cleveland Bazaar today has expanded to host year-round events all over Cleveland and has formed partnerships with both community development corporations and venues around the city.
 
“We have worked with hundreds of small local businesses over the years, and many have graduated over time to their own full-time retail locations,” says Okey, citing Cleveland Clothing Co. and We Bleed Ohio as two examples.
 
This week, Okey announced Cleveland Bazaar’s latest partnership with Legacy Village in Lyndhurst. Beginning in May, Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab will operate as a business incubator out of two vacant 1,400 and 1,200 square-foot storefronts.
 
The Retail Lab will serve as a storefront for a revolving list of artists and craftspeople to sell their goods and experience life as small business owners.
 
“It’s space they could not necessarily afford, or get, on their own,” Okey explains, adding that Legacy Village approached her about doing some outdoor events this summer.
 
In addition to serving as a location for the vendors, Cleveland Bazaar will also host themed pop-up events around holidays such as Father’s Day or Legacy’s annual art festival.
 
The Retail Lab spaces are across from Restoration Hardware in the heart of Legacy Village. They provide the perfect temporary space for Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab vendors and events this summer.
 
The deal is a win-win for both Cleveland Bazaar and Legacy Village. Okey says she’ll be working closely with Legacy Village management and the public relations team to mutually boost awareness. “We're all incredibly excited about the project,” she says. 
 
Before potential vendors are admitted to the experimental shop, however, they will have to apply. “They will be required to submit working proposals that include everything from their marketing and social media plans for the time they occupy the space to an agreement to work through an educational program we're developing,” explains Okey, “everything you need to think about if you’d run your own business.”
 
She adds that many vendors are concerned about the cost of opening a brick-and-mortar business, but there are an array of issues associated with opening a store that go beyond dollars and cents. And, Okey says, “It’s definitely a lot more work than people think.”
 
With the number of experienced artists who have worked at Cleveland Bazaar events, Okey is sure the concepts will be well-received. “From the get go, we’ve been fortunate to have experienced vendors who have done shows in other cities before,” she says. “We’re going to bring our A game.”
 
Nearly 100 potential vendors have already expressed interest in private messages to Okey through Cleveland Bazaar’s closed Facebook page. “I’d say we got interest,” she says.
 
Cleveland Bazaar Retail Lab is due to open in early May and will operate at least through August.

Ohio Theatre returns to its 1921 splendor with renovations nearly complete

The restoration of Playhouse Square’s Ohio Theatre lobby is almost complete, with the space returned to its original grandeur. The May completion will mark the final project on the Playhouse Square theater renovations list.
 
Last Saturday, Tom Einhouse, Playhouse Square’s vice president of facilities and capital, led members of the Cleveland Restoration Society on a tour of the lobby, which has been shielded from public view by drywall during the restorations. He detailed the painstaking research and physical work that went into re-creating the 1921 Thomas Lamb design. Restoration began in June 2015.
 
“This is the transformation of the Ohio Theatre,” Einhouse told the group. “We’re just putting the finishing touches on it.”
 
Einhouse explained that the theater lobbies were often updated every 10 years in the early days, sometimes covering the original design. Then the Ohio Theatre was damaged by a fire in 1964. A 1980s attempt at remodeling on a limited budget left the theater with painted drywall, dropped ceilings and linoleum floors.


 
“The happiest time of my life was getting rid of those,” Einhouse told the group. The $5.5 million project was funded with a $3 million grant from the George Gund Foundation and $2 million from Playhouse Square’s $100 million Advancing the Legacy campaign for capital improvements, endowment growth, neighborhood transformation, education programming and new productions.

Saturday’s tour began in the State Theatre lobby and auditorium, where Einhouse pointed out the restored ceiling – painted in 14 different colors and used 6,000 sheets of metal leaf – plastering and new chandeliers. Twenty-five painters, 20 of them locals from Dependable Painting, stood on $140,000 worth of scaffolding to get the job done.
 
Einhouse also talked about the conversion to LED lighting, which provides better illumination, requires less maintenance and costs less.
 
The tour then moved on to the Ohio Theatre lobby. Before entering the Ohio Theatre lobby space, which is still surrounded by drywall, Einhouse made the group raise their right hands and swear they would not look up until he gave the word.
 
When he did, the group collectively inhaled at the ornate 150-foot long, hand painted ceiling. Jeff Greene, owner of EverGreene Architectural Arts in New York, worked with Cleveland architect firm Westlake Reed Leskosky and Einhouse to painstakingly research and recreate the original paint colors, plaster ornamentals, columns and other décor to accurately replicate the original design. Turner Construction and the Coniglio Company were the contractors on the job. The project took six months to complete.



The acrylic paint and glazes were all hand applied and wiped. Two of the painters on the EverGreene team, Mike and Jaime Carpenter of Hudson, were particularly pleased to be involved. While they normally travel the country for restoration projects, Einhouse said they were pleased to be working closer to home.
 
Research included delving into the Thomas Lamb archives at Columbia University’s Avery Library. “We were able to find the original drawings,” boasted Einhouse. Other reference photos came from Architectural Digest. Elements of the original ornamental plaster were found in a cove of the theater lobby and photos helped them match the look. Nearly, 8,500 hours of plaster sculpting went into the project. The sprinklers and air returns are cleverly hidden in the plaster ornamental elements of the ceiling.
 
“We were able to recreate it pretty accurately,” says Einhouse. “Everything was created by hand. We used modern building techniques to recreate something very authentic.”
 
Walls will be adorned with three 30-foot by 10-foot murals, recreated from the originals that were inspired by 17th Century French painter Nicolas Poussin. Six EverGreene artists worked on the canvas murals, which will be shipped from New York and installed in April.


 
Two fireplaces, four-foot high marble and mahogany accents will adorn the walls, in addition to display cases and columns. Historic chandeliers, although not the originals, will be restored, cleaned and rewired. The original carpeting is being recreated by Brintons in England.
 
In addition to the lobby, a $900,000 restroom project included capping the sewage pipes and expanding the women’s restroom by 40 percent. The entire restoration will be completed by May 15, ahead of the Restoring the Legacy benefit gala.
 
There were no snags along the way, said Einhouse. “We were able to peel back everything and get back to the original room,” he says. “And we kept the theater open the whole time.” While at times parts of the project were exposed, theatergoers only got “sneak peaks now and then” of the work going on in the Ohio.

“This could last 50 years,” said Einhouse of the restoration.

John Marshall students set to launch Lawyer's Cafe

Jessica Whitmer isn’t a big coffee fan. “I love caramel,” she declares. But as a barista manager and team leader at the Lawyer’s Café, the new student-run coffee shop housed in John Marshall School, 3952 West 140th St., the 15-year-old 10th grader knows how to make a perfect cup of joe, not to mention a selection of other drinks.

The café, which will be operated by 40 John Marshall School of Civic and Business Leadership students, is scheduled to officially open in April in a space formerly used as a concession stand area. The idea behind the project is to teach business and entrepreneurship skills.
 
“It’s really cool to see them be able to start a company,” says principal Sara Kidner, noting that the students worked on customer service, research and development and finance teams to get the café started.
 
The café also offers a sense of community around John Marshall, which was converted from a traditional high school to three separate, smaller specialty high schools in business, information technology and engineering last August.
 
After mulling over different business ideas, the students decided on a coffee shop. “One of the reasons they chose a coffee shop was they wanted it to be a community,” says Kidner. A student vote decided on the name. “They wanted to have the historic aspect of John Marshall stay alive.” Eventually, they plan to open the café on Saturday afternoons. “We definitely want to eventually have it open to the public,” says Kidner. “But we’re concentrating on phase one this year.”
 
The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation awarded $100,000 to help launch the venture, $50,000 of which will go toward a planned credit union for students and staff.
 
Students underwent interviews to work in the Lawyer’s Café, and while they will not get paid, they will earn community service hours required for graduation. Profits will go to the school’s activities fund.
 
Whitmer, whose only other job has been babysitting, is looking forward to the work. “I thought it would be a good thing because it looks really good on a college application,” says Whitmer, who wants to be a math teacher. “It’s an opportunity to do something good for the school. You learn leadership skills, what to do in certain situations, and what to do when a machine breaks.”
 
The students trained on all aspects of running the business, with the help from the owners of Rising Star Coffee. “I think it’s an opportunity to work, an opportunity to apply life skills to running a small business, says Rising Star partner John Johnson. “It’s a learning experience.”
 
An espresso machine, grinder, coffee machine and a brewer were purchased through Rising Star as well.
 
Johnson taught the students skills in menu planning, finance, inventory control, equipment and other details. Pete Mitchell, co-owner of Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, gave instruction on great customer service.
 
The menu includes regular coffee, Frappuccino-like frozen coffee drinks, smoothies in a variety of flavors and two signature drinks: the Hot Drizzle features vanilla coffee with a chocolate drizzle and whipped cream, while the Creamy Dream is a similar drink but with caramel instead of chocolate. Whitmer personally likes a caramel Frappuccino.
 
The official launch date for Lawyer’s Café will be on Wednesday, April 13th. Hours will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. through the last day of school.

Johnson is as excited about the imminent opening as the students. “Like any small business opening," he says, "you just get to a point where you say ‘oh, this is really happening.'"

Handcrafted sour beer, mead, eats and board games coming to Lakewood

When the BottleHouse Brewing Company opened on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights in 2012, owner Brian Benchek brought a slightly different approach to the craft brewery – no mainstream beers or televisions, but plenty of picnic tables and board games to create an atmosphere the whole family could enjoy.

The idea was a success and Benchek is on the verge of opening a second location. The BottleHouse Brewery and Mead Hall will occupy the space that formerly housed Old Sullivan’s Irish Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. in Lakewood.
 
Everything is complete and management is ready to open the doors pending approval of their federally issued brewing license. Jared Plotts, general manager of the Lakewood location and trivia host on Monday nights at the Cleveland Heights location, says the license should come through any day.  
 
“We’re well past the 120 days, which is the normal time it takes,” he says. “We’re at 150 days. Once that email comes, we’re open. It just gives us an opportunity to tweak things.”
 
While the team had been floating the idea of a second location, it was fate that brought it to life.
 
“Brian had been toying with the idea of how we could get more people interested in our beer,” says Plotts. “We were discussing a second location, but we planned on opening in a year or two and we thought we’d build it out ourselves.”
 
Then, Plotts says Benchek was tooling around town in November and happened to see the former Sullivan’s location was up for rent and in a blink, the second BottleHouse location was determined.
 
“Every day since the end of November we’ve been working hard to get everything up to code,” says Plotts of the 5,000-square-foot space. The team ripped out the saloon-themed décor from the last tenant only to reveal an Irish cherry wood bar and other imported Irish wood. New embellishments include rustic chandeliers, barrels lining the room and highlights on the stone work arches.
 
“The majority of the work was cosmetic,” says Plotts. “It’s more like a 17th century castle.”
 
Picnic tables will encourage a community feel, and the customary board games will be available.

"Valhalla," a private party room, features a 22-foot-long table. Plotts says he plans to host monthly craft brewing workshops here, including one specifically targeting women. He also plans to host monthly fundraising events for local charities.

A game room in front has reclaimed wood floors salvaged from a vintage Irish barn, glass sculptures made by Benchek and old school arcade games.
 
While the Lee Road BottleHouse will continue to be the brewing headquarters for the operation, the Lakewood location will focus on sour beers, which rely on wild yeast for fermentation, and barrel aging. The two locations employ about 10 people.

Twenty-four taps will offer a rotating selection of BottleHouse-brewed clean beers, sour beers and meads. The sour beers take between six months and three years of barrel aging, so that selection won’t be available until late this year. There will also be a variety of cocktails made with the beers and meads.
 
Menu items include crackers made with the spent grains from making the beer and BBQ sauce and beer cheese made from BottleHouse brews, as well as soups and salads. Offerings will change seasonally, Plotts says. And as always, patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the bar.
 
Plotts says the overall atmosphere and attitude in Lakewood will be similar to the Cleveland Heights location. “Lakewood has such a rich history,” he says. “We wanted to give the community someplace they could be proud of and a place they can go with a lot of energy and the idea of community.”

Bloom Bakery opens on Public Square

Sour dough bread, sticky buns and English sausage rolls are just a sampling of the items available at the highly anticipated Bloom Artisan Bakery and Café, which opened earlier this week at 200 Public Square. In addition to the bakery items, Bloom also offers a selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. Try homemade hummus with red capsicum peppers, house-roasted garlic and olive oil on your choice of bread alongside a cup of French onion soup and a beet salad. Top it off with a chocolate pecan brownie, spice cookie or slice of Madeira pound cake.
 
There is, however, much more to this story than just a mouth-watering menu.
 
Made possible by a collaboration between local organizations including the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), the Business of Good Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation and Towards Employment, Bloom Bakery is dedicated to employing low-income and disadvantaged adults from the Greater Cleveland area.
 
"Bloom Bakery's partnership with ECDI is bound by a shared passion for benefiting local Cleveland communities," said Logan Fahey, general manager of Bloom Bakery in a statement. "Their support for our social enterprise has been instrumental in our efforts to give those with barriers to employment a second chance.”
 
Before being hired by Bloom, potential employees go through a Towards Employment’s career readiness course. They also learn baking skills from the best. Internationally-renowned artisan baking specialist Maurice Chaplais, who is based in the United Kingdom, is here training the first group of bakers and the head baker. After he returns to England in April, Saidah Farrell, head baker, will be in charge of training. The aim is to give employees access to meaningful work, achievement, and self-sufficiency through the art of exceptional handcrafted baking.
 
“We wanted to create a business that is scalable,” Fahey told Fresh Water last year. “The hope is that once they graduate from the bakery they will move on to jobs with higher wages and use the skills they’ve learned.”
 
The second Bloom location at 1938 Euclid Ave. in the Campus District is the operation's production kitchen. Bloom previously used the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, an incubation kitchen and accelerator, also funded through ECDI.

The Economic and Community Development Institute is part of Fresh Water's underwriting network.
 

Local chocolatier rebuilds facility destroyed by fire

Debbie Stagan will never forget Thanksgiving 2014. It was the day that fire destroyed the 342,000-square-foot Fannie May/Harry London warehouse in Maple Heights. “I was in shock,” the wholesale supervisor recalls, “left wondering if you had a job.”

Last Wednesday, March 9, Stagan and the other 45 permanent warehouse employees returned to the rebuilt warehouse for the grand opening after spending nearly 16 months working out of a temporary warehouse in Twinsburg and the chocolate manufacturer’s North Canton headquarters.
 
It was an emotional day for Kevin Coen last week as he welcomed the employees back. All of the permanent employees were able to keep their jobs throughout the rebuilding process. “I see the spirit of the team here,” says Coen, president of Fannie May/Harold London. “They’re coming back home.”
 
Ten million pounds of chocolate is made in North Canton each year and the Maple Heights warehouse ships it all in four million packages to the company’s 85 retail locations in six states and Canada as well as to online customers.
 
When Coen got news of the fire, he was first relieved that no one was there at the time and no one was hurt. He then went into "team mode,” following the long-standing Fannie May motto of "Fannie May Strong," and ensured operations could continue. ”It’s about spirit and how we go about doing things,” he says of the motto. “When you’re faced with that, you deal with that.”
 
By Monday morning, the employees were being bussed to the North Canton facility. “We didn’t miss a day of work,” Coen boasts. “The [Canton employees] applauded as they walked in. There was such a sense of comaraderie.”
 
Two weeks later, the temporary Twinsburg warehouse was found, to which any of the employees were shuttled each day from Maple Heights until last week. After the fire, Coen made sure all existing orders were fulfilled and the 75 seasonal employees were paid through December.
 
“Everyone knew what to do and they just did it,” Coen recalls. “Everyone stayed, anything we had to do as a company we did it. [Warehouse manager] Brandon Baas was literally sleeping in his office. He and [director of warehousing and distribution] Ron Orcutt took charge.”
 
The rebuilt 276,000 square foot Maple Heights facility has better LED lighting and a new, relocated 32,000 square foot freezer. “It’s much brighter,” Coen says of the lighting system. “It feels much more open. As you go through the facility, everything has been redone.” The only evidence of the fire is a pile of dirt, marking the location of the old freezer.
 
Coen says there was no question the company would rebuild in Maple Heights. “For the employees, this is where they’re from,” he explains. “This is what makes it so special. This is a homecoming. They give 100 percent every day. And the city’s been great.”
 
Mayor Annette M. Blackwell, fire chief Vito Kayaliunas, fire captain Dan Sypen, police chief John Popielarczyk, police captain Todd Hansen and members of city council welcomed the company and the employees back at the grand opening celebration.
 
After a tour, guests were treated to a lunch. The employees were also given lunch and goodie bags full of treats from parent company 1800Flowers.com.

Even though Stagan lives in Canton, she is says she is happy to be back in Maple Heights. “It’s great to be back,” she says. “Everybody is under one roof.”

Parnell's Irish Pub expands alongside Euclid Avenue development

Ever since Parnell’s Irish Pub opened three years ago in Playhouse Square at 1415 Euclid Ave., it has been a hotspot for the working crowd, serving up perfect pours of Guinness Stout and a selection of 90 whiskeys and bourbons. The pub has been so popular that owner Declan Synnott decided it needed more room, so he bought the vacant restaurant space next door and began building an 800-square-foot addition in January, which is expected to open later this month.

“It turns out business is better than I thought it would be,” Synnott says. “What we really need now is just more space so people can be more comfortable.”

The original Parnell’s Pub opened in Cleveland Heights in 1995 after Synnott moved to the city from his native Dublin, Ireland. He opened his second location in Playhouse Square in March 2013 to take advantage of the area’s nightlife scene. The upcoming extension, Synnott suggests, takes influence from the recent development on Euclid Avenue.

The renovations, which were carried out by Turner Construction, were funded by Synnott and Playhouse Square. His wife, Liz, did the interior design, the majority of which features repurposed items. For example, the extension includes a 250-square-foot private room with an 18-foot-long U-shaped table made from old church pews. Light pendants fashioned from old bourbon-barrel wood and sconces made from the barrel’s aluminum wrap illuminate the space. They also rescued barn doors from an old downtown firefighter training facility, which they are using to section off the room.

Parnell’s is slated to host live bands and folk sessions in the new space by September.

Adding three new employees and space for about 45 additional patrons, Synnott is sure adding the new space was a no-brainer, especially because he estimates as many as 4,000 people on any given night descend on the district’s five block radius.

“It’s nice being shoulder-to-shoulder,” Synnott says, “but I want my patrons to be, first of all, comfortable, you know? That’s the atmosphere we’ve projected since we started [in Cleveland Heights] 19 years ago: a place to go after a hard day’s work.”

While Synnott planned for a St. Patrick’s Day finish, city permit delays – due to construction projects for the RNC – pushed completion to a late March opening, but Synnott, who’s awaiting his second child, isn’t too bothered by missing the St. Patrick’s Day goal.

“Would I like the space done? Yeah, of course,” he says. “But one day ain’t going to make us or break us.”

Vision Yoga goes underground with second location

Vision Yoga and Wellness opened its doors on West 25th Street in Ohio City in April 2011 – bringing to the neighborhood a source for yoga classes at all levels, workshops, massage therapy and acupuncture. The offerings have been so popular, the 800-square-foot single studio space was busting at the seams and owner Theresa Gorski couldn’t meet the needs of her growing clientele.

So in February, Gorski opened a second location, Vision Underground, in the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3600 Church Ave. The 2,300-square-foot space will allow Gorski to cater to a broader range of needs. She now offers chair yoga, yoga for children and community-based workshops and certification classes.
 
“I don’t call it an addition, I call it an expansion,” Gorski says of the new space. “When you have only one studio, you have to cater to your clients’ makeup and the majority of the population are able-bodied.”
 
The chair yoga will cater to those who cannot easily get up from or sit down on the floor, Gorski says. The new space also allows Gorski to focus on the wellness aspect of her practice.
 
“There’s a new wave of interest in focusing on wellness and prevention,” she explains, “where people want to take care of themselves.”
 
Gorski hired three additional yoga teachers to help with the 12 additional classes now on the weekly schedule, bringing the staff total for the two spaces to 15.
 
The church itself also has historic significance. Built in the 1800s, St. John’s is the oldest church in Cuyahoga County, Gorski says, and the Vision space was the last stop on the Underground Railroad. The place is also used for Cleveland Public Theatre’s annual Station Hope celebration of the site. Vision Underground will go on hiatus during Station Hope.
 
Vision Yoga hosted Vision Underground’s grand opening on Saturday, March 4 with donation yoga classes taught by Gorski, prizes, discounts on yoga packages and refreshments. Almost 100 people attended the open house and $1,000 was raised through a raffle and donations.

Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic to offer affordable stays in University Circle

Construction of the 276-room Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic, 8650 Euclid Ave. on the Clinic campus, is on schedule and officials say it will be ready to open its doors by mid-April, just in time for the Republican National Convention and summer activities in University Circle, says Craig Campbell, area director of district sales and marketing for the project's parent company, InterContinental Hotel Cleveland.

The multi-million dollar project broke ground in December 2014 and will offer guests a more affordable option on the Clinic campus.
 
“It’s a beautiful project, says Campbell of the hotel designed to have a metropolitan feel with a two-story atrium by Cleveland-based Kaczmar Architects with the assistance of Clinic architects. “It will be a tremendous asset to University Circle as a whole.”
 
The Holiday Inn marks the third hotel on the Clinic campus, complementing the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center, a luxury hotel, and the InterContinental Suites for extended stay visitors.
 
The most affordable of the three, Holiday Inn will have a price point starting around $179 a night, while the InterContinental rates run between $234 for the suites and $289 for the hotel. The three hotels combined will have more than 730 rooms. Courtyard by Marriott and Doubletree Tudor Arms are also located in the neighborhood, although the three InterContinental hotels are the only ones actually on the Clinic’s campus.
 
The Holiday Inn will be a full-service hotel, complete with room service, fitness center, indoor pool, cocktail and espresso lounge, restaurant, business center and patio. The three hotels combined offer options for all types of visitors to Cleveland.
 
“The Holiday Inn is the third leg of the stool, providing the most economically priced option,” Campbell says. “It casts a wide net to meet the needs of just about everyone who comes to Cleveland.”
 
Campbell says the Clinic’s complimentary shuttle service will take guests to various destinations in University Circle, such as the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden and Uptown, while guests of students and University residents will also benefit from the new hotel.
 
“It’s a benefit to the community as well as an additional hotel offering for residents of the area who have family members and other out of town guests,” he says. “It will benefit the tourism industry too. It will drive business to the area.”  
 
Campbell says the Holiday Inn is the second-largest hotel project, in terms of number of rooms, to be completed in the past two years in Cleveland. Once open, the hotel will employ more than than 100 people. Walsh Construction is keeping the project on schedule.
 
The hotel is listed as one of the RNC’s hotel packages, Campbell says, making the mid-April completion date timely, even though an exact opening date has not been announced. “It’s a win-win all the way around,” he says. “It helps the city in the short run and will attract larger pieces of business in the future.”

Joint health education campus facility under construction in Cleveland

The future of healthcare in Cleveland is now under construction, say proponents of an educational partnership meant to bring students from the disciplines of medicine, dental health and nursing together under one roof.

Foundation work on the $515 million Health Education Campus (HEC), a joint project from Case Western Reserve
University (CWRU) and the Cleveland Clinic, began late last year following an October groundbreaking. Steel construction is slated to start in April and run through October, while erection of a central atrium will begin by year's end, says Stephen Campbell, CWRU's vice president of campus planning and facilities management.

The 487,000-square-foot space going up south of Chester Avenue is on schedule for completion in April 2019, with the building welcoming its student population that July. Configuring the four-story facility with an atrium accounts for a major portion of the extended time table, Campbell says.

Classrooms, high-tech simulation labs and auditorium space will all be part of a finished building with an enrollment reaching over 1,800 students. A pair of Cleveland-based construction firms, Donley's and Turner Construction, are the builders on a project designed by London architect Foster + Partners.

Size matters for a facility its supporters believe can be a world-renowned epicenter of medical know-how. Located on East 93rd Street between Euclid and Chester Avenues, the education campus is intended to promote collaboration among students from the Clinic's Lerner College of Medicine and CWRU's school of medicine, dental medicine and its Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

The idea behind the interdisciplinary mash-up is to encourage cooperation in an evolving healthcare landscape, officials note.

"The practice of medicine is a team sport where education has taken place in silos," says Campbell. "This is a level-setting of the process, meaning health professionals will be better (collaborators) right out of the gate."

A dental clinic planned for the Hough neighborhood along Chester Avenue is part of the larger campus, Campbell says. The free-standing building will be three stories high, and include about 150,000 square feet of space. The dental clinic is scheduled to open alongside the main building, with both facilities set to host CWRU dental students.

On a larger scale, the partner institutions expect the venture to attract grad students, post-docs and other new residents to the University Circle area. Campbell can envision health campus students filling up Innova, a high-end mixed-use development adjacent to the Clinic's main campus and in close proximity to CWRU.

In a few years, these students may be working side-by-side in an environment designed to mold them into team players.

"The Clinic has always been progressive in improving healthcare delivery," says Campbell. "We expect them to do the same from the partnership side."

New downtown YMCA set to open at Galleria in March

The YMCA's 40,000 square feet of premium health and wellness space is finally set to open at its new home in the Galleria.

Current members are invited to the two-story Parker Hannifin Downtown YMCA  starting March 21, with a grand opening celebration slated for March 29, says marketing director Amanda Lloyd.

Amenities at the much-anticipated facility include over 70 pieces of cardio and strength equipment and a three-lane lap pool. Members can also enjoy group exercise studios, a spinning area, message therapy rooms, and a health clinic complete with an on-site physician.

Pilates, acupuncture, hot yoga and biometric screenings will be among the programming available, notes Lloyd. The new YMCA is expected to house twice as many fitness devotees as its current location at East 22nd Street and Prospect Avenue, which holds nearly 3,250 members.

The Prospect location will close March 20, meaning members won't have a delay in service, Lloyd says. The old building, sold to a Texas-based company last year, will be maintained as private student housing.

All of the YMCA's functions will move to the Galleria, where the gym will take up a former retail space. The organization has raised $7 million for a project budgeted at $12 million, with $3 million coming from Parker Hannifin. YMCA will tap grant money and individual donations for the balance of the financial package. The project is also set to employ 40 full-time and part-time workers, including personal trainers, lifeguards and housekeepers.

Membership enrollment will cost $50 monthly for young professionals ages 18 to 29, $65 for adults and $105 for a household.

YMCA officials believe the gym can be an anchor for a downtown population projected by Downtown Cleveland Alliance to balloon to 18,000 within the next two years.

"There are some vacant storefronts (in the Galleria), but around us there's a good core of corporations and people living downtown," says Lloyd. "Moving to this space seemed like the perfect fit." 

Collaboration brings home sweet home to disabled Cleveland veteran

An ex-Marine has found a new home thanks to a pair of veteran-friendly groups and a Cleveland suburb willing to support disabled soldiers with affordable housing opportunities.

Elyria native Corp. Leo Robinson signed the final closing documents for his new house in South Euclid during a Feb. 18 ceremony at Cuyahoga Land Bank (CLB). The organization partnered with national nonprofit Purple Heart Homes and the city of South Euclid on the project.

Robinson, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who sustained brain injuries and other ailments overseas, was set to move into his renovated home late last week, says Howard Goldberg, assistant secretary and chief real estate officer with Purple Heart Homes.

The 1,300-square-foot domicile, donated in 2012 by CLB, was rebuilt from the ground up, says Goldberg. Nearly 200 volunteers offered financial and material support for the approximately $70,000 undertaking.  

Plumbing, electrical, HVAC and insulation work was supplied gratis, while a local furniture company provided the home with a new bedroom set and other necessities. Members of the Notre Dame College football team, meanwhile, helped demolish the structure's interior prior to rebuild.

"This shows how a community can come together and make something great happen," says Goldberg.

Robinson will live in the house with his therapy dog, Kota. The finished structure has a new garage, laundry room, basement recreation space, and second-floor bath off the master bedroom. The former Marine will pay a mortgage equal to 50 percent of the home's appraised value.

Eligibility for the ownership program requires an honorable discharge and a service-connected disability, Goldberg notes. Robinson is the second veteran to receive a home in South Euclid through the venture. A third residence is planned for the inner-ring community, while two more projects are in talks for Old Brooklyn and Euclid, respectively.

"South Euclid's done a good job of sustaining their housing stock so the values go back up," says Goldberg. "The timing for us was excellent."

The collaboration also meets Purple Heart Homes' stated goal of improving veterans' lives one home at a time. The organization, launched by two disabled Iraq War vets, has found stable partners among the leadership and general population of South Euclid, Goldberg says.

"The one thing this shows is how people rally around their veterans," he says. "They're not only willing to help, but they want to make a veteran feel welcome in their community."

Further reading: East Cleveland duplex now permanent housing for veterans

New Big Boy induces delicious nostalgia trip among Clevelanders

Steve Facione was on the front lines of hunger-induced nostalgia last week when the new Mayfield Heights Big Boy opened its doors.

About 700 customers braved lake-effect snow on Feb. 9 to get a taste of the locally-loved restaurant chain's original double-decker burgers and milkshakes, reports Facione, vice president of franchise development at Big Boy Restaurants.

"Some people drove 45 minutes to get here," says Facione. "It was a great day."

A region-wide hankering for comfort food helped bring the iconic franchise back to the market, Facione notes. Over the last few years, the company rep has received numerous emails from Clevelanders asking when the brand would get an East Side location. Previously, Valley View and Brookpark had the only restaurants in the area.

"We had guests coming from Mentor to Valley View," says Facione. "That stirred our curiosity."

The new Big Boy's Burgers and Shakes is located in a storefront across from Eastgate Shopping Center that previously held Menchies Frozen Yogurt. Gone are the car hops from the drive-in Big Boys of the 1950s through the 1970s. Nor does the new location have the grinning, overall-clad mascot common to many restaurants in the chain. However, the  Americana menu is still very much in place, replete with tasty burgers slathered in special white sauce and an ice cream cake soon to be named - as it once was - the Sweetie Pie 

Janet Rice has fond memories of Big Boy's good food and good times. The Chagrin Falls resident spent her teenage years in the mid-60s hanging out at the restaurant with friends, or having a burger and shake following a movie date.

"In grade school, my parents would get Big Boy for lunch," says Rice. "It was such a treat."

Rice took a delicious nostalgia trip to the Mayfield Heights location last weekend with her husband, Joe. The couple picked up a pair of double-deckers, an experience almost exactly as Rice remembered from her girlhood.

"My thing was always the sauce," she says. "I never had sauce like that, and it was spot-on."

Facione expects many more burger orders for a restaurant set to stay open seven days a week. The bustling location hired 40 employees, including greeters, shift managers and line cooks. Those workers could be the foundation for other stores once they go online. Willoughby, Avon, Solon and Strongsville are among possible future sites, says the franchise VP.

"Acknowledgement should go to our guests who remember the brand," says Facione. "We have to make sure to live up to that good reputation."

Rice, for one, is planning a return journey with her granddaughter this weekend. "I want to see if she thinks (the restaurant) is as great as I remember at her age," she says.
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