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Growing local retailer amid new tenants announced for Pinecrest

The mild winter allowed construction to keep moving along at Pinecrest, the mixed-use entertainment district at I-271 and 27349 Harvard Road in Orange Village.

“It’s taking shape very quickly,” says Gary McManus, director of marketing for Fairmount Properties, which, along with DiGeronimo Companies, began construction on the $230 million project last fall. “Construction is ongoing on the east side of the site, and we’re beginning on the west end of the site.”
 
While Pinecrest is not scheduled to open until the spring of next year, the developers spent much of 2016 testing prospective shoppers with the impressive list of tenants they have secured. In addition to big, national retailers such as R.E.I., Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Vineyard Vines and Pottery Barn, there was a taste of dining and entertainment options, followed by details on the AC by Marriott, 87 loft-style apartments and two office buildings planned in the 58-acre development that has been more than seven years in the making.
 
In March, Fairmount Properties announced Pinecrest’s first three office tenants. Alliance Prime Associates, Continental Heritage Insurance Company and Tower 7 Partnership, LLC will be relocating their headquarters offices from Mayfield to Pinecrest, where they will lease a collective 15,000 square feet on the fourth floor in one of the two office buildings, which each span 75,000 square feet.
 
Then last week, the developers announced three additional retailers — Scout and Molly’s Boutique, Gracylane and J. Bellezza Salon — to the mix. Pinecrest will be home to a 2,500-square-foot location for locally-based Gracylane, a shop that sells women’s accessories and gifts with stores in Hudson, Kent and other locations.
 
Local fashion entrepreneur Blair Dickey-White will own the Pinecrest location of national womenswear, jewelry and accessories retailer Scout and Molly’s, which also has a location in Hudson, while J. Bellezza will occupy 2,300 square feet offering personal care services with a focus on all-natural products. The salon, the first of its kind in the area, will feature independent stylists in a private suite setting. The shop will also carry new-to-market hair products, advanced beauty tools, wellness inspiration, nutritional supplements, the latest in hair and beauty technology and gift items.
 
The three new tenants bring Pinecrest retail space well over the halfway mark to fully leased, says McManus. “We have 400,000 square feet of retail space, and we’re just crossing the two-thirds line,” he says. “Most of the larger space is leased; what we’re doing now is talking to the smaller space [retailers].”
 
While McManus says the office space is only 10 percent leased, that market tends to be more relaxed.
 
Meanwhile, McManus promises some drastic changes to the Orange Village landscape as summer approaches and construction really gets moving.
 
Things are fairly well along, and the kind-of mild winter helped keep us on track,” he says. “By fall it will look like a village setting.”

Building it: CIA set to expand on-campus residential options

In an attempt to provide more on-campus housing to its second-year students, the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is building a four-story, 203-bed dormitory at 11702 Euclid Avenue to accommodate sophomore students.

“Up until now, we’ve only housed first year students, which means second years had to fine rentals in University Circle, Little Italy or even Cleveland Heights,” explains CIA president and CEO Grafton Nunes. “It’s becoming more and more expensive to do that. We foresaw there was going to be a decrease in affordable housing close to the school and an increase in rent.”
 
While first year students typically live on campus, CIA students in their second, third and fourth years are often required to find their own housing, explains Nunes. “Students in proximate housing don’t need cars, so we don’t need to provide as much parking,” he says.
 
The new dorm will be located adjacent the CIA, on the lot that used to hold the former Cleveland Food Co-Op — just steps away from the classrooms and studios. “It seemed like a win-win situation,” says Nunes, who adds that the second year dorm is also just down the street from the new fist year dorm at Euclid and Ford Avenue.
 
The land is leased from University Circle Inc. (UCI) by developer NewBrook Partners. CIA has the option to buy the building. “University Circle was willing to develop it and we were able to work with them to identify a developer,” explains Nunes. “They are providing the ground lease to NewBrook, and we have the option to purchase the building after six months.”
 
The new building will not house yesteryear's dorms, Nunes promises. The two-, three- and four-bedroom units will feature full kitchens, full bathrooms, dining areas and common areas in each suite. “The days are over where you walk down the hall, pick a stall to shower and see lines of sinks,” says Nunes. “More and more, there’s an expectation from students and parents that they have a nice place to live when they go to college. It’s going to be very, very nice. ”
 
Guy Totino, principal of NewBrook, says the building is going to be spectacular. “It’s a misnomer to call them dorms,” he says, pointing out that there will be hardwood floors throughout and the kitchens will have granite countertops. “They’re really full apartments. I’d call them luxury apartments.”
 
NewBrook, which has a great deal of experience in building university residences, worked with architecture firm Vocon in the design. Marous Brothers is the general contractor.
 
The dorms will have Wi-Fi and cable access. The ground floor of the wood frame, concrete and resinous material building will feature laundry facilities, meeting room and a fitness center, with smaller study rooms on the upper levels. The fitness center and a large function room will face Euclid Avenue with plenty of windows, adding to the activity in Uptown. “We don’t want to turn our back on Euclid Avenue,” says Nunes. “We want to interact with the street and enliven Euclid.”
 
While CIA has traditionally been more of a commuter college, Nunes says, the new dorms provide a more well-rounded college experience. While 40 percent of the students are from outside of Ohio or are international, a good percentage live within 35 miles of the campus. There are 195 students in this year’s entering class, he says, but officials have goals to increase that number to 210.
 
“This gives us the opportunity to be more of a residential college and there are all sorts of pedagogic advantages to us turning into a residential college,” Nunes says. “We want them to concentrate on their studies and not have to live on their own for the first time in their lives — let them do that in their junior year. The school has an obligation to take care of the students and we want to do everything in our power to make sure they succeed.”
 
Groundbreaking is scheduled for July 5, with completion in time for the sophomores to move in by August 2018.

Re-emergence: nostalgic Higbee's space is set to let

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, downtown Cleveland’s department stores competed to be known as the utmost authority on women’s fashion trends — holding regular luncheon fashion shows in their auditoriums to exhibit their collections and attract shoppers.

Dixie Lee Davis, who served as fashion director during that period for Halle’s department store, and later May Company and Cleveland Saks Fifth Avenue, remembers the era well. “My whole career has been in in retail,” she says, adding that the department stores were all on friendly terms with each other back then.
 
While the fashion shows, not to mention many of the major department stores, are a concept of the past, the spaces of these magnificent shopping meccas still exist, and many have been converted to offices and residential units.


 
The 192-foot-tall, 13-story 1931 Higbee Building at 100 Public Square is one such historical edifice. Today it is home to Jack Casino on the lower floors and offices such as Quicken Loans on the fourth and fifth floors.
 
The latter received much acclaim for its move to the space and subsequent remodel back in 2016 when the company brought in Detroit-based design firm dPOP to embrace the historical architecture and design elements of the former department store, while also creating a modern work environment.
 
Now, Terry Coyne, vice chairman for commercial real estate for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, is hoping the right tenant will follow suit with the 10th floor of the Higbee Building.
 
More than 50,000 square feet on the entire 10th floor — except for the former Silver Grille, which is leased by the Ritz-Carlton hotel — in what used to be used for Higbee’s regular fashion shows, is currently available.
 
Long-time locals may remember the impressive space from the three-decade-span when Higbee’s would regularly hold fashion shows — complete with luncheons — to tout its newest collections.


 
“When you went down to Higbee’s in the 1950s, you went up to the 10th floor,” explains Coyne. “This is where they had runway shows, and there’s a rotunda that goes all the way up to the 11th floor. Women would wear their white gloves.”
 
Davis says the auditoriums that housed the shows — several times a year for back-to-school, bridal, seasonal and trunk shows — were the best way for shoppers to view the latest fashion trends.
 
“The fashion shows were very popular and well-attended events,” she recalls. “It could be a social event, but people wanted to know what the latest in fashion was. There was lots of fashion activity going on at the time and we were bringing the latest in fashion to Cleveland. All the top designers on both sides of the ocean were represented here.”
 
The raw space — 52,848 square feet — is wide open and in great shape, Coyne says. “They really kept the integrity of the building,” he says of the building owner, an affiliate of JACK Entertainment. “The ceilings are 14 feet, all the way up to 35 feet in the rotunda area.”
 
The windows overlook the newly renovated Public Square. “It is a great view on the heartbeat of the city,” adds Coyne.


 
Davis remembers the old Higbee auditorium well. “It’s a beautiful, large auditorium,” she says. “It had a beautiful stage and wonderful lighting with a runway out to the audience.”
 
The space, which is going for $18.50 per square foot, is not for just any kind of tenant, notes Coyne. Instead, he says he hopes the new tenant, perhaps a technology company, will embrace the space in much the same manor that Quicken Loans did, but also perhaps with a nod to the time when ladies in white gloves enjoyed catered luncheons before taking in a fashion show.
 
“We’d like a tenant to embrace what Quicken Loans has done,” he says. “It’s really neat that they’ve embraced the era.”


 
Some of the vintage décor, signage and Higbee’s paraphernalia Coyne may offer to tenants are tucked away in storage on an unused floor of the building.
 
“The perfect tenant is one who can utilize the high ceilings in the interesting potential layout for the space,” says Coyne. “This is not going to be space from the 1990s. It is open, high ceilings, with interesting opportunities for design.”
 
Interested tenants can contact Coyne or the primary leasing agent and NGKF managing director David Hollister or Kristy Hull

New urban trail: 1.9 miles breaks ground in Tremont

The decades-long Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail extension project — an undertaking that connects 100 miles of paths from New Philadelphia to Cleveland’s lakefront — is one step closer to completion with the launch of the project’s stage three.

Stage three, which spans an urban stretch of 1.9 miles between the northern entrance to Steelyard Commons and Literary Avenue in Tremont, will not only serve as a greenspace buffer between the residential areas of Tremont and industrial areas of the valley below, but also offer paths and access to the rest of the Towpath Trail.
 
Additionally, the $18.5 million project will add 30 acres of park space.
 
“This section here is the one that will really be transformational,” says Canalway Partners executive director Tim Donovan. “This will heal the wounds of 100 years of industrial [damage].”
 
Canalway Partners and its athletic and environmental cleanup events like the Towpath Trilogy Race, Cycle Canalway and RiverSweep, in its 28th year, have been just some of the grassroots events used to raise awareness and funds for the Towpath Trail extension.

Further reading: Ten takeaways from the Stage Three announcement




Donovan recalls the RiverSweep effort between 2007 and 2010 as a “tire brigade” that was dedicated to cleaning up tires dumped along the proposed trail site. “The motto of RiverSweep is ‘Clean up today where tomorrow we’ll play,’” he says. “We cleaned up 2,000 tires off the hillside that now hosts the Towpath Trail. We’ve fulfilled our promise to those people who participated in RiverSweep.”
 
While stage three construction got underway in February, Canalway Partners, along with officials from Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland., will host a groundbreaking at Clark Field this Saturday morning, April 22, at 9 a.m.
 
The Stage Three portion of the trail will have four connection points: at Holmden Avenue; the W. 11th connector over I-490; Tremont Pointe Apartments; and Jefferson Road. There will be three scenic overlooks at Literary Avenue with views of the downtown skyline; CMHA property off of W. 7th Street that offers views of the steelyard and railyards; and the bridge at the top of W. 11th Street and Clark Avenue with “tremendous views of the industrial valley,” says Donovan.
 
A new driveway and parking lot will connect to Clark Field from Clark Avenue. The two current entrances to the park will be blocked off and serve as connector trails.

Additional information: Stage Three concept images
 


“Tremont is the true winner,” says Donovan. “We will have six connecting points, and we expect heavy use.”
 
Other plans include a new picnic area and interpretive wayside exhibits depicting the neighborhood’s industrial history along the lighted trails. The 1.9 miles also includes three wetlands and new bioswales.
 
Funding for the anticipated project came from more than 10 sources, but Canalway Partners is credited with being the main fundraiser and is also responsible for the strategic plan. The trail is owned by the city, while Cuyahoga County is managing the project and the Cleveland Metroparks oversees the day-to-day maintenance and security.
 
While this phase of the project is expected to take more than a year to complete. Donovan expects it to wrap up in fall of 2018. He says this phase marks a critical move forward in the completion of the Towpath Trail.
 
“There are still a few [people] around, doubting it will ever get done,” Donovan says. “But this is an element in time. It’s historic.”
 
The groundbreaking celebration beings at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Clark Field, located off of W. 7th Street. Volunteers are invited to bring their own shovels. Reservations aren’t necessary, but you can email Ken Schneider at Canalway Partners to let him know you plan to dig in.
 
Donovan says the fact that the groundbreaking occurs on Earth Day is an appropriate coincidence. He adds that he  is working with Earth Day Coalition officials to give some groundbreaking attendees discount coupons to EarthFest, which will also be this Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

Further reading: 100 miles of the Towpath Trail — one step at a time and The Metroparks top 10 discoveries

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

 

Call for TLC: vintage Capitol Theatre

Eight years ago the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) unveiled a newly-renovated Capitol Theatre. The 1921 theater, originally constructed as a silent movie house, went through years of neglect before ultimately closing its doors in 1985.

The huge renovation was complete in 2009, and took nearly 30 years to accomplish. Today, eight years after its grand reopening, the Capitol Theatre needs a bit of an update to keep it going strong for the next 30 years. So the DSCDO is hosting a fundraiser gala, Timeless, on Friday, April 21.
 
The historic theater was already on the DSCDO’s radar when the organization was founded in 1973, and the Capitol was one of the main drivers behind the economic development and success of the Gordon Square Arts District.
 
“When we were founded in the 70s we knew we could not let this place go,” says DSCDO managing director Jenny Spencer. ““Preserving the Capitol Theatre and the Arcade Building were essential for rebuilding Gordon Square.”
 
Today, the Capitol has all digital equipment on three screens and is operated 365 days a year by Cleveland Cinemas. The theater sees an average of 50,000 patrons a year and is a Gordon Square mainstay.
 
“We’re extremely committed to keep it open, as it’s an economic driver for the neighborhood,” says Spencer. “Even people who are window shopping or getting a bite to eat come by. This is very much a mission-driven thing, being an historic theater. It can attract new residents and keep the existing residential population.”
 
Spencer says the Capitol simply needs some upgrades to its equipment, as well as some plaster repair work. “It’s very, very old plaster and it just needs some more love,” she says, adding that previous years of exposure to the elements necessitates periodic maintenance to the plaster.
 
“The plaster was so compromised, it’s still recovering,” Spencer says. “We want to preserve what’s still there.”
 
Like all digital equipment today, the DSCDO also needs to upgrade the audio and visual technology to keep it up to date. “We’re not going to get rich operating a three-screen theater,” Spencer says. “We just want you to have a great theater experience where you’re just immersed in what’s on the screen — and that experience comes with great sound and visuals.”
 
The goal is to raise $70,000 through the Timeless event. Spencer says that amount will cover the digital upgrade and plaster stabilization and restoration, as well as create a repair reserve fund for future upkeep.
 
Friday’s Timeless event begins at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception, with free valet service beginning at 5:30 p.m. The VIP reception includes a silent auction preview and open bar. The main party runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with cocktails, a large spread of appetizers, the silent auction and a live Hollywood revue performed by local cabaret lounge singer, Lounge Kitty. Desert will be provided by Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop and Gypsy Beans will serve coffee.
 
At 9 p.m. a whiskey sour nightcap will be served in preparation for a viewing of the timeless classic Casablanca. “We thought a bourbon type drink would be appropriate, because Humphrey Bogart drinks it in the movie,” says Spencer. “And, of course, there will be popcorn.”

Tickets start at $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP admission. $83 of the general admission ticket cost is tax deductible, as is $122 of the VIP ticket. Donations to the theater fund are also accepted. All donations will be kept in the Capitol’s fund at the Cleveland Foundation.
 
“This is such an iconic place for the community, and this is an opportunity for people to reconnect and get excited about the theater,” Spencer says, adding that she recalls hearing many fond memories from longtime residents. “The amount of love stories I’ve heard, you would not believe how many stories.”

Climb Cleveland: a trifecta of unique new offerings in Tremont

Chick Holtkamp first discovered rock climbing in 1972 while attending Colgate University in central New York. Once he started, he never stopped.
 
“Very few people were climbers back then,” Holtkamp recalls. “So many people are climbing right now.”
 
Holtkamp regularly enjoys outdoor climbing in picturesque locations around Utah and Yosemite National Park. Locally he's has been known to climb the Superior Viaduct, the Hope Memorial Bridge and the Main Avenue Bridge. Add it all up and Holtkamp has established a reputation for himself as an accomplished climber around the country.
 
Now Holtkamp has opted to get a foothold on the indoor climbing trend with the opening of Climb Cleveland a little more than a month ago in Tremont.
 
He has attempted to open two indoor climbing gyms in Cleveland in the past — at the former Fifth Church of Christ Scientist and at Zion United Church of Christ. Both projects fell through, but his third attempt rose to success. The facility is housed in 7,000 square feet of space in a three-story building he owns at 2190 Professor Ave. 

“I bought the building in 1982, well before anyone was interested in Tremont,” Holtkamp says. “I bought it because I wanted to live on the top floor. But the space is really good for Climb Cleveland and it’s a great location. I’m happy where I am now.”
 
The climbing gym includes three levels, the basement and the first two floors in the corner of the building, all adjoined with a central staircase.
 
Climb Cleveland features a bouldering wall spanning 7,000 feet. The height does not go above 12 feet and there are no ropes involved in bouldering, says Holtkamp. The holds are color-coded to mark climbs in varying degrees of difficulty. Pads line the floor for a safe landing in case of a fall.
 
An interconnected endurance and traversing wall in the basement allows climbers to climb side-to-side routes, as opposed to up-and-down, for more than 200 feet and features authentic rock holds from around the country. Holtkamp explains this wall not only builds endurance, but allows climbers to get creative in their routes and to build their skills.
 
Clips, ropes and a stopwatch are provided on the endurance and traversing wall to practice lead climbing and speed.
 
Climb Cleveland also offers crack climbing — wherein the climber follows a specific crack in a rock. The skill requires specific techniques and is geared toward more experienced climbers — the facility even boasts a roof crack. Holtkam notes crack climbing takes a lot of practice to develop.

“Indoor climbing has become a realm of its own,” says Holtkamp. “Indoors is safer, but the movements are similar, so you can develop your skills.”
 
For those looking for a more mellow experience, Climb Cleveland also offers Ashtanga yoga in a 1,200-square-foot studio with trained instructors. The space is open for three-hour blocks in the mornings and evenings so practitioners can enjoy a flexible schedule.
 
“Ashtanga is another expanding practice, where it gives you ownership of your own practice,” explains Holtkamp. “Some classes are regular classes, but other aspects of Ashtanga let you show up when you’re ready.”
 
The facility also accomodates blues dancing. Classes are held on Wednesday evenings in the space shared by the yoga classes and build on mobility, confidence and partner communication.
 
“It’s another developing practice,” says Holtkamp. “People are used to salsa and swing dancing, but blues dancing is another form of partner dancing.”
 
Unlike salsa and swing, where the leader leads the dance, blues dancing involves both partners working together. “In blues dancing, the leader and follower are in constant communication about what to do next,” Holtkamp explains. “And so it evolves.”
 
Holtkamp stresses that all three practice areas at Climb Cleveland — bouldering, yoga and dancing — are really about building relationships.
 
“Community is a large part within all of these practices — you need other people’s help to succeed,” he says, adding that many people become friends while working out.  “In each of these areas I’ve provided space and support, but people bring their lifetime skills there. Climbing, especially in the environment we’ve created, is 90 percent social and 10 percent trying hard.”
 
While millennials are Climb Cleveland’s primary customers, Holtkamp says, people of every age can benefit. “It’s for all ages,” he says. “We have little kids here as young as four-years-old, and then we have people here climbing who are well into their 60s and 70s.”
 
And, Holtkamp adds, Tremont is the perfect place to work out and build on that sense of community. “It’s a great location,” he says. “People come here, climb, dance, do yoga, and then they go out to a local restaurant.”
 
Climb Cleveland offers day passes for $14, or memberships for $60 per month. Shoe rentals are $4.
 

Program aims to capture history in Buckeye-Shaker, build community

Most of Cleveland’s neighborhoods were established in the late 1800s by a wave of Eastern Europeans coming to the region looking for manufacturing work. A predominantly-Slovenian population was drawn to labor opportunities in Collinwood, while Hungarians flocked to Buckeye-Shaker.
 
Over the years, those concentrations dispersed into the suburbs and today both neighborhoods are quite diverse. But that diversity can sometimes come with a loss of community connection, says Cindy Washabaugh, a poet and therapeutic arts practitioner.
 
So In 2015, Washabaugh had an idea for bringing Cleveland communities together through writing. She went to Collinwood and began Who We Are, Where We Live, a place-based community writing program.
 
“I really wanted to do a project with writing in a community where people would have a chance to connect with people they wouldn’t necessarily meet,” she says. “Everyone has memories of doing different things in the community. I thought, what if I could go in and do workshops with every facet of the community.”
 
The success of the Collinwood project resulted in a printed anthology that compiled the participants’ thoughts, memories and perceptions of their community. “The idea was to bring these folks together and really sharing their memories and what their hopes were for the community,” she explains. “It provided a sense of witness, a sense of understanding and trust in their neighbors.”
 
Today Washabaugh aims to extend the momentum through a partnership with Literary Cleveland, a non-profit organization committed to building a community of readers and writers in Northeast Ohio, to launch Buckeye-Shaker: Who We Are Where We Live.
 
The program will engage people who live and work in the neighborhood to learn about its history by writing and sharing stories about the community’s past, and understanding the experiences of their neighbors.
 
“Cleveland is filled with untold stories of our neighborhoods and the people who live there,” says Washabaugh.
 
While many of the Collinwood memories stemmed out of the Slovenian Workmen’s Home, Washabaugh expects similar memories to come out of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church on Buckeye, believed to be the first Hungarian catholic church built in the United States in the late 1800s.
 
The writing workshops will allow participants to write their stories down and share them — this time on a website anthology — in hopes of remembering Buckeye’s past and preserving its history for future generations.
 
The Ohio Humanities Council is sponsoring the Buckeye-Shaker project, and Washabaugh has recruited Mark Souther, history professor and director of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, and Michael Fleenor, director of preservation services at the Cleveland Restoration Society.
 
“The Ohio Humanities Council challenged us to bring in historians, so we found two,” says Washabaugh, who says Fleenor and Souther will talk about the architecture, how the neighborhood has been represented, how to research your own home’s history, even if you no longer live in the neighborhood, and what makes a neighbor.
 
“It’s really exciting stuff,” says Washabaugh. “It allows everyone to appreciate each other, at least for a little while.”
 
Washabaugh encourages participants to write, give oral histories or even contribute a sketch to the anthology. “Writing is a focus that lets you leave something behind or have something to share,” she explains.
 
Literary Cleveland will host the launch party on Saturday, Apr. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Loganberry Books, 13015 Larchmere Blvd. Souther will speak at the event, which will also have program information and writing activities.
 
The community writing workshops will be held Saturday, Apr. 29 from 12 to 2 p.m. and Saturday, May 13 from 2 to 4 p.m., both at the Cleveland Public Library’s Rice Branch, 11535 Shaker Blvd. The last workshop will be held Wednesday, May 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. at East End Neighborhood House, 2749 Woodhill Road. Fleenor will speak at the first workshop.
 
The project will culminate with a reading and celebration on Saturday, July 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Loganberry Books.
 
The launch party and readings are free and open to the public, while the workshops are reserved only for people who live or work in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.

'In the 216' to open along Lakewood-Cleveland border

When Jenny Goe opened In the 216 in the heart of the Coventry business district in January 2015, she had high hopes that her store would be a destination for shoppers to browse and buy the many wares made by Cleveland retailers.
 
She launched with about 30 artists represented in her roughly 1,000-square-foot shop just below street level. Two years later, Goe keeps the shop at 1854 Coventry open late, especially on the weekends, and keeps longer hours on Sundays to accommodate the high volume of customers meandering in during peak pedestrian times.
 
“We have to stay open late on Fridays and Saturdays here,” Goe says. “We’d be crazy not to.”
 
Today, Goe represents more than 100 artists in her funky shop, and has had to turn others away because she’s running out of room. But that predicament is about to change when Goe opens her second location on the Cleveland-Lakewood border on April 29 in the former Big Fun location at 11512 Clifton Blvd.
 
At 2,000 square feet, the space is twice the size of the Coventry store, which will allow Goe to offer a wider variety of goods — and there's also space for an artists’ exhibit/workshop.
 
Some will be solely featured at the new store, while others will exclusively be featured at Cleveland Heights location, Goe says, bringing the total to between 120 and 130 Northeast Ohio artisans represented at In the 216.
 
The wares Goe sells include everything from jewelry, some of which Goe herself crafts through her Etsy line, Jewelry by Jenny, T-shirts, ball caps, candles and home décor items.
 
Goe said her new neighbors, the owners of Flower Child first approached her about opening a pop-up store in the location during the 2015 holiday season, but she was still getting the Coventry location off the ground.
 
When the new owners of the Clifton Corners building approached her last fall, Goe was ready to expand. “There’s a lot of really good plans for the street,” says Goe of the ongoing work on Clifton Boulevard between W. 116th and W. 117th Streets. “So I decided it was worth the leap.”
 
Goe wooed the building owners, Cleveland natives who now live in California, with her business sense and products. “I explained it’s all locally sourced products and I sent them home with some Bertman mustard,” she recalls. “The owners came in, saw what we can do and offered to fix it up for us at their expense.”
 
Goe is pleased with the remodel of the space. “They built us a dressing room, which we don’t really have [on Coventry],” she says. “Everything’s going to be brand spanking new.” She adds that she will have two display windows. Goe did choose, however, to keep the graffiti-painted, comic hero ceiling installed during the Big Fun days. “It adds a lot of character.”
 
Goe is particularly excited about the exhibit space. Her first exhibitor will be Jack Koch of Jackson Koch Photography, while knitting workshops by Maria Laniro of Mamina Knits, as well as calligraphy and screen printing workshops, are already planned.
 
Goe, who plans to split her time between both locations, says she’s not sure what the permanent hours will be at the new store, but for now she'll be open for business 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., every day but Tuesdays.

“It will be a learning experience,” she says, noting that the traffic on Clifton is more from cars than pedestrians. “People come in and ask about it and they get so excited about the new store.”

Campus District welcomes new residents with 110 market rate and affordable apartments

In area historically known for its challenging economic conditions, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) earlier this month celebrated the completion of Phases 1 and 2 of the Cedar Transformation Plan with new market rate and affordable apartments and townhouses on 15 acres.

Sankofa Village replaces the Cedar Estates housing site. CMHA CEO Jeffery K. Patterson says the new units offer a modern, improved alternative to the 1950s row houses and traditional style of public housing that previously occupied the site.
 
Patterson also says Sankofa Village is an asset to the other improvements going on in the southern part of the Campus District, including the ongoing transformation at Cuyahoga Community College's Metro Campus and other improvements at St. Vincent Medical Center/Sisters of Charity Health System.
 
“The neighborhood is really changing,” says Patterson. “There are great amenities that are there to enhance the quality of life in that community.”
 
The first phase of the project at 2390 E. 30th Street broke ground in November 2015 and consists of four stories of 60 one-bedroom apartments averaging 705 square feet. The $12.3 million building has a lounge, community room, fitness center and laundry facilities. It was ready for occupancy earlier this month.
 
Phase two on East 28th Street broke ground in January 2016, and while the final touches will be completed on the $10.2 million phase in April, tenants began taking occupancy last December. Fifty one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom townhomes are spread throughout five buildings and range from 651 to 1,741 square feet.
 
Every unit comes equipped with dishwashers, washers and dryers, Energy Star rated stovetops and refrigerators. Rents start at $650.
 
The complex includes two parking lots and two playgrounds. The units meet Enterprise Green Community Standards and LEED Neighborhood Development guidelines. The open layouts, vaulted ceilings and large windows allow for plenty of natural light.
 
Patterson reports the townhomes are almost at full occupancy and the apartments are all leased. He says there is already a waiting list for all of the units. “It’s progressing very well,” he says, adding that one of the buildings has been named after longtime Progressive Action Council member Lillian Davis. The announcement was made during a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on March 10.

“We thought it would be an honor to recognize her and show our appreciation,” Patterson says of Davis. “She was shocked. She didn’t see it coming and we didn’t tell her ahead of time.”

Sankofa Village was designed by City Architecture. Developers Pittsburgh-based Ralph A. Falbo Inc. and Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties manage the CMHA-owned and sponsored properties. As a partner, CMHA acts as the lender and provider for the Section 8 units, operating subsidies through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
 
Patterson reports that another 100 to 150 units are planned on the site once additional funds are raised.
 

Challenge along the North Coast: maintaining momentum of 2016

Few people in northeast Ohio would argue that 2016 was Cleveland’s moment in the sun.

The city successfully hosted the Republican National Convention without a hitch. The Cavs became world champions and more than a million people celebrated the victory downtown. The Indians went to the World Series and fought a valiant fight, and the Monsters brought home the American Hockey League Calder Cup.
 
“2016 was an incredible year on so many fronts,” says Michael Deemer, executive vice president of business development for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “Not just to see the city on the national stage for the first time with the RNC, but to see that day in October with game one of the World Series and the Cavs season opening game.”
 
DCA estimates the RNC had a $200 million economic impact on the city, while the NBA finals playoff games contributed $36 million and the World Series brought $24 million. The new Huntington Convention Center also held its own, hosting 440,660 guest last year.
 
Of course the opening of the new $50 million Public Square brought a new reason to come downtown for the many events or just to relax in a new urban green space and people watch.
 
But 2016's memorable events were not the only sign of progress for downtown Cleveland last year. This month, the DCA released its 2016 Annual Report, indicating many people are choosing downtown to live, work, play and visit.
 


“The decision was made 10 years ago to form the DCA that set us on the course we’re on,” says Deemer. “We’ve worked with businesses, the RTA, to create innovative transportation and provided historic tax credits — all of those things working in tandem over the last 10 years created this environment.”
 
According to the report, downtown’s residential population is more than 14,000 — a 77 percent increase since 2000. Residential occupancy remained at 95 percent for the sixth consecutive year in the 6,198 market rate apartments and 880 condominiums.
 
More than 2,000 apartments were added downtown over the past six years, according to the report, with another 1,000 expected to come online in 2017 and more than 3,000 planned by the end of 2019. Deemer says he expects to downtown population to surge to 16,000 by the end of this year.
 
“2017 is shaping up to be a big year,” Deemer says of the residential growth.
 
Furthermore, Class A office space is at a 17 percent vacancy rate, with that number expected to dip below 10 percent in the next couple of years on account of new business and vacant office buildings being converted into apartments, says Deemer.
 
With the growing population comes new business to serve those residents. More than 30 new retailers opened for business in 2016 — 18 new restaurants and bars and 15 stores.  “We’re seeing a lot more resident-oriented businesses come in downtown, like Monica Potter Home, J3 Clothing and Cleveland Clinic Express Care,” says Deemer. “We continue to have a terrific restaurant and food scene.”
 
The residential population growth goes hand-in-hand with a highly qualified workforce living downtown, says Deemer, providing employers with a young, well-educated and diverse talent pool to draw from. Drilling down the numbers, downtown Cleveland ranks fifth nationally in the percentage of 25- to 44-year-olds in the labor force; seventh in the number of immigrants with four year degrees; and tenth in the number of candidates with advanced degrees.
 
Today, 95,000 people work downtown, with 70 employers leasing 1,213,141 square feet of office space and 6,932 jobs created or retained in 2016.
 
Furthermore, with Cleveland’s great healthcare presence, Cuyahoga County ranks fifth nationally in health services employment. Pair that with the number of quality secondary education institutions, and Cleveland becomes a lucrative place for employers to recruit talent.
 
“I think what I’m most excited about is the job growth because that’s what make everything else sustainable,” says Deemer. “As we lose the older, less skilled workers, they’re being replaced by younger, highly skilled and educated workers. Momentum begets momentum and as millennials find it an attractive place, more will follow. Cleveland is becoming the kind of place that already has great talent. Downtown in particular is becoming a place for young, skilled workers who want to live here and walk to work.”
 
RTA contributed to Cleveland’s transformation by working with the DCA on a accessible transportation. “We’re created an infrastructure of transportation options, complete with things like the free trolley to business and entertainment centers and hotels,” says Deegan.
 
Three new hotels — the Kimpton Schofield, the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and the Drury Plaza Hotel — contributed almost 1,000 new rooms for visitors to the city, further encouraging tourism.


 
Deemer cites the extension of Federal and Ohio Historic Tax Credits programs as critical to continued growth. “These have been an important tool to attract businesses to invest in downtown Cleveland,” he says, adding that the credits also help grow the residential market and get rid of unoccupied office space.
 
Transportation is another key factory in attracting millennials, says Deemer, who tend to forego car ownership and rely more on public transportation and walking.
 
“We have to make sure we’re offering a full variety of transportation options to millennials and generations beyond that,” he says. “We have to make sure we stay ahead of the curve on transportation. And we still need to grow our residential population. Office space has to be filled and we have to connect the neighborhoods with downtown.”

It all boils down to sustaining momentum.

“Most importantly, we cannot become complacent,” says Deemer. “We’ve had boom and bust cycles in the past. We must recognize the work we are doing, but keep working with partners.”

New residential breaks ground in Shaker Heights, reflects changing times

While Shaker Heights is known for its rich history, excellent schools and beautiful homes, one 2.4-acre parcel of land along Van Aken Boulevard has remained vacant and undisturbed — until now.

In November 2016 Vintage Development Group broke ground on the plot of land at 3190 Van Aken, nestled between Onaway and Sutton Roads, as the future spot for the Townhomes of Van Aken.
 
“Shaker Heights is a beautiful area and we were well-aware of the beauty of the city’s homes,” says Vintage director of development Mike Marous. “What happens in built-up cities is there’s no land and you have to tear down [for new development], but here was this piece of land that for years was virgin soil that had never been built on.”
 
Working with Shaker officials, Vintage came up with a $10 million plan to build 33 upscale townhomes on the property, offering proximity to the RTA Rapid, University Circle, downtown and all that Shaker has to offer.

—Further reading: Placemaking puts Shaker residents in the mix of Van Aken District plans and The next must-live neighborhood: Moreland district.
 
“You can walk out the door, jump on the Rapid, get your groceries and be home in five minutes,” says Marous of the location, adding it offers the best of urban and suburban living. “It’s 15 minutes to downtown," he says, noting that picturesque Shaker Square is nearby and walkable.
 
Construction on phase one — the first six units in two buildings — is underway, while framing has begun on the remaining three buildings in phases two and three. Construction will continue has the townhomes are sold.

Keeping with Shaker’s strict standards was a challenge in the design, Marous says, but RDL Architects designed the two- and three-story townhomes to fit with the city’s existing feel. “It was quite a process working with Shaker because of the unique architecture,” he explains, noting the city's high quality standards. “But these give a modern, distinctive look that lends itself to the community, but also has an urban modern feel.”
 
Additionally, the townhomes will meet green energy standards. Phase one even has four solar powered units, where the rooftop solar panels feed the electrical systems. Shaker Heights secured the solar panels through Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council’s (NOPEC) Powering Our Communities program. Cleveland-based YellowLite is providing the panels.
 
Additional solar packages will be offered as an upgrade in the future, Marous says. All of the homes have 10-year tax abatements.
 
The two-bedroom, two-full bath and one- or two-half bath townhomes range from 1,800 to more than 2,100 square feet and have two-car attached garages. Prices start at $294,900 and go upward to more than $350,000.
 
The stone facades are highlighted by bay windows and other large energy efficient windows that bring in natural light. “All of the windows are very large and individually placed,” explains Marous. “They’re all trimmed to give it that distinctive look of the community." Each unit also has its own private walk-out patio.
 
The homes include wood plank laminate and ceramic tile floors throughout, as well as plush stain-resisting carpeting. The furnace and air conditioning operate at 90 percent efficiency. Optional gas-powered fireplaces are an available upgrade.
 
Several styles and finishes of cabinetry are offered in the kitchen, which is outfitted with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, wood plank laminate floors and a large center island with seating.
 
Bathrooms feature quality cabinetry; ceramic tile flooring; granite countertops; under-mount, vitreous china sinks; polished chrome fixtures and ceramic tile showers with rain-shower heads. Vintage’s in-house interior designer, however, will work with buyers to customize all of their selections.
 
While Marous says he anticipates the whole project to take about three years, the process could be completed sooner. “It’s an ‘if you build it they will come’ process,” he says. “We definitely feel that when you’re building in a new area where there’s not been a lot of development we could build momentum."
 
The goal of the project is to build modern homes that fit in with Shaker’s existing architecture. “The whole objective here is to mix with the existing community, but give it a different feel,” Marous says, adding that Shaker city officials have been very supportive in the project, which represents subtle winds of change.

"The city owned the lot for a long time," notes Victoria Blank, Shaker's director of communications and marketing. "The Van Sweringens conceived Shaker Heights as a predominantly residential community and as such, it made sense to preserve and protect green space," she says, adding that, in keeping with the times, city officials have since reconsidered and now welcome denser housing options such as the Townhomes of Van Aken, especially along public transit lines. "This new focus coincides with redevelopment and growth of [the city's] commercial districts," says Blank.
 
Marous says passersby are curious about the activity behind the construction wall. They won't have to wait too long, however. The model suite is due open for showings by mid-May, and just about all parties are anticipating what's to come.
 
“We love this neighborhood, we love Shaker,” Marous says. “There’s so much potential here.”


The city of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

High-end townhomes and detached houses coming to Detroit Shoreway

The Gordon Square Arts District has glittered in the spotlight these days with the airing of LeBron James’ Cleveland Hustles on CNBC. Now locals who previously overlooked the quirky-yet-classic neighborhood are also discovering all it has to offer.

The many amenities of the neighborhood are one reason why developer Bo Knez, of Knez Homes decided to build Breakwater Bluffs, 24 single-family detached houses and townhomes located at W. 58th Street and Breakwater Boulevard..
 
“The location is just amazing,” says Knez. “With beach access and Gordon Square nearby, it’s amazing.”
 
Knez plans to break ground on the $10 million project by late April.
 
The two- and three-bedroom homes are just a short walk from Gordon Square and offer sweeping views of Lake Erie and downtown as well as easy access to hiking trails and a path to Edgewater Beach. All units have either a bonus room or den.
 
“We just saw the expansion of the Detroit Shoreway and the growth as both a commercial and residential opportunity,” Knez says of the neighborhood.
 
The homes, designed by RSA Architects, range from about 1,900 square feet to more than 2,300. They start at $300,000 and go upward to the mid- $500,000 range. All of the homes are Energy Star rated, have low homeowner association fees and offer 15 year tax abatement. Knez offers a “fee simple” purchase plan, which he says makes the down payment much more affordable.
 
The kitchens feature stainless steel, energy efficient appliances and granite countertops, while the master bath has double sinks and a walk-in tile shower. “Energy efficiency is off that chart,” says Knez. “And the customer is able to select the finishes.”
 
The open floor plans, 10-foot ceiling and large windows allow the natural light to pour in, while wood plank floors add to the modern feel. “We wanted a community-oriented feel in the design,” says Knez. “We’re using livability and entertainment as the main focus of the design.”
 
Five of the units have attached side porches, while the townhomes have access to a rooftop deck and an optional dog run. All units have attached two-car garages, as well as ample guest parking. Additionally, the townhomes include an option for an elevator.
 
Once Knez breaks ground, the first phase of the five traditional homes is scheduled for completion by late summer or early fall, and the remaining 19 townhomes are scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
 
“Once we get started, we will have a six month delivery time,” Knez promises, adding pre-sale interest has been strong.

Goldhorn Brewery to be Shaker's first brew pub in new Van Aken District

When phase one of the new Van Aken District in Shaker Heights opens in spring of 2018, Goldhorn Brewery will be one of the anchor tenants in the district’s Orman Building food hall.

The brewery, which opened its first location on E. 55th Street last June, will be Shaker’s first brew pub. The partnership between developer RMS Investment Corp and Goldhorn came about after the realization that both entities strive to revitalize historically vibrant areas, says Goldhorn owner Rick Semersky.
 
“They loved the story of what we did with the [St. Clair Superior] neighborhood and they’re doing the same thing in building the new downtown Shaker,” says Sermersky. “There are a lot of similarities between the projects.”
 
RMS director of leasing Jason Fenton agrees that Goldhorn will be a good fit for the district.

“The Van Aken District is excited to have Goldhorn as a partner and feel their addition within the Orman Building will help anchor the project,” he says. “Rick and his team are a fantastic compliment to the other offerings," adds Fenton, noting that the developer is striving to include the best local offerings in the highly anticipated Shaker project.
 
Goldhorn will occupy 2,200 square feet in a corner space of 20,000-square-foot Orman Building, complete with an outdoor patio and seating that overlooks the food hall. “It’s smaller than the space on 55th, but it’s great exposure,” says Semersky.
 
The Van Aken District will be an open container area, he adds, so patrons can grab a beer while they shop. “They can get food from the other vendors and then come in and sit at our bar, or they can grab a beer from us and go out into the hall,” he explains.
 
The bar will probably have a 12-tap system, with eight to 10 beers on draft at any given time. “It seems to work well for us,” Semersky says of the choices. “It’s not too little, but not overwhelming.”
 
While Goldhorn will offer some of its established signature brews, brewer Joel Wagner says he is already testing different recipes to create beers just for Van Aken. ”I’m playing around with different grains and hops recipes,” he says. “I can do one-off batches, and we have a good variety so people can come in, no matter what their beer style is, and taste everything to hit that style.”
 
Semersky says they plan to move into the new space within eight months and begin preparations. “We will hit the ground running,” he says. “The way we look at Van Aken is it’s an opportunity to be part of the neighborhood’s redevelopment and be a neighborhood brew pub in Shaker Heights.”

The city of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Wizard World lands in Cleveland with Rocky Horror, costumes and stranger things

Thousands of pop culture fans will descend upon the Cleveland Convention Center next week to attend the notorious Wizard World Comic Con’s 15-stop tour.

Running Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, this year marks the third consecutive year that Wizard World has come to Cleveland. Each year, fans attend the weekend-long event to show off their costumes, meet celebrities, tour more than 100 vendors and exhibitors and attend workshops centered around topics such as cosplay, zombies, the Simpsons and super heroes.
 
“Everyone wants to be themselves,” says Wizard World PR manager Jerry Milani of the characters attendees become. “Wizard World is the place to come out and be themselves.”
 
Highlights of this year’s Wizard World include guest appearances by Anthony Mackie of Avengers, Captain America; Jennifer Carpenter from the cast of Showtime’s Critically-acclaimed serial murder series Dexter; Millie Bobby Brown of the Netflix original series Stranger Things; and Loren Lester and Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series. Locals will enjoy saying hello to Ted Sikora, creator of Apama – The Undiscovered Animal and Cleveland's resident superhero.
 
KISS fans will appreciate a guest appearance by the band’s front man Gene Simmons, who will be on hand for photographs and autographs before performing at the Agora on Saturday, March 18. “It’s an opportunity to meet him and also hear him on the concert side,” says Milani.
 
The concert will be followed by a Wizard World After Party, also at the Agora.
 
Saturday night screenings of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a popular addition to the lineup from last year. This year, Rock Horror star Barry Bostwick will be in Cleveland and local shadow cast group Simply His Servants will be acting out the movie in tandem with the screening.
 
"It's a new, kind of different format for us,” says Milani of the screening and shadow cast.
 
Perennial favorite Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame will be in Cleveland all weekend. “She’s science fiction royalty,” proclaims Milani of the 84-year-old actress. “She’s really something else. She’s just a must-meet for so many people.”
 
Between 100 and 150 exhibitors will sell unique and hard-to-find items, says Milani, while replicas of famous cars from movies and television shows will also be displayed. Popular vehicles include the Batmobile, the Sanford and Son salvage truck and the Ghost Busters Ecto-1.
 
Guest from the comic strip and cartoon world include Simpsons illustrator Phil Ortiz, who is known to draw Wizard World attendees as Simpsons characters; Muppet Babies creator Guy Gilchrist; and Ren and Stimpy illustrator Bob Camp.
 
Saturday night is capped off with a costume contest, judged by professional cosplayers.
 
"There's a little bit of everything," says Milani. "We have everything in the world that's pop culture at our shows."
 
Wizard World Comic Con Cleveland runs Friday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets start at $35 for general admission, while three-day passes are $75. VIP packages and tickets to specific events cost more. Admission to Rocky Horror is $15.

'Immigrant Narratives' to be part of Cleveland Humanities Festival

On Saturday, March 18th and Sunday, March 19th at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland State University student center ballroom, 2121 Euclid Ave., SC 319, the local nonprofit Literary Cleveland will present Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives. This event is free and open to the public and includes a reception after each show, but registration is encouraged.
 
Cosponsored by Case Western Reserve's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the two 90-minute presentations will feature staged readings of short essays, fiction and poems performed by a set of professional actors assembled by director Marc Moritz. The stories depict the emotional journey of crossing borders, both literal and metaphorical, and what it means to be both an immigrant and an American.
 
In “Crutches,” Jill Sell writes about her Czech ancestors’ uncertain passage through Ellis Island. “Food and Family,” a piece by Hathaway Brown student Crystal Zhao, describes a second-generation Chinese immigrant bonding with her mother over stories of childhood rebellion. The poem “Genesis” by Daniel Gray-Kontar addresses the journey of African-Americans from the south to cities such as Cleveland during the Great Migration.
 
Stories focusing on more recent immigration experiences include “Struggling to Survive,” in which Syrian immigrant Bayan Aljbawi writes about leaving her troubled homeland for the United States, an experience she describes as “escaping from one suffering to another: new culture, new country and different language.” In “American Promise,” award-winning novelist and Case professor Thrity Umrigar – who immigrated from India more than 30 years ago – confronts the current political climate and asks if the United States “will be a country that is as small and narrow as its fears” or “as large and glorious as its dreams, as splendid as the hopes of millions of its citizens, immigrant and native born … ?”

"Immigrant Narratives" is part of the second annual Cleveland Humanities Festival (CHF), which runs from March 15 through mid-May.
 
Per event literature: "The theme for 2017 is 'Immigration.' The CHF will utilize the resources of Cleveland’s leading intellectual institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities caused by the movement of people. Exile, immigration, deportation, migration — in the history of every nation, demographic shifts have been a part of the fabric of civic and cultural life. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of our own country. The forced deportations of the Middle Passage, the wholesale immigration of eastern Europeans in the nineteenth century, the recent relocation of refugees from Middle Eastern conflict, are only a few of the movements that have left their mark on American communities. The CHF will explore from a humanistic perspective the impact of immigration across time and within our own time through a series of coordinated events, including lecture, exhibits, theatrical performances, academic symposia, tours, and films."
 
This year's festival includes more than three dozen eclectic and provocative programs such as An Irish-Appalachian Journey (musical performance), a film screening and discussion of From Refugee to Neighbor, a field trip to Cleveland's ethnic markets and Immigrants in Ohio, a discussion about how newcomers enhance communities. That short list is a scant sampling of the extensive offerings, a full list of which is available here.

Some activities require ticket purchase and registration. Event venues are at points across the region.
 

New Chagrin Falls Heinen's: "Urban in a suburban setting"

When brothers Jeff and Tom Heinen open their 23rd Heinen’s grocery store — 19 of which in Northeast Ohio and four in Chicago — in pedestrian-friendly Chagrin Falls next week, residents are sure to be pleased with not only the quality food offered by the Warrensville Heights-based chain, but also in its convenience.

“I think the number-one thing, is we’re very pleased to have a quality store like Heinen’s come to town and make an investment,” says Chagrin Falls Village mayor Bill Tomko. “With sidewalks everywhere in Chagrin Falls, to have a grocery store where you can walk to is a real plus.”
 
A series of grocery stores have occupied the new Heinen’s space since the Chagrin Falls Shopping Plaza opened in the 1980s, says Tomko, including two original grocers — Mazzulo’s and Fazio’s — and then finally, Russo’s Giant Eagle. Woolworth’s and CVS also occupied a portion of the original space.
 
CVS still remains, and Heinen’s will take over the 26,000 square feet at 20 Shopping Center Plaza that Giant Eagle left in 2014. The store will officially open on Wednesday, March 1 at 10 a.m with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
 
Tomko says the space didn’t quite fit the “big box” approach of Giant Eagle. “It didn’t fit the Giant Eagle format,” says Tonka. “It didn’t really receive the management attention and time it deserved.”
 
Tom Heinen agrees that the store needed work when they took the space over. “We gutted it,” he says of the renovations. “We made it a Heinen’s.”
 
With stores in Pepper Pike and Bainbridge, Tom Heinen says the Heinen's chain has carved a unique place in the far eastern suburbs. “The neighborhood demographic first the way we do business,” he says. “It’s just a good overall fit.”
 
Since 2014, Tomko says residents have been begging for a new grocery store to come into the plaza. “During the vacancy, the biggest complaint we received was ‘why don’t you put in a grocery store,’” he says. “Heinen’s stepped up.”
 
In almost as much time, while the Heinen’s downtown celebrated its grand opening in February 2015, the brothers were already in talks with the plaza owners about leasing space.
 
Tom Heinen calls the new store a bit unique, with narrower aisles and higher shelves than other grocery stores. “It’s kind of urban in a suburban setting,’ he says. “It’s a beautiful store.”
 
In addition to quality food and produce selection, Tomko says Chagrin Falls residents will enjoy Heinen’s emphasis on its ready-made chef-prepared foods and its close proximity. “On those days when you’re tired, you can walk up to the grocery store and get dinner and go home,” he explains. “Or when you’re grilling in the summer and you realize you forgot the ketchup, it’s a huge convenience.”
 
The food offerings fits with the lifestyle brand Heinen’s has created through its culinary team. “We’re always trying to create innovative, health foods,” Tom Heinen says of their offerings.
 
With 48 wines by the glass and 12 beers on tap, customers can also enjoy food and drink while they shop or try one of a series of food and wine classes, pairing seminars and other unique events.
 
Tom Heinen says two large garage doors will open up to curbside dining. “It’s going to be a fun gathering place,” he says, adding that Chagrin Falls has emerged as a popular destination for happy hours, small plates and casual dining. “We think this will be a nice addition to the Chagrin Falls array.”
 
Of course, the new Heinen’s will also offer its standard services, including an in-store butcher with source-verified meats, fresh seafood, quality seasonal and locally-grown produce, an assortment of organic products and a gourmet cheese department.
 
Regular store hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

PizzaFire spreads across Ohio and beyond

In August 2015, Fresh Water reported on the opening of PizzaFire on Public Square in downtown Cleveland. It was the second such location for the fledgling company. The first was established in Akron the previous October.

Since then, the fast-casual pizza franchise has spread like wildfire.

There are no less than 10 PizzaFires in Northeast Ohio, including eateries in Parma, Woodmere, Rocky River, Strongsville, Fairlawn and Kent. Columbus is home to two PizzaFires, with another in Toledo and one in Kettering, Ohio. There's even a Texas location, which brings the total to 15.

Back in 2015, Ryan Rao, the company's franchise development executive, told Fresh Water that the company had seven more locations in the works with its sights set far beyond that.

"We want to build out the Midwest with 100 units in six years," said Rao in 2015.

Considering they've realized 13 in just 17 months and have 23 new sites in the works listed on their Coming Soon page, with locations slated to bloom from Los Angeles to Long Island and Tampa — the company is well on track to meet that goal.

Fans of Romeo's Pizza won't be surprised to learn that the man behind that long-standing area favorite, Sean Brauser, is also PizzaFire's CEO.

"He really is a pizza genius," said Rao of Brauser. "He's very well recognized for his pizza creativity," he added, citing a host of awards and accolades that Brauser has garnered for his pies and a 2005 appearance on the Food Network's $10,000 Pizza Challenge.

PizzaFire credits its success to its build-your-own pizza model, with six sauce options, including the "Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Sauce," which is concocted from hand-crushed tomatoes, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and Italian herbs and spices. Five different cheeses and 40 fresh toppings round out the selection. Dough is made fresh daily and then let to rest for  24 to 48 hours to allow the flavor to mature.

After customers watch their pizza get built, the pies are baked in a domed brick oven that reaches 800 degrees and can turn out a pizza in less than three minutes.

"You throw that pizza in there," says Brauser of his ovens in a company video, "that dough immediately starts to cook."

He continues, "I really want [our customers] to get an authentic Italian pizza experience and then be able to customize it exactly the way they want it."

Hungry? Of course the Public Square location is open for business at 236 Euclid Ave., and PizzaFire also has deals in the works for University Circle, Mayfield and Broadview Heights.

April opening slated for first of 306 units at Gordon Square's Edison

Since 2015, residents in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have been eying the transformation of 10 acres of land between W. 58th and W. 65th Streets — from the demolition of 300,000 square feet of vacant factories, to the land remediation to, finally, the phoenix that has risen: The Edison at Gordon Square at 6060 Father Caruso Drive.
 
Officials with developer NRP Group say the project is moving ahead at full steam and they are pre-leasing the luxury apartments and townhouses, with the first tenants moving in on April 21. NRP broke ground in the fall of 2015.

The first building is almost complete, with a second building due for completion in May and a third in July.
 
“We’re actually a bit ahead of schedule,” says NRP senior marketing manager Nancy Arnold. “The whole community should be delivered to us by the end of September. Leasing has been going extremely well. We’re about 26 percent pre-leased. Hopefully we’ll keep the momentum going.”
 
The complex consists of multiple buildings that house 306 units, including 180 one-bedroom apartments, 102 two-bedroom apartments, six mezzanine unites and 18 townhomes. All units include either garage or surface parking. One-bedroom apartments start at $980 a month and one and two bedroom units go up to $1,770, while townhome rents range from $2,575 up to $3,975 for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse.
 
“I don’t think we’ve had too many people who have an issue with the price,” says Arnold. “Once they see everything they’re getting, they see value in the price.”
 
Each unit comes complete with stainless steel appliances, vinyl plank flooring, granite or quartz countertops and wood cabinets in either a dark stain or painted a blue-grey.
 
Other amenities include a heated, resort-style pool with fountains and cabanas. “It will feel like you’re in a five-star resort, not in Cleveland,” Arnold says.
 
The courtyard around the pool has fire pits, grills, a ping pong table and two outdoor televisions. In the fitness room, residents can take virtual Pilates, yoga or spinning classes with an on-demand video fitness system.
 
There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center, dry cleaning service, package concierge and a conference room equipped with Wi-Fi and a laptop.
 
“The fourth floor is open to rent for a minor fee,” says Arnold. “There’s a balcony with views of the lake and the downtown skyline, a fireplace and a kitchenette with a dining room table for up to 10. For those people who want to have a higher-end dinner party, that’s where they want to go.”
 
There is also a first floor event room with a kitchenette for smaller, less formal gatherings.
 
The advantages of living at the Edison extend beyond the complex itself. A bike trail connects the grounds to Edgewater Beach. The activities in and around Gordon Square are just a short walk away, not to mention the location’s proximity to Ohio City and Tremont.
 
“Truly, what we are doing is going to complete the community,” says Edison community manager Brittney Perez, adding that the Edison is geared toward young professionals and those attracted to an urban lifestyle. “People who use Edgewater, who walk up to the shops, are the people gravitating toward the [Gordon Square] community.”
 
The Edison should add to the growing allure of the neighborhood. “People are just starting to realize Gordon Square, and everything they’re doing to build up its name” says Arnold.
 
“We’re not trying to be an apartment community that takes over the neighborhood,” Arnold promises. “We don’t want to be the neighborhood, we want to be a part of the neighborhood.” She says they’ve already introduced themselves to other members of the Gordon Square community.
 
“We’ve been working with the merchants,” Arnold says. "We’re really working hard to build those relationships.”
 
Models are now open for tours. A two-bedroom model was designed by Cleveland designer Susie Frazier and a one-bedroom model designed by Akron-based David Hawkins. “We wanted to do a model that really represented the neighborhood and Cleveland,” says Arnold.
 
Edison management opened the leasing trailer on the grounds this week, and both Arnold and Perez invite potential tenants to stop by or contact them for more information or a tour.

Dinner-for-two, prix fixe specials and competitions in 56 local eateries for weeklong event

The 10th annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week will kick off this Friday, Feb. 17, in a 10-day competition between downtown restaurants for the title of Restaurant of the Year, as well as a chance for diners to shake off the winter blues and get out to enjoy discounts at some of Cleveland’s best and newest restaurants.

“The whole reason we produce Downtown Restaurant Week at this time of year is because February tends to be a slower month,” says Heather Holmes, marketing and public relations director of event host Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA). “It gives people the opportunity to get out to downtown and try something new.”
 
Fifty-six downtown restaurants will participate in Restaurant Week this year — with both the old favorites and some newcomers to the scene — and will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for $15, $20 and $40.
 
“Some of the restaurants even use those prices for dinner-for-two specials,” says Holmes, adding that Rose’s Braai in the Arcade plans to offer a two-for-$15 lunch special. Many newcomers, like Parker’s Downtown in the Kimpton Schofield, Nuevo Cleveland, Raving Med and the Burnham — just to name a few of the 12 new restaurants that opened downtown last year — will also be participating.
 
Another newcomer, Chicago’s Chicken and Waffles, at 1144 Prospect Ave. in Playhouse Square, chose not to participate this year.
 
This year, local chefs and restaurateurs in six districts — Public Square/Tower City, Gateway, Playhouse Square, Campus District, Warehouse District and the Flats — will also compete in The Hungry Games: Battle of the Districts for the title of Best Dining District.
 
"It’s a fun thing for the chefs to get behind, and what’s better than a little friendly competition” says Holmes of the battle. “I thought it would be fun to see the Zach Bruell [places] bringing their game and competing against the Michael Symon places.”
 
The winning district earns bragging rights, says Holmes, as well as a mention in an upcoming issue of Cleveland Magazine.
 
Other categories during Restaurant Week are Judge's Choice, Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year. Diners can view the participating restaurants and their menus, as well as vote for their favorites. For every vote cast, diners earn a chance to win free downtown dining for a year.
 
Last year, judges chose Johnny's Downtown as their favorite, while diners picked Elements Bistro and Cleveland Chop took home Restaurant of the Year. The Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club claimed the award for “most mouthwatering,” says Holmes.
 
Additionally, DCA will host a kick-off party this Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Cleveland in the Arcade, 401 Euclid Ave. Attendees can sample selections from more than 30 participating restaurants, enjoy cocktails from the cash bar and shop the Arcade’s retailers.
 
“Sponsors will parachute gifts off the balconies,” promises Holmes, and a panel of celebrity judges will name the Judge’s Choice establishment.
 
Tickets are $25, with all proceeds going to DCA’s GeneroCity Cleveland, an organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless population find permanent housing, get job training and other assistance. The Kick-off party is for people ages 21 and older.

State-of-the-art Taussig Cancer Center designed around the patient

When the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, 10201 Carnegie Ave., opens on Monday, March 6, cancer patients will be introduced to an immersive state-of-the-art experience.
 
Patients will have access to all outpatient treatment services in the new 377,000-square-foot facility, wherein the center’s entire team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, genetic counselors and social workers will be based. Currently, the oncology department is located in the Crile Building and patients receiving treatment on the Clinic’s main campus often have to navigate through four different buildings to make their appointments.
 
“The way we’ve designed this, through the physical layout, is to treat the patient like the focal point,” says John Suh, chairman of the Clinic’s radiation oncology department and associate director of the Gamma Knife Center at the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center. “We’ve integrated care so patients don’t have to go back and forth.”
 
The new $276 million Taussig Center is very “patient-centric,” says Suh, in that the seven-story building is organized by cancer type. Patients see all of their caregivers in the same area. In the new building the caregivers travel to the patient, instead of the patient having to travel to different locations for different appointments.
 
"It fosters communication and collaboration by having the physicians revolve around the patients," says Suh. “It optimizes outcomes and the patient experience.”
 
The 126 exam rooms and 98 treatment rooms on the second, third and fourth floors are all in close proximity to each other, while the fifth and sixth floors house offices. Private chemotherapy infusion suites, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, will overlook a tree-lined courtyard.
 
“One of the nice things about this large building is it was designed to let light into the building,” says Suh. “One side is all glass.”
 
Current and former patients, as part of the Voice of the Patient Advisory Council, were consulted in the design, as well as surgeons, oncologists and nurse caregivers. Stantec and the Boston-based William Rawn Associates worked on the architecture and design, while Turner Construction served as the general contractor.
 
The first floor lobby features floor-to-ceiling windows to let natural light pour in and serves as the main area for patient resources — including an information center; art and music therapy spaces; a boutique for free wigs, caps and scarves; a wellness center; a prosthetics fitting area; and a place for prayer and meditation.
 
“It’s a concentrated support system,” says Suh of the first floor resources. “Patients and caregivers can get support in one concentrated area.”
 
The 4th Angel Mentoring Program, founded my figure skating champion and former Cleveland Clinic cancer patient Scott Hamilton, will also be housed on the first floor, as will a cafeteria that will promote healthy, locally-grown foods.
 
The radiation treatment center, which includes six linear accelerators and a Gamma Knife suite, will be housed in the basement. Suh says Taussig also will be the first facility in Ohio to receive Gamma Knife ICON technology.
 
To brighten up the basement area, a 34- by eight-foot, six-foot tall skylight will pop out of the ground in the parking drop off area to bring in natural light into the otherwise dark space.
 
“I think it’s very important for natural light to come into the radiation oncology department,” says Suh. “Patients can see if it’s sunny out or raining. It’s a unique part of the building.”   
 
The new center will also have on-site diagnostic imaging, space for genetics and genomics testing and a dedicated area for clinical trials. While Clinic researchers will perform their phase one, two and three clinic trials there, emphasis will be placed on phase one trials.
 
“It’s really going to enhance what we do from a research standpoint,” says Suh. “It’s really a very exciting time in cancer care and [Taussig] will optimize that care.”
 
Architects and planners kept the patient in mind even when designing the parking and drop off area. “There are two lanes for the valet and patient drop off, and a third lane for passers-by,” Suh explains. “We don’t have a pile-up.”

The entire facility will feature from art curated by the Clinic's in-house team.
 
The Clinic will host an open house on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m., during which the public is invited to drop in and tour the new center. The event will also include health screenings, children’s activities and healthy refreshments.

Closer look: two eco-friendly townhome projects bloom amid urban—and green—settings

Developer Andrew Brickman of Brickhaus Partners create luxury living spaces in Cleveland’s urban areas that are not only eco-friendly, but also provide a park-like setting. So, what better location than along the borders of the Cleveland Metroparks?

The Emerald Necklace is what drew him to his latest projects: 95 Lake at 9508 Lake Road in the Edgewater neighborhood and Riversouth, 18871 Lorain Road in Fairview Park, both of which offer spacious, luxury city living with spectacular views of the Metroparks, as well as easy access to transportation, shopping and nightlife. Riversouth sits on the border of the Rocky River Reservation and Big Met golf course, while 95 Lake overlooks Lake Erie and Edgewater Park.

“We try to be near parks, public transportation,” Brickman says of his projects. “We’re near all the Metroparks”
 
Furthermore, both developments provide the amenities of city living that is so popular in Cleveland right now—another priority for Brickman.
 
“I try to develop in the city and inner ring suburbs to stop urban sprawl,” he says. “Because urban sprawl contributes the most to duplication of services. You know, Cleveland’s not getting any bigger, it’s just spreading out. So I’m trying to bring people back to the city.”
 
In the Edgewater neighborhood, the first residents are scheduled to move into their new townhomes at the end of this month, says Brickman. Seven of the 10 townhomes are sold, he says, with a “lot of interest” in the remaining three units.
 
Brickhaus broke ground on the project last April, on the site of the former St. Thomas Lutheran Church. The 95 Lake townhomes were designed by architect Scott Dimit, principal of Dimit Architects, as were the 32 units at River South.
 
The three remaining three-story homes range from approximately 1,800 square feet for a two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath floor plan to a 2,168-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home. Prices range from $499,000 to $649,000 and include 15-year tax abatements.
 
The townhomes come equipped with attached two-car garages, optional fireplaces and stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. The furnace and hot water tank are also energy efficient.
 
Brickman notes that energy efficiency is a standard in all Brickhaus properties, adding that the company’s Eleven River project in Rocky River is the first geothermal multifamily development in Northeast Ohio.
 
“Energy efficiency is important to us because we’re trying to bring a lifestyle to people, and that involves being a good citizen of the earth,” says Brickman.
 
Each residence has its own private rooftop balcony, ranging from 250 to 350 square feet and offering great views of the lake and Edgewater, as well as of downtown Cleveland and the neighborhood’s tree canopy.
 
Many of the residents who have already purchased properties at 95 Lake are local, with one buyer returning to Cleveland from out of town, and others coming from Tremont, Ohio City and Battery Park, says Brickman.
 
“What they said was they loved the inner ring suburbs and they love this Edgewater area because it’s older,” says Brickman of the typical buyers. “It has character like those other neighborhoods, it’s a mature sort of neighborhood.”
 
The Edgewater area also offers a sense of security, says Brickman, while still being in the Cleveland city limits.
 
“They want to be close to everything in those neighborhoods, but this has a different feel to it because we have the single family housing,” Brickman explains. “You’ve got the park and you’ve got lot of owner-occupied houses. These are people who want to be in the city, because it’s still the city.”
 
Residents will be moving in to 95 Lake through the next few months, says Brickman, with the entire project scheduled for completion by summer.
 
All but 10 of the 32 townhomes at Riversouth have sold, Brickman says, and all of the site work and landscaping is completed. In addition to the views, he points to the development’s proximity to Kamm’s Corners—a 10 minute walk—and Fairview Hospital as well as access to the biking and hiking trails right outside the door.
 
“Riversouth is surrounded on three sides by Metroparks,” says Brickman, “so your views are right there.”
 
The townhomes offer a seven-year tax abatement and range from 1,148 to 2,808 square feet. Prices start at $269,000 and go up to $539,000.
 
Brickhaus calls Riversouth “Ecohomes,” in that the townhouses are smarthomes with everything from lighting to the sound system integrated through the owner’s smart phone. Of course, everything is energy efficient, has bamboo floors, private decks and balconies, and two-car insulated garages.
 
Outside, like all Brickhaus properties, the landscape is planted with native perennial plants that do not require irrigation. A dry basin storm water retention system keeps everything in check.
 
“We expect to win awards for the landscaping and the creativity in which it was handled,” says Brickman of the storm water retention system at Riversouth.
 
In keeping with its commitment to develop in Cleveland and stop urban sprawl, Brickman says there are a few more urban projects on the horizon for Brickhaus. It’s what he loves to do.
 
“It’s a lot easier to develop a cornfield out in Avon because you don’t have any neighbors to deal with than it is to develop in an existing neighborhood,” explains Brickman. “Because you have the neighbors to deal with, and they don’t want change, and the guy next door doesn’t want to be living next to construction.

"It’s probably the most difficult kind of development you can do but to me, it’s been pretty satisfying.”

New hope for historic Scofield Mansion restoration

The 1898 dilapidated mansion of renowned Cleveland architect Levi Scofield is about to get a makeover and a new chance to become a crown jewel of the Buckeye Woodhill neighborhood, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and a team of volunteers.

Scofield’s vacant historic home, tucked away at 2438 Mapleside Road, has fallen into disrepair over the past two decades.

“It’s in a forgotten corner of this neighborhood, in an area you wouldn’t normally go to,” says CRS president Kathleen Crowther. “It’s like a haunted house. But if it’s restored and sold, it could be a showcase for the city and could really turn this neighborhood around.”
 
That optimism is why the CRS formed a blue ribbon task force last year with the hope of saving and restoring the home. “This is a last-ditch effort on this property,” Crowther says, noting the structure has been flagged for potential demolition. “It’s completely open to the elements, kids can get in there. It’s horrible. It’s now or never.”
 
Despite the repairs needed because of vandals and exposure, Crowther says the house is structurally sound. “The stone is Berea sandstone, the wood is hard as steel,” she says, adding that the original slate roof is still intact. “The wood that was used back then was hard, dense lumber. The building was very well-built.”
 
Saving the mansion is now looking like a possibility, as the property could be signed over to the Land Bank as earlier as the end of this week, says Justin Fleming, director of real estate for Neighborhood Progress.
 
The move was made possible through a legal deal in which the current owner agreed to donate the property to the Land Bank in exchange for the court waiving $55,000 on back property taxes. In turn, the Land Bank has agreed to hold the property for two years while Neighborhood Progress and the task force try to save the house.

“We’ve been working on it in earnest since last spring and not it’s really all hands on deck,” says Fleming of the effort. “This gives us time to clean it out, stabilize it and secure the house and really set the stage for what could happen.”
 
When Scofield, who is best known in Cleveland for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Public Square and the Schofield Building, now the Kimpton Schofield on E. 9th, was looking to move to the country in the late 1890s, he bought six acres of land on a bluff overlooking the Fairmount Reservoir and built the 6,000-square-foot, three-story Victorian home.
 
“It was designed in a very picturesque setting to overlook the city,” says Crowther. “He built it in a bucolic area to have magnificent views of the city.”
 
After Scofield’s death in 1917, his family remained in the house until 1925. Over the years the house served as a chapel, a convent, and finally a nursing home until 1990. Sometime in the 1960s, a second building was erected on the land as an extension of the nursing home.
 
Both buildings stood vacant and went into disrepair since 1990. In 2011 a buyer, Rosalin Lyons, bought the property for $1,400 at a foreclosure auction, thinking she was just buying the 60s building. But the sale included the mansion, according to Fleming.
 
“I can understand the thought process on the building because it has really good bones,” he says. “But Lyons was in way over her head and nothing ever happened to either property.”
 
Crowther says the owner had plans to transform the property into a rehab center, but nothing every came of it and Lyons ended up in housing court. “She had dreams of doing something good for the community there but that dream needed money,” Crowther says. “She was between a rock and a hard place.”
 
Now members of the task force are making preparations for stabilization work on the house as soon as they get the word the transfer is complete. “The clean-out, the stabilization and securing of the house really sets the stage for what could happen,” proclaims Fleming. “Let’s save the asset.”
 
Three companies have already committed their time, labor and services to stabilize the house, says Crowther, who calls the process “mothballing,” which means preserving the property for future renovations.
 
Joe DiGeronimo, vice president of Independence-based remediation company Precision Environmental, has pledged to clean up both the mansion and a 1960s building built on the property. The DiGeronimo family has roots in the neighborhood, says Crowther, and has an interest in revitalizing the community.
 
“They have been heroes in this endeavor,” says Crowther of Precision Environmental.
 
Steve Coon, owner of Coon Restoration and Sealants in Louisville, Ohio, sits on the CRS board of trustees and has committed to roof and wall stabilization as well as masonry work. Cleveland-based SecureView will measure all of the doors and windows and fit them with the company’s patented clearboarding—clear, unbreakable material. The help is a relief for proponents of the renovation.

“In the beginning we were knocking out heads because we didn’t know what to do—there were so many pieces, all moving at the same time,” says Crowther of the project. “But inch by inch, we got somewhere.”
 
Crowther says CRS continues to raise money for the project. Once the building is stabilized, CRS and Neighborhood Progress will figure out the next steps in saving the house, marketing it and selling it. Both Crowther and Fleming say there is no concrete plan yet for the final outcome of the project, but they say they are pleased with the initial progress.
 
“I think it illustrates what can happen with lots of partners willing to come in and do something,” Crowther says.
 
John Hopkins, executive director of the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation and task force member, says he sees restoring the Scofield Mansion as beneficial for the neighborhood in three ways.
 
“It would bring stability for the neighborhood,” says Hopkins. “It would not just stabilize the building, but stabilize the neighborhood. Second is the economic impact in that it would increase the value of some of the homes around it [the mansion]. Third, there will be a sense of pride in this great building we saved.”
 
Fleming says Neighborhood Progress must next bring in an architect to draft new floor plans for the home, as the originals are lost. “That will help us talk to a tenant,” he explains.
 
Eager to move forward, organizers on the task force are encouraged by the pending transfer.

“They are trying to save it as an anchor and a monument,” Fleming says. “The neighborhood deserves it. The house deserves it.”

High-end tea, local nibbles coming to vintage Slavic Village building

There’s something about that purple corn that Ryan Florio uses in his Inca Tea blends. After being inspired by a tea brewed by his Sherpa while hiking in Peru with college buddies, he started the company out of his parents’ North Royalton home in February 2014.
 
Today, Inca Tea can be found on store shelves in Cleveland and across the country, and in a small café at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He announced his latest expansions last month: a second café in the airport and his first free-standing site at 6513 Union Ave. in Slavic Village, which will house a cafe, production facility and warehouse.
 
When Florio launched Inca Tea, it was an immediate success. Within 10 months he had opened a small, 60-square-foot café in Hopkins Airport B concourse and his teas were available in more than 200 grocery stores and Bed Bath and Beyond stores nationwide.
 
Today, Inca Tea is available in nearly 500 stores nationwide, including 70 Bed Bath and Beyond stores, all 39 Earth Fare stores and The Andersons. Locally, Inca Tea is stocked in Heinen’s, Whole Foods, Mustard Seed and Giant Eagle Market District stores.
 
Inca Tea has made the Cleveland Hot List for the past two consecutive years as the area's favorite tea house.
 
Florio hopes to maintain that status as he expands, particularly at the more elaborate Slavic Village location.
 
“Now I have a true home base where I can do it all in one facility,” he says of the Union Avenue site. “Once I walked in, I knew it was the place.”
 
The “place” is a 1930s two-story red brick 15,000-square-foot building with 20-foot-high ceilings that originally served as an electric company substation and later a warehouse. Florio is converting the space to include a 400-square-foot café that will seat more 30.
 
Florio's customers will enter the cafe through a solid oak, 14.foot-high, three-inch-thick front door. The café will be furnished with high top tables and couches among exposed brick walls and the Inca Tea logo painted on a wood wall.
 
The entire café is furnished using recycled materials Florio found inside the building.
 
“We have benches made out of cast iron floor grates, we have the bar, which is made from the recycled corrugated metal that was on the back of the building,” Florio notes. “The main wall is made from the wood that was inside the back wall and the coffee tables are made from cast iron grates and iron piping.”
 
Customers in the cafe can watch the creation of more than a million tea bags a year through a window into the 4,500-square-foot production center. The second floor will have a conference room with a view of the first-floor café.
 
“It’s a unique and interesting building,” Florio says of the space, adding that Slavic Village officials were eager to bring Inca Tea to the neighborhood. “It has amazing curb appeal and is the epitome of what I was looking for to grow the business.”
 
In addition to Inca Tea’s four blends, Florio plans to serve plenty of goodies made by local vendors, including Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Cleveland Bagel Company, Anna in the Raw, Breadsmith, Garden of Flavor, Randy's Pickles, Pope’s Hot Sauces, Nooma, Good Greens and Sweet Designs Chocolatier.
 
“Our main objective for this café is to have a minimum of 90 percent local,” says Florio. “It’s always been my mission to focus on Cleveland-based products.”
 
While Florio prepares to open his Slavic Village café, he is simultaneously planning a second, 310-square-foot café on Hopkins C concourse. He signed the letter of intent to move into the new space last month.
 
“It’s five times the size,” Florio says as he compares the new location to his original location. “It’s more of a full-size café.”
 
Florio adds that the mission to stay local in the products he sells is especially important in his airport cafes. “Customers can come in and take home a little of what Cleveland has to offer,” he says. In addition to his regular vendors, Florio also plans to carry food from Aladdin’s.
 
A late March opening is planned for the Slavic Village Inca Tea, while the timeline for the  airport café has not been finalized.
 
Florio plans to hire five to seven employees at the Slavic Village Inca Tea Café, which will be open during the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

'Becoming Imperceptible' comes to MOCA in a post-election world

Last summer, MOCA Cleveland's fourth floor Mueller Family and Rosalie + Morton Cohen Family Galleries featured the works of Mark Mothersbaugh in a multi-media explosion of color and playful commentary with everything from a mutated Scion to the Booji Boy mask of DEVO fame.
 
Last Friday, Adam Pendleton's Becoming Imperceptible took over the space. Like the Mothersbaugh show, it's an immersive experience full up with sound and visuals that reflect the man behind it all. Unlike last summer's offering, the current multi-media exhibition is void of color. The ceramic floor sculptures, framed Mylar prints, collage, silkscreens printed on mirror and two film installations are all depicted in black, white and gray.
 
While the two shows have commonalities, the narrative arc in time, politics and culture that separates them could not be more stark. When Mothersbaugh's Myopia debuted, the city was on the verge of the gentle summer months and giddy with the prospect of the Republican National Convention. Cleveland was, essentially, preparing for its close up.


 
Now a scant eight months later, division and uncertainty cloud the days. The city is covered in snow after an extended and eerie January thaw. Protests have filled Public Square with women and encroached on Cleveland Hopkins. More such events are scheduled.
 
Such is the current backdrop for Becoming Imperceptible. Different incarnations of the collection previously appeared in New Orleans and Denver, but both of those events closed prior to November 8, 2016. Hence, like the America it reflects, the exhibition woke to a new day when it debuted last week.
 
"I do think some of the things these images, these words, this language, signifies and represents will hit people differently now that we're post election," said Pendleton during an interview last Thursday, Jan. 26.
 
"We were sort of wondering what was coming and I think we're still sort of wondering what is coming, and I think one of the things we're all doing—as citizens, as artists, as Americans, as immigrants—we're trying to find the language to grapple with what's going on in relationship to democratic ideals.

"We're testing the health of our democracy and that's a very tenuous place to be. And I think art and the ways in which it can dwell and deal with abstraction is actually a very productive place to be when you don't know where you are."
 
He continues: "There's something about becoming—sort of perpetually becoming—that becomes urgent. Not to be fixed or stagnant, but to understand and accept that things change and you have to be a part of that change."
 
Looking forward, however, is often facilitated by a look back. Case in point: the video installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard features David Hilliard, founding member and chief of staff of the Black Panther party, as he recounts an April 6, 1968 encounter with Oakland, CA, police:
 
" … and I said 'oh fuck' because the police are coming and they're not looking around and there's other police and all of a sudden all this shooting. All these cars, people are scrambling. There had to been about 12 cars. They're running all over the place."
 
The three screens feature Hilliard speaking along with scenes from the surrounding Oakland neighborhood that capture the mundane and make it anything but: "That wire fence was not there. It was a very low fence like that. The lady that owns this house was my son's godmother so I jumped that fence. I don't remember that being there," says Hilliard of the scene.
 
"And then shooting this way and then they're shooting out from this direction And there's helicopters and the place is blocked off and just hundreds of police everywhere. Then Bobby Hutton came out with just his shirt off and the lady, Mrs. Jackson, I hear her screaming, 'oh my god, oh my god, they just killed the little one,' but I have no idea if that's little Bobby because I haven't seen him since we all broke up and was running  … "

So it goes, with Pendleton removing one layer after another. Call it being there, with a film about events that transpired nearly 50 years ago becoming ever more relevant as the nine minutes of My Education tick by.

While the film plays out behind a closed door, Hilliard's voice will not be contained. Hence, he continually narrates each viewer's experience as they take in the rest of Becoming Imperceptible.
 
Pendleton noted the irony of the show's historic perspective amid today's cultural landscape. "It seems we've completely forgotten any kind of historical reference or framework and we're just sort of hurtling towards a known political and social space—meaning a kind of unproductive violent chaos," he said. "We've witnessed the outcome of intolerance, of xenophobia, of homophobia."


 
"The perception was that we had moved away from these things. And we're kind of suddenly forgetting our past and kind of reliving it," he said. "There's a kind of violent déjà vu, if you will, and I think that's difficult to grapple with."
 
Yet another video offering, Just Back from Los Angeles: A portrait of Yvonne Rainer, subtly conveys that insidious transfer of violence. The 14-minute film chronicles a conversation between Pendleton and the famous dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer.
 
She is a woman; he is a man. She is white; he is black. She is in her eighties; he is in his thirties. They are both alive, supping at an unremarkable New York diner as she reads a work that details the following killings: Eric Garner, July 17, 2014, Staten Island, New York City; Ezell Ford, Aug. 11, 2014, Los Angeles; John Crawford III, Aug. 5, 2014, Beavercreek, Ohio; Tanisha Anderson and Tamir Rice; Nov. 13, 2015 and Nov. 22, 2014, respectively, Cleveland.
 
As 1968 and the bullets recalled by Hilliard suddenly feel very, very close, Just Back from Los Angeles concludes with clips from Rainer's most famous effort, the 1966 Trio A.
 
My Education and Just Back from Los Angeles are cogent centerpieces in Becoming Imperceptible. They reside amid Pendleton's other stark historical reference images, daunting all-cap text assertions and black-on-black paintings, each of which speaks for itself as singular statement and as a voice in the orchestrated chorus of the exhibit as a whole.
 
Becoming Imperceptible is on display through May 14, 2017. It is joined by Lisa Oppenheim's Spine in the Toby Devan Lewis Gallery; Transport Empty from Zarouhie Abdalian and Joseph Rosenzweig in Stair A; and Jeremy Dellar's Video Works in Gund Commons.
 
For those on a budget, admission is free at MOCA for all visitors on the first Saturday of the month, courtesy of PNC Bank. Gund Commons and MOCA Store are always open to the public during regular museum hours.
 
MOCA is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

Barrio to round out the Cedar Fairmount offerings by spring

When Sean Fairbairn and Tom Leneghan open their fourth Barrio location in Cleveland Heights in early spring, the restaurant known for its tacos, guacamole and margaritas will be a perfect fit with the Cedar Fairmount District’s vibrant nightlife scene.

“Our big thing is that we don’t want to compete with anyone. We want to complete that neighborhood,” says Barrio director of operations Jake Hawley. “We feel we will bring more people into the area. It’s just going to help everyone.”
 
Additionally, Hawley says the area is rife with Barrio’s target audience. “That neighborhood, there’s so much going on over there,” he says. “That little corner has so much going on. There are a couple of colleges in close proximity, and the kids love our food. We’re open until 2 a.m. every day, so we look for spots that can sustain the late-night crowd.”
 
The new location is the restaurant’s first foray into the east side, says Hawley, and the former Mad Greek space at 2466 Fairmount meets their needs. “We’ve wanted to expand to the east side,” he says. “That place was just perfect.”
 
The Mad Greek had been in business since 1976 when it closed permanently last September.
 
But it’s taking some work to get the 3,800 square feet up to Barrio standards. The team took over the lease six months ago and has been working ever since on an overhaul. “It was in pretty rough shape, shockingly bad,” says Hawley. “We were planning on doing some demolition, but it ended up being a complete gut job.”
 
Leneghan serves as the general contractor for all of the Barrio locations and is overseeing the Cleveland Heights project from start to finish.
 
The first task was to remove some walls. Originally, the entry lobby and bar were quite cramped. “We really opened up the space,” says Hawley. “We blew out the kitchen and created an octagonal bar in the middle of the space.”
 
The bar and open kitchen allow for better traffic flow and speedier service, says Hawley, adding that the kitchen is right by the bar, allowing for easy access for floor staff – not to mention room for the kitchen staff to work.
 
“Our model is to have a kitchen that looks out,” explains Hawley. “Bar backs and food runners don’t have to go in the kitchen at all. It’s hectic enough as it is.”
 
The main dining room and bar area combined will seat up to 150 people. Additionally, 16 additional tables will provide seating for up to 60 people on the back patio, where Hawley says an outdoor bar is planned.
 
Like the other Barrio locations in Tremont, Lakewood and Downtown, the décor will have a Day of the Dead theme, painted by Cleveland artist Michael “Mac” McNamara. While Hawley doesn’t yet know the story depicted in the new location’s mural, he promises it will be fantastic.
 
“We don’t get the story until the artist in finished,” Hawley admits. “But Mac is a very talented welder and painter.” Hawley does know that one of the painted skeletons resembles the image of LeBron James’ famous chalk cloud clap.
 
While Hawley says the mural is almost finished and the walk-in coolers arrived two weeks ago, there are just a few more finishing touches that need to be done before Barrio opens in the spring.
 
“You walk in and it looks like we could open soon,” says Hawley. “We really moved on this project and we’ve had a full crew working every day, five days a week. There’s a lot going on.”
 
Barrio will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The Cleveland Heights location will employ 50 to 60 people.

Steaks, craft cocktails, raw bar to be amid offerings in spectacular Marble Room

As designers, architects and construction workers hustle to transform the former National City Bank headquarters into Marble Room Steakhouse and Raw Bar, 623 Euclid Ave., owner and manager Malisse Sinito is juggling a variety of tasks.

But Sinito’s priority is to make sure the massive, three story restaurant, lounge and private party areas offer a warms and inviting environment for everyone who enters the magnificent space.
 
“We want guests to feel welcome, above all,” Sinito says. “We don’t want it to feel intimidating or stuffy; but special, comfortable and welcoming.”
 
The Marble Room will be housed in the banking hall of the Garfield Building, originally Guardian Bank and Trust. The space is the second largest banking hall in the world, second only to the massive L-shaped lobby of the 925 Building down the street.
 
The new Marble Room space encompasses nearly 21,000 square feet on three floors. Sinito and her husband, Frank, founder and CEO of Millennia Companies, bought the building two years ago, as well as the adjoining Garfield Building, which was built by two of President James A. Garfield’s sons. The Sinitos also own LockKeepers in Valley View.
 
Transforming the bank into a restaurant has been a daunting $6 million task. “The challenge has been with working with a non-restaurant space—transforming it, yet protecting and preserving its beauty,” Sinito says. “I’m proud of the amazing construction workers that are converting this historic gorgeous bank space into a new restaurant. It amazes me.”
 
Millennia worked with Morris Nathanson Design on the interior design elements of the Marble Room.
 
The 3,500-square-foot vault in the basement will be a private party area, complete with a pool table. In addition to the steel and reinforced concrete, three-foot-thick vault door, Millennia design and construction director Matt Solomon says the area also gives a glimpse into historic bank security measures.
 
“Back then it was high-tech security,” he says, adding that there is a separate ventilation system and “significant” vault door combinations, among other features. “The vault has view ports to see under the vault floor, lest someone digs underneath.”
 
Patrons to the private vault party area will also have private access through a hallway off of Vincent Avenue.
 
When guests enter through the restaurant’s front entrance on Euclid, they will be greeted by the 8,627-square-foot main dining room, which is flanked by two, 400-square-foot cocktail areas.
 
“They will have comfy couches and seating,” says Sinito of the lounges, adding that they plan on offering signature cocktails. “You don’t have to come in and have a steak, you can just have a glass of wine.”
 
A long bar will line one side of the main dining room. Behind the bar will be a two-story wine cellar, accessible by staff with a switch-back stair on the side wall.
 
A raw bar will be on the other side, featuring oysters, sushi and other items. The main menu will feature prime steaks, fish and “interesting” side dishes, says Sinito, although she says they are still working out those details.
 
LockKeepers executive chef Alberto Leandri will head up the cuisine. “We will be hiring an executive chef for Marble Room who will open alongside chef Leandri, promises Sinito, “so chef Leandri can stay very involved at LockKeepers.”
 
Booths will line the rest of the main dining room, with tables filling the center space. The Marble Room will seat 125.
 
Sinito says that timely service in the large restaurant was a concern. “We had to make sure we addressed service issues so guests wouldn’t have to wait,” she explains. So the main dining area was configured with smaller spaces within the room.
 
Overlooking the main dining room is a small balcony, which Sinito has wired for sound and may feature live entertainment.
 
To be sure, sound was one of the major issues around creating a restaurant in the former bank space. With its cathedral ceilings and marble floors, stairs and columns, noise tends to bounce around. Sinito is addressing the acoustics with planned ivory draperies cascading from the marble pillars and sound-absorbing wall tiles fashioned from teal fabric. Wood floors will also address the issue, as will colorful and funky carpeting. “It’s fun, playful and not too serious,” Sinito says of the contemporary animal-print carpet.
 
The 3,794-square-foot kitchen is in the rear of the space, with another lower level prep kitchen for the raw bar.
 
A marble staircase leads to a private banquet space for up to 150 guests, while the second floor in the front of the building will house 1,789 square feet of private dining space within three rooms. One of the rooms—the former office of the bank chairman—is entirely paneled in mahogany.
 
The third floor will house the restaurant’s administrative offices.
 
The team will incorporate a lot of the bank's history into the overall décor, Solomon says, with old ink bottles, a document stamping machine and other banking office tools on display as design accents. He says they are also considering displaying the original, hand-drafted floor plans.
 
Both Sinito and Solomon say they are in the middle of the entire project—the part that is always the hardest. “Getting decisions made as conditions are revealed are expected surprises,” Solomon says.
 
But Sinito says the work is worth it. “It’s still early on and the fun is yet to start,” she says. “I think the highlight will be when the vision starts to become a reality.”  

Otani Noodle expands menu, eyes second location

Joyce Luo is a self-proclaimed foodie. She’s lived all over the world and is always watching for new trends in dining. Now that she's landed in Cleveland, her radar is on the 216.
 
“I’m really picky for food,” she says. “I’ve lived in Hong Kong and California, so I’m really picky on food. And I love to eat.”
 
That particularity is what prompted Luo, her son Jacky Ho and business partner Janet Yee to open Otani Noodle, 11472 Euclid Ave. in University Circle Uptown last June.
 
“We could foresee that ramen is a trend. It’s so popular in the big cities like New York, Chicago and Toronto,” says Yee. “We travel a lot and been to those ramen places.”
 
The trio was correct in predicting the trend would take off in Cleveland—especially in a neighborhood nestled amid academic and cultural institutions and two major hospitals. Otani Noodle's popularity has taken off, especially with the lunch time crowds, says Luo.
 
“Lunch is really busy,” says Luo. “When you have [just] an hour, you don’t have to wait too long.”
 
Customers line up in the 750-square-foot restaurant for the traditional Japanese ramen: pork- or miso-based broth with noodles and then topped with pork, chicken or seafood. The dish is nothing like the grocery store ramen noodles that's a life-sustaining staple for so many college students, notes Luo, laughing.
 
“We’re doing well,” says Yee. “American people like noodles.” Luo adds, “Young people love this because it’s new.”
 
An open kitchen offers a direct view of the food prep while customers walk up to the counter and place their orders. The dining room has more than two dozen high-top tables. Take-out and some third-party delivery round out the options.
 
“It’s colorful,” says Luo of the striking red and black interior. “It’s a traditional Japanese theme.”
 
The menu offers 10 options, one of which is vegetarian. The most popular, both Yee and Luo say, is the pork belly with tonkotsu soup (broth made from pork bones) and noodles, topped with scallions, kikurage mushroom, seaweed and seasoned boiled egg. Prices range from $7.95 to $11.95.
 
In the scant seven months since opening, Otani's success has prompted the owners to start a search for a second location downtown. They've also added four donburi rice bowls to the menu just this week, because “I think it’s a good thing to add,” says Luo.
 
The partners are no strangers to operating restaurants and sensing food trends. Yee's family opened the Otani Japanese Restaurant in Mayfield Heights in 1978 and offered up sushi to the established meat-and-potato Cleveland crowd. But it caught on, as did the hibachi style entrees and noodle dishes. “We’ve served ramen for as long as we’ve been here,” Yee says of the Mayfield location. “But we never tried to boast about it. Our customers say we have the best sushi around.”
 
Luo also has a long food history She owned an American deli in Euclid before joining the Otani Mayfield team.
 
Yee says they had planned on offering sushi at the Uptown noodle shop, but ultimately decided against it because next door, Zack Bruell’s Dynomite Burgers, already had it on the menu.

The Otani team opted to be a good neighbor instead of a competitor.
 

Baby Munch launches in Hildebrandt building with 'Gimme a Beet,' 'Peas and Love,' others

Le’Anna Miller’s daughter, London, wasn’t supposed to arrive until January 2015. But her baby surprised her and came a month early on December 1, 2014.

“Any time you have a premature baby, you have a heightened sense of protection. Because she was born a month early her health was the most important thing," says Miller. "We had to feed her with a syringe at first.”
 
Today, London is a happy, healthy two-year-old. But the experience of having a preemie awakened Miller’s entrepreneurial spirit and her views on nutrition.
 
On Saturday, January 14, Miller officially launched production of Baby Munch Organics in the Hildebrandt Provisions Company’s 2,000-square-foot Community Kitchen, 3619 Walton Ave., sharing the space with other tenants such as Rising Star Coffee Roasters Storehouse Tea and Annie’s Sweet Shop in the transformed creative hub.   
 
The inspiration for Baby Munch came in June 2015 when London started eating solid food and Miller wasn’t satisfied with the selection she found on store shelves. “I didn’t like that the expiration dates were 365 days later, and I didn’t see any options,” she recalls. “So I got in the kitchen and started playing around with different recipes.”
 
Miller perfected her recipes, which are all certified organic and handmade in small batches using locally grown and sourced fruits and vegetables. “Even if it’s not grown here, the owner of the company has to be local,” explains Miller. “We want to keep the roots here.”
 
The small batches of baby food are immediately frozen, to lock in the key nutrients, Miller says.
 
London, now two, is Miller’s taste tester and kitchen assistant. “She spends a lot of time sitting in the kitchen with her bowl and her spoon,” Miller says, adding that London has a lot of experience with fresh produce. “I would take London to the Farmers Market every Saturday, and then on Sunday we’d make food.”
 
Now Miller herself is a vendor at the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market. She opened her stand there for the first time two weeks ago, the same day she began production at the Hildebrandt.
 
Miller offers seven seven varieties of Munch. Her Stage 1 line, aimed at babies six months and older, has apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and pears. The four flavors in her Stage 2 line, for kids nine months and older, mixes things up a little.
 
“We’re starting to add different combinations of fruits vegetables and spices to continue palate training and keep babies curious about trying new foods,” she explains of Stage 2. “Like Appleini – apples, zucchini and cinnamon – Gimme a Beet – beets, mango and cinnamon – Itzy Bitzy – apples, bananas and blueberries – and Peas and Love – pears, peas and mint.”
 
Some of Miller’s recipes are seasonal, such as Pumpkin Patch – pumpkin puree with spices and a graham cracker crust. All of her recipes are designed to develop the palate and offer bold flavors with hints of fresh herbs and spices.
 
This spring Miller plans to introduce a line of toddler snacks.
 
“Our goal is to ignite food curiosity through the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Miller says of her recipes. “It’s made at the peak of freshness and our colors are fun. Baby food can be fun and it doesn’t have to be bland.”
 
The food comes in pouches that stay fresh in the fridge for two days or frozen for four weeks. One pouch costs $3.25, four-packs are $12. Miller offers a monthly subscription service for $35 and can ship out of state.
 
Miller, who graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in finance, has some experience as an entrepreneur. In college, she participated in the 2011 Entrepreneur Immersion Week and Competition, where her team won first place for their custom nail polish business. Today she works full time as an auditing associate at a Big Four accounting firm downtown,
 
But Miller knew that she needed some training if she was going to create a business beyond her own kitchen. So she went through the Bad Girl Ventures eight-week entrepreneurial training program in 2015 and was one of the 10 finalists.
 
“It was great experience,” Miller says. “It provided support, networking and the business aspects.”
 
Then she participated in Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen’s food business incubator to learn about food safety, marketing and product labeling.
 
Although Miller is still perfecting her website, customers who are interested in ordering can email or call (216) 925-0818 for more information. When the Baby Munch website is complete, Miller will accept online orders for both delivery and pick up at the Farmers Market. For a limited time, she is offering free delivery within Northeast Ohio.

Trending Downtown: loft office space

Residential development in downtown Cleveland is going gangbusters, attracting the working millennial crowd and empty nesters alike. And much of the action is playing out in the city’s historic buildings.
 
The growth has interesting side effects. According to Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s fourth quarter Cleveland Office Market report, the conversions of vintage office and industrial buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) to apartments has effectively dropped the office vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 24 percent for class B office space and 22.4 percent for class C. Overall combined vacancy in the CBD is 19.9 percent.
 
However, Terry Coyne, vice chairman of commercial real estate for Newmark points out the vacancy is even lower when Newmark’s office space Zombie Report is factored in. The report does not include vacant space that is currently being renovated and off the market. Omitting these offices brings the vacancy rate down to 18.2 percent for class B and 15.4 percent for class C space.
 
Eleven such buildings are omitted in the Zombie Report because they are being converted to apartments or are functionally obsolete, Coyne says, including the Tower at Erie View, the Halle Building, the former Cleveland Athletic Club and the Standard Building, among others.
 
Part of the reason the office vacancies are declining is attributable to unoccupied office buildings being converted to apartments, says Coyne. And while he admits that the downtown living trend is encouraging for Cleveland, he says landlords and developers should also be thinking about converting downtown office space.
 
A new generation of offices
 
A new generation of workers are living and working downtown with educated millennials drawn to the city’s core. They are enamored by Cleveland’s history and its historic buildings, says Coyne. As residential living grows, he notes, so must attractive office space.
 
“It is not just millennials who like to live near their offices,” explains Coyne, adding that at one time residences and businesses were more centered in Cleveland suburbs. “People historically like to live near their offices. The difference is the offices are now moving downtown where the people live.”
 
The next generation of workers are driven to employers with what Coyne calls “cool loft office space,” which is often characterized by historic buildings with high ceilings, exposed brick and wood floors reminiscent of the structure’s original purpose.
 
“I believe there is great demand for loft office space and I think the numbers show it,” says Coyne, suggesting that as downtown buildings are converted to apartments, conversion into loft offices should not be forgotten.
 
“The overall health of the market is being driven by conversions,” explains Coyne, adding that the apartment conversions have stabilized. “The annual net absorption of office space in 2016," he also notes, "was approximately 254,000 square feet. However, the absorption for cool office space is currently keeping pace with supply.”
 
Leading the way
 
The successful developers downtown have noticed this change and are following suit with their developments. Coyne cites Tyler Village, 3615 Superior Ave., as one perfect example.  
 
Graystone Properties spotted this trend when they decided to convert the former Tyler Elevator building at East 36th Street and Superior Avenue, which they had owned since the 1970s, into loft office space,” says Coyne. “Without the use of tax credits, Graystone repurposed this million-square-foot-plus property into a neighborhood of retail, office and warehouse.
 
“The development is performing so well they are now able to charge for indoor parking in an area of town where parking is free and abundant,” he adds.
 
Coyne also cites the 1903 Caxton Building, 812 Huron Road, as another success story. “The leader in this trend—the Caxton Building—has seen an increase in rents over the past year for both parking and office that other landlords can only dream about,” he says. Quantifiably, the Caxton has seen a 90 percent occupancy rate over the past 10 years, according to commercial real estate broker Gardiner and Associates.
 
Meanwhile, Quicken Loans’ Cleveland offices garnered acclaim for its 2016 move into 81,000 square feet of space on the fourth and fifth floors of the Higbee Building at 100 Public Square. The company preserved much of the original architectural elements and historic nature of the building. Coyne says there is still 90,000 square feet of raw space available in the iconic 1931 art-deco building.

A fourth example is the renovation of the old Sammy’s Building in the Flats. With its views of the river and a rooftop deck, the owners are getting some of the highest rents in the city, Coyne notes.

While he estimates the overall vacancy rate of trendy office space in the CBD to be around 12.6 percent—or 2.9 million square feet—Coyne suggests landlords consider renovating their older buildings for loft-style offices, which drives drown vacancy rates and drives up rental rates.
 
Embracing change
 
Coyne asserts that the days of cubicles, dropped ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting are gone. “It’s a changing style of office,” says Coyne of the trend towards loft office space. Millennials, he notes, want more of a “SoHo look” in their workspaces. “The market changes and those people want a different style of office.”
 
It’s fairly easy to achieve this look and create a whole new office space, says Coyne, although some buildings are more conducive to it than others. “You can’t convert the KeyBank Tower into a loft building,” he says, “but you can expose the duct work and mimic an older, industrial type building.”
 
Coyne cites  the 1921 925 Building, formerly the Union Trust Building and later the Huntington Building, as being prime for redevelopment into loft space. He adds Hudson Holdings would be wise to consider loft offices in its redevelopment of the 925 Building.

“Overall, these changes in our market present opportunities for both tenants and landlords,” says Coyne. “And understanding these trends helps both sides make better decisions.”

600 residential units coming to University Circle, more in the works

Midwest Development Partners, along with Coral Company and Panzica Construction, quietly broke ground in late December on Centric Apartments, formerly known as Intesa, at 11601 Mayfield Road, marking the beginning of a residential construction project that was delayed for almost three years.
 
“It’s a really good achievement,” says University Circle Inc. (UCI) president Chris Ronayne. “We are very excited about it.”
 
The seven-story Centric building, which sits on 2.2 acres and borders Little Italy and Uptown, will have 272 one- and two-bedroom apartments, averaging 750 square feet and running about $1,600 per month; 27,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial space on the ground floor; and a 360-space parking garage that will accommodate both residents and visitors to Uptown.
 
“I’m very excited about this project because it’s a connection between Little Italy, the Little Italy–University Circle Rapid Station and Uptown,” says Ronayne, adding that greenspace is part of the $70 million project investment. “It offers great walkable-friendly development.
 
But the Centric project is just one of many new apartment buildings going up in the neighborhood, bringing more than 600 new units to the University Circle area by late spring 2018, with even more projects in the works.
 
Also slated for completion by 2018 is the 20-story, 270-apartment One University Circle building being developed by First Interstate Properties and Petros Development on the former site of the Children’s Museum at E. 107th Street and Euclid Avenue.
 
“Together, 542 units will come online in 2018,” says Ronayne. He says the timing should coincide with “match week ”— the time in March when medical students find out where they will be placed for residencies. “We have 3,000 to 5,000 medical residents each year through University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic,” says Ronayne. “It’s a mad rush [for housing]”
 
Meanwhile, this summer Berusch Development Partners plans to open its Euclid 116, 31 apartment suites at 11611 Euclid Ave, which will cater specifically to students. The one- to four-bedroom suites are let by the room. Rent covers internet and utilities.

Already complete is the Finch Group's phase one of the 177-unit Innova Apartments, 10001 Chester Ave. The parking garage, part of phase two, is scheduled to be completed this summer.
 
The massive mixed-use plans for Circle Square, formerly known as University Circle City Center (UC3), spearheaded by Midwest Development Partners, are still in the works, Ronayne says, with a groundbreaking date for the site at E. 105th Street and Chester Avenue still a bit in the future.
 
All of this new residential development stems from a plan created in 2007 by the University Circle Land Bank to build 1,000 new apartments and houses. “We’ve now reached that goal and we’re well on to the next 1,000,” says Ronayne.
 
Additionally, the Greater Circle Living Incentive Program encourages residents who work at non-profit agencies in the Greater University Circle to also live there. The program offers the first month of a rental lease, up to $1,400 for free, or up to $30,000 in a forgivable loan on a house if the resident stays for five years.
 
“We’ve accepted nearly 1,000 applications,” says Ronayne, noting that eligible neighborhoods include Glenville, Hough, Fairfax, Little Italy, Buckeye-Shaker and parts of western East Cleveland.
 
The program furthers UCI’s goal of creating a true live-work community. “We’ve been trying to achieve a walking-friendly, high density, populated neighborhood,” says Ronayne. “Today’s employees have a healthy appetite of walking to work with a community that has [amenities such as] restaurants, a grocery store, a library ...

"We’ve done that.”

Chill Pop Shop’s unique frozen novelties advance to national market

Popsicles aren’t usually at the forefront of the mind in the middle of winter, but despite the frosty weather, business is hot for the owners of Chill Pop Shop.

Owners Elizabeth and Maggie Pryor have come a long way from their early days of pedaling their all- natural ice pops to customers at local venues. Not only have they expanded to retail markets such as Whole Foods and Mustard Seed Market throughout Ohio, now they're available at retail outlets across the Mid-Atlantic United States.
 
As of this past summer, Chill Pops are in the freezers of Mustard Seed, Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market throughout Ohio, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia 
 
“It’s so exciting,” says Chill CEO Elizabeth Pryor. “It’s exciting to hear from friends and family everywhere who can enjoy our popsicles.”
 
The Pryors – Elizabeth, a holistic health coach and her wife Maggie, a health and wellness educator – started Chill Pop Shop out of the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK) in 2013 with the intention of making frozen treats using only real fruit and all natural, fresh ingredients.
 
“We started Chill Pop because we’re very passionate about food and where it comes from,” says Elizabeth. “We use all real fruit, grass-fed dairy and fair trade organic sugar. We take great care of where we source everything.”
 
The first year, Elizabeth and Maggie sold their pops at the Cleveland Flea, farmers markets and food truck events such as Walnut Wednesday. By their second summer, Elizabeth and Maggie were catering and serving their pops at private events.
   
The pair soon grew out of the CCLK space and moved to a storefront on E. 185th Street in North Collinwood. Then, while working on their packaging design, Maggie and Elizabeth learned Whole Foods was interested in their products.
 
“We happened to land a meeting with Whole Foods in advance of opening their Rocky River location,” recalls Elizabeth. “They were looking for local suppliers.”
 
It took about a year to get the details and package design figured out, but by September 2015, Chill Pops were on the shelves in time for the Rocky River Whole Foods opening. “They performed really well there,” Elizabeth recalls. “It helped that we had been around Cleveland for a few years, so we had name recognition. We were constantly asked ‘where can I get these?’”
 
By the summer of 2016 Chill Pops were in stores across seven states. Plans are in the works for even more expansion by the spring of this year. “In Northern Virginia and Pittsburgh, they’re buying it off the shelves without even trying it,” boasts Elizabeth. “It’s doing really well in major markets.”
 
Having outgrown their North Collinwood space, Chill Pops moved again in November 2015, this time to a 3,500-square-foot space in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood’s Tyler Village. The space has walk-in coolers and freezers, plenty of workspace, office space and allows Elizabeth and Maggie to do their packaging on-site.
 
Chill Pop Shop now has six flavors of pops: avocado mint chip, black pepper plum, cucumber kiwi, lemon ricotta, sea salt strawberry cream, and watermelon lime, many of which are vegan. Additionally, Elizabeth and Maggie will introduce two more vegan flavors this year: blueberry basil and coco mocha fudge. In all they have created more than 40 flavors.
 
Elizabeth says her favorite flavor depends on the weather, although early-on her favorite was avocado mint chip.
 
While entry into the national market is limiting their time these days, the Pryors are still true to Cleveland. “We’ve scaled back our mobile presence,” Elizabeth says, “But people around Cleveland will still see us out and about.”

$12 million makeover for West Side hotel

Cleveland’s newest hotel is designed to highlight all the city has to offer while also providing the amenities that appeal to the young business traveler.

The first Four Points Sheraton Cleveland Airport—the first of Marriott International’s Four Points brand in Cleveland—opened on the site of the former Holiday Inn Cleveland airport, 4181 West 150th St., last month. Marriott bought the building in January 2016.

“It was a $12 million-plus renovation,” says Sandra Keneven, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “They gutted the building. There’s nothing old left,” she adds of the year-long renovation.
 
The Four Points concept is a more affordable version of a traditional Sheraton hotel, says Keneven, and is the result of a five-year rebranding initiative. “Our target audience is the younger generation,” she says, adding that the hotel’s 147 rooms offer a comfortable bed with its signature mattresses, complimentary bottled water and free internet.
 
Furthermore, guests can use their smart phones for mobile check-ins before arriving at the hotel, and then use their phones for keyless entry into their rooms.
 
In addition to a 24-hour fitness room, business center and heated pool, the Four Points serves up Great Lakes Brewing drafts in its Hub Bar and Grill. On Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., the hotel offers its Best Brews reception with a Great Lakes beer tasting and free appetizers.

“The plan is to rotate different local brewers,” says Keneven, adding that the brewers will be invited to come and talk about their beers. She says they are also considering bringing live music into the bar.
 
The hotel has 6,500 square feet of meeting space, with two ballrooms, one of which is on the sixth floor and has windows on all sides. Keneven says they have built a good relationship with Destination Cleveland for upcoming conferences and events. Staff is also starting to book weddings.
 
Location is yet another amenity. Popular Cleveland destinations, such as like Kamms Corners, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and FirstEnergy Stadium, are a short distance from the hotel, which offers free round-the-clock shuttle service to and from the airport and any destination within two miles. In addition, the hotel is adjacent to I-71 and the Puritas West 150th Street RTA Rapid station.
 
Through March, Four Points is offering an introductory rate averaging $99 a night, says Keneven, and average rates during peak times will be about $159 a night.
 
The renovated hotel has already gotten local praise. “We have people stopping in off the street,” says Keneven. “It’s beautiful. It just looks beautiful.”

County grant paves the way for Lee Road facelift

In an effort to spruce up Lee Road between Scottsdale Road and Chagrin Boulevard and make it a more attractive business district, the Shaker Heights Economic Development Department helped four property owners in the neighborhood update their exterior facades, thanks to a grant from Cuyahoga County.
 
For us, it’s all about making slow, incremental changes,” says Shaker economic development specialist Katharyne Starinsky. “We’re trying to do this in a progressive fashion so it lasts.”
 
The city applied for a grant through the Cuyahoga County Competitive Storefront Renovation program in November 2015, and was awarded $50,000 for full façade improvements on three buildings and new signage on a fourth.
 
The 2016 project marked the first time Shaker Heights had applied for the County grant, and was among four approved cities.
 
The store renovations are a new addition to Shaker’s business incentives portfolio, designed to help small businesses thrive.
 
Shaker tapped six businesses in its application. Last April, three were ultimately chosen for the grant money: Discount Cleaners at 3601 Lee Road State Farm Insurance at 3605 Lee Road, and a vacant 1,600-square-foot office building at 3581 Lee Road.
 
“There are a number of different businesses involved in doing upgrades to their properties,” explains Starinsky. “We have a relationship with all of the business owners so we knew what businesses might be interested.”
 
The city was able to include a fourth property, Protem Homecare at 3558 Lee Road, with new signage for its recently-renovated building.
 
The business owners were required to pay for 50 percent of the renovation costs, up to $16,000, while the city matched the other 50 percent with the grant money.
 
"These are small, locally owned businesses and this is a lot of money for them,” says Starinsky. “Out of the three properties, only one used the full $16,000. Because of that, we were also able to do the signage for Protem.”
 
Shaker hired a design specialist to work with the business owners on cost estimates and envisioning their needs. “They came up with the design together,” says Starinsky of the cooperative work.
 
The businesses then evaluated contractor bids on the work. “The toughest part was going through the contractors’ bids,” recalls Starinsky. “It was very time consuming, but we wanted them to choose someone they felt connected with.”
 
Ultimately, Starinsky says two of the contractors chosen for two projects were minority owned enterprises.
 
The projects are mostly complete. State Farm renovated the existing façade details, including installing exterior lighting, signage and replacing the door and windows. Discount Cleaners replaced windows and installed a new sign and canopy and is completing finishing touches this week.
 
The owner of the office building, which once housed credit union, tuck-pointed the front steps, installed new awnings and windows and other façade work. “This was a leap of faith for him, because he [the owner] doesn’t have a tenant yet, it he wants to rent it out,” explains Starinsky. “It’s caddy-corner to [co-working and office hub] The Dealership, so it’s a really great location for someone who doesn’t need a big space all the time.”  
 
Shaker’s Lee Road district is capped off with a sculpture, Cloud Monoliths, by local public artist Steve Manka – part of the city’s 2015 Lee-Lomond intersection project.
 
Overall, the renovation projects totaled $113,699, which includes the storefront grant, $48,427 in private investments, $18,550 by the city for the design specialist and architectural fees, and $4,500 in grants from Shaker Heights Development Corporation made possible through Citizens Bank.
 
The city is so satisfied with the work done in 2016 that officials applied for a similar county grant for 2017.
 
“It’s a real nail biter,” Starinsky says of the recent application, “because we’d like to try it again. We’re supporting our [new] businesses and those who have been here a while too.”

Shaker has a number of available commercial properties for lease.

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Alhambra apartments blend history with modern amenities

After two years of renovations, New York developer Community, Preservation and Restoration (CPR) Properties has transformed an 1890s building at 3203 W. 14th St. in Tremont into some of the neighborhood’s newest, most modern apartments.

Designed with young professionals and empty-nesters in mind, the Alhambra offers one-bedroom units starting at 480 square feet for $695 a month, two-bedroom, 575-square-foot units for $850 a month, and a three-bedroom, 1,0500-square-foot unit for $1,350 a month.
 
“It’s very reasonable,” says Carolyn Bentley, a realtor with Howard Hanna’s Cleveland City office in Tremont, adding that some of the units have back deck areas.
 
Originally dubbed the Edison Building, CPR partners Noah Smith and Ted Haber bought the building in late 2014 with plans to update and upgrade the apartments and common areas.
 
The owners ultimately chose to stick with the building’s original name, the Alhambra, after an historic palace and fortress in Spain. Fourteen of the 35 units have been remodeled and will be available for occupancy on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
 
The building was fully occupied when CPR took ownership, so the company moved some tenants to 17 other units during the remodel. “When they bought the place, they did not displace any current residents,” explains Bentley.
 
When Smith and Haber took possession of the Alhambra, they realized there was quite a bit of repair work to be done. The apartments now have all new electrical systems and plumbing. The refinished walls are painted in neutral colors and are adorned with foot-high baseboard molding.
 
The owners were able to keep the original hardwood flooring and other features, Bentley says. “They did it with a lot of character,” she explains. “They kept some of the original woodwork and it’s an open feeling with tall ceilings. They did a really good job of keeping the character that was there.”
 
Bentley describes the kitchens and bathrooms as “clean, simple and modern,” with stainless appliances and tile. The result is a combination of modern decor with an historical feel. “It has the overall look and feel of the original building,” she says.
 
While the Alhambra may be an historic building, CPR has installed some 21st Century technology. The exterior locks to the building’s main entry are controlled by the residents’ smart phones. Visitors simply buzz tenants to let them know they are outside, and tenants grant access via their phones.
 
The shared laundry area in the basement is also smart phone-equipped, allowing users to pay for their loads and receive alerts when a washer or dryer is free or when their loads are done.
 
While the apartments themselves are finished in neutral colors, the foyer and entryway, including the large front door, are full of color, Bentley says, and the developers took great care to preserve the original interior staircase’s intricate woodwork. “The developers had a lot of fun with color and the high-end workmanship,” Bentley says, noting the red entry door and green tinted glass tile.
 
Situated on a hill, the Alhambra offers spectacular views of downtown, the Steelyards and Tremont itself. Furthermore, the accessibility appeals to both baby boomers and young professionals, says Bentley.

“Tremont is an amazing place to be living right now. It’s a walkable neighborhood. You have Steelyard Commons with places like Target, then in the opposite direction you have [independent businesses] like A Cookie and a Cupcake. And you’re a short Uber ride into downtown.”
 
Bentley held an open house last Thursday, Jan. 5, and reports that the Alhambra has already gained a lot of interest.

Rickoff students to combine plants, community and the arts in new garden project

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s Office of Sustainability has named 2017 the Year of Vibrant Green Space, and the students at Andrew J. Rickoff School, are working with  Kulture Kids, the nonprofit organization that integrates the arts into traditional education approaches, to make sure the 30- by 85-foot area behind their school on E. 147 St. in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood is as vibrant as can be with a community garden and labyrinth.
 
For the past seven years the Kulture Kids group has worked with students at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary school, using original arts-integrated programs based on STEM concepts to teach them about everything from science to transportation through the arts.
 
This year, Rickoff students will learn about the difference between living and nonliving things, plant lifecycles, the environment, and scientific processes while creating a school and community garden.
 
“Our mission is to integrate the arts into the academic curriculum,” explains Kulture Kids founding artistic director Robin Pease. “With the Year of Vibrant Green Space, I was thinking about what we were going to do, and we found this large green space.” The lesson then became clear.
 
“I thought of the science of plants native to Ohio,” she says. “We thought, there’s so much you can learn from a garden – responsibility, the life cycle.”
 
The three-year project will include flowers and vegetables, many grown from seed by the students in their classrooms. Plants will include sunflowers, bulbs, raspberries, carrots, lettuces, beets, tomatoes, beans, an herb spiral and milkweed to attract monarch butterflies.
 
Pease says they plan to share the garden’s bounty with the surrounding Mount Pleasant community. “Whatever food we grow, we hope to share with the neighborhood,” she says. “And flowers are pretty and smell good.”
 
Kulture Kids is relying on donations for many of the seeds, bulbs and plant material. DistinctCle is donating herb seeds to grow, as is The Ohio State University Extension Services, and organizers plan to take advantage of the Cleveland Public Library’s free heirloom seeds library. Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability have also provided in-kind support.
 
The design also includes an earthworm hatchery to promote healthy soil.
 
The centerpiece of the garden will a labyrinth-like paved trail. “This isn’t really a maze, there’s no trick to it,” Pease says of the labyrinth’s design. “It’s a path and you follow it to the center. I guess it’s a path to nowhere, but it’s a path for meditation, for thought and reflection.”
 
In fact, Pease sees the labyrinth as a potential alternative to detention at the school. “Kids get in trouble and get detention,” she explains. “We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if kids could instead go walk through the garden and meditate and think – to take a moment, to think, to take a breath.”
 
But before the path can be built, Kulture Kids needs both volunteer and materials support. The group is actively searching for someone to donate the paver stones and boulders as well as landscapers willing to work on the garden and path. The group can arrange for transporting larger stone donations, according to Kristan Rothman, Kulture Kids’ operations director
 
Pease points out that, as a 501(C) (3) nonprofit, their funds are limited, but donations are also tax-exempt. “We definitely need a lot of help to do this project,” she says. “We’re looking for a landscaper who will help guide us and we’re looking for donations from the community to make this happen.”
 
Kulture Kids has already received an $18,812 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture for physical aspects of the $53,000 project, says Rothman, as well as a $7,364 grant from the Ohio Arts Council and a $15,500 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation for Kulture Kids’ in-classroom residency work.
 
The search for volunteers has turned into its own lesson to the Rickoff students. “We talked to the kids about 'what is a community',” explains Pease. “One kid said, ‘It’s me, but it’s also the principal and the janitor. It’s the gas station down the street.’ They saw that a community is all of us. We have to work together.”
 
To further the community presence, organizers are applying for a Toni Morrison bench. If approved, the $3,500 commemorative bench will become part of the Bench by the Road project, which represents significant periods and places in African American history.
 
Pease explains that the Mount Pleasant neighborhood has a rich history, with African American farmers settling in the community in 1893. In fact, Rickoff School is the site of an historical marker honoring Carl Stokes and Jim Brown that was spearheaded by Cleveland city councilman Zack Reed.

"We're hoping the garden will continue the settlement of Mount Pleasant,” says Pease.
 
The Rickoff Community Garden residency began in October with visual artist Wendy Mahon helping the students with the creation of herbariums. This month the students will begin working with a composer on an original song. Pease will then work with students in late February and early March to plant their seeds in the classroom, while dancer Desmond Davis will work with students to choreograph an original dance in March and early April.
 
The garden will officially launch on May 13, with a formal name and logo designed by the students.

MetroHealth transforms the medical arts with cultural arts

MetroHealth System is focusing on an aspect of healthcare that is sometimes overlooked: the power of the arts in healing.
 
Launched in 2015, MetroHealth’s Arts in Medicine is a cooperative effort to promote healing and create community through both the visual and performing arts. As a result, the hospital walls are adorned with paintings, dance and theater companies regularly perform in various spaces and music fills the hallways and atriums.
 
“There is a direct impact on patients and caregivers when arts is involved in healthcare,” MetroHealth president and CEO Akram Boutros says in this video about the program. “Art is healing, art is hope, art is life. How could you not include art in healthcare?"

MetroHealth Arts in Medicine from MetroHealth on Vimeo.

The budget for art and programming varies by project. Some funding comes through MetroHealth’s operations budget and some comes from the MetroHealth Foundation, while other projects receive donor funding.
 
Linda Jackson, director of the Arts in Medicine program in the Patient Experience office at MetroHealth, says that embedding the visual, performing and therapeutic arts across the MetroHealth system is a great way of accomplishing the hospital’s mission of inspiring a sense of hope, healing and community. She also notes the program's many goals extend throughout the system and beyond.

“First, we use arts to address population and health issues like opioids, gun violence and infant mortality,” she explains. “We want to integrate arts throughout the system – in waiting rooms, with patients and families, in staff and the community and through school health programs," says Jackson. "Cleveland is so rich in culture.”
 
To that end, several members of the stalwart local cultural network are involved including LAND studio, Cleveland Public Theatre, Inlet Dance Theatre, Kulture Kids, Dancing Wheels Company, Cleveland Print Room, Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Museum of Art, Zygote Press, and the Julia De Burgus Cultural Arts Center, among others.
 
Then there is also an extensive list of local individual artists whose work is featured in many of the new buildings in the MetroHealth Transformation Plan, which was revealed in November. The program extends throughout all of MetroHealth’s campuses.
 
Bringing diverse events to those campuses is a high priority. For instance, professional musicians perform on a regular basis, while Cleveland Public Theatre brought its Road to Hope performance to the outpatient center at the main campus. LAND studio worked with Jackson and other MetroHealth officials to curate the art that created the program’s vision.
 
“The three themes that really were prevalent were hope, healing and community,” says Erin Guido, LAND studio’s project manager. “These are the themes that tie in the whole art collection.” For instance, Guido explains that the critical care pavilion reflects poetic abstraction themes, while the Brecksville facility depicts perceptions of the outside world.
 
“There is a very big focus on local artists in Cuyahoga County, but in a purposeful statement,” Guido explains. “While it is a local focus, we’re also incorporating a lot of national and international artists.”

Jackson says the impact is impressive. "It can be as simple as how live music can help an oncology patient relax before an appointment or how, through the performing arts, we can help illustrate the devastating effects of gun violence on our community,” she says. “It's exciting that in just a short time our patients and caregivers are now seeking out our programming and also to know that we are just beginning and so much potential lies ahead.”
 
One component of the program highlights patients who have thrived after hardship. The Faces of Resilience project, shot by Cleveland photographer Paul Sobota last year, includes portraits of 14 MetroHealth patients who have thrived in the face of trauma. This month, the rotating exhibit will be installed in the waiting areas of MetroHealth's NICU and the Burn Care Center and Specialty Services Pavilion.
 
Last year, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture fellow and performance artist Ray Caspio hosted a month-long storytelling workshop with the hospital’s AIDS and HIV community – teaching participants how to tell their stories. The workshop culminated with a performance in the last week.
 
“It has been extraordinary to see the impact of our Arts in Medicine program,” says Jackson. “I witness daily the effect it has on our patients and equally on our staff - and there are so many examples.”
 
Jackson adds that the program has transformed MetroHealth on both physical and emotional levels. “We've brought spaces to life by adding a visual art collection that engages patients and caregivers and transforms an environment,” she says.

“We see how the arts therapies help patients recover and provide empowerment and engagement. Other people have the opportunity to engage in the arts that might never have the experience otherwise.” 

Perkoski's 'These Walks of Life' is a study in frozen motion

Those who walk religiously know the activity can be highly personal. A walking person may be in a rush. They may be deeply engaged in thought or a complex audio experience. They may be giggling over a podcast. Perhaps they are misting up over a lover's last whisper. Maybe they're tired. Maybe their feet hurt. Maybe those feet are the only mode of transportation they have.
 
In a new solo show, "These Walks of Life," Fresh Water's managing photographer Bob Perkoski has captured the essence of walking and its nuances with a collection of more than 40 images on display at Negative Space Gallery, 3820 Superior Avenue. "Walks" will run through mid-February.
 
The practice started out casually, with Perkoski taking clandestine photos capturing images of people while he drove around town – to and from shoots, grocery runs, wherever. Eventually, it became an intentional cataloging.
 
"I consciously started doing it in 2012," says Perkoski. "I put my camera on a high shutter speed so I'd catch it fast without getting a blur." The entire collection numbers in the hundreds and also includes people waiting for the bus or just standing along the street. Yet another category includes photos of bicyclists.
 
"I have people sitting on the corner, laying in the street," says Perkoski of some of his other images that are outside the scope of "Walks."
 
As for those included in the show, he took them at points all across town, including Playhouse Square, Ohio City, Clark Fulton, Little Italy, Woodland Avenue and Slavic Village among others. There are also two shots from out of town, one taken in London and another in Chicago.
 
All of the images are evocative and ironic in the sense that they are frozen images depicting motion. To be sure, the static background in each photo lends scale and contrast to the moving subject. One of the most jarring aspects of the show is also one of the most subtle: the voyeuristic feel of the images cannot be ignored – the majority of the walkers had no idea they were being photographed.
 
"I try to catch people that aren't looking at me. I just want them to be natural," says Perkoski of his subjects.
 
"You're wondering what they're doing and where they're going and what they're thinking."
 
"These Walks of Life" is on view on the second floor of Asian Town Center, which is a fascinating mall worthy of a visit on its own. The gallery housing Perkoski's work is in an annex to Negative Space and open for visitors whenever the mall is open, which is seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact Negative Space for extended evening hours.

Cardboard Helicopter's would-be elves dream up toys, gadgets

The team at Cardboard Helicopter is always busy dreaming up new inventions and designs in their Lakewood workshop. Since launching in 2012, they've designed more than 349 products for their clients and their own interests.
 
Past inventions have included the Splash Infuser, a natural way to infuse fresh fruit into water and cocktails, and the Jokari self-sealing spout for oils and wine bottles. Now the team is getting into the toy market – just in time for the holidays.

“We did housewares for years, but I’ve always had a passion for toys,” says CEO and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Tim Hayes. “It’s just plain fun. It’s making things that make people smile.”
 
The firm’s clients have launched a variety of toys for the 2016 holiday season, most of which are available at big box retailers like Walmart, K-Mart, Home Depot and Amazon.
 
"We've been getting into the toy market and designing for some big brands," says Hayes.
 
For instance, Walmart is now offering the Tricerataco holder, a stand-and-stuff taco holder Cardboard Helicopter designed for KidsFunWares. “The triceratops’ back is a perfect little taco holder and kids can play with it after they eat,” says Hayes. “We invent it and then we license it out.”
 
Then there’s a series of two-wheeled scooters and bikes the team designed for California-based Pulse Performance Products – a stand-up scooter designed to appeal to both boys and girls while attending to safety, and the Safe Start Transform rechargeable electric scooter for riders ages six and older with two speeds and a rechargeable battery.
 
“We designed a version for an older kid, but [Pulse] wanted it to be youthful,” says Hayes, noting that both scooters can be found at outlets such as Target.
 
Then Pulse asked Hayes to come up with an authentic, kid-sized chopper motorcycle. The result is the Chopster E-Motorcycle – designed to mirror a Harley Davidson, the bike has high handlebars, street-worthy tires, a rechargeable battery and sleek lines.
 
“We designed the look and feel of this little bike,” says Hayes of the Chopster, which is selling on like mad at places like Home Depot and Amazon.
 
For adults, Cardboard Helicopter redesigned a series of tools for Smith’s Consumer Products, an Arkansas-based hunting and camping products manufacturer. “They were kind of dated and wanted a while new look and feel,” says Hayes of the project. The result was a sharpener-and-knife tool, and the multipurpose tool, Pak Pal.
 
The small but mighty team of six - which goes up to eight when demand increases - is also entering the pet market, with offerings such as the Critter key chains, an LED-lit animated key chain for finding key holes and doing other small tasks in the dark. Fitting as the company mascot, a pooch named Penny, keeps watch over the Lakewood digs where the team aims to keep designing new products.
 
“We design anything,” Hayes boasts. “We meet to brainstorm once a week on new ideas. “We have a collaborative spirit here, designing new ideas by designing backwards. We turn our sketches into products and then say to our clients’ hey what are you looking for?’”
 
What’s next for Cardboard Helicopter? It all depends on what the team dreams up. “We focus heavily on design and fill the gaps for our customers who like to outsource that aspect,” Hayes says. “And we can do it rapidly.”

Beachwood Place launches parking app in a nick of time

It’s a December 13th and Clevelanders are rushing around and fighting crowds at area of the malls and shopping centers. At one of them, however, the familiar headaches of searching for a parking space, and then later wandering around the lot with arms loaded up with bags while muttering where the heck did I park? are a thing of the past.
 
Beachwood Place just made the parking process a little easier with its new parking feature in the Beachwood Place App that allows shoppers to find a parking space, locate the most convenient entrance for a specific store or simply check to see how busy the lots are in real time.
 
The app was created by the mall’s parent company, Chicago-based General Growth Properties (GGP) and released for Beachwood Place last month.
 
“One of the biggest things we’ve found in customer shopping and the customer experience is that parking can be a real pain point,” says Neisha Vitello, senior general manager of Beachwood Place. “With everyone turning to technology to find solutions, we’ve created a better shopping experience.”
 
Shoppers can download the app to their phones on both Apple and android devices by searching got “GGP Malls” or access the information online.
 
The app features a map that highlights available lots in green; lots with limited availability in yellow; and full lots in red. Or, users can choose the store they plan to shop in and the app will highlight the closest parking option and entrance to that store.
 
Users can even plot a future trip to Beachwood Place and see the forecasted parking situation for that day and time. “You can look at [the app] in advance to see what parking is available,” says Vitello.
 
Perhaps the most useful tool, she adds, is the ability to record where you park – making it easy to find your car after hours of wandering and shopping in the mall. “One of the best features I enjoy is you can drop a pin in your parking spot,” she explains. “You can get turned around inside. When you leave, you can access where you parked and the app will guide you to your parking space.”
 
Furthermore, once inside the mall users can refer to the app for directions to a particular store. “It’s a palm directory,” Vitello explains. “It will guide to right to the store. You really have a directory in the palm of your hand.”
 
GGP developed the app more than a year ago, according to Vitello, and began testing it with some of the company's malls in July. The app became available at Beachwood Place a month ago, and will be available year round.
 
Local feedback on parking app has already be positive. “It’s been fantastic,” says Vitello. “We want to make the [shopping] experience the best we can.”

The Foundry adds rowing tanks, attracts thousands

Almost two years ago, nonprofit MCPc Family Charities, and Mike and Gina Trebilcock announced plans for a $9 million transformation of a group of industrial buildings in the Flats into The Foundry – a park, fitness center and boat house designed around fostering youth rowing in Cleveland. The effort has grown into a thriving center for area kids interested in rowing and sailing.

“We’re just beginning, and we’re starting to watch it take off,” says Foundry executive director Aaron Marcovy, adding that the organization now has nearly 250 athletes-in-residence who use the center on a daily basis.
 
The 65,000-square-foot building sits on a 2.7 acre lot at 1831 Columbus Road in the Flats. About 60 percent of the facility encompasses boat storage, while the remaining 40 percent is reserved for programming, workout facilities and locker rooms.
 
The Foundry has already expended $16 million in constructing the state-of-the-art facility, all of which was funded through private donations, Marcovy says. The organization continues to seek out additional grants and sources of capital.
 
The goal is to guide any student interested in rowing or sailing through the basics and, hopefully, to help them garner college scholarships. “We want to introduce the sport of rowing and provide pathways if they fall in love with it – and they usually do,” Marcovy says. “We want to eliminate as many barriers as possible.”
 
The latest addition to the Foundry is two state-of-the-art indoor rowing tanks – allowing for one person to get a rowing workout or as many as 24 to row together.
 
“The [tanks] will certainly be a workout facility, where athletes can get an incredibly intense workout, in addition to learning the basics,” says Marcovy. “These tanks and the whole facility will be open for people to learn about a new sport, become fit and stay healthy, and utilize our greatest resources – the river and the lake.”
 
The tanks, which have 36 seats that sit in moving water pools, were installed and filled last week, and will be a nice addition to both beginners and seasoned athletes year-round. Marcovy quotes one 30-year-old athlete who marveled over the intensity of a rowing workout, noting with belabored breath, “I've done CrossFit for four years, and that was ... that was ... so much harder," after using one of the tanks.
 
Those new additions will also serve the Foundry well for students who are just learning the sport, many of whom Marcovy says don't know how to swim and have never even seen a body of water like the Cuyahoga River or Lake Erie. “The tanks allow students to get acclimated to the rowing stroke before they go out on the water,” he explains.
 
A new parking lot was also poured last week and the Foundry touts a 584-foot dock – the longest on the Cuyahoga River.
 
Other workout equipment includes about 100 Concept2 rowing machines, a battery of free weights, including five racks and five lifting platforms.
 
On the water, the Foundry has 20 rowing vessels and hosts more than 35 other shells that are owned by individual teams-in-residence. Additionally, there are 12 motorized safety boats, most of which are owned by the Foundry.
 
Programming at the Foundry began to take off this past summer, in part through a partnership with the Cleveland Metroparks. After aligning with the Cleveland Youth Rowing Association in 2015, the Foundry has also joined with St. Edward High School rowing, St. Joseph Academy crew, Magnificat High School and the Urban Community School, among other schools in their rowing endeavors.
 
Marcovy says the Foundry hopes to attract even more schools as the organization grows. “We’d love to have school groups, youth groups and schools starting rowing programs,” he says. “Our doors are always open.”
 
The Foundry began a sailing program last summer with one Tartan-10 vessel, twelve 420 class two-person vessels and access to two Boston Whaler safety power boats. The organization operates a competitive youth sailing program out of the Metroparks’ Wendy Park.
 
The Foundry also worked with the Metroparks last summer on a 'Try It' sailing experience, which was free and open to the public at Wendy Park. “It filled up almost immediately,” recalls Marcovy.
 
This past Saturday, Dec. 10, the Foundry hosted the Bricks & Bridges Biathlon, a 10K run through the Flats and a 10K rowing machine race. The winners received real anvils as trophies.
 
On Sunday, Feb. 26 the Foundry will host the U.S. Junior National Team’s identification camp. The team is sending its head coach, Steve Hargis, and his staff to Cleveland to identify talented athletes for potential selection into the U.S. Junior National Rowing Team system.
 
“We hope that this will be a draw for high level adolescent athletes from all over the Midwest,” says Marcovy. “The event centers around a rowing machine test, as well as rowing in the moving water tanks.”  

Bottlehouse, Rising Star team up to offer day-and-night libations

It’s been nearly a year since Bottlehouse Brewery and Meadery's Brian Benchek opened his Lakewood location in the old Sullivan’s Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. as the hub for the company's sour beer production.
 
Now Benchek is partnering with Rising Star Coffee Roasters to open a pop-up pour over and aeropress bar, as well as sell beans, merchandise and pastries from Fire Food and Drink, in Bottlehouse during the daytime hours, beginning on Monday, Dec. 19. As it is, the bar sits empty during the day until Bottlehouse opens at 4 p.m.

The partnership came about after Benchek bought the 5,000-square-foot space he is currently renting, along with a 2,000-square-foot storefront next door.
 
“Bottlehouse has been in this location for a little while and [Benchek] had the opportunity to purchase the property,” explains Rising Star general manager Robert Stockham. “It’s a typical Lakewood storefront and it was really crying out for a business. They were looking for a business that would be complementary to them.”
 
After Stockham and Benchek got together, they found that Bottlehouse and Rising Star were a perfect match. In fact, Bottlehouse brews its flagship coffee stout using Rising Star coffee beans.
 
Rising Star will take over the new space in March or April 2017. In the meantime, the company will operate out of Bottlehouse.
 
“We came out to talk to them and we realized we really have the same philosophy toward business,” says Stockham. “They specialize in hand-crafted brews and meads, we specialize in hand-crafted coffees. We realized this was a good pairing and renting the space next door made sense.”
 
The pop-up store will help Rising Start get a head start on establishing themselves in the neighborhood. “We can start building a presence now,” Stockham says, adding that the company has a number of wholesalers on the west side of Lakewood but no retail locations in the city.
 
Rising Star currently has three retail locations – in Hingetown, the Arcade and Little Italy – in addition to its roastery at 3617 Walton Ave.
 
“We will come in during the day and get people excited about the space,” says Stockham of the pop up shop. “Then they can come back at night to get beer and mead.”
 
Rising Star’s opening in its permanent Lakewood location will depend on how long it takes for Benchek to close on the two properties and how much work has to be done on the adjacent storefront. “The space is in good shape so it won’t take a lot of work,” assures Stockham.
 
In addition to the Lakewood location, Stockham says they hope to open a retail outlet in their roastery next year to cater to Cleveland’s tourism industry.
 
Bottlehouse’s Lakewood location hours are 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays; and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays. The original Bottlehouse is located on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. The Rising Star pop up will be open from 6 a.m. to either 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, opening at 8 a.m. on Sundays.

Mural to bloom at Public Square bakery

Beginning next week, the employees at Bloom Bakery at the 200 Public Square location will tap into their creative juices to paint a 10-foot by 10-foot mural on the walls of the café.

Aiming to connect the arts with business, the project is a joint endeavor between Towards Employment, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment, the founder of Bloom and Negative Space Gallery executive director Gadi Zamir.
 
“We always wanted to do something with the space and tie in art,” explains Bloom general manager Logan Fahey. “This fits with our mission and uses art to represent what the business stands for. Through this mural, employees will be able to gain exposure to the artistic community and help create an artistic expression that is ingrained in Bloom.”
 
Five Bloom employees, all of whom recently came out of incarceration and are graduates of Towards Employment, volunteered to be involved in the project. Bloom employs 18 at its two locations, 16 of which are Towards Employment graduates.
 
“Everything we do is about providing opportunities to our graduates and employees,” says Fahey. “We want this mural to be emblematic of our commitment to providing training and employment opportunities to those with barriers.”
 
The mural is inspired by the painting “Purple Haze” by local artist James March, who specializes in abstract works.
 
Zamir, who is also an artist, will sketch the mural on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 and 9. The employees will begin painting it on Monday, Dec. 12. Zamir will help the employees through the process, then touch up the mural when it is complete.
 
Fahey says Towards Employment began talking with Zamir a few months ago about how to motivate the organization’s graduates through the arts. “He really has a passion for helping people with barriers to employment,” Fahey says. “He is an artist who was willing to open up to our graduates and let them into his studio.”
 
More than 6,000 people in Cuyahoga County are released from state prison each year, according to Towards Employment. The organization helps more than 500 of them with finding jobs. The organization helps a total of 2,000 people yearly in Cuyahoga County with its various programs.
 
Bloom Bakery plans two additional murals next year. Fahey says a second mural will be painted in the upstairs area of the Public Square location during the first quarter of 2017, while a mural at the Cleveland State University location – in collaboration with CSU students – is planned for next spring.
 
Bloom opened its bakeries earlier this year as a social enterprise venture.

Construction underway at new Ohio City music and early childhood education facility

Without fanfare, construction quietly began on the newest Music Settlement location in Ohio City in October, marking a huge step for the 104-year-old music education, music therapy and early childhood education institution.
 
“We’ve already started the initial groundbreaking,” says Patricia Camacho Hughes, the Music Settlement’s interim president. We’re moving forward and on schedule to open in August or September 2018.”
 
Settlement officials announced late last year that they had committed to 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the Snavely Group’s mixed use project on the corner of W. 25th Street and Detroit Avenue.
 
“It’s been really exciting to be doing it from scratch after 104 years of music,” says Lynn Johnson, the Settlement’s director of marketing and communications. “We’ve learned a lot.”
 
The Music Settlement was founded in 1912 and the institution has spent most of its time in an historic mansion in University Circle.
 
Hughes says they looked at multiple options for a second location and adds they are pleased to be constructing a building from the ground up.
 
“Starting from scratch, knowing what the square footage is and working with early childhood [education] requirements, we were able to work with the architects [VOCON],” she says, adding that factors like adequate soundproofing and layout were important.
 
The new location will house approximately 125 early childhood students and about 75 music and music therapy students. The settlement will employ a staff of about 50 at the W.25th campus.
 
The campus will include two music therapy suites with observation rooms and six ensemble rooms and a computer lab. The early childhood center will have six classrooms, a multipurpose room, dance studio, science lab, library, a secure playground, and a large-muscle room so children can move indoors during inclement weather.
 
The playground on site will help the Settlement fit right in with the neighborhood’s usual activity. “You’ll always hear the laughter of kids,” Hughes says. “But we’re used to hearing all those noises. People will understand what to anticipate – street noise, sirens, the sounds of music and kids laughing.”
 
Hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the classrooms used as practice areas once classes are over, in addition to the separate practice and music studios and therapy rooms. Instruction will run six days a week.
 
With the Music Settlement’s Bop Stop just steps away on Detroit, Johnson says the Ohio City community has already embraced the Settlement's growing presence in the neighborhood. “Ohio City and Hingetown have been so warm and welcoming,” she says. “They understand the value of keeping music and enrichment here.”
 
Hughes adds that the established artistic community in the neighborhood contributes to the excitement. “I love being on this corridor off of Detroit and the building is really a connector,” she says. “We’re actively working with other artists and nonprofits because we’re not in competition with each other.”
 
The Ohio City location is also a welcome addition for west side residents, who right now must make a rather long commute to University Circle. Hughes points out that some students come from as far away as Bay Village.  
 
“There’s a distinction between the west and east sides for those who use our services,” says Hughes. “Part of why we’re feeling so welcome is they’re aware of us, but they don’t have to travel across the river.”
 
Total enrollment at the Music Settlement is between 800 and 900, says Johnson, in addition to people who are served through the organization’s outreach programs at area high schools and community centers.
 
With the west side location, Hughes says she hopes community services will expand – especially with Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority’s  (CMHA) Lakeview Community Center just two blocks away.
 
“It’s also our mission to engage those residents to take part in our activities,” says Hughes. “We have fundraisers to expand endowment money to serve the underserved.”
 
The Music Settlement announced in early November that Geralyn Presti has been named the new president and CEO, coming from Forest City Realty Trust, where she served as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary. Presti has an extensive history with the Music Settlement, and her real estate law experience will prove helpful in the development of the new campus when she takes over in early 2017.

Construction of Harness Cycle's new downtown location underway in historic Garfield Building

When Anne Hartnett opened Harness Cycle in 2013, her motivation was fueled by her love for spinning and interest in fitness. The cycling studio immediately took off in the Hingetown location, becoming Ohio City’s most popular place for an indoor cycling workout.
 
Now, Hartnett is in the midst of opening her second Harness Cycling studio – downtown in the historic Garfield Building on E. 6th Street and Euclid Avenue, 1965 E. 6th St. In addition to the studio, the new facility will also house a retail shop offering clothing and fitness gear from local makers.
 
“We’re really excited to go into the downtown market and build brand awareness among people who live and work [there],” Harnett says.
 
Hartnett asserts the Harness workout is perfect for people looking to get some exercise on their lunch hours. The 45-minute session incorporates hand weights into a spinning workout, which occurs in a darkened room with music and without computer metrics.
 
“We call it active meditation,” Hartnett explains. “It’s based on heart rate and beat. You’re really getting a full cardio workout. Lunch hour is a great time to unplug, ride for 45 minutes and get an awesome workout – a little reboot.”
 
While looking for a downtown location Hartnett originally eyed at a space in the basement of the Garfield Building before viewing the 5,000-square-foot space on the first floor. “It’s more than double the size of our Hingetown space,” she says, adding that she will have 35 bicycles at first but the space has the capacity for as many as 55.
 
Hartnett fell in love with the historic building and its marble pillars and large windows. While the Hingetown location has a more rustic feel, the new space will be designed more for the downtown clientele. To that end, she's working with John Williams of Process Creative to create a modern studio that embraces the building’s historic architecture.
 
“He has a great way of merging young and old in his architecture,” says Hartnett of Williams, who designed the downtown Heinen’s rotunda. “We’re keeping the integrity of the space and creating a modern studio.”
 
The new, larger location also allows Hartnett to offer men’s and women’s locker rooms with a total of five showers to accommodate clients coming in on their lunch hours. She also plans to use the lobby for collaborations with food entrepreneurs, many of which will stem from the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen.
 
“We want to streamline and create a more full-service experience,” Hartnett says. “Come in on your lunch hour and then grab-and-go lunch.”
 
While Hartnett signed the lease a year ago, construction just began with demolition of walls to make way for restrooms and to create the studio space. While she does not yet have an exact opening date, Hartnett anticipates they will open sometime in March. She plans to employ 15 additional people at the new location.
 
In the meantime, Harness Cycle has been holding CycleLab Tours – pop-up cycling classes at unique venues downtown. Hartnett has already hosted CycleLabs at the Rock Hall and House of Blues. Today, Wednesday, Nov. 30, Harness Cycle will bring out more than 40 bikes at the Cavs’ practice courts inside Quicken Loans Arena from 5 to 7 p.m. Pop-up workouts at CycleLabs last about 45 minutes.
 
While today’s event is sold out with a waiting list, the next one is planned for Friday, Dec. 16 at Whiskey Grade’s Moto showroom in Ohio City, followed by a whiskey tasting by Tom’s Foolery. Future tours are planned in the new year.
 
Hartnett says the CycleLab Tours are at once an introduction for prospective customers to Harness Cycle and a way to do some market research on the downtown clientele. The tours don’t make any money, she says, and each event requires loading, hauling and unloading more than 35 bicycles.
 
“It’s a lot of work, but way worth it,” she notes. “Even if we don’t make money off the event, we spend more for people to learn who we are.”
 
While Hartnett’s original vision with Harness Cycle was to convert the energy used in pedaling into electricity, that dream has been put on hold until the technology is perfected and she has enough studios to make an effective impact on Cleveland’s power grid.
 
“It wouldn’t be cost effective now,” Hartnett explains, “but the goal still is to harness the energy of individuals to keep the sense of community.”

GLO opens in Artcraft building as a creative space for everyone

With its stunning views of downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie, GLO Cleveland is creating a reputation for being a collaborative studio and event space for those who want to express themselves in a supportive environment.
 
GLO manager Shelly Gracon, owner of Butterfly Consulting Group, and artist and entrepreneur Mike Bruckman had the vision of creating a space that both serves the community and uses a collaborative approach to building business. GLO is open to artists in all media, from film and production to painting and music.
 
“We came together with the mission of creating a collaborative space for all types,” says Gracon. “The name GLO signifies that bright and positive energy in the community. We want to bridge that gap with a creative space where [people] come to see each other, connect and build relationships.”
 
GLO’s 4,000-square-foot space on the fifth floor of the historic Artcraft Building, 2530 Superior Ave., has been open since late September, but officially kicks off its programming with an open house on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3rd and 4th during the building’s annual ArtCraft Holiday Sale.

During the open house, one of GLO’s artist collective members, AyyeDeesMM – a multimedia hip hop collective – will perform. “They focus on the foundational pillars of the Hip-hop culture, which include hip hop music, spoken word, graffiti art and graphic design, hip hop dance, and DJing,” Gracon explains. “Through their performance, education and brand they promote the values of peace, unity, love, and having fun.”

GLO has already hosted an after-hours party after a Night Market Cleveland last summer, a D.J. for an event and the filming of two music videos in the space. Gracon says she wants to keep the momentum going with yoga classes and wellness programming and artist uses in other mediums.
 
“We’re trying to get some photographers in here because the natural light is so incredible,” Gracon says. “We really want to open it to everyone and not be an exclusive space. We want to work together.”
 
GLO will also rent the space out for private events, says Gracon, which will help fund artists’ projects and programming. “The private event money allows us to offer space to artists,” she explains, adding that GLO is attractive for private events “because we have the view that we have. We want to use it all day, all evening, every day of the week.”
 
Memberships in the artist collective start at $100 per month and offer access to studio space, networking events and workshops and discounts on GLO rentals for private shows and parties. And additional fee gives members access to GLO’s wellness collective, which includes yoga, meditation and other fitness classes.
 
This weekend's open house is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Anyone interested in touring the space can also contact Gracon for an appointment.

Family shelter opens as first of four Salvation Army capital projects

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland officially opened its Zelma George Emergency Family Shelter, 1710 Prospect Ave. adjacent to its Harbor Light Complex, on Thursday, Nov. 17. The organization broke ground on the new facility in November 2015.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility replaces the previous shelter housed on two floors in Harbor Light, allowing the Salvation Army to provide better services to homeless families and victims of human trafficking.
 
When it opened earlier this month, Zelma George was already at capacity – housing 116 people, says Harbor Light executive director Beau Hill. The new facility has 35 family units, some of which are handicapped-accessible, and a three-bedroom apartment suite for up to six victims of human trafficking.
 
Hill says the opening went well. “There are still some quirks we need to work out, as with any new building," he says. “It has truly been an answer to the program.”
 
In addition to the living units, there is a flexible multipurpose room, a five-computer area, a common area for residents and staff and a cafeteria.
 
A walkway connects Zelma George and Harbor Light, with a newly-constructed playground in a courtyard. “It’s your typical school playground, with nothing too tall,” says Hill, adding that there’s a slide and a funnel ball structure targeted at elementary school ages.
 
In addition to family-specific programming offered at Zelma George, all of the residents will have access to the programming and services available at Harbor Light. Families can stay at Zelma George for up to 90 while they get back on their feet and find permanent housing.
 
The opening of the shelter marks the first of four construction, expansion and renovation projects being done as part of the Salvation Amy’s $35 million Strength for today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow capital campaign, which launched after a 2012 study showed the need for enhanced services for the more than 143,000 Cuyahoga County residents it serves each year.
 
The three other associated projects include the Cleveland Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood, which is starting up its operation, says Hill, while the East Cleveland facility should open in January or February. The West Park Community Center expansion will be finished in March or April.
 
Thus far, the organization has raised $32.3 million toward its goal. “We have a little under $3 million to go,” says Hill, who notes the campaign is now in its third year but was only made public a year ago. “We were hoping to be done, but we’re going to keep pushing.”

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  
 
But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand.
 
The season kicks off today with May Dugan's annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.
 
“It’s out biggest distribution of the year,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. GIE Media sponsors the distribution, while Platform Beer Co. stores the birds until distribution day.
 
Then on Thursday, Dec. 1, the holiday season really gears up as May Dugan adorns the 35-foot-high tree on the corner of Randall Road and Bridge Avenue – one of the tallest trees in Ohio City – with thousands of lights.
 
More than 400 people are expected to gather around the tree for the seventh annual lighting ceremony and May Dugan open house from 5 to 7 p.m. The joy of the season will be spread by the Urban Community School Choir and Mae Dugan’s Rhythm and Roots Senior Choir, formed out of a partnership with the Music Settlement’s music therapy program..
 
“The seniors here really enjoy performing,” says Trares of the choir. “The songs are important but their attention to the details is also important. They really like to go all-out and they take great pride in it.” For instance, last year the group dressed in all black and wore Santa hats.
 
There will also be kids’ crafts, a raffle and refreshments. “It’s a nice event that culminates in front of the building with the lighting of the tree,” says Trares. “It has become a tradition now.”
 
After the tree lighting Jukebox, 1404 W. 29th St., will host an after-party from 7 to 9 p.m. A portion of the total bar tab will go back to May Dugan. “Grab a little bit of food, a couple of drinks and support May Dugan,” encourages Trares. Both the tree lighting ceremony and after-after party are free and open to the public.
 
May Dugan's annual Adopt-A-Family program helps make the holidays a little brighter for select clients who have made progress in the center’s various programs. Thanks to sponsors who adopt a family and receive demographic information and a list of gift ideas, each selected family gets a few gifts to put under the tree.
 
“It gives a motivating factor to keep going,” says Trares of the program, adding that the requests are usually for practical items. Last year 160 people were served, thanks to 11 different sponsor groups. Trares says May Dugan now adds children’s books with all gifts donated. Interested sponsors can contact Trares to sign up.
 
“Holidays when folks are in need can be really tough,” says Trares, “Parents work around the clock and hear all the talk about Christmas gifts, and the kids see the commercials. I’m glad we’re able to fill that gap at this time of year and make it a little more special.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Euclid 116 apartments to cater to University Circle students

As the former vice president of commercial development at Case Western Reserve University, Russell Berusch has spent recent years developing the burgeoning Uptown district into a lifestyle center that caters to both students and residents.
 
Now, as president of Berusch Development Partners, Berusch is building an apartment building that uniquely caters to students at CWRU and the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA).
 
Euclid 116, 11611 Euclid Ave., will offer “smart suites for serious students,” says Berusch, who will lease the one-, two- and four- bedroom units to tenants by the bedroom, as opposed to leasing by the unit.
 
“The scale is small enough that it feels like a manageable community of residents, but on the other hand, it’s a large enough space to be a defendable place,” says Berusch.
 
Berusch bought the property from the owner of Mi Pueblo Mexican restaurant a number of years ago, and broke ground this past July on the new 39,000-square-foot, five floor building. Euclid 116 is scheduled to be completed by August 2017.
 
New Jersey-based Feinberg and Associates served as the architect on the project, while American Preservation Builders in Valley View is the general contractor.
 
Each of the 31 apartments with a total of 89 bedrooms will be completely furnished, and each bedroom will have its own lock. Roommates can lease a unit together, or Berusch will provide a roommate matching program. There are 14 four-bedroom units, 13 two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units.
 
The distinctive aspect of this complex, says Berusch, is that all utilities – gas, electric, water, high-speed internet and cable – are included in the rent and the associated Foliot furnishings are top-of-the-line. Every apartment will feature granite countertops and plank flooring as well as an inclusive array of energy efficient appliances.
 
“What’s unique about this particular project is it is at the East end of Uptown in University Circle, which is increasingly becoming a place people want to live in and shop at,” he says. “The rents are all-inclusive, we’re wrapping it all in and the furniture is luxury quality that will last for many decades.”
 
Rents start at $1,299 a month for a 591-square-foot one-bedroom unit; $1,025 per bedroom a month for a 737-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite; and $1,055 per bedroom per month for a 798-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. Four-bedroom suites range between 1,168 and 2,338 square feet and rent for between $925 and $950 per bedroom per month.
 
Berusch points out that each bedroom comes with a full sized bed, desk, chair and nightstand.
 
While Euclid 116 targets students, Berusch says he will rent to anyone who is interested. “We welcome all comers, but we’ve kept the vibe of students housing,” he says. “These are grown-up, adult quality family apartments. They’re not college dorms.”
 
In addition to the apartments, Berusch has leased 750 square feet of retail space to a tenants who will open an Asian restaurant featuring fresh and healthy dishes.
 
While Euclid 116 won't be ready for tenants until the beginning of the 2017-18 academic school year, Berusch says he has already received a number of lease applications and heard from even more interested parties.
 
Euclid 116 is hosting a grand opening through this Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11607 Euclid Ave., at the corner of Euclid Avenue and E. 115th Street, where Berusch has set up a model suite and leasing office.
 
Berusch Development Partners is also developing the adjacent Euclid 115 as CIA student apartments.

Rock Hall comes of age, decks out for its 21st birthday

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame turned 20 years old last year, which prompted discussions of a new strategic plan to keep on rockin’ and give the museum an updated look and feel while keeping up with technology.
 
“We’re 21 years old and the inside joke is: ‘We’re of age. What are we going to be when we grow up?’” says Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We’re looking at this with a new set of eyes. It’s about looking at how we can really engage people and make it exciting for everyone.”
 
Achieving that goal means looking at every generation and rock music style. It’s about telling in-depth stories and connecting visitors to the artists and musicians showcased in the museum.
 
“We’re going deeper, telling stories and making it engaging,” says Mesek. “For the Baby Boomers, the Rolling Stones might be an entry point, but we want to take them to Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga – make that connection point. If you’re 17, there are a lot of connections to classic rock – who’s doing it today, who’s carrying on that torch.”

Many of the exhibits will be more interactive, Mesek says, like the new permanent exhibit on the first floor, Backstage Stories, which chronicles how live concerts are produced, or the Paul Simon exhibit that includes film footage of the musician in his everyday life.

“It’s not just the music, the artist, the genre,” says Mesek. “It’s how it crosses over in other parts of their lives.”

The planned Garage Zone, will be a true hands-on experience with an educational element, where visitors can make their own music. “It’s a space where they can touch instruments, pick up a guitar or mix a soundtrack and learn what happens in a mix down,” Mesek explains.

Another future planned project is the Signature Experience, which will combine enhanced inductee exhibits with a signature multimedia presentation production by Oscar-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

The experience will begin before visitors even step inside the Rock Hall, though. The giant Rock Boxes, installed before the Republican National Convention, are now permanent public art pieces lining East 9th Street - AKA Rock and Roll Boulevard - playing music and drawing visitors to the museum.

“It’s a long walk so we wanted the space to really come alive,” says Mesek of the trek down East 9th to North Coast Harbor.

Last Thursday, Nov. 17, the Rock Hall officially dedicated its giant welcome message – seven-foot-high red letters, spelling out LONG LIVE ROCK on the 65,000-square-foot entrance plaza. “People are climbing on them every single day,” says Mesek of the letters. “And they light up at night, adding energy to it.”

The atrium also has a new look, painted red, gold and black. “The red symbolizes the passion and energy of rock and roll; the black represents the edge and grit of rock and roll; while the gold, used sparingly, represents the inductions,” says Mesek.

The museum store has been redesigned to better meet the needs of visitors looking for more than just a souvenir t-shirt, as well as create a better layout with a relaxed atmosphere.

“There’s a place for people to sit down and charge their phones,” says Mesek of the new store, which is also keeping up with the times in a way. “There are fewer CDs, but more vinyl in matching consumer trends. We have lifestyle products that are co-branded with the inductees, like women’s scarves and cool unique t-shirts you’d wear out to a club.”

An “all-access” café, featuring cuisine from local celebrity chefs Michael Symon, Jonathan Sawyer, Rocco Whalen and Fabio Salerno, will offer unique, tasty dining, and no admission ticket is required. Mesek says people are encouraged to dine at the café for a casual lunch or as part of the whole Rock Hall experience.

“They’re so excited,” Mesek says of the chefs involved. “Rocco was joking about changing his name to RockHall. We wanted something that is fresh and forward-thinking.”

By next summer, a permanent stage with new sound and lighting systems will grace the entrance plaza for live entertainment. The popular beer garden and food trucks and plenty of greenspace will also add to the outdoor venue. “Sit down, have a beer, grab something to eat,” Merek says by as a welcome to future visitors. “It just adds to the experience.”

Other improvements include an updated ticketing system, which will speed up on-site and online advance ticket purchases and motorcycle parking.

Stalwart local advocate champions Cleveland Refugee Bike Project

More than 1,000 refugees are resettled in the Cleveland area each year, and many of them struggle with transportation as they adjust to their new homes and secure jobs. Many people in the refugee population don’t have cars, and public transportation routes often don’t travel to all the places they need to go.
 
After hearing stories about the demand for bicycles among the refugee population, Tim Kovach started to see a possible solution. “They’re looking to get their hands on bikes,” says the avid cyclist who bikes to his job as an air quality planner at Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency nine months out of the year.

The refugee situation moved the Ohio City resident to initiate a campaign to get more bikes to that vulnerable population with an ioby crowdfunding campaign: the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project.
 
The Bike Project aims to raise $7,863 to provide refugees with 50 to 100 bikes and training to give them better access to work, education and social opportunities. The Cleveland Climate Action Fund will match dollars raised, up to $5,000.
 
The idea first came about after Kovach’s wife, who works at Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, began telling him stories of Cleveland refugees needing bikes to get around.
 
Kovach heard of one Congolese boy who was excited to bike to his new school and was told “don’t bother, we don’t even have a bike rack.” Another man in his 50s had trouble walking but could ride a bicycle. The man just couldn’t find an affordable one.
 
“It really clicked on me,” Kovach recalls of hearing these stories. “The number of refugees settled in Cleveland has basically doubled in the last few years. I started to think about a way I could help.”
 
While organizations like Cleveland Catholic Charities help refugees settling in Cleveland by providing assistance, including RTA passes, it’s still often tough for them to get to jobs that can be in remote locations, Kovach explains.
 
“It can be very difficult, especially with the jobs they are trying to get,” Kovach says. “The jobs are in places that are not well connected to [bus lines], and there’s a language barrier and a skills [gap].”
 
Last January, Kovach began talking to Bike Cleveland and Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) about ways he could secure bikes and provide culturally appropriate training for Cleveland’s refugee community.
 
The conversations were put on the back burner, but then in August, Matt Gray, the director of the Cleveland Mayor’s  Office of Sustainability, told Kovach about the Cleveland Climate Action Fund’s newest round of grants.
 
“I wrote up a proposal and sent it to them,” Kovach recalls, adding that he requested the full $5,000. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from the bike community as well.”
 
To date, Kovach has raised nearly $4,000 towards his goal. If he meets it and gets the matching funds, he will start a pilot program in 2017. The bikes will be sourced from OCBC, which will also provide in-kind support through bike accessories.
 
Kovach will organize bicycle training and skills classes at the OCBC or Catholic Charities with the help of refugee interpreters with the former. He says the classes will be based on majority language groups – Somali, Arabic, Swahili, Bhutanese and French – depending on the interest.

“We’re creating jobs and opportunities for refugees,” says Kovach of his program and the use of the interpreters. He is also hoping to have enough funding to install bike racks at Catholic Charities.
 
There are 10 days to go until the Friday, Nov. 18 ioby campaign deadline.
 
Additionally, Platform Beer Co., 4125 Lorain Ave., will host a fundraiser for Kovach’s cause this Thursday, Nov.  10 from 4 to 8 p.m. Platform will donate $1 for each house beer sold. Organizers will raffle off gift baskets from Platform, OCBC, and Bike Cleveland. All proceeds will go toward the project.

Tim Kovach's advocacy goes beyond his work with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and this project. He contributed this informative article on the impact of freeways on our neighborhoods to Fresh Water earlier this year. The story garnered thousands of hits.

Wrecking ball kicks off celebration, clears way for new downtown Shaker

After years of planning and infrastructure improvements, all that remains of the Van Aken Center will come down this weekend to make way for the new Van Aken District.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the city, RMS Investment Corporation, representatives of Cuyahoga County, ODOT and the merchants in the new district will host the New Starts Now Demolition Celebration.
 
“We will look back a little and then look forward,” says Shaker Heights economic development director Tania Menesse. “Van Aken Center basically looks like it did in the 50s when it was built. It took a long time to get to this point, and then it happens really quickly.”
 
The whole redevelopment was first initiated with the city’s strategic investment plan in 2000 and is on schedule to be completed by June 2018.
 
The celebration begins with a wrecking ball taking the first swing at the shopping center on the north side of Van Aken. When the demolition is complete, the only remaining structure at Van Aken Center will be the former Fresh Market, which will become the food hall in the new Van Aken District.
 
The rest of the space will be reborn as 100,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, 60,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 100 apartments. The current parking lot at Van Aken Center will be a public park. A 325-car parking garage will be erected to supplement a 70-car lot and street parking.
 
Additionally, much attention has been trained on the public transportation hubs in the area as well as creating a cycling and pedestrian friendly infrastructure.
 
After the wrecking ball takes its swing, the New Starts Now party continues with a celebration and welcome from tenants of Shaker Plaza on the south side of Van Aken and in the Shops of Chagrin on Chagrin Boulevard.
 
“This is an event to thank the community for their patience and let them know the best is really yet to come,” says Menesse.
 
The event includes shopping, food and drink from vendors such as Pearl Asian Kitchen, J. Pistone, Rising Star Coffee, Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, Nina Lau'rens Cakepops, and Restore Cold Pressed Juice. Goldhorn Brewery will provide adult beverages and music will be provided by By Light We Loom. Proceeds from the sale of Goldhorn Brewery beer will benefit the local non-profit organization, Christ Episcopal Church.
 
Many of the previous tenants of Van Aken Center, including Pearl, Donato’s Pizza, Subway, MoroPhoto and Frames Unlimited, have already moved over to Van Aken Plaza, while established tenants like QDoba, Walgreens and Juma Gallery continue to operate during the construction.
 
“We encourage the community and all of Cleveland to come see this,” says Menesse, adding that construction will not interfere with access to the existing businesses. “We want to make sure the larger community knows all of these are open for business.”
 
Many future tenants will host pop-up shops, including Tremont-based clothing retailer Evie Lou, which will open its first east side location at Van Aken District. Other newcomers to the district include men’s clothing stores Whiskey Grade and Brigade, Mark Anthony Salon and Day Spa and New Balance.
 
Families are invited to explore the new and pop-up stores via the “Be an Original” treasure hunt, which takes seekers on a quest for prizes through District stores. “People can go into every store to get something fun,” explains Menesse. “It’s a fun way to get people to explore the businesses in Shaker Plaza.”
 
The will be other family friendly activities, such as Face Painting by Suzanne, sponsored by Le Chaperon Rouge childcare, which will be opening a Shaker location in September 2017.
 
Cleveland Heights public artist Debbie Presser is organizing a community art project at the event. Attendees are invited to come draw, decorate and paint on a 16-foot long canvas. The work will ultimately be incorporated into a permanent public art piece in the Van Aken District.
 
In the meantime, Andrea Wedren, marketing and event coordinator with Boom, says the public work will be displayed along the construction site fencing. “People can just come and doodle and create, then we will take what is created and use it in the construction site,” she says. “It will be included in the [permanent] piece and be inspiration for the permanent piece.”
 
The demolition ceremony begins at 12 p.m. For best viewing of the wrecking ball’s impact, gather in the former Starbucks site at the corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center Road. The festivities then move inside at 12:30 p.m. - next to Pearl Asian Kitchen at 20156 Van Aken Blvd - and continue until 5 p.m.
 
Juma Gallery, 20100 Chagrin Blvd., will host an after party from 6 to 8 p.m. with wine, beer, small plates and music by Jim Carr.
 
The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at Shaker Plaza or in the lot on Farnsleigh Road.
 
"This whole effort is to create a true downtown for the community,” says Menesse. “I really think this is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Holiday decorating goes over the top, meets steampunk, the British and Higbee's

The holidays are approaching quickly and creating that perfect table décor for the season can be difficult. Want to see how the pros do it?

More than 25 of Northeast Ohio’s top interior designers will show off their tablescapes at Ohio Design Center’s Entertaining by Design, this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5.

All proceeds benefit Malachi House, a non-profit organization that serves the terminally ill who have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in the final stages of life.
 
The juried competition began in 2012 as a small demonstration, but has grown to a much larger event. In recent years, attendance has grown to as many as 900 during the two-day event.
 
“It started as a one-day event with one person doing a how-to demonstration and then we realized how popular it is,” says event spokesperson Latoya Hunter. “It seems that every year the designs are becoming more and more elaborate and taking up more space.”
 
An open call for designers was issued back in March, and those who showed the best ideas will display them at the show. Some of the designs are over the top, Hunter says, with some of this year’s themes including Holiday at Higbee’s, Steam Punk Masquerade and British Invasion.
 
Holiday at Higbee’s, created by Cuyahoga Community College design students, harkens back to 1984, with Mr. Jingeling preparing for the holiday season at the once-beloved department store.

Steam Punk Masquerade, by 2 Sisters Design, represents a fusion of Victorian design and 19th century industrial elements in a futuristic masquerade atmosphere.

British Invasion by Kelly Millstone Interiors is inspired by the designers’ time living in London and their admiration of the spirit of the British people, complete with a stroll along Abbey Road.
 
Other designers are using hand-made plates from Italy, hand-made crystal table mats and thousands of dollars in exotic flowers, says Hunter. “They’re elaborate,” she observes.
 
A three-judge panel will choose winners in four categories: best of show, best interpretation of a theme, most over-the-top and best student presentation. A fifth award will be given to the design team garnering the most votes from attendees.
 
Event-goers will also have a chance to shop in many of Ohio Design Centre’s showrooms for furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs, art and other items.
 
The public event runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ohio Design Center, 23533 Mercantile Road in Beachwood. A VIP party is planned on Friday from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. In addition to the tablescapes, party attendees will be treated to dinner and live entertainment.
 
General admission is $10. Tickets to the VIP celebration start at $125. Tickets for both admissions can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Former Sammy's building emerges as a renovated gem in the Flats

With its outstanding views of downtown Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River, Sammy’s in the Flats maintained a presence at 1400 W. 10th St. as the signature place in Cleveland for weddings, celebrations and other special events for more than three decades. Then in 2013, the iconic event hall closed it's doors.
 
Last Thursday, Oct. 27, the building came to life once again during the grand opening of Settler’s Point, a 34,000-square-foot loft-like office complex on the Flats East Bank.
 
Developer Joel Scheer bought the Sammy’s property, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, out of receivership in December 2014 with an eye on restoring it and an admitted fascination with both the property and the area.
 
“That building - I’ve always been looking at that building ever since I was a little kid,” Scheer says. “It’s where Moses Cleaveland landed, it has fabulous views, and it has tremendous potential. It was kind of like a high profile place at the time for parties. People got married there.”
 
After buying the complex, Scheer spent much of 2015 working on a renovation plan with Dimit Architects and Vocon interior design architects before Welty Building Company began work on the project as the general contractor around Thanksgiving last year.
 
The renovation has transformed and modernized the space. “It doesn’t really look the same,” says Scheer, adding that the building had undergone many rounds of construction over the years. “There were layers and layers of previous renovations. We uncovered windows behind walls, floors upon floors. One floor was actually a roof.”
 
Scheer invested in new HVAC, electric and plumbing for the century-old building, and installed in new energy-efficient, yet historic, windows and a new roof. He left the exposed brick walls and wood beams. “We basically took it down to its shell,” he says of the renovations.
 
Decks and patios make up 5,529 square feet of Settler’s Point, each with views of the city and the river. The gem of the building, however is the 1,325-square-foot penthouse, available to all tenants. “Three sides are all glass with amazing views of the city,” says Scheer. The penthouse features meeting and event space, a kitchen and bathrooms.
 
Off of the penthouse is an 815-square-foot deck made of ipe, a Brazilian maple hardwood known for its beauty and durability.
 
Welty Building and Environments for Business are already tenants of Settler’s Point. “There’s room for more,” quips Scheer. There’s about 15,000 square feet still available for leasing.
 
About 75 people attended the grand opening last week, including representatives from the Cleveland’s economic development department, members of the architecture team, real estate brokers and other partners. The Gatherings Kitchen in Lakewood and other local food vendors provided catering for the event.
 
Scheer says those who have fond memories of special occasions at the former Sammy’s are impressed with the renovations. “People are excited to come in and look since I bought the building.”

West 25th Street Lofts merge historic architecture with contemporary design

A group of buildings built in the late 1800s on Church Avenue between W. 25th and W. 28th Streets in Ohio City were once the hallmark of a manufacturing town – housing everything from the original Baehr Brewing Company and Odd Fellows Masonic Hall to a machine shop and a tin and sheet metal shop, among other business and residential dwellings. 

Exhibit Builders last owned and operated the buildings fronting W. 25th Street. More recently, the heavy industrial buildings housed the Phoenix Ice Machine Company, Lester Engineering Company, then a charter school and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.
 
Today development partners Rick Foran of Foran Group and Chris Smythe of Smythe Property Advisors are converting the structures into contemporary apartment lofts with a nod to their unique history. “You know you’re in historic buildings, but with modern amenities,” says Smythe.
 
The project has been nine years in the making. Smythe and Foran bought their first property in the group from CMHA back in 2008 with a bank loan. Then the real estate market tanked.


 
“For several years afterwards, it was virtually impossible to get any financing to move the project forward,” recalls Foran. “Eventually, we turned to Love Funding to put together a HUD 221(d) (4) FHA loan guarantee designed for market-rate based apartments.”
 
Smythe and Foran also received $8 million in historic state and federal tax credits for the $24 million project, $18 million of which comprises hard construction costs being done by Project and Construction Services and its subcontractors.
 
The pair have almost completed 83 market rate loft apartments in what is now West 25th Street Lofts. The structure features one-, two-, and three-bedroom lofts, as well as 18 townhouse-style units and a couple of studio apartments.
 
The lofts are 72 percent leased – the first 22 tenants came in September, a second group of 25 will move in sometime in November and another group in mid-December. There are 9,600 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, for which Foran and Smythe have verbal agreements with a restaurant and an office tenant.
 
Smythe says each loft’s floor plan is different, ranging from 618 square feet for a studio, about 800 square feet for a one-bedroom to more than 2,000 square feet for a two-story townhouse loft.
 
Foran and Smythe hired City Architecture to create the look. The units have bamboo hardwood floors, energy efficient stainless steel appliances, including washers and dryers in each unit, granite counter tops, high ceilings and oversized windows. Foran boasts that the original large windows have been replicated with energy-efficient versions.


 
Twelve of the units have the remaining overhead crane track, which was used by Lester Engineering. “Lester Engineering made huge stamping machines that were used around the world by manufacturers such as the auto industry,” explains Foran. “The overhead cranes would move massive heavy material back and forth through the assembly plant.”
 
The brick stable that used to house the horses that pulled the Baehr Brewery wagons to deliver beer to area taverns at the turn of the 20th Century now makes up the West 25th Street Lofts’ entry lobby and fitness room.
 
Foran and Smythe transformed a 45-foot tall heavy industrial space into a large atrium with wall-to-wall skylights and catwalks leading to apartment entries.  Smythe explains that the open atrium allows natural light to pour into the apartment units.

“They have a post-industrial look,” says Smythe. “Yet they also have a contemporary feel with an historic lineage.”
 
One of the most unique apartments centers around the brewery’s old powerhouse. The 1,800 square-foot, two-story, three-bedroom, three-bath apartment encompasses part of the 140-foot smokestack that soars three stories.

 
In the building that was once the home of the Jacob and Magdalena Baehr and their eight children, layers of 140-year-old wallpaper line the walls as Foran and Smythe complete renovations. Pocket doors separate rooms, two of which have coal-burning fireplaces. The home will soon be two separate town homes.
 
"Some of this stuff was built 140 years ago," says Foran. "With such attention to detail, quality and use of materials, it wouldn’t be fair to not treat them with quality labor. Hopefully we can become stewards of the building as we pass through time.”
 
Common space includes a rooftop lounge, paved with recycled tires and offering spectacular views of downtown. Six loft units have direct access to the deck area, while there is also an entrance accessible to all tenants.
 
The west end of the building abuts the planned Irishtown Bend redevelopment, leading to easy access to Wendy Park and the Towpath Trail. Foran and Smythe have been working with Ohio City’s sewer district on a storm water retention plan for greenspace, growing areas and plantings.
 
The building’s perimeter will be converted to six-foot sidewalks next to eight-foot tree lawns.
 
Foran saw the history and features of these buildings as a development opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
 
“I personally always was drawn to historic properties, especially those with great bones like the gothic windows and heavily detailed façade,” explains Foran of the endeavor. “Additionally, new attractions such as the Bier Markt and Market Garden Brewery were leading the turnaround of the W. 25th Street corridor.”
 
Foran’s observations prompted him to develop an area of Ohio City that has been deemed economically distressed, but Foran sees it as full of potential. “Having watched how redevelopment tends to spread, I had confidence that such stabilization would expand on the main arteries,” he explains. “There was such a huge need for housing in the area for those young people who wanted to make their urban districts bustle like other great cities, so the demand was strong.” 
 
Now Foran and Smythe are confident their vision will be well received. "It brings it back toward the neighborhood feel,” Smythe says “Stand on the roof and look around, and it’s a neighborhood. Foran adds, “In 2005 there was a renewal where people wanted to move back. That gives us confidence that it’s going to be a success.”

Silent auction, mingling, 70's Soul Ball to support Glenville revitalization

For years, the Glenville neighborhood, just steps from the cultural attractions of University Circle, struggled with a reputation of being poor, rundown and just plain desolate.

When the Famicos Foundation took over as community development corporation for the neighborhood in January 2014, the organization set out to do what it does best: “Create an engaged, vibrant, diverse, healthy neighborhood; where residents decide to stay, invest, and help shape a neighborhood of choice.”
 
In leading Glenville’s revitalization, Famicos developed a My Glenville Master Plan in March 2015 to improve housing, spur economic development and create a place that engages its residents.
 
“We want a neighborhood we can call home,” explains Famicos executive director John Anoliefo. “There’s a perception [about Glenville] we want to debunk. The ultimate goal is the transformation of Glenville into a mixed income neighborhood of choice in Northeast Ohio.”
 
To begin implementing the master plan, Famicos is having a two-part fundraiser this Thursday, Oct. 27 at MOCA, 11400 Euclid Ave.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Famicos officials and neighborhood representatives will present “Growing Glenville” to go over plan implementation, hand out awards and encourage residents to get involved in the revitalization plan.
 
“We want as many people as possible to get our message,” says Anoliefo, “and the massage is: We need you - all hands on deck. When great people work together, great things happen.”
 
Then, from 7 to 11 p.m. Famicos will host the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball with DJ Knyce and a live band. “People will have fun,” Anoliefo says, adding that he hopes for a full house.
 
One of the main objectives of the Growing Glenville initiative is to get additional feedback from residents on what they want to see happen in the neighborhood. Anoliefo says they have spent the past year soliciting input from residents about what the neighborhood needs.
 
He concedes that while the neighborhood has gone through its hardships, it continues to be a stalwart home of lifelong residents. “Like most urban areas in the city, particularly in the Rust Belt, it needs a renaissance,” Anoliefo says. “But it’s still well-regarded. We have to retain the people who have weathered the storm,”
 
Anoliefo says the housing stock – many homes are boarded up, abandoned, or in disrepair – needs to be improved, but nonetheless includes classic architecture. “They are beautiful homes,” he says. “We still need to attract people who can take care of them because they are beautiful, but a bit large. The housing stock is second to none.”
 
Anoliefo also says they need to attract a good mix of people and this fundraiser is intended to do exactly that. “Solid Gold is kind of an intergenerational event that brings everyone together,” he explains. “We’ll have young professionals, long-time residents and first time residents. They can learn about Glenville, its assets and all Glenville has to offer.”
 
The event will also be an opportunity for Famicos staff to introduce themselves, the organization, and the master plan to the residents, Anoliefo says. “We need the people we are serving to tell us what they want,” he adds.
 
Famicos has already orchestrated some neighborhood activities to bring residents together. This past summer monthly Gather in Glenville block parties along E. 105th Street between Superior and Ashbury Avenues on Sunday afternoons offered food, music and a chance for residents to get to know one another.
 
“It’s a neighborhood of friendly people, a neighborhood where everyone’s welcome,” says Anoliefo. “There was a time when neighbors knew their neighbors, and this brings old and young together. People are beginning to talk to one another.”
 
The organization also began offering free legal services for those who need advice, as well as the summertime Gateway 105 Farmers’ Market. Another program targets neighborhood youth -- paying better than minimum wage for mowing lawns.
 
Growing Glenville and the Solid Gold 70s Soul Ball will have heavy appetizers and drinks, as well as a 50-50 raffle and a silent auction. Tickets are $150 for both events; $75 for young professionals; or $25 for just the Solid Gold Soul Ball. All proceeds will go toward implementation of the Glenville Master Plan.

Inter|Urban launches website, announces phase two of the "Art & Culture Connector" along Rapid line

Nearly a year after receiving a $150,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to create public art along the RTA red line between downtown and Public Square, LAND studio last week announced the launch of the INTER|URBAN website.
 
The site highlights each of the 18 INTER|URBAN art installations and profiles the local, national and international mural artists and photographers who created them. The site also explores the Anisfield-Wolf Award winning literature that inspired each artist. The 81-year-old award, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, recognizes books that tackle issues of racism, diversity, equity and social justice.
 
The project, a partnership between LAND studio, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, RTA, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards, originally came about in 2014 as a way to beautify the Rapid route for guests traveling from the airport to downtown for the Republican National Convention.
 
It quickly grew into something much more evocative. Sponsors asked the selected artists to add a relative cultural dimension to the works by responding to themes in the award-winning books they were given.


 
“We wanted to create a project that was not just murals, because a lot of cities are doing that,” explains Joe Lanzilotta, project manager for LAND studio. “The artists are directly responding to the literature, and it’s a perfect time right now for something like this.”
 
Lanzilotta says riding the RTA route, which is usually a passive experience, seemed to be the perfect forum to introduce issues about race and diversity. “It’s unconventional, but the perfect place to start a conversation about diversity,” he says. “Riders are introduced to these discussions in a place where they normally would not be.”
 
More than 300 artists submitted portfolios to LAND studios for the project.
 
Anisfield-Wolf scholars from CWRU helped choose the artists and pair each one with a book. “It was an interesting, very fun process to work with these scholars and it kind of worked out perfectly,” Lanzilotta says. “We knew right away when we sat down with them, we had something very unique.”
 
Eight of the 18 artists are from Northeast Ohio, while the rest hail from across the country and the globe, including Detroit, Austin, Texas, San Francisco and even South Africa. Cleveland native Fred Bidwell and mural expert Jasper Wong from Honolulu were hired to curate the project.
 
“We didn’t want the artist to take the book literally," says Lanzilotta, "we wanted them to interpret [their assigned works] – and take from their own experiences. We left if really open for them.”
 
This past June, all 18 artists descended upon the Rapid stops for one week, simultaneously creating their installments in time to welcome RNC visitors. The result is a series of distinctive works that add beauty to the Cleveland landscape and hopefully spark discussion.
 
“It celebrates our unique landscape and our unique approach to public art,” says Lanzilotta, noting how special the opportunity is. “We get a chance to start a discussion about social justice and equality. Each of us face these issues every day, whether it’s how we are viewed or how we view the world.”
 
The project was so successful, the organizations have already started to implement phase two – the expansion of INTER|URBAN along the eastern portion of the RTA red line, from downtown to University Circle. Phase two is scheduled to begin next summer.
 
LAND studio also produced a video, chronicling the first phase of INTER|URBAN.
 

INTER|URBAN from LAND studio on Vimeo.

However, the vision goes beyond a second phase. In the video, Lillian Kuri, program director for the Cleveland Foundation states that she would like this project expand to as many of 70 projects along the RTA system.

“You could ride any line and understand how powerful this is and how the creative community has risen to say we’re a community that cares about race, equity, inclusion,” she says. “And then over time as we evolve as a community we continue to tell that story so that in a few years the entire RTA system will actually be the world’s largest art gallery that is talking about how we have come together to deal with these issues.”
 
Lanzilotta adds that he would like to include more interactive facets in phase two such as performance artists and literature. “We really hope to engage riders,” he says, noting that this initial foray is a sort of trial or proof, with significant opportunity in the future. “This could be a project that occurs every year to highlight the rich, cultural diversity of the region,” he says.

“We want another layer of Cleveland’s arts and culture scene. We want people to travel here from all over to see this.”


LAND studio is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Cavs' three-pointers grow into trees, partnerships

The Cleveland Cavaliers made 433 three-pointers at their home games during the regular season last year, which ended with an NBA Championship.

While those points were planted in the hoop, they're soon to bloom green courtesy of the Trees for Threes program, which is a partnership program between the Cavs, PwC, Holden Arboretum, Davey Tree and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC).
 
Last Wednesday, Oct. 19, 60 of what will eventually total 433 trees were planted around the Great Lakes Science Center.  The group of volunteers included Cavs legend Campy Russell as well as other representatives of the Cavs, partner organizations and students and teachers from Cleveland Metropolitan School District MC2 STEM High School.


 
“It was a beautiful fall day,” says Emily Bacha, Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s director of communications and marketing. “We had over 100 corporate volunteers and 100 students there. Not only were there beautiful, robust trees planted, it will create a beautiful canopy in downtown.”
 
Davey Tree donated the trees, which consist of eight different varieties – ranging from Japanese tree lilacs and kousa dogwoods to maples, white oaks and elms.
 
Now in its second year, the Trees for Threes program helps restore Cleveland’s dwindling tree canopy.


 
“The City of Cleveland’s tree canopy stands at just 19 percent – only one quarter of the tree canopy we could see across our neighborhoods,” explains Bacha. “From intercepting rainwater to removing air pollution to providing essential wildlife habitat, trees are a critical part of our infrastructure.”
 
Bacha adds that trees also improve public health and reduce stress. “Cleveland can once again thrive as the Forest City, but it will take a true community effort to reforest our neighborhoods,” she says. The addition of the 433 trees will have a economic benefit of $1.56 million benefit over the next 40 years.
 
WRLC urban forestry and natural resources manager Colby Sattler and Holden Arboretum’s community forester Char Clink worked with the MC2 STEM students earlier this year regarding the importance of trees for a healthy ecosystem – educating them about storm water absorption, tree canopies and the oxygen they produce.
 
“It’s really exciting to bring this to the high school level and train future botanists and arborists,” says Bacha, who adds that Campy Russell took the time to interact with the students, even coaching some of them. “It was really great to see him interacting.”
 
On Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m., an additional 273 saplings will be distributed to guests who attend the screening of the film Tiny Giants at the Great Lakes Science Center’s new state-of-the-art digital theater. 

Next spring, 100 more trees will be distributed through WRLC’s Reforest Our City grant program. Fourteen organizations – many of them community development corporations – benefit from the program.

Business owner, city, county and state collaborate to bring oasis to Euclid food desert

Simon Hussain has found success in the grocery business by listening to what his customers want and need. “If customers need something and you don’t provide it, they stop coming,” he says.
 
Hussain opened his first Cleveland grocery in December 2003 and will soon open his third Simon’s Supermarket in Euclid’s Family Dollar Plaza, 25831 Euclid Ave. The store is located in a neighborhood considered to be a food desert, with limited access to healthy food in an area of dense poverty.
 
Hussain plans to offer fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy food at Simon’s Supermarket, as well as hire 50 full- and 10 part-time employees. While hosting an open house last month at the 27,000-square-foot store, Hussain invited residents to have a look around and provide feedback on what products they'd like to see lining the shelves.
 
Of the 90 residents who turned out for the event, 16 provided comments on a feedback form. Suggestions such as ”Keep fresh food and the store will make it in this area,” and “Make the prices of fruits and veggies more affordable for low income families and single parent families” guided Hussain’s decisions in creating an attractive shopping experience.
 
“It’s a very good location on a main avenue,” Hussain says. “People really want a supermarket around here.”
 
In 2012, the city of Euclid applied for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), conducted through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to assess the needs of a four-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue. The findings included a section on healthy food access - and the lack of it in this area. Other concerns included store security, employment opportunities and access to quality food options as a whole.
 
“Simon’s Supermarket is an opportunity to address health disparities in this neighborhood through increased access to healthy food, employment opportunities for local residents and by serving as an anchor business that may attract more businesses, jobs and investment,” says Roger Sikes, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program manager. “[The study] surveyed residents regarding their perceptions and priorities related to health, jobs and environmental concerns. Some of the main issues cited by residents was the need for a supermarket and jobs.”
 
Based on the findings, Hussain, the City of Euclid and the Creating Healthy Communities program teamed up to make the Simon’s Supermarket in Euclid a reality. Hussain received $250,000 from the Healthy Food for Ohio Program for in-store construction and equipment. Euclid’s Storefront Renovation Program provided $125,000 for external renovations and a parking lot upgrade.
 
“This example of collective support from local government, Euclid residents, the store owner, the County Board of Health and the Healthy Food for Ohio Program may also help to expand efforts to implement full service supermarkets in low-income communities across Cuyahoga County,” says Sikes.
 
In addition to the main floor, Hussain says there is an additional 13,000-square-foot space in the basement that's ideal for storage of dry goods.

Hussain plans to open in mid-November.

“It looks very nice, and it’s a decent size,” he says of his latest venture. “I’ve received very good feedback from the community. If you want to stay in the business, you have to have healthy food. People really want that. It’s the neighborhood store, so you have to have what they want.”

Seventy-nine new homes coming to the heart of Buckeye

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 19, the official groundbreaking on Legacy at St. Luke’s will mark the beginning of a new, revitalized Buckeye neighborhood. Zaremba Homes will build 79 homes at 11327 Shaker Blvd. on Britt Oval, near the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and E. 114th Street intersection.

Lisa Saffle, director of sales and marketing for Zaremba, says the company is happy to be working on another Cleveland residential development project. “We are very pleased and feel proud to be chosen as the builder on this project,” she says, adding that Zaremba is just completing work on the Woodhaven project in the Fairfax neighborhood. “This is what we do – redevelop neighborhoods, create walkable neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland.”

The new two- and three-bedroom homes and townhomes will range from 1,700 to 2,400 square feet and have two-car garages and available patio space. They will sit on well-lit, tree-lined and landscaped streets.
 
The houses will be a 50-50 mix of market rate, starting at $170,000, and affordable lease-purchase options. They are the restart of a housing construction plan that launched in 2004 with the construction of 22 new homes along E. 111th Street before the real estate market crash halted progress.
 
“The pause button was hit,” says Jeff Kipp, director of neighborhood marketing for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. “We think the time is right and the market is ready. This will complete the renovation of the St. Luke’s campus.”
 
“It is exciting to see this development continue in the Buckeye neighborhood,” adds Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Neighborhood Progress. “Started over a decade ago, it was envisioned to be a new construction, mixed-income community that would provide new residential opportunities in the neighborhood.”
 
The 22 homes that were built in 2004 are full occupied, says Kipp. “This was first really new -  market rate new - construction that was built in the last 30 years in the heart of Buckeye.”
 
The additional homes being built this year will only add to the neighborhood’s renaissance, Kipp says. “This is an effort to really strengthen the real estate market. There are lots of assets in this neighborhood, but when you haven’t seen new construction that market needs a pickup.”
 
Assets include proximity to the neighboring Intergenerational School, the recently developed Harvey Rice Elementary School, the Rice Branch of the Cleveland Public library, University Circle, Shaker Square and the Larchmere Arts and Antiques District.

The gem of the neighborhood will be Britt Oval, which will be preserved as a one-acre plot of greenspace. Neighborhood Progress received a $250,000 grant from the Ohio State Operating Budget to develop the land. Kipp says they will consult with residents to determine final plans for the oval.
 
Legacy at St. Luke’s is a cooperative effort between Neighborhood Progress and Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation, both of which owned the land and sold it to Zaremba. “Now, along with our partners, we are able to realize this vision and complete the redevelopment of the Saint Luke’s campus,” says Ratner.
 
Neighborhood Progress and Buckeye Shaker Development solicited residents’ input on what they wanted in the neighborhood. The result is housing that will appeal to working class families and young professionals alike, with a bit more space and a more modern design. “We’re balancing the iconic landmark structure of the hospital with modern design,” Kipp explains. “It's an opportunity to highlight the benefits of city living and another urban neighborhood that has proximity and assets.”
 
The homes offer views of the St. Luke’s building and proximity to the RTA 116th Street St. Luke’s Rapid stop, which is undergoing a $5 million renovation to be completed in spring 2018. The new homes will be eligible for tax abatement from the city of Cleveland and part of the Greater Circle Living incentive program for employees of Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Museum of Art and Judson at University Circle.

Saffle says Zaremba met with the architect to finalize floor plans and they hope to officially start construction in the spring. The company is already taking reservations for the homes.
 
Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson and Ohio senator Sandra Williams are expected to join the groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow at 11 a.m., as well as representatives from Neighborhood Progress, Buckeye Shaker Square Development and Zaremba.

Pinecrest moving forward with pedestrian-friendly complex that will employ 2,300

When the associated business swing open their doors in spring 2018, the Pinecrest mixed-use entertainment district at I-271 and 27349 Harvard Road in Orange Village truly will have something for everyone.
 
Officials unveiled additional details about the project’s newest tenants last Thursday during a ceremony that marked the end of preliminary site work and the beginning of construction on Fairmount Properties’ and the DiGeronimo Companies’ $230 million plan to make Pinecrest an east side destination to live, work, play and stay.
 
Calling it the "SUB-urban downtown of the East side,” Fairmount Properties principal Chris Salata said Thursday’s event was a good time to celebrate, noting that the project’s completion is only 18 months away. He says Pinecrest has been five to seven years in the works, involving the purchase and demolition of 31 homes on the 58-acre property.
 
“Functioning as a downtown, Pinecrest will be well represented with retail, office, high-end luxury apartments and a hotel,” says Salat. “The retail will be a combination of the best and new-to-market local, regional, national and entertainment retailers.”
 
Clearing, demolition and site work began on the property in 2015, while vertical construction on Pinecrest began in August.
 
New tenants announced last week include retailers Vineyard Vines, REI, West Elm, Allure Nail Spa, Columbus-based Vernacular, and Canton-based Laura of Pembroke. Salata said an Orangetheory Fitness center is also planned.
 
In January, Fresh Water reported on the forthcoming arrival of Silverspot Cinemas and Pinstripes bowling, bocce and Italian food. Whole Foods Market will build a 45,000-square-foot prototype store.
 
Dining options are chef-driven, mostly locally-owned restaurants, including Red, the Steakhouse, Flip Side burgers, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, City Works Eatery and Pour House, Fusian, Bipibop Asian grill and Restore Cold Pressed juice.
 
Rochester, N.Y.-based DelMonte Hotel Group announced in September that it will build a 145-bed AC by Marriott at Pinecrest.
 
“Given the quality of the tenant mix, we wanted to make sure that our hotel not only complemented but also enhanced the overall project,” says Alexander DelMonte, president of DelMonte Hotel Group. “The AC brand is a lifestyle brand with a focus on efficient and elegant design, the brand is new to Marriott and new to the United States and was, in our opinion, the only option for this development.”


 
Eighty-seven apartments will go in alongside the 400,000 square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of Class A office space. Salata reports there will be mostly one- and two- bedroom units, with a few three-bedroom apartments, all of which will have direct access to the 1,000-car parking garage.
 
Additional parking will be available on the street and lots, including a lot that will connect to the theater via a grand staircase and escalator. “No matter where you park, you can get to the main street, Park Avenue, in a couple of minutes,” says Salata.
 
The pedestrian-friendly layout of Pinecrest is just one of the factors that sets the district apart from its nearby competition, Legacy Village and Eton at Chagrin, says Salata. “Legacy has no residential, no theater and only a small amount of office space,” he explains. “Eton has some of that, but we are a true entertainment and lifestyle district around the clock.”
 
The complex includes plenty of greenspace, including a one-acre public plaza where people can gather, attend concerts and other entertainment or simply relax.
 
Independence Construction is the general contractor and construction manager for the project, which will create 200 construction jobs. Independence Excavating worked on the site development. Both companies are under the DiGeronimo Companies umbrella. Currently, the project is on-budget and on schedule for the 2018 completion.
 
When finished, Pinecrest will employ more than 2,300 people.
 
Salata says the timing for Pinecrest is perfect for a region on the rise. “It a great story for Cleveland,” he says, adding that many of the retailers are new to the Cleveland market. “It shows that the [national] retail community is ready for Cleveland.”

LAND studio issues wide regional call to artists for temporary public art in the 216

Anyone who has been out and about in Cleveland over the past months has no doubt spotted some of the colorful creatures scattered throughout the city.

The temporary public art installation, created by Cracking Art, brought here by LAND studio and a grant from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, is here through next spring.
 
But when the snails and turtles make their exits, a new batch of temporary public art will take its place. Last week, LAND studio issued a call for artists within a 350 mile radius of downtown Cleveland to submit applications for three to six additional public art installations throughout 2017 and 2018.
 
“Public art can be really experimental, but then if it works out it’s an idea for something on a more permanent bases,” says Vince Reddy, LAND studio’s project manager, adding that the Cracking Art for the most part received positive reactions. "We want people to think of Cleveland as a place to view public art."
 
The Fowler Family Foundation is also supporting this new public art endeavor, which will have installments in Public Square, Mall B, East 3rd Street between Superior and Rockwell Avenues or in nearby publicly accessible locations. Selected artists will have a $40,000 budget for their works, which will be displayed at various times between spring 2017 and the end of 2018.
 
Reddy says they opened the call for artists to a 350 mile radius in order to attract both local artists and artists from neighboring cities, such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo and Columbus. “More than half of the public art we do is local,” he explains. “Outside artists must work from their impressions of Cleveland, and we want to find out about artists from our peer cities.”
 
Furthermore, Reddy says the larger field will introduce the city to new perspectives. “There are a lot of good artists with great ideas who don’t know how to express them,” he says. “This is an opportunity for some artists who may never have worked in public art.”
 
Rather than asking applicants to outline their ideas, Reddy says LAND studio is asking for qualifications and a one-page statement as to why they want to participate in the project. “We’re asking they not just submit ideas, just to submit their qualifications,” he explains. “We’re looking for people who have really thought about it. We’re asking how they would approach it. We’re hoping to get a big response.”
 
Interested artists should read the application requirements and submit their materials by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 28.

Hatfield's settles into Kamm's Corners with more good grub at 'Pork N Bean'

For a little more than a year, Ken Hatfield has sold Clevelanders on his southern comfort food from his food truck, Hatfield’s Goode Grub, at Walnut Wednesdays and Food Truck Fridays. He also cruises corporate parks around town and offers catering.
 
Now Hatfield’s is about to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant and coffee shop: Hatfield’s Goode Grub: The Pork N Bean, at 16700 Lorain Ave. in Kamm’s Corners.
 
Hatfield had been preparing his food for the truck in a 700-square-foot commissary kitchen and is excited to move into the 3,000 square-foot restaurant. The new space has a six-door walk-in cooler, a kitchen hood, a stainless steel wash tub and an Ansul fire suppression system. 
 
“It’s a big jump,” Hatfield says of the expansion. The restaurant will serve Hatfield’s signature burgers and pulled pork sandwiches on picnic tables in the back, while customers will place their food and coffee drink orders in front in a café-style space with tables, chairs and a porch swing.
 
The walk in cooler will depict the same photo of the Hatfield family that adorns his truck. Ken is a descendant of the Hatfield family of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud fame. “It’s going to be a fun, inventive place to be,” Hatfield says. “We’re trying to get the food truck experience in a restaurant.”
 
Originally from North Carolina, Hatfield spent four years as a chef on an international hospital ship and studied under executive chefs at the House of Blues and Hard Rock Café. Aboard Goode Grub, he's become known for creations such as the All-In Burger – a burger with bacon, pulled pork, caramelized onion, dill sauce, barbeque sauce and cheddar cheese.
 
“It’s Southern comfort fusion food,” Hatfield says of his cooking style, adding that he plans to expand his menu. “I’ve taken my southern heritage and flair, added some internationalized style to it and came up with some stuff people really like.”
 
Hatfield's newlywed wife, Jessica Hatfield, will oversee the coffee shop segment of the Pork N Bean. The coffee bar will use siphon brewers and specialize in cold-brewed coffees. Customers can cold brew their own coffees, in which they will get a large mason jar, coffee and any flavors they want. The jars will be kept on shelving behind the counter.
 
Hatfield is building the interior himself using reclaimed barn wood. He's aiming for a family friendly atmosphere. “I think we’ll be a really good fit in the neighborhood,” he says.
 
Kamm’s Corners Development Corporation (KCDC) assisted Hatfield with city permits, securing signage through Cleveland’s Storefront Renovation Program, and helped negotiate a spot for the Goode Grub truck at the U-Haul Moving and Storage across the street.
 
“We saw the attraction of having Hatfield’s in the neighborhood,” says KCDC executive director Steve Lorenz. “Right away we tried to lend a hand.”
 
Fans can still catch Hatfield's food truck around town and for catering events. The Kamm’s Corners restaurant is scheduled to open on Monday, Oct. 31 with a “Hillbilly Halloween.” The truck will be parked out front and a hillbilly costume contest will run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Some saucy brew - and pizza - coming to Hingetown

After a myriad of minor delays, construction on Saucy Brew Works is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the old Steelman Building at 2885 Detroit Ave. in Hingetown.

Owner Brent Zimmerman returns today from Obing, Germany, where he spent last week touring brewing equipment manufacturer BrauKon and inspecting his new brewing system.

“It’s very efficient, very technologically savvy,” says Zimmerman of his new system. “It’s the cutting edge of savviness. It’s a Ferrari, it’s very well-crafted.” He adds that the system is energy-efficient and saves water.
 
Zimmerman bought the Steelman Building earlier this year with the plan of renovating it and developing 11,000 square feet on the ground floor and a 1,200-square-foot mezzanine into Saucy Brew Works – a brewery and a pizza kitchen. One other tenant occupies 2,200 square feet of the 14,000-square-foot building.
 
Zimmerman and director of brewing operations Eric Anderson plan to keep the industrial feel of the former warehouse and factory for water treatment facility parts while giving the space an updated look. In fact, Zimmerman says they will incorporate many of the cranes that remain in the space into the design.
 
“Our taps will come out of one of the cranes and cranes will hold up the televisions,” he explains. “We’re keeping the building true to itself, but we’re cleaning it up and making it usable.”


 
Cleveland architectural firm Vocon created the design, while Sandusky-based Zimmerman Remodeling and Construction will manage the build. Hans Noble Design will create a custom interior using steel fabrication and reclaimed materials.
 
“Han Noble will create all that stuff from scratch right here in our own hometown,” says Zimmerman.
 
On the exterior, all the currently blacked out, frosted glass windows on the building will be replaced with clear glass, then painted to mimic the old look, creating an all-glass front to the building. “It will look and feel similar, except with nice windows,” Zimmerman explains. “And there will be an open air patio on the corner.”
 
While the BrauKon system can brew up to 30,000 barrels in a year, Zimmerman says the plan is to brew about 3,000 barrels in the 15 tanks for his first year. While he won’t reveal the exact names or types of beer Saucy will offer, he'll have up to 14 beers on tap.
 
“Eric has made more than 60 types of beers and that doesn’t even come close to what we plan to do,” he says. “Obviously, we’ll have an IPA and a Kolsh. Ten to 12 taps will always be ours, and we will probably have six [varieties] always on tap. Then we will have two to four guest taps.”
 
The pizza kitchen will serve up New Haven style pizza – a popular saucy, thin crust style of pizza hailing from Connecticut. “There’s lots of sauce up to the very edge of the crust,” explains Zimmerman, noting the eatery’s saucy name. “You pick your toppings, which will be as fresh as you can get for the season.”
 
Customers will build and order their pizzas at the counter, and will be notified when their orders are ready. There will also  be an exterior walk-up pizza window for pedestrians to order a slice to go.
 
While the ordering is self-serve, Zimmerman says he plans on offering a unique and lucrative employment package to his staff. Employees will receive above-average wages as well as stock options, education reimbursement and health benefits.
 
“We’re trying to create a certain culture with less turnover,” he says. “We want to create some stability through six or seven things you don’t see in this business.”

Saucy Brew Works will also team with Breakthrough Schools to raise money for quality education for all children in Cleveland. Zimmerman plans to hold a naming contest with the Breakthrough staff for one of his brews. The winning named beer will always be on tap and $1 from each sale will go to Breakthrough.
 
“Education is very fundamental to the success of Cleveland,” says Zimmerman. “We want to educate people who otherwise [might not] have that opportunity – educate people and get them to return to Cleveland.”
 
Additionally, Zimmerman plans to partner with a yet-to-be-determined non-profit water and sewer treatment company to promote Lake Erie’s resource and water conservation.
 
“The Great Lakes and water are very important to us,” he says. “We are heavily focused on the environment because brewing takes a lot of energy and water is so important to beer. The water in Cleveland is fantastic and we’re very lucky to have that sort of resource. We want to be good neighbors.”
 
Saucy Brew Works is scheduled to open in early 2017.

From West Africa to West Boulevard: an artist's journey

Born in Accra, Ghana, West African artist Harry Larweh uses African mahogany and Rosewood for his craft. He reimagines the beautiful wood into meticulously carved tables, wall hangings, chairs and both small and enormous works of art. Touring the vast inventory throughout his garage and backyard workshop in his West Boulevard neighborhood home, Larweh explains a simple premise for his artistic process, “All these creations, I see the wood and I just start creating.”
 
Young and with a passion to travel, Larweh moved from Ghana to Holland where he met his wife. In Holland, Larweh continued to explore his love of woodworking. Visits to antiques shops and galleries reaffirmed a passion that he'd nurtured his entire life.

“I didn't realize when I started, I just grew up doing it,” Larweh notes of his journey into the arts. After a decade in Holland, Larweh returned to Ghana and then finally made the move to Cleveland to be with his wife, who had moved to Ohio to be closer to family.
 
Most of Larweh's family still remains in Ghana, and his passion for his homeland is apparent. “I am a self taught artist," he says. "I have very good people back home.” After an eight-week visit earlier this year, Larweh arranged to have a freight container full of Mahogany planks shipped to the United States. “It is difficult and expensive”, he describes of the delivery.

The move was enabled in part by the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), and allows him to use materials from his homeland, keeping him focused and excited to create. ECDI relationship manager Rebecca Mayhew, who worked directly with Larweh, explains, “I love Harry's work. It is just marvelous, that here we are in Cleveland, and we have an artist carving this amazing African mahogany furniture...Not everyone is in the position for a bank loan, and that is why ECDI is so important. We help the individual start a business or continue their business with our loans.”

ECDI, a statewide SBA lender, started in Columbus in 2004 before expanding to Cleveland in July 2012 and Akron in November 2014. Since 2004, ECDI has benefited local communities with small business loans throughout the state of Ohio, and assisted over 8,500 individuals - people like Larweh.

Not only does ECDI provide loans to small business owners, but they also provide contact and network information to the clients. Mayhew continues, “We are hoping to connect him (Larweh) to the appropriate contacts so he can find potential markets for the raw wood planks and his art.”
 
Even with the assistance, Larweh says it can be difficult to find a niche and earn enough to make a living in the art community, but he has found an audience. “I do things differently, I just create … I am finding people who are admiring a lot.” As Larweh explains, however, making a living as an artist is a challenge of its own, “It is early. As for the art, I knew it wouldn't be something that would be selling just like that.” He soldiers on nonetheless, continuing to design his own pieces and looking forward to providing high quality materials to his fellow artisans.
 
Larweh's work is available for sale on etsy.

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Presentation to highlight unique history behind Lee-Harvard neighborhood

As Cleveland’s eastern suburbs were just beginning to establish themselves in the 1920s, Cleveland’s Lee-Harvard neighborhood, bordering Shaker Heights, Warrensville Heights and Maple Heights on the the city’s south east side, was thriving in its own right.
 
The Lee-Harvard neighborhood, once known as Miles Heights Village and the Lee-Seville neighborhoods, was historically an integrated community of notable firsts. Ohio’s first African-American mayor, Arthur Johnston was elected in 1929 when the neighborhood was mostly white. His house on East 147th Street still stands today.
 
The neighborhood established many of the first citizen's councils and neighborhood associations in the region and had an interracial police force.
 
On Thursday, October 6, the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), along with Cleveland Ward 1 councilman Terrell Pruitt, the Harvard Community Services Center and CSU’s Maxine Levin Goodman College of Urban Affairs, will present “Cleveland’s Suburb in the City: The Development and Growth of Lee-Harvard.”
 
The free discussion will be led by Todd Michney, assistant professor at the University of Toledo and author of Changing Neighborhoods: Black Upward Mobility in Cleveland, 1900-1980.
 
“We at CRS have been so impressed with the neighborhoods of Ward 1, Lee-Harvard and Lee-Seville,” says Michael Fleenor, CRS director of preservation services, "because they reflect our recent history – Cleveland’s last expansion, progress in Civil Rights, and the growth of neighborhood associations and community development corporations in the late 20th Century."
 
In 1932, Miles Heights was officially annexed as part of Cleveland, but the neighborhood remained a popular choice to settle for African-Americans who were looking to move to the suburbs. Many residents moved to Lee-Harvard from the Central, Glenville and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.
 
“It was an integrated community so early,” explains Fleenor. “During World War II the neighborhood served as temporary housing for returning soldiers because it was already integrated and many families came by train from the south and other parts.”
 
In the 1950s and 60s, the neighborhood really caught its stride, with modest brick homes going up all over the area. “A lot of the people who live there have been there for 50 years,” says Fleenor. “It’s been very stable. It’s a middle class neighborhood.”
 
Arthur Bussey, an African-American builder, began building the mid-century brick homes in 1949 on Highview Drive and Myrtle Avenue, off of Lee Road just south of Miles Road, and continued building until the late 60s. Bussey targeted African-Americans and designed the modest homes to be attractive to higher-income buyers.
 
The homes built during this period are all well maintained today, and many of the original residents are still living there or they are leaving them to their children. Fleenor also predicts that the neighborhood is potentially attractive to Millennials thinking about buying homes.
 
“Perhaps there’s an opportunity because the houses aren’t huge – about 1,200 to 1,500 square feet,” Fleenor says. “There’s an opportunity for young people who are struggling now and open to smaller houses. There’s a great opportunity to build on the rich history.”
 
Fleenor also notes that the Lee-Harvard neighborhood has plenty of greenspace and parks.
 
Early on, the north end of the neighborhood was made up mostly of Eastern European and Italian families, so there was a large catholic concentration that transitioned as the neighborhood became African American.

Throughout the years and changes, churches have played a prominent role in the area.
 
The former St. Henry Church parish at 18200 Harvard Ave. opened in 1952, with a convent and school added in 1954 and an administrative building added in 1959. After experiencing financial difficulties in 1969 the church closed the convent, which then became the Harvard Community Services Center.
 
Archbishop Lyke School, took over St. Henry’s school before St. Henry’s merged with other area Catholic churches in 2008 and relocated to 4341 East 131st St. The rectory was recently for sale.

What is now Whitney Young Middle School was formerly Hoban Dominican High School for Girls.
 
Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1962.* The congregation bought a beer market with a bad reputation in the neighborhood and converted it to a church before hiring a prominent African American architecture firm to design a contemporary building in 1965. The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1945.

*CORRECTION: On May 5, 2017, Fresh Water received a communication from Rev. Dr. Leonard Killings, Pastor, Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church that said, "Advent's founder is indisputably an African Descent person and it was founded by African Descent persons."

The original reporting stated that the church was founded by a white minister. Fresh Water apologizes for the confusion.


John F. Kennedy High School was built in 1966.

The Lee-Harvard Shopping Center, built in 1949, became the first African American owned and managed shopping center in the country in 1972. Neighborhood residents bought the center when they noticed the property and surrounding area declining.
 
Also in the 70s, a group of residents formed an auxiliary police force to help patrol the neighborhood. The force operated out of small building on a used car lot. A taxi service donated two cars for patrol, while ladies in the community would provide coffee and pastries for the officers.
 
The auxiliary police would hold costume parties on Halloween and bicycle rodeos for the community. “The kids got to know the police officers and the officers got to know the kids,” explains Fleenor. “It was so successful, they got federal funding to increase officers in the neighborhood.”
 
Such community involvement and pride is what has kept the Lee-Harvard area steady over the years. “Lee-Harvard has one of the first community development corporations in Cleveland,” says Fleenor. “There are very few abandoned properties, and if there’s one property abandoned it’s the talk of the town.”
 
While Carl Stokes was mayor of Cleveland, residents lobbied in Columbus to keep liquor licenses out of the neighborhood. “It shows how politically active they were,” Fleenor says. “Then they fought Mayor Stokes to keep public housing out and Mayor Stokes called them “black bigots.’ They didn’t want to jeopardize the middle class lifestyle.”
 

“Cleveland’s Suburb in the City” will be held at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, 1717 Euclid Ave., from 4 to 6 p.m. this Thursday. Click here to register. The program is part of the Levin College Forum.
 

Update: Heights High renovations on track, clock tower unveiling imminent

Halfway through the renovations at Cleveland Heights High School, the $95 million project is on budget and on schedule to open in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
 
“It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done,” says Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District project liaison Brad Callender. “There’s been a real effort by the district to preserve the architectural elements of the building.”
 
The high school was built in 1926 to accommodate a growing student population and was designed in the style of a Tudor castle, with a clock tower, high column and a large center entrance, according to Cleveland Historical.
 
The building underwent several changes over the last 90 years, but failed to keep up with modern-day technology and amenities. “It had multiple additions, multiple renovations until the 1970s – at least six major additions – and that doesn’t count all the small stuff,” says Callender.
 
So in a plan that came about after 10 years of planning, plenty of community input and the 2013 passage of a $134 million bond, the district began a major overhaul in June 2015.
 
“Construction began the day after the students moved out,” recalls Callender. “We’re on a tight deadline to get everything done by move-in by the start of school in 2017.”
 
The high school students are currently housed in the district’s Wiley Middle School, both in the building and in modular classrooms on the campus. About 1,500 students will attend the new high school when it reopens.
 
With less than a year until completion, officials, teachers and students are already getting excited. “Anticipation is starting to build even now,” Callender says. “This year’s juniors are already seeing themselves as the first graduating class from the new building, and the teachers are very excited about having technologically advanced classrooms.”
 
By “technologically advanced,” Callender is referring to classrooms outfitted with the latest in multi-media equipment such as interactive smart boards. “Classroom technology has evolved in the last 10 years and students are comfortable with multi-media,” Callender explains. “They will be able to take field trips without ever leaving the classroom. Kids can walk up to the smart board and manipulate things themselves.”
 
With the additions over the years, Callender likens the old high school layout to a sort of labyrinth. Originally designed in a U-shape, various additions had closed off the center courtyard and divided up the approximately 450,000-square-foot building. Although the new building preserves much of the original structure, it will be only 360,000 square feet.
 
“It’s a significant decrease, but a lot of the old space was cut up and like walking through a maze,” Callender explains. “This is going to be a building that is significantly more efficient than the old one.”
 
The clock tower – the building’s centerpiece and towering more than 90 feet over the city – has been rebuilt from top to bottom, Callender says, and  the original patina copper topper has been replaced with a new copper top. “The decision was made by the community to make it copper again,” he says. “We will let it patina naturally.”
 
The clock itself, which hasn’t worked for years, has been replaced. “It didn’t work because it was technologically outdated,” explains Callender. “The new one is an exact likeness to 1925-1926 pictures and the exact details are duplicated.”
 
Callender adds that the view from the clock tower is “amazing,” which is accessible in order to service the clock in earlier times. The new clock won’t require such maintenance.
 
The scaffolding that surrounds the rebuilt tower is due to come off in the next two weeks. “It will be a great day when they peel off the scaffolding on the clock tower,” he says. “We will all breathe a collective sigh of relief.”
 
The main entrance of the school, which was covered by a science addition built in the 1960s, is now visible, returning the building to its original castle-like grandeur from Cedar Road.

A hybrid geothermal system, solar-ready roof and energy-efficient windows will earn Heights High LEED Silver certification, going from the bottom 10 percent for energy efficiency among peer buildings in the region to the top five percent.
 
Among the many community workgroups involved in the project, 12 Heights High students are exploring career paths in architecture and architecture design while participating in the renovation. “The construction manager has involved the students from the very beginning,” Callender says.
 
The renovation design was done by Youngstown-based BSHM Architects and Gilbane Building Company is the construction manager.
 
When it is completed next August, Callender is confident the school will once again be a focal point in Cleveland Heights. “We’re preserving the architecture with modern amenities,” he says. “It says strong things about this community. You see all of these homes and the school fits right in in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s going to look a lot like it did in 1926.”
 
Additionally, Callender sees the new high school as a symbol of Cleveland Heights pride. “It’s going to be the centerpiece of the community and I truly think the building reflects the values and dedication of the community to education,” he says. “And the students (they won’t say it) will truly appreciate it.”

Historic century building in Old Brooklyn soon to house artisanal cheese shop

After spending 16 years in London as a chef, Michael Januska decided it was time to come home. He grew up in Avon Lake, and his family still lives in the area, so he settled in Old Brooklyn.

“The cost of living in Central London is one of the highest in the world,” he says of his overseas home. “My two younger sisters are having kids and I decided it was the rat race or quality of life.”
 
Januska discovered the art of making cheese while living abroad and decided Old Brooklyn would embrace a quality cheese shop. By the end of October, Januska will open the doors to Old Brooklyn Cheese Company, 4138 Pearl Road.
 
“Cheese is simple, but it’s still complex,” Januska says. “I love using only milk and one or two other ingredients and making something quite exquisite and unique.”
 
Januska turned to the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) for assistance in finding the perfect space for making his cheese and serving his customers. Eventually, he secured a 1,200-square-foot storefront in the historic 1895 Krather building in Old Brooklyn’s Design Review District.
 
Januska was particularly attracted to the glass front and 15-foot ceilings. He got a loan to help with financing the shop and started plans to open. “The support from the City of Cleveland and Old Brooklyn has been amazing,” he says.
 
The feeling is mutual from OBCDC. “For us, Old Brooklyn Cheese Company is the kind of business we know residents want to see in the neighborhood, so it is important to us that [local businesses] feel well-supported and connected to the assistance they need so that they can focus on running a thriving business,” says Rosemary Mudry, OBCDC director of economic development, adding that they were able to connect Januska with small business support services and low-interest financing to establish the company.
 
“By building great relationships with entrepreneurs in the community, we are excited to continue to attract new business to the neighborhood that meets the needs of residents and provide additional amenities so that Old Brooklyn continues to be a neighborhood of choice in the City of Cleveland.”
 
As one of only two licensed artisanal cheese makers in Cuyahoga County, Januska will offer an assortment of his cheeses after they have been aged properly for at least 60 days –sometime in December – as well as from Ohio cheesemakers and artisanal cheeses from around the country and world. His first cheese will be an aged Gouda, available in December.
 
In the basement, Januska is building a 14- by 12-foot aging cave, where he will age his hard and alpine cheeses. He has room to build up to five caves, each for different types of cheeses requiring different humidity levels for aging.
 
“When I’m done with that one, I will build another one for stinky and soft cheeses,” he says.
 
Furthermore, Januska is one of only a handful of cheesemakers in the country who ages cheese for other cheesemakers. “It gives them control because the quality is still there,” he explains. “Once it’s vacuum packed and sealed for distribution, the flavor is choked out. I’ve got commitments from other cheesemakers in Ohio, Maine and San Francisco to age their cheese.”
 
Januska is perhaps most excited about his twist on cloth-banded cheddar – an English technique in which the cheese is wrapped in a cloth dipped in butter or lard before aging. His cloth-banded cheddar will be aged with bacon fat.
 
“I call it the Old Brooklyn version,” he quips. The cloth-banded cheddar will be aged for 12 months before it’s ready for sampling.
 
The shop will feature deli-style glass display cases for the cheeses, which will include an assortment of Januska’s cheeses organized by type – washed, or “stinky;” fresh;  soft; semi-hard to hard; alpines; and blues.
 
At the front of the shop will be two big commercial tables where customers can sit down and sample cheeses, as well as Ohio honeys, bread from Blackbird Baking Company, almonds, dried fruit and locally cured meats.
 
Patrons can choose three to five cheeses from a selection of 15. The experience will serve as a chance to try some new varieties before buying while also socializing with friends.
 
“It’s a happy place to go in because no one goes in angry to a cheese shop,” Januska says. “If they’ve never heard of this and taste it and say ‘hey, I like that,’ or if they say ‘I don’t like it, it’s too funky or salty,’ they can try something else.”
 
Januska says he's thinking of installing a back patio next spring.
 
Even if customers know exactly what they want, Januska wants Old Brooklyn Cheese Company to be a welcoming place. “It’s a nice, relaxed place to enjoy your cheese with a friend and just relax,” he says. “The tables are casual where everyone can have their cheese and gets to talk and share.”

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Euclid Brewing Company settles in as local gathering spot, launches "Tap Talks"

Doug Fry spent the past 20 years working in corporate America as a chemist. Last year, he got tired of the rat race and decided to take a risk as an entrepreneur.

“I worked for 20 years for four different companies,” Fry recalls. “At some point, every one [of the companies] had been sold and gone through changes and layoffs. I talked to my brother and my daughter and her husband, who own their own companies, and they said the only kind of job security is in entrepreneurship.”
 
A home brewer by hobby, Fry and his wife, Kim, decided to open Euclid Brewing Company, 21950 Lake Shore Blvd. This past April 30 the Frys opened the doors to a 1,000-square-foot bar with a 200-square-foot tap room that houses three two-barrel fermenters and one 15-gallon fermenter that produce about 23 kegs per brewing cycle.
 
Fry’s brewing business model is based on what he and Kim witnessed in their travels to Germany. “In Germany every little town has their own beer,” he explains. “Those are the places we seek out when we travel. We’re not going to bottle or can our beer, or distribute.”
 
Euclid Brewing Company has six taps that will have some regular brews, like its Moss Point pale ale or Isosceles IPA. “Because I like pale ales and IPAs we probably will always have that on tap,” says Fry, “because it’s my brewery and I’m selfish.”


 
Other selections include a Hoppy Wheat, G.D.G.B. amber, Session Saison and Sims Beach Blonde, as well as seasonal brews. Fry will release pumpkin ale this week, followed by an Oktoberfest and some kind of holiday ale.
 
The entire brewing system is displayed behind the bar. “If you’re tall enough you could reach across and touch it,” says Fry of the close proximity in a bar that has a 30-person maximum occupancy. “We wanted everything to be in plain view. It’s like a sculpture.”
 
While Fry doesn’t serve food, he keeps menus from the nearby Beach Club Bistro, Paragon, and Great Scott Tavern to order take-out, or patrons are welcome to bring their own food into the bar. Great Scott just began serving its first keg of Euclid Brewing’s Sims Beach blonde on tap.
 
Fry got a lot of help from the city of Euclid to open the brewery. “Euclid had never had a brewery open within city limits before, so opening the business was a new experience for them as well,” he recalls, adding that Jonathan Holody, Euclid director of department planning helped Fry find the location and with regulatory concerns, while other city officials kept the Frys informed of Euclid’s storefront renovation program and helped with other regulatory hurdles.
 
Councilperson Charlene Mancuso also helped with communications. “She and I discussed starting a concierge service at city hall that could help parties with no small-business experience - like Kim and me - work with the city to accelerate the process from conception to opening,” Fry recalls.
 
In the nearly six months since Euclid Brewing opened it has become known as a place for locals to gather for good beer and conversation. Fry says he and Kim have made many new friends and enjoy the fact that the bar is only a quarter-mile from their Euclid home.
 
“People come in as strangers, sit at the bar and we have all kinds of discussions,” says Fry. “And then they leave as friends.”
 
That’s exactly how Fry wants it. “We have a television, but it doesn’t work very well so people are forced to talk to each other,” he explains. “This is a place to discuss ideas and that’s been a real benefit. I’ve met some nice people.”  
 
In keeping with that neighborhood bar feel, Fry is introducing Tap Talks on Thursday, Oct. 6 – a weekly short lecture series on poetry, policy, history and science. The series runs throughout October and is open to all ages. Attendees are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. The first speaker is poet Dan Rourke, who will read from his book Catch Me.
 
If the series is successful, Fry says they are considering hosting Tap Talks twice a year.

Being there: MOCA's fall exhibits ignite all senses

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) reopened its doors last Friday after a short hiatus following the wildly successful Myopia exhibit. While completely different in tone from the Mark Mothersbaugh show, the new installations reflect a unique and unexpected study in contrast that stimulates every sense.
 
Visitors are well advised to start at the top, as it were, in MOCA's fourth floor galleries, wherein Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists unfurls. The contents are aptly described by the title – these are carpets, which sounds mundane at first blush. The content is anything but, with lush and gorgeous images that are beautifully served by the textile medium.
 
A sampling of the 30 works: Faig Ahmed's Oiling (2012) literally melts the concept of a traditional middle eastern rug design while Deep Purple, Red Shoes (Polly Apfelbaum, 2015), invites visitors to walk upon it, provided they remove their shoes. Nautilus shells notwithstanding, Infinite Carpet (Pierre Bismuth, 2008) recalls the golden rectangle of geometric fame. And speaking of arithmetic, Joseph Kosuth's L.W. (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics), 2015, will have viewers indeed believing that "2 + 2 + 2 are 4."


 
Traveling to the next component of the 2016 show sounds benign enough, but – as regular visitors have come to expect – MOCA's Stair A refracts the experience. While attendees navigate the twisting stairs, Anthony Discenza's audio installation A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats advises them thusly:
 
"Think Suicide Girls meets the Pillsbury Dough Boy."
 
"Think Baywatch meets the Cuban Missile Crisis."
 
"Think Jersey Shore meets Stephen King."
 
The deep resonant voice, which is fitting of any voice-over John Q. Public is fed by media sources at every turn, is so convincing, attendees may indeed be inclined to plop down and listen to all the suggestions within the 23-minute installation.
 
"Think art deco meets Jurassic Park."
 
Once visitors right themselves from that experience, they're met with a simple, albeit somewhat distressed, closed door in the second floor Toby Devan Lewis Gallery, which is the entrance to Anders Ruhwald's Unit 1:3583 DuboisPer MOCA, "The exhibition presents several life-sized rooms and corridors based on a permanent installation that Ruhwald is creating in one apartment of this building." That building is in Detroit. Ruhwald searched for the appropriate spot for his evocative project for more than a year before settling on it. The MOCA installation is a test run of sorts; it will be dismantled after the exhibit closes on Jan. 8 and permanently installed in the Detroit location (scheduled opening, May 2017). In addition to Unit 1, the building will also include a community space in the basement and living quarters for the artist. 

For now, the door to Unit 1 in MOCA gives way to a completely different world from which visitors have emerged. Void of color, sound and very dimly lit, the interior of the exhibit is populated by the artist's imposing ceramic sculptures, bathroom fixtures and, among other random objects, a 1941 photo of a beach by Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, that was taken just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
Unit 1 does include two sensual components the other exhibits lack. Not only does it smell of charred wood evocative of campfires as well as arson, visitors are encouraged to do something that might otherwise get them asked to leave a museum: touch all the interior components of the mysterious space, some of which offer a primal element of life: warmth.


 
Lastly, in the museum's first floor Gund Commons, which, along with the MOCA Store, is always free and open to the public during museum hours, Liz Magic Laser's nine-minute The Thought Leader (2015) will play through Oct. 19.
 
If the satin-voiced announcer in Stair A, with his Banana Republic and Rocky Horror Picture Show, fails to challenge one's sense of order, the main actor of The Thought Leader will surely do so. He's a young boy, perhaps age nine or ten, speaking Ted Talk style to an audience. His text, however, is gleaned from an 1864 work by Dostoyevsky.
 
"Can the decision to be less selfish ever be anything other than a selfish decision?" poses the young Alex Ammerman. "What you'll realize is that you actually enjoy feeling like there is no escape – that you'll really never change anything. Even if you could, you would do nothing because perhaps there's nothing actually there for you to change.
 
"The reality is that it is better to do nothing. This is my conviction."
 
Ammerman, incidentally, performs a more successful Ted Talk delivery than many adults giving actual Ted Talks. The result is a dizzying ping-pong game of age, content and expression.
 
The offering is the first of four segments of Acts of Speech. After Laser's showing concludes, Gund Commons will feature Yael Bartana's 51-minute True Finn (2014) Oct. 20 through Nov. 15. Metahaven's 11-minute City Rising (2014) will play from Nov. 16 through Dec. 12 and AH (2016), an 18-minute effort from Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, will run from Dec. 13 through the show's close on Jan. 8.
 
The scale, size and diversity of all the works amid MOCA's fall 2016 offerings begs an in-person visit. For instance, the giant Maurizio Cattelan's selections from the 2016 Seletti Wears Toilet Paper collection in the main lobby alone is reason enough to step inside the beautiful structure on the corner of Mayfield and Euclid. It demands that viewers rethink the chorus line and, among other things, evokes the landline phones of yesterday, however anxiously.
 
Furthermore, the exquisite contrast between installations truly serves. Standing amid Ruhwald's giant (and oddly friendly) sculptures in "The Library" in Unit 1 makes the candy-like colors and airy positioning of Wall to Wall that much more pronounced and vice versa, while the video and audio installations serve as perfect connective tissue.
 
The fall 2016 MOCA show promises to turn your world inside out, if only for an hour or two. This is art as it should be.
 
The stunning 152-page companion catalog to Wall to Wall by exhibit curator Cornelia Lauf includes photos of all the carpets featured in the show as well as informed commentary and meticulous details on the featured works. It also expands the show with carpets designed by an array of other artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Chuck Close. Available in the MOCA Store, $40.
 
MOCA is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and closed most major holidays. General admission is $9.50, with reduced rates for seniors and students. For those on a budget, admission is free at MOCA for all visitors on the first Saturday of every month, courtesy of PNC Bank. Admission is always free for active military members and veterans, kids under five and museum members.

MOCA is part of Fresh Water Cleveland's underwriting support network.

 

New business set to bloom in Ohio City

Sisters Brianna Jones and Brooke Witt believe in signs. So when they realized three months ago that each one had been thinking about starting a business, they took it as a sign they should open a flower shop in Ohio City.

“We each kind of had a very similar idea very separate from each other, unknowingly at the time,” recalls Jones. “All the signs pointed to ‘yes.’ We both believe in signs and everything fell into place.”
 
Floral design just made sense. Witt is an avid gardener, and graphic designer who owns the Etsy shop Near and Dear Designs. Jones, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, attended art school and the Floral Design Institute.
 
“Since we both love to design, love pretty things, and love bringing joy to people, flowers seemed like the obvious choice,” says Jones.
 
So Jones and Witt started Lush & Lovely Floristry, a company specializing in hand-tied flower arrangements. The plan was to do it all from their homes – Jones’ in Cleveland Heights and Witt’s in Broadview Heights – when another sign appeared.
 
The two discovered a former gym for rent at 3408 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. “When we started out, we weren’t planning on having a storefront,” Jones says. “But we were both looking on Craigslist and found it. We peeked in the windows and we were like, ‘oh my goodness.’ We came to look at it and it was amazing.”
 
Lush & Lovely will open Saturday, Oct. 1, in its new home. The duo is funding the business with their own savings. Witt says the airy 850-square-foot space allows for a “working studio” where they can make their arrangements. The floristry will also conduct flower arranging classes, floral design workshops and private events for things such as bridal showers, singles parties and mother-daughter outings.
 
“There will be flowers everywhere,” says Witt. “We want to make flower arranging trendy, fun and exciting.”
 
All of Lush & Lovely’s blooms will be seasonal American grown flowers. Witt and Jones will also use Ohio flower farms whenever possible. “There has been a 70 percent decrease in American flower farms,” explains Witt. “Eighty percent of flowers are shipped in from South America today.”
 
The sisters plan to buy from farms in Medina and Chardon when stock is available. “Everything is grown and cut from the field within a day or two,” says Jones.
 
Customers can buy arrangements and bouquets at the store, or Witt and Jones plan on having daily delivery to the greater Cleveland area, weekly delivery throughout Cuyahoga County and overnight shipping anywhere in the United States.
 
Jones and Witt have already formed partnerships with their Ohio City neighbors and plan on co-hosting events with other neighborhood businesses. “They’re very excited to include us,” Jones says of their neighboring retailers. “It’s very community oriented here.”
 
Lush & Lovely will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m.to introduce themselves to the community.

Virtual Compass recreates the tour concept, adds staff and moves to new space

Imagine evaluating possible college choices or exploring a local pub is without ever setting foot on a campus or the restaurant. That’s exactly what Virtual Compass provides for its clients by creating virtual tours of their spaces.
 
Jonathan Fox and Daniel Sullivan became friends while taking a computer science class together at John Carroll University and soon discovered they both had the entrepreneurial bug. So, after they graduated in 2014 the two set about designing an application for virtual tours.
 
“Entrepreneurship to us is making what you want to make and not caring what other people think,” says Fox. ”We focused around destination marketing to take an exciting place and make it look cool with 360-degree photos and virtual reality.”
 
Fox and Sullivan launched Virtual Compass and moved into FlashstartsStartMart to perfect their tool. “It was more of a general idea we had, making something for ourselves under our own guidance,” Fox recalls. “We thought: what if we can help people explore places they haven’t been to?”
 
That’s exactly what they did. Virtual Compass recently launched easy to use, Cloud-based software that allows for quick creation of virtual tours. The software is aimed at marketing exciting places in Cleveland.
 
The problem was, Fox and Sullivan struggled to make any sales and didn’t really know how to market their company. So they brought on former classmate Christine Fleig and St. Ignatius alum Matthew Zupan to round out the team and help with getting the word out.
 
The move helped Virtual Compass thrive. The company now does work for local universities, restaurants and event centers. The virtual tour of Ursuline College in Lyndhurst, the company's first client, is one of which Fox is particularly proud.
 
“The admissions and marketing team use it to encourage students to visit,” Fox explains. “We turn any exciting place into a virtual reality experience.”
 
Now, Fox says 10 other schools have contacted Virtual Compass. Flat Iron Café in the Flats East Bank also uses a virtual tour on its website, Passengers Café in the Cleveland Hostel is another client. The company has expanded by targeting the real estate market and other local watering holes.
 
With a solid team in place, Virtual Compass needed new office space. So this summer Virtual Compass moved to a 600-square-foot space in Tenk West Bank, 2111 Center St. Fox says they are putting in new chestnut wood floors to go with the 15-foot-high ceilings and exposed brick walls in the historic building, which dates back to the 1880s. They have also commissioned a local artists to paint a mural of the Cleveland skyline in their space.

A Place 4 Me launches 100 Day Challenge to end youth homelessness

Natasha spent her childhood in the Cleveland foster care system before living with relatives as a teenager. But when she turned 18, her family informed her that she was on her own and had to leave. With $5 and a pack of gum in her pocket, Natasha found herself homeless.

“I was very confused,” Natasha recalls. “It didn’t really hit me that I really had to leave until after I packed my bags. I thought no one really wants me. I felt alone in the world and I felt abandoned.”
 
Natasha turned to Cleveland homeless shelters before ending up in a traditional housing facility on W. 25th Street while she finished high school and got a job at Taco Bell, where the manager took a chance on her with no job experience and made her a team leader.
 
“It was difficult at first, but I managed to do it,” she recalls. “I was eventually able to move out on my own.”
 
Natasha’s story is just one story among many that prompted the creation of  A Place 4 Me in 2014 – an collaborative housed within the YWCA of Greater Cleveland that  harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to help youth age 15 to 24 who are at high risk of homelessness, particularly those who age out of foster care.

Earlier this month, A Place 4 Me launched the 100 Day Challenge to house 100 at-risk youth in 100 days. Cleveland is one of only three cities to be chosen by A Way Home America to participate in the challenge and receive coaching and support toward ending youth homelessness from the Rapid Results Institute.
 
The Cleveland challenge team is made up of A Place 4 Me and 12 other organizations focused on youth homelessness. “This is a collaborative in the community concerned with homelessness and youth aging out of foster care,” says Kate Lodge, A Place 4 Me project director. “There are 500 people a year age 18 to 24 in Cleveland in a shelter – 100 people on any given night – and this doesn’t even count the people not showing up.”
 
Approximately 150 people age out of foster care each year in Cleveland, Lodge adds, and 40 percent are likely to experience some kind of housing instability by age 24. The 100 Day Challenge aims to not only house 100 youth in 100 days, but also reinforce the support systems to prevent youth homelessness. The challenge ends on November 14.
 
Cleveland was chosen after a competitive application process. Lodge says 20 cities applied. In addition to Cleveland, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles were also chosen. Team representatives went to Austin earlier this month for a convening of the three challenge cities.
 
Cleveland's harsh winters, says Lodge, was one of the reasons it was chosen. “In warmer climates there are hordes of youth homeless [on the streets],” she says. “We don’t have that here. We pitched our goal, and planned out strategies. We’re really focused on helping the youth who are in the shelter get out of the shelter," she says. "It’s going to be intense.”
 
The goals include identifying at-risk youth; care coordination; establishing links to available resources; providing a list of types of housing available; and homelessness prevention through planning.
 
“This is building upon something we’ve been working on for two years,” Lodge explains. “This is going to help us get there faster.”
 
As for Natasha, she is currently living at Independence Place, the YWCA of Cleveland’s permanent supportive youth housing facility.
 
Now 24, Natasha has earned her associate’s degree in business from Cleveland State University and will earn her bachelor’s in international business in December. She says the wants to start her own business and employ young people who need a chance at gaining job experience.
 
“I want to open a business that never goes out of style, like childcare, hair care or auto parts,” she says. “Even if cars start flying, they will still need repairs. A lot of job applications say you need two to three years of experience. When you’re 18, 19, you’re not going to have that. I want to hire younger people and give them that experience.”
 
Natasha’s advice to other young people facing homelessness: “It may seem dark right now, but there is going to be light at the end if you keep pushing toward greatness,” she declares. “This challenge is really close to me. I’m really excited for the 100 Day Challenge because I feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

New Perkins Wildlife Center is a fitting home for native rescue animals, joy for visitors

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s (CMNH) Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center and Woods Garden, presented by KeyBank is a refuge for the region’s native animals and plant life, as well as the many visitors who are expected to come through.
 
Construction began on the center in June 2015, after KeyBank made a $2 million sponsorship donation to the project. The center opened on Labor Day weekend. It replaces the old Perkins Wildlife Center, which was located on the west side the museum's campus. The new two-acre center overlooks Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
 
“It’s an interpretive landscape,” says Harvey Webster, CMNH director of wildlife resources. “We want to bring people together with plants and animals that are native now to the region or were once native. What we’re trying to do is create a dynamic, immersive educational experience.”
 
The center has a meandering, elevated walk way – portions of which are made from repurposed black locust wood salvaged from the trees on the site that were damaged by lightning or dying. It winds throughout the interactive center, past everything from songbirds, sand cranes and owls to fox, bobcats, raccoons and coyotes. Even the otters, Lucy and Linus, splash and play among turtles, fish and frogs in a tank with a 50-foot acrylic wall that allows visitors to watch them under water.


 
“It’s a zoo of native wildlife and native plants in the museum,” says Webster. “It’s a dramatic landing, two-and-a-half stories high". The elevated walkway snakes west, bordering the property, soaring over MLK Boulevard and the Doan Brook Watershed. ”It’s an interesting topography to be appreciated,” he adds.
 
There are 48 species totaling more than 100 individual animals living in Perkins. Trees include beech, maple and oaks. The center will also receive American chestnut saplings, a species that has been almost demolished in this region, from the American Chestnut Foundation. The shrub swamps and wetland garden areas feature plant species native to Ohio as well.
 
There are 11 species of mammals, including bobcats, foxes, coyotes, river otters, porcupines and groundhogs. There are 24 species of birds, including songbirds, eagles, falcons, owls and other birds of prey; five species of reptiles; five species of amphibians; and five species of frogs.
 
While the species each have their own unique habitats for visitors to observe, the humans can also serve as observation subjects for many of the animals. The Bobcats, coyotes, red and grey foxes, porcupines and raccoons all have their own elevated runs along the path – over the visitors’ heads, so they can watch the people passing and indulge their own curiosity.
 
Along the path are “parallel play areas,” where visitors can mimic activities the animals do. For instance, visitors are challenged to “hop like a bobcat,” where a 10-foot span is marked on the path to indicate the distance a bobcat can go in just one leap. In another area, visitors are encourage to “perch like a crow” on posts of varying heights.
 
“You can emulate the animal and hopefully the animal will emulate you,” says Webster. “It’s another way to create a relationship between you and the animals.”
 
Songbirds fly through the tree canopy in an aviary, while a bald eagle named Orion and a golden eagle named Midas perch next to each other for comparison. Midas flew into high tension wires while in the wild and is blind in one eye.
 
In fact, all of the animals in the Perkins Wildlife Center come from either rescue or rehabilitation centers. Niles and Daphne, a pair of sandhill cranes, were found picking bugs out of radiator grills at a highway truck stop. "The sandhill cranes are a conservation success story,” says Webster.
 
Three of the coyotes – Tex, Red and Ember – came to Perkins after their mother was hit by a car on a Texas highway. A son of a veterinarian stopped and delivered the pups on the side of the road. A fourth coyote, Charcoal, lives separately. She was saved from a wildfire.
 
Both of the great horned owls, Tamarack and Mama have permanent eye injuries. Tamarack was hit by a car and Mama was affected by West Nile Virus in 2002, leaving her with an inability to judge distances correctly.


 
Linus the otter was caught in a Louisiana trap seven years ago. Both Linus and Lucy are estimated to be about 18 years old, with a life expectancy of 25.
 
Many of the animals have preschool play toys, such as picnic tables and slides, donated by Streetsboro-based toy manufacturer Step 2. The big plastic toys help provide enrichment activities to the animals. Some species have blankets and clothing in their living areas that carry other animals’ scents, which also stimulates them.


 
The Perkins Wildlife Center is part of phase one of the museum’s Centennial transformation project, which will be completed for its 100-year anniversary in 2020. The multiyear project is designed to create powerful and engaging experiences that will capitalize on the resources of the museum.
 
The entire exhibit was designed by New York-based Thinc Design, while Osborn Engineering, AECOM, general contractor Panzica/Gilbane and Project Management Consultants also worked on the project.
 
Approximately 135 people worked on the construction team. Eight museum employees tend to the center on a daily basis.
 
Tickets to the Perkins Wildlife Center are free with museum admission.

Downtown Days rolls on with a Doggy 'Yappy Hour,' art, music, yoga and fun

With more than 14,000 living in downtown Cleveland today, and more residential living on the way, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) decided it was time to celebrate – celebrate both the residents already settled and attract those who are thinking about moving downtown.
 
So this week marks the first annual Downtown Days, a week of community-building events for downtown residents and people who just want to get an idea of what downtown living is like. The celebration began yesterday with a retail sidewalk parade. "Think New Orleans Mardi Gras parade meets flash mob meets fashion show,” said Heather Holmes, DCA director of marketing and public relations, of the opening event. And there's plenty more to come, with activities running through Sunday, Sept. 18.
 
“With the downtown residential community growing very fast, Downtown Days is kind of like the home days you see in suburban cities,” says Holmes. “We have over 30 different events and activities throughout the week, many of which take place on a regular basis on a normal day in downtown Cleveland.”
 
The action continues today - particularly for area canines, as six bars in the Warehouse District will host a dog-friendly Yappy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. “Anyone who’s walked downtown lately will see almost as many dogs as people,” said Holmes. “The Velvet Dog’s rooftop will be the ‘wooftop’ and the Barley House will be the ‘Barkley House.’” The establishments along W. 6th Street will also have special appetizers for the four-legged friends. For instance, Johnny’s Downtown will be serving meatball sliders.
 
- For the artistic types, artist Mac Love will be creating another mural under the Main Avenue Bridge. Artists are invited to tag their own space in chalk with Chalk Stop on Main Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m.
 
- The Kimpton’s famous wine hour, open only to downtown residents, is already sold out.
 
- North Coast Namaste will host its weekly free lakefront yoga at North Coast Harbor from 6 to 7 p.m.
 
On Wednesday, North Coast Harbor will take center stage during North Coast Rockin’, beginning with Rock & Dock paddle boat racing. Chalk Stop moves to the skate park with artist Trisha Previte. The Great Lakes Science Center, which is usually closed in early September for its annual fall cleaning and maintenance, will have a variety of activities and experiments for families and children from 6 to 9 p.m.
 
- The Rock Hall will host Lower Dens during its Sonic Sessions from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5, which includes admission to the Power and Politics exhibit during the show.
 
- Regular events include Walnut Wednesday and a Take a Hike Tour of the Warehouse District. Hike over to Playhouse Square on Thursday and the Gateway District on Saturday for additional downtown tours. Regular Yoga on the Green at Public Square will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.
 
Thursday is all about Playhouse Square with a Wine Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. District bars, restaurants and retailers will offer food and drink specials. Those who register and sign up for Downtown Center Stage, Playhouse Square’s program for special offers and advance ticket sales will get a chance to win season tickets to the 2016-2017 Broadway Series.

- Chalk Stop rolls into Perk Plaza with artist Trisha Previte from 6 to 8 p.m.

 - Heinen’s will host a local craft beers and bratwurst from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free but there is a $5 fee for the beer tasting. Take a photo under the store’s classic rotunda and tag it using #DowntownDaysatHeinens for a chance to win a $50 Heinen’s gift card.

- North Union Farmers Market will hold its weekly market at Public Square from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
 
The weekend is jam-packed with events, including Public Square’s first Downtown Oktoberfest, SPARX City Hop and the Indians play the Detroit Tigers Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
 
"All of our partners kind of tried to outdo one another, and it all just came together,” Holmes says of the week’s events. “It really will build a sense of community among the residents.”
 
In addition to the 14,000 currently living downtown, another 1,000 units are under construction and scheduled to be available by the end of 2017 with another 2,300 units coming by the end of 2018, according to Holmes.
 
“We should have 18,000 residents by the end of 2018,” she adds, explaining that DCA calculates its numbers based on 1.5 people per unit. “If we’re ever going to get a big box retailer downtown, we have to hit 20,000. Everyone has those nostalgic memories of retail shopping downtown.”

With latest expansion, Appletree Books enters new chapter as indie book seller

Two years after its grand re-opening on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights, Appletree Books will be wrapping up its second facelift. With a five-month long expansion slated for completion by October 14th, the bookstore will be nearly doubling its size, all in an effort by owners Lute and Lynn Quintrell to open its doors for more artists, authors and local non-profits.  
 
And of course to stock more books. 
 
Contrary to what some might believe, indie bookstores are not plummeting in scope. In actuality, they’re thriving. Scouring over 2,000 U.S. indies, the American Booksellers Association reported last year that sellers have seen a 27 percent growth since 2009. This year, sales are up 6.1 percent since January. The organization credits the increase to consumers’ penchant for localism. A fact that culminated this April with ABA’s Independent Bookstore Day, for which Appletree and other Cleveland sellers happily joined hands to promote in what Lute dubbed a “coopertition.” 
 
And the Quintrells can back up claims of an indie renaissance. 
 
Compared with their fall 2015 sales, Appletree boasts higher profits this September, especially at the start of holiday book-buying season. It was this January’s availability of the space next door—a former tanning salon—that inched the optimistic Quintrells to go ahead with expansion. With financial support from their landlord, who owns most of the Cedar-Fairmount property, the Quintrells chipped in around $10,000 to supply the additional space with shelving and furniture (most from garage or estate sales), along with a reading podium, a fresh coat of paint for a Children’s area and a fortifying steel beam, “so the second floor won’t collapse.” 
 
Besides enabling more browsing room, Lute said that a larger store is appealing for publishers and authors interested in hosting readings or signings at Appletree, which is a bit too cozy for larger events. A bigger space, he said, could mean bigger names. 
 
“Right now it’s awfully crowded when we get a good number of people,” Lute said, recalling when they hosted same-sex marriage activist James Obergefell in August after the release of Love Wins. “We had nearly 200 people at the Trinity Church downtown, as a result. I mean, we could have never hosted that at the store.” 
 
Even with the aim of attracting more regulars, the couple is understandably nervous about the investment, considering the uncertainty of the market alongside increased rent and renovation costs. June’s opening of Amazon@Akron, the Seattle megalith’s in-person store at the University of Akron and slipping sales at Barnes & Noble, are a potential omen things could falter. For now, however, Lute’s hopeful. 
 
“People say that if you expand and offer something attractive and inviting, then they’ll respond,” Lute said. “I suppose I’ll say it: ‘If you build it, they will come.’” 
 

Community-minded Artful lands in Coventry neighborhood

After a year-and-a-half search, the founders of Artful have finally found a home in the former Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.

Artful was founded in February last year by friends and local artists Shannon Morris and Brady Dindia to create an affordable space for local artists to come together and create, collaborate and sell their works. They’ve spent their first year introducing the concept of Artful to the community, assessing needs and looking for a space.
 
Now they are moving into the second phase of establishing Artful as the east side community for artists.
 
Morris, executive director of Artful, points outs that the Heights area, including Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and University Heights, has the largest population of artists in the greater Cleveland area, yet very little studio and work space.
 
The preferred location was always Cleveland Heights, but organizers scoured the city for the perfect home for Artful. They found the, 5,376-square-foot space on the second floor of the 60,000-square-foot former school through the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, which owns the building.
 
“They were very helpful and accommodating,” says Morris of the school district. “We went to go look at it and we were just like, ‘duh.’ Then we brought in our architect [John Williams of Process Creative Studios] and he said, ‘this is a no-brainer guys.’”
 
Artful will share the second floor with Ensemble Theatre. Morris says the abundant, large windows and swooping tall ceilings make a perfect creative environment. “There’s a lot of natural light and peaks throughout,” she says. “It feels so open and accessible.”
 
Currently the space is wide open, with enough room for at least 17 studios, a classroom, gallery and a programming area. Artful is pre-leasing studio space so tenants can configure them as they choose. Morris says a 10x10-foot studio will rent for $150 a month, which utilities and Wi-Fi.
 
"It's so exciting, but so scary at the same time,” Morris confesses.
 
Programming will be a critical component of Artful’s mission, especially after achieving 501(c)3 non-profit status last September. For instance, Artful has been working with a financial advisor, who will conduct classes on how to navigate financials and set up a business as an artist. The organization will also work with area gallery owners to determine what they're looking for in local artists.
 
“It’s about combining ideas with businesses and the community and working together,” explains Morris. “If the artist community is healthy, the whole community is healthy.”
 
Over the last year, Artful staff has kindled relationships with the neighborhood businesses along Coventry, especially Big Fun, the Grog Shop and B Side Liquor Lounge and Arcade, as well as Ensemble Theatre.
 
“It’s good to get young, fresh-minded things happening,” Morris says. “Community and arts working together make it fun.”
 
Artist Stephen Manka, who is known for his various public art around Cleveland, is working on a public art piece for Artful’s new home.
 
Artful is currently running a fundraising campaign to raise $75,000. An anonymous donor has agreed to match $25,000 of the funds raised. If they meet their goal, Artful can operate successfully for the next year.
 
Morris is particularly excited about a Chandler & Price letterpress the group has acquired. It was hand-forged by the Cleveland company in 1899. “It’s museum quality; it’s the real deal,” she says of the vintage press, adding that they plan to use the antique. She’ll be traveling down to Roanoke, Virginia to pick it up soon. “I think it’s so cool to bring it home to Cleveland.”

Big dreams start to become reality for three miles of elevated urban trail

Plans for the Red Line Greenway (RLG), a three-mile elevated linear park spanning Cleveland’s west side and downtown, originated as a pie-in-the-sky dream more than 40 years ago by Rotary Club of Cleveland member Stan Adams and two other founders. Adams pursed the vision until his 92nd birthday in 2012.
 
Now thanks to the tireless efforts of a hard-working team led by Lennie Stover, founder and project coordinator of the Red Line Greenway project and Rotary member, the project is gaining momentum and is shaping up to rival, or better, the likes of  New York City’s High Line, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and other regional rail-trail projects.
 
"Nationwide, we’re in middle of a trail building boom and we're behind most major U.S. cities in trail development,” says Stover, “but we’re quickly gaining."
 
When the project takes off in earnest in 2019, the Red Line Greenway will be a multi-purpose path along the RTA red line, stretching from Zone Recreation Center at W. 55rd Street and Lorain Avenue, across the Cuyahoga River Viaduct in the Flats into downtown at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse at Superior Avenue and Huron Road.

"I feel like I have a masters’ degree in trails," says Stover. "Trails are now seen as the arts and cultural architectural infrastructure for getting places.”
 
The trail covers 60 acres and 95 feet of the Cuyahoga River while connecting eight Cleveland neighborhoods to within two blocks of Public Square.

“Trails don’t discriminate, they don’t care if you wear shoes or not,” says Stover, pointing out that the RLG will serve some 57,000 locals, 20,000 of whom are under age 19. “People think trails and they think walking, running and biking, but there’s also meandering, wandering and just seeing who’s out.”
 
With the July 26 announcement of the Cleveland Metroparks’ $7.95 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for creating and improving bike and pedestrian trails along Cleveland’s waterfront, the Metroparks has committed $4 million to the RLG and the project took a few more steps toward its $6.1 million goal.
 
Other collaborative partners in the project include RTA, LAND studio, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Cleveland Leadership Center, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and countless volunteers.
 
It’s a good problem to have – too many volunteers,” quips Stover. “We had 500 volunteers last year, 400 were first-time visitors. This year we’ve have 700, with 500 being first-timers.”
 
The RLG has hosted more than a dozen corporate and community groups, and volunteers over the past year for Beautification Days.
 
Those volunteers have cleaned up trash and debris along the property, including 100 tons of steel – collected mostly by hand, Stover says – that netted the group $55,000 in scrap sales.
 
Those volunteers have ensured the RLG’s progress. “What we have right now is very close to a world-class trail, but we have higher expectations,” says Stover. “We’re on the cutting edge.”
 
Other organizations have helped out with goods and services. Petitti Garden Center donated 1,100 hydrangeas that were planted along the RLG. Forest City Tree Protection has consistently provided pruning and tree protection services, while MTD Products donated a riding mower.
 
But the RLG still needs more help. “I need [more] loyal people, marketing people, fundraising people,” says Stover, adding that finding people who know how to operate equipment is yet another challenge.
 
Nonetheless, the team never stops looking toward the future. Phases one and two should be done in a year to 18 months after construction starts, says Stover, while phase three will depend on an engineering study and additional funding.
 
In the meantime, the team has been busy building a new sandstone entrance to the RLG and clearing a view at the top of Franklin Avenue between Ohio City and Duck Island, where organizers plan to hold a fundraiser next May 20.

“We have a great location and we’re persistent as hell,” says Stover.
 

Edwins campus completes second phase

When De’Anthony Harris was released from Grafton Correctional Institution last October, he had a new outlook on his future. And, thanks to Brandon Chrostowski, owner of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant  Institute on Shaker Square, Harris also has a second chance at a successful life.

During his eight years in prison Harris, now 27, did everything he could to improve his odds in the outside world. “The best thing that happened to me is I didn’t have kids when I went in,” he says. “The only responsibility was myself. I was blessed that I did the right thing.”
 
Harris enrolled in Chrostowski’s culinary training class at Grafton. He also earned his temporary commercial driver's license (CDL) for truck driving, a certification in pet grooming and any took just about any other workforce training program the prison offered.


 
Chrostowski opened EDWINS in November 2013. The restaurant employs former inmates in Ohio prisons to teaches them the inside ropes of an upscale French restaurant. EDWINS has graduated 145 students men and women, with another 30 graduating in December. A new class of 30 started on August 8 and will begin working at the restaurant today.
 
In addition to the restaurant, Chrostowski has been busy building the EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center in the Buckeye neighborhood to further help his students get a solid fresh start.
 
Edwin is not only Chrostowski’s middle name, it also stands for “Education Wins,” says Chrostowski – the whole mission of the restaurant and the skills center campus.
 
“If we can educate our students to a new reality and maximize their potential and educate our guests on the level of quality of someone coming out of prison,” Chrostowski explains, “then we can educate the men and women in corrections that there is more than a number to [being] a human being and instill hope inside of our prisons.”
 
When phase two of the project is officially completed next week, Harris will serve as the Resident Advisor (RA) in the student housing dormitories on the 20,000-sqaure-foot campus on the corner of South Moreland and Buckeye in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood.
 
After beginning the $1.3 million construction project on the EDWINS campus late last July, Chrostowski has transformed a once-rundown and somewhat abandoned portion of the street into a vibrant neighborhood. The campus's three buildings house an 8,000-square-foot, a three-story dorm, an eight-bedroom alumni house for EDWINS graduates, a fitness room, weight room, library and test kitchen.
 
“No one wanted to partner with us,” Chrostowski says of his early fundraising efforts. But then $1 million came from two anonymous donors and the execution of his vision began. “There’s a need for housing and there’s a need for someone who wants to be better.”
 
 Chrostowski extensively renovated and remodeled the interior spaces and spruced up the exterior with landscaping and freshly painted trim on the exteriors of the red-brick buildings. Much of the material and labor was done at or below cost by area contractors.


 
From the front of the library building, a sign touting "EDWINS" adorns new a glass front. Chrostowski is expecting granite glass tiles to be delivered any day now, sold below cost to EDWINS by Solon-based Granex Industries, which will border the bottom of the front windows. Fir trees in square wooden planters welcome passersby on the street.
 
The building that houses the newly-painted EDWINS library and test kitchen was in disrepair when Chrostowski took ownership of the property. Just 13 months and $480,000 later, thanks to generous donations and fundraising, the building features new plumbing and electrical.
 
“The building was a total wreck,” Chrostowski recalls as he looks around the renovated room, which at one time was filled with garbage and dead animals.
 
“It never seems to stop,” he says of the work required. “Our students needed this. The student is my boss, so they dictate what has to be done. It’s not what I want to get done.”  
 
Bookshelves and eight computers line the library’s walls, each with internet access and all of Chrostowski’s lessons via Grafton’s Hope Channel.
 
The library shelves are already stacked with about 100 culinary books. The collection continues to grow. “I want to build the biggest culinary library in the state,” Chrostowski says, adding that he hopes to accumulate 1,000 books.
 
Adjacent to the library is the test kitchen, with state-of-the-art equipment for the residents to hone their culinary skills and experiment with new recipes. “The dream is to always be around food,” Chrostowski explains of the setup.
 
Down the hall, past administrative offices, are lockers and showers next to an exercise room with workout equipment and a large-screen television, while the basement houses a weight lifting room. Another basement area is filled with donations of household goods, which will be sold in a planned store.
 
Beachwood-based Thomas Brick Company donated 10 pallets of tile for the test kitchen and locker rooms.
 
On the roof of the building are hives with 20,000 Italian honeybees, whose honey is harvested for many of EDWINS’ recipes. Below is a full sized basketball court, a greenhouse and a chicken coop that is home to three chickens. “The greenhouse will be the spring incubator for our summer vegetables,” Chrostowski explains.


 
Chrostowski recruited Lakewood artist Bob Peck to paint a mural on the wall abutting the basketball court. Chrostowski hopes to acquire the currently-vacant building from the Cuyahoga Land Bank for a future butcher shop.
 
The dorm houses seven apartment suites with room for about 20 students. The suites feature living areas, bedrooms and, of course, full-equipped kitchens.
 
While phase two is nearly complete, Chrostowski already has his sights set on the next phase of his dream to not only give former convicts a second chance at a productive, fulfilling life, but to revitalize the Buckeye neighborhood.
 
Chrostowski is eying a home just behind the EDWINS campus that he hopes to buy and convert into family housing for students. In addition to the buildings directly next door, he's also watching a couple of buildings down the street that would make good storefronts for a future fish market and butcher shop.


 
With the help of Jones Day, Chrostowski has set up the EDWINS Foundation to cover costs for current and future endeavors.
 
For Harris, the campus feels like home. He’s busy managing the final construction jobs, “giving a helping hand wherever needed and physical labor,” while also enforcing curfews and calming residents’ disputes as a certified mediator. “It works, it really does work,” he says of the mediation skills he learned at Cleveland State.
 
Harris is also continuing his pursuit to be a truck driver, hoping to see more of the country, as he’s never traveled beyond Cleveland. “I’ve never been nowhere,” he says, “I’ll go anywhere they tell me to go.”
 
For now, Harris is quite happy on the EDWINS campus. “People ask me, ‘how did you get that job?’ and I say ‘I educated myself,’” he explains. “You’re not just getting a job, you’re getting a family too. That’s your backbone. I would recommend this program to anyone.”

Uptown Saturday Nights: live music to jazz eight venues for seven-week series

University Circle has historically been known as a cultural and music mecca, from the museums and educational institutions to music and family fun at Wade Oval Wednesdays (WOW) and entertainment at nearby bars and restaurants.

Now Uptown is moving to establish itself as Cleveland’s live music neighborhood.
 
To that end, University Circle, Inc., Case Western Reserve University and Roots of American Music (ROAM), along with eight neighborhood bars and eateries, have collaborated to launch Cleveland Foundation Uptown Saturday Nights.
 
The seven-week concert series will celebrate the roots of American music – blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, traditional country, folk, Americana, bluegrass and zydeco, among others – performed by local musicians across multiple Uptown District venues within walking distance of one another.
 
All shows are free and open to the public, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation. University Circle president Chris Ronayne says the foundation has been generous to University Circle.
 
“They’re really focused on the human capacity side of redevelopment,” Ronayne explains. “Over the last decade the Cleveland Foundation has helped us immensely with attention to design, transportation, transit, local jobs and housing.”
 
The idea for Uptown Saturday Nights stemmed from ROAM founder and artistic director Kevin T. Richards and Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern owner Sean Watterson. The two wanted to bring more attention to the music scene in and around Uptown.
 
Richards notes that University Circle is often associated with its cultural attractions, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Institute of Music and the Music Settlement, but sometimes the neighborhood is forgotten for quality live music from more local artists and venues.
 
“The big idea was we don’t get much of a public face to our public performances,” Richards explains. “We saw this as an opportunity to market ourselves and make people aware of the free music.” He and Watterson subsequently launched free weekly bluegrass sessions last November at the Happy Dog.
 
At the same time, Ronayne noticed the popularity of WOW, which came on the heels of the wildly successful annual Parade the Circle, but WOW ends in August. “What we learned from the crowd is people want the music to go on,” he says of the 11th WOW season. “They don’t want it to end with the end of summer.”
 
Uptown Saturday Nights kicks off this Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Nine bands and a deejay will play at eight different venues. See the schedule below for a full list of bands, venues and times.
 
Ronayne says this newest concert series simply is carrying on a tradition. “Historically, University Circle has been a live music neighborhood with places like Club Isabella and the Boarding House,” he says. “Carnegie, Euclid, Cedar are live music neighborhoods and it’s bubbling up again.”
 
He continues: “Cleveland’s on a roll right now,” he says, adding that maintaining that momentum is critical. “If we want to be a music city, we have to keep building on that. We have to keep it going.”
 
The series will be introduced on Friday, Aug. 26 with additional events in Toby’s Plaza on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, with EucFest, a block party with live music, outdoor bowling and corn hole by Corner Alley Uptown, food and a beer and wine garden. MOCA Cleveland will host a free LOADED Concert with the bands Form a Log, Fake Species, and Hiram Maxim at 8 p.m., as well as the fun, funky and free BOUND zine and art fair. For those who haven't seen the dazzling Myopia exhibit from Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh, a reduced $5 admission will get them into those galleries as well as programming associated with BOUND all weekend. Uptown will also be the destination for Cleveland Critical Mass’ August Ride.
 
Uptown RootsFest, through support from the Cleveland Foundation and No Depression magazine, will cap off the Uptown Saturday Nights on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15. That event will feature local and national bands, food and family activities at Toby’s Plaza and at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern.

Musical Lineup for Uptown Saturday Nights, August 27

- Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, 11625 Euclid Ave.
Matt Monta & the Haymakers, 9 p.m., Americana
 
Rebekah Jean, 10:30 p.m., Americana
 
- Coquette Patisserie, 11607 Euclid Ave.
Eric Seddon Duo, 7 p.m., Early American Jazz
 
- Roots Garden, Outdoors at 11460 Euclid Ave.
Down the Road, Appalachian String Band
 
- ABC Uptown, 11434 Uptown Ave.
Lost Bob & the Ozone Ramblers, 7 p.m., Bluegrass
 
- The Corner Alley at Uptown, 11409 Euclid Ave.
FlipSide, 8 p.m., Americana
 
- Ninja City, 11311 Euclid Ave.
DJ Knyce
 
- Barking Spider, 11310 Juniper Road
Erin Nicole Neal & the Chill Factor, 8 p.m., Blues/Soul/Rock
 
Tom Shaper, 10 p.m., Roots Guitar
 
- Trentina, 1903 Ford Drive
George Foley, 7 p.m., Early Jazz Piano

Six freelance friends transform former church space, launch Clockwork 9

After working as freelancers and small business entrepreneurs in graphic design, marketing and video production, a group of friends looked up last year and mused, “hey, what if we pool our talents and open our own company?”

That’s exactly what Chris Brown, Andrew Spirk, Eric Way, Adam Huffman, Nicholas Roth, and Dave Pelosi did when they merged their practices to open Clockwork 9 Studios in an old church office at 14305 Madison Ave. in Lakewood last month.
 
The group had worked together in various ways over the past six years, during which they had each expressed an interest in working together more regularly.
 
“One day the stars aligned and fate decided for us,” says Brown. “It wasn't a split second decision but rather a unique opportunity that we all saw as clear as day at the same time. When something like that happens, you don't ignore it. We embraced it and once we laid out our plans, we put everything in motion.”

The six-man company describes itself as “visual marketing redefined,” offering video production services to marketing and everything in between for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike, with unique marketing plans for each client. “We want to do something that’s never been done,” says Brown of their approach. “We want to create the wheel, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
 
He continues: “We wanted to provide a place where if you wanted to, you could create a concept and see it through all the way to production,” says the marketing expert. “We offer everything [clients] need, from branding to commercials.”
 
But before Clockwork 9 could open its doors, there was a bit of work to do on the 3,000-square-foot space. The 1,500 square feet on the first floor had 20-year old commercial carpeting and laminate tile in the kitchen. The space required outlets and proper office space.
 
Instead of hiring contractors to do the work, the team decided to do it themselves. They read books and watched YouTube videos on how to create the space they wanted while also focusing on the environment.
 
Clockwork 9’s new floors are reclaimed wood pallets found on Craigslist and through local businesses. The group cut, installed, sanded and stained the slats themselves. They fashioned the desks from reclaimed wood as well. A fresh coat of paint and a hand drawn logo rounded it all out.
 
“We were using those beautiful resources that were available,” says Brown. “It was a six-week process to do the whole studio. We’re really trying to create an environment that thinks outside the box.”
 
The team transformed the 1,500-square-foot basement into a storage and hangout area, complete with darts, air hockey, a projector and ping pong.
 
Business has been great so far, reports Brown, and Clockwork 9 is forming lasting relationships with clients, including Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, Ridgid and Coppertop Pub.

“Our goal isn't to do a project once with the client,” he says. “Our goal is for a client to continuously use us for all of their needs. To date we have had three major video projects and many small projects.”
 

Bridging the racial divide through art

The Campus District is a divided segment of Cleveland. It is divided by race. It is divided by income. And, since the 1950s, it is an area divided by Interstate 90 and the E. 22nd Street Bridge.

To the north are Cleveland State University and Downtown, full up with a diverse mix of students and business. The Central neighborhood on the southern end is predominantly African American and home to some of the country’s oldest, and once densest, public housing.
 
Like many Cleveland neighborhoods, the construction of highways segmented the communities, creating access to the rest of the region while simultaneously cutting some neighborhoods off. The Central neighborhood is one such example.
 
A group of people who live, work and go to school on either side of the E. 22nd Street bridge have come together to talk about issues of race and prejudice through a collective public art project called A Bridge that Bridges.
 
“We had opportunities for people who wouldn’t talk to each other otherwise about race in the neighborhoods, the different levels of racism,” says Kaela Geschke, Campus District community organizer. “We were crossing lines we wouldn’t have in our daily lives.”


 
The group of 17 participants, led by Geschke, ioby (In Our Own Back Yards), Cleveland action strategist Indigo Bishop and artist Gwen Garth, founder of the Kings and Queens of Art, have met biweekly since last spring to discuss race and racism while designing a community mural.
 
“We are trying to cement that racial divide,” says Garth. “A diverse group of people of different ages, races, walks of life came together to sit down and discuss the levels of racism and create works of art.”
 
Some of the conversations revolved around preliminary painting/planning sessions. “The artwork they are creating is depicting the difference between how we see ourselves versus how others see us,” Geschke says. “We did this early on when talking about interpersonal racism. The [preliminary] images did not end up in the mural but were a stepping stone for conversation. There were a lot of different perspectives, and it was a really good process for everyone.”
 
Over the past weeks, the group has been painting the mural they designed along the E. 22nd Street Bridge. The mural spans 80 feet on both sides of the bridge, yet is only two-and-a-half feet tall.
 
“The mural shows legs of different types of people walking across the bridge on one side,” explains Geschke. “On the west wall it uses words to name the systems and thought patterns that keep racism and segregation in place in the center. Then as it continues out towards the north and south end, [where] the words change into steps that a person can take to address these inequities.”
 
The group has raised more than $1,300 toward its $2,095 ioby fundraising goal. They also received a $5,000 grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and a $500 grant from the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program.
 
The mural will be unveiled on Thursday, Aug. 25 during the Campus District’s E. 22nd Street Festival.
 
But organizers hope that the mural’s completion will not be the end of race discussions in the community. “It cannot be a one-and-done thing,” says Garth. “It took a long time to get there, so it’s going to take a long time to undo it.”
 
Geschke agrees. “People of all races would say race is not a problem,” she says, “but people also say this is just a start. Let’s look ahead and see what can be done. I think this is a good starting point.”

New bike lanes add to Lakewood's cyclist-friendly goal

In its quest to have bicycles be a primary form of transportation in the city, Lakewood recently added two new dedicated bike lanes along the entire stretch of Madison Avenue. The addition is part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, adopted in 2012 as a way to encourage cycling.

“We want to establish cycling as a main means of transportation in Lakewood,” says Bryce Sylvester, the city’s senior city planner. “The goal is to be recognized as one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the country.”
 
City officials began implementing the plan back in 2012 with shared bike-vehicle lanes, known as “sharrows,” on Detroit Avenue and dedicated bike lanes on Franklin Boulevard.  The lanes are clearly marked as sharrows or dedicated lanes.
 
In addition to the traditional bike lane markings, the new lanes on Madison implement two new bicycle infrastructure signs.  The lanes will have “door zone” patterns – small diagonal lines – to mark areas where people in parked cars may be opening their doors into the lane. The idea is to reduce the number of run-ins cyclists have with abruptly opening car doors.
 
Dotted markings through intersections along the route will reinforce the fact that bicyclists have priority over turning vehicles or vehicles entering the roadway – alerting traffic, both bike and vehicles, of potential conflict areas.
 
“Our hope is to make it a safer ride down Madison Avenue,” says Sylvester.
 
The city also has installed more than 100 bike racks in front of businesses since 2012, with the aim of installing 20 racks per year.
 
Sylvester says the Bicycle Master Plan and its execution are in response to the residents’ demands. “The people have built an environment of cyclists here,” he says. “People use their bikes to get around. We’re taking a proactive approach of active living in Lakewood. We feel infrastructures like this allow out residents to be active.”
 
Lakewood has been awarded a bronze award for its efforts by the League of American Bicyclists
 
"We're doing okay," says Sylvester of the plan’s progress.

Lakewood's first historic tax credit to benefit classic 1915 building

Frank Scalish, owner of Scalish Construction, is attempting to revive Northeast Ohio’s history brick by brick. His latest project is an historic 5,000-square-foot building at 12301 Madison Ave. in Lakewood’s Birdtown neighborhood.
 
Thanks to a $82,402 Ohio Historic Preservation tax credit, Scalish is renovating six apartments and the street-level store front of the 1915 structure constructed by Michael and Veronika Turza, who lived there until they died. Their children sold the building in the 1950s.
 
The classic retail downstairs/residential upstairs building had no name, so Scalish dubbed it The Veronika, after Mrs. Turza. He came to own it after the previous owner queried him about renovating the windows. “I got the impression he was just fixing it up to sell it,” Scalish recalls. So he decided to purchase the building and renovate it himself. “We’re only the third owners.”
 
Scalish is working with the Architecture Office to preserve the historic nature of the building while also updating the interior.
 
The former home of the Corner Pub, which was actually two storefronts combined into one 1,250-square-foot space, previously housed a hardware store and a candy store. Scalish is currently talking to two potential retail tenants including a coffee chain and restaurateur.
 
Scalish has already successfully uncovered the original wood storefront of the Veronika’s exterior. “What we’ve found intact we’ve refinished and restored to like the day it was built,” he boasts. “And most of the masonry is intact.” He is also restoring the building’s original glaze brick exterior while large glass doors are on order.
 
Inside, Scalish removed four ceiling layers to reveal portions of the original tin ceiling. “We should have enough to do at least one side,” he says, adding that one of the previous owners tore out the ceiling to make way for HVAC.
 
Scalish is refurbishing the original bar and the maple hardwood floors throughout the building. “It was a unique find hiding in plain sight,” he says. “We’re trying to preserve the original woodwork as much as possible.”
 
The one-bedroom apartments upstairs are being renovated in stages, with phase one nearly complete, says Scalish. The apartments will have updated LED lighting, quartz counter tops, clean white walls and vintage tile accents. The restored original storm windows provide plenty of light throughout the space.
 
Walls were torn down to open the kitchens to the living rooms, while also creating better natural light and ventilation. “It’s an open layout,” Scalish says of the plans. “The whole floor plan is more modernized. They’re pretty much new from top to bottom”
 
The first phase is almost complete and Scalish says he plans to start leasing the apartments at market rate within six weeks. The entire project is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year.
 
The Veronika is not Scalish Construction’s first restoration endeavor. Scalish is building a reputation for restoring local homes and businesses in Northeast Ohio, including his offices in the old Cleveland Trust building on Madison Avenue in Lakewood.
 
“Old buildings have history, and with that history comes a certain level of soul,” says Scalish. “Most of these old structures were built by true craftsman, by hand, with care and compassion and without the use of modern day tools. They are certainly hard to replicate even in this day and age. This is evident in all of the little details that are present on these historic buildings.”
 
Scalish freely shares his passion for his work.
 
“It’s a pleasure to be surrounded by a team of true modern day craftspeople who have the ability and share the passion to return these structures to their original glory,” he says. “I love the idea that these buildings have withstood the test of time and lasted a century. My passion is driven by the legacy that we are leaving behind for the generations to come.”

ciCLEvia to roll along West 25th this Saturday

This Saturday, Aug. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m., the new summer program, ciCLEvia, will roll out along West 25th Street. This will be the first of three such events and will feature music, games, food trucks, and free demonstrations of activities including yoga, Zumba, and boxing. While residents are encouraged to glide in on bikes, skates, foot or their wheelchairs, one mode of transportation won't be welcome.
 
Cars.
 
That's right. City officials will close West 25th Street to vehicular traffic from Wade Avenue to MetroHealth Drive – which is nearly a mile – for this family-friendly, age-friendly, and health-focused event. This first ciCLEvia will also coincide with this Saturday's La Placita, an open-air Hispanic market and celebration at the intersection of W. 25th Street and Clark Avenue.
 
Inspired by open street events in Latin America, known as ciclovías, ciCLEvia is a neighborhood-based program that is accessible to residents of all ages and abilities. Organizers hope to attract residents from the adjacent Clark-Fulton, Ohio City, and Tremont neighborhoods, as well as those who just want to spend an afternoon in the city without the usual traffic noise and exhaust.
 
“Open street events like ciCLEvia give people an opportunity to move, play, socialize, and celebrate their communities, while encouraging them to experience streets as a shared public space that serves diverse users,” said event organizer Calley Mersmann in a statement.
 
ciCLEvia will return on Sept. 10 and Oct. 8. The September date will also coincide with La Placita. Street closure and event times will remain the same for the subsequent events.

The series is a signature event of Cleveland’s Year of Sustainable Transportation.
 
ciCLEvia was planned by partners Bike Cleveland, the MetroHealth System, the Cleveland Department of Public Health, the Healthy Cleveland Initiative, Age-Friendly Cleveland, Sustainable Cleveland 2019, and Ward 14. Other partners include the YMCA, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the Saint Luke's Foundation, Spindrift and Neighborhood Family Practice. For more information contact Calley Mersmann at 216-512-0253 or email info@ciclevia.com.
 

The basics: May Dugan serves families in need with food, clothing and medical help

Sue Nerlinger likes to keep active. “Sitting around drives me cuckoo,” she says. “I can’t stand sitting around.”

So, when a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2000 threatened to slow her down, she kept working as an optician for W.A. Jones Optical with University Hospitals until the company closed in 2010.
 
Nerlinger's twins were just 10 years old at the time, and with the job behind her, she needed to get food on the table and was having a hard time making ends meet. She turned to the May Dugan Center’s Basic Needs Program, which provides food, fresh produce and clothing to Cleveland’s west side residents in need.

“That was one of the hardest things for me, to ask for help,” Nerlinger recalls.
 
Since 1969, the program has offered fresh produce at the Ohio City institution from March through October on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, with the addition of non-perishable food and clothing on the fourth Wednesdays.
 
The produce and food comes through a partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Charitable organizations, such as the Hunger Network, St. Mark’s Church and Westlake PTA, also provide assistance and May Dugan accepts donations of household goods and clothing from the public Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
“Our primary goal is getting food in the hands of people who need it,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. “We have a racially diverse client base and there are folks here from all walks of life. We have younger folks in their 20s and 30s to seniors in their 70s and 80s.”
 
In total, May Dugan serves thousands of families in its 20 distributions in eight months out of the year. For instance, 322 families totaling 909 people were served in July, which is almost 75 more than the center saw in July 2015, says Trares.
 
Even during the parade to celebrate the Cavs wining the NBA championship on June 22, May Dugan was passing out food to 188 families representing 531 people. “While all of Cleveland was loving that we finally won the national championship, we were celebrating too,” says Trares. “But 531 people knew they could come here and get food.”
 
Nerlinger was so grateful for the help she recieved from the center that she became a May Dugan volunteer. “People were so kind to me I decided it was time to give back to the community, to the people who need it,” she says.
 
On distribution days Nerlinger lines everyone up, making sure they each have a ticket for food bags, and chats up the people waiting for services. “I make sure I take the time to listen,” she says. “It doesn’t help to sit and mope about anything, but I can help someone.”
 
Nerlinger has also taken advantage of May Dugan’s health and wellness program, which the center started offering in January 2012 during monthly distributions. Medical personnel from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center offer screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, type II diabetes, HIV and podiatry checks along with educational health seminars and workshops. ExactCare Pharmacy is often on hand to answer any questions about prescription medications.
 
More than 1,800 screenings were performed at May Dugan last year. “There are so many people who need to have their blood pressure checked and don’t because they can’t get to the doctor,” says Nerlinger.
 
In addition to the screenings, volunteers also help clients with health insurance questions about accessing insurance through the healthcare marketplace and enrolling in and navigating Medicaid.
 
A little more than a year ago, May Dugan implemented a senior programming component to its Basic Needs Program by offering craft classes through Benjamin Rose Institute, financial advice from the Ohio Savings Bank branch on Bridge Avenue and W. 25th Street and music therapy programming.
 
The program provides community members with the basic things they need to survive without humiliation and embarrassment. And sometimes May Dugan simply serves as a place where residents can find compassion and friendship.
 
“I go there and I volunteer and I leave there more of the time thinking, ‘I have hardships but I realized how lucky I am,’” says Nerlinger. “I have no reason to complain. My heart goes out to so many of the people there.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

High-speed karting comes to Brook Park

On Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 5 p.m., locals will be invited to step into the new BOSS PRO-Karting, a high-speed, indoor karting facility at 18301 Brookpark Road in Brook Park.

Featuring Sodi RTX electric karts, which are manufactured in Europe, drivers will speed around the 12 turns of the 1/5 mile track at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
 
“We’re racers,” said Lee Boss, BOSS co-founder and three-time national karting champion in a statement. "Creating an authentic racing experience with the best racing karts available and a challenging, exciting track is paramount to us."
 
Capacity for the facility is 500 people, with up to a 12 races zipping along at one time. BOSS FastTrack, a free race app available for Apple and Android devices, allows racers to preregister for time slots and also offers live race tracking and statistics. Additional features include a messaging system, Facebook page integration and visuals depicting lap time history and statistics. In addition to indoor racing, the 40,000-square-foot facility is available for corporate events with conference rooms, catering and 3,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate up to 200 people.

“Compared to other sports and hobbies, the cost to participate in motorsports is extremely high,” added Brad Copley, BOSS co-owner and president. “Combining the speed and cornering g-forces that top many professional vehicles, a lap at BOSS PRO-Karting will be an exhilarating experience for racers and novices alike.”
 
Brook Park Mayor Thomas Coyne will kick off the Aug. 10 festivities with remarks at 6 p.m. followed by a flag drop for the first race, which will include mascots from the Browns, Cavs, Gladiators, Canton Charge and Lake Erie Monsters.
 
BOSS PRO-Karting will be open year round. There is a one-time annual membership fee of $6. Cost for one race is $22 with reduced pricing for subsequent races and other discounted packages. Racers must be at least 56" tall.

"We believe adrenaline trumps practicality, and that the edge of our comfort zone is where we learn the most," said BOSS management. "It’s not about taking things to the extreme with abandoned disregard, but pushing beyond the comfortable deliberately, often, and with purpose."
 

Two ioby campaigns make waiting for RTA a little more productive, enjoyable

Waiting for the bus is about to get a little more interactive. ioby (In Our Own Backyards), the New York-based organization that uses crowd-funding to turn grassroots neighborhood projects into realities, established Cleveland offices in March and organizers have wasted no time in getting behind worthwhile projects.
 
Two of its latest projects involve public art at RTA shelters and offering riders fitness suggestions while they wait for the bus. The projects are part of ioby’s Trick Out My Trip campaign to improve public transportation in cities nationwide. Cleveland was chosen for two out of 10 total projects across the country.
 
Art Stop
 
At East 22nd Street and Superior Avenue in the Superior Arts neighborhood within the Campus District, a group of artists and residents are working to make the area art-friendly and safer for riders waiting at the bus stop.
 
Art Stop will create a bus shelter to shield residents from the elements while also providing a canvas for public art by a rotating list of artists. Campus District officials hosted a barbeque to get input on what the diverse neighborhood needed and wanted.
 
“People were very excited about this because Superior Avenue has a lot of bus stops, but not a lot of shelters,” says Kaela Geschke, community coordinator for the Campus District. “There are so many artists that live in the neighborhood and this is way to highlight them.”
 
Geschke adds that, with three homeless shelters in the neighborhood, the stop will also provide some shelter from the notoriously windy corridor.
 
The group then turned to Cleveland Institute of Art adjunct professor Sai Sinbondit and his students to design the shelter’s elements. They were charged with keeping the shelter’s functionality while also creating a pleasing environment.
 
The group needs $10,335 to realize all of the features they want in the shelter. So far, they have raised $3,100. If they meet their goal, the bus stop will have Wi-Fi and solar lighting. The Wi-Fi will make it easier for riders to check bus schedules and for the homeless population to research services, Geschke says.
 
“We’re really working hard to create a connection between students, artists and the homeless,” says Geschke. “The artwork will build community and be a way for neighbors to get to know each other.”
 
Bus Stop Moves
 
Bus Stop Moves gets riders exercising while waiting for the bus.
 
The concept was first spearheaded last fall by Allison Lukacsy, an architect and a planner for the city of Euclid, as a pilot program through RTA’s adopt-a-shelter program with MetroHealth System.
 
The program began after a survey of Collinwood residents revealed that people wanted more opportunities to exercise. “Something jumped out at me [in the survey] that people could be healthier and wanted more opportunities to be active,” says Lukacsy.
 
The pilot program involved three bus shelters in Collinwood, in which translucent vinyl adhesive wraps over the shelter walls illustrate simple exercises and health tips. The exercises can be done while sitting or standing and in normal street clothes.
 
“That sort of 20 to 25-minute period between bus rides is the perfect amount of time, physicians will tell you, to get some exercise,” says Lukacsy, who designed and drew all the illustrations.
 
The fitness shelters were so well-received that ioby has partnered with RTA to wrap 10 additional shelters with workout moves in the Central-Kinsman, Slavic Village and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods.  So far, the group has raised about $500 of the $618 needed to fund the project.
 
The exercises vary at different shelters – some more intense and some more relaxed. For instance, in Collinwood a shelter that has a lot of high school students features more engaging exercises, like jumping jacks, while another shelter features strengthening and stretching exercises.
 
“Some people are willing to break out and dance in public,” says Lukacsy. “But more people are more comfortable doing the strengthening. You could totally drive by and not know someone is doing exercises.”
 
The shelters not only offer a unique way to squeeze in a workout, Lukacsy says it also helps spruce up the neighborhoods. “If you look around, these are older shelters,” she says. “This is a way to not only aesthically improve the look of the shelters, it’s also something to improve people’s health.
 
Both crowdfunding campaigns have until Friday, August 5 to reach their goals. ioby had partnered with New York-based TransitCenter on Trick Out My Trip. The foundation dedicated to improving urban mobility will match the money raised when the campaign ends.

RNC is just the beginning for larger conventions, tourism in CLE

The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee held a series of free events over this past weekend as one big thank you party for the volunteers and residents who made the RNC a success two weeks ago.

From the Cleveland Orchestra making its return to the newly-renovated Public Square on Friday night, fireworks and family-oriented activities to a party on Saturday afternoon and free admission all weekend to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Indians’ three-game home series (sweep!) against Oakland, the committee wanted to celebrate the city and its residents’ efforts, says Destination Cleveland’s senior communication manager Jennifer Kramer.
 
“With an event of this magnitude, it’s all attributed to the people,” Kramer says of the volunteers, business people and residents who contributed to the RNC’s success. “And for the people who weren’t able to come down or stayed away, this was time to take pride in the city and see what we were able to do.”
 
More than 3,000 volunteers worked 8,400 shifts during the week of the RNC, as hotel and airport greeters and wayfinders at pedestrian-heavy intersections. They made guest feel welcome, pointed them in the right direction and even saw them off at the airport after the RNC.
 
But while the RNC is probably the largest convention Cleveland will ever host, officials are hoping that it is just the springboard the city needs to launch the convention and tourism industry.
 
"This is not the end," says Kramer. "It is the beginning of many, many more things to come.”
 
Kramer says tourism in the area has been on the rise – increasing four to five percent each year over the last five years – and those numbers are expected to continue upward. “The narrative is changing,” she says. “It’s interesting to see people’s perceptions change.”


 
In fact, feedback was all positive from the 750 guests who came through the Visitors Center, and staff fielded phone calls from potential future visitors who had seen Cleveland highlighted in the convention coverage. “It was great to hear other people say how great the city is,” says Kramer.
 
Convention business is expected to pick up after a successful RNC as well. “In 2013 we were just coming into the convention world,” says Kramer. “We’ve been able to make sure heads turn, not just from the business perspective but in the leisure perspective too.”
 
Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall’s vice president of marketing and communications also sees the RNC as just a launching point for the city’s convention and tourism business.
 
“People close to the RNC said it wasn’t about one week, it was about the long-term,” Mesek explains. “It was about getting people to feel it, experience the city.”
 
Mesek says high profile events like the RNC, as well as the 2016 Transplant Games, the Gay Games in 2014 and the National Senior Games in 2013, have all been opportunities to show off Cleveland’s assets.
 
“It’s about showing them what we have and they walk away [as Cleveland] ambassadors,” Mesek says.
 
The Rock Hall typically gets an average of 2,500 guests a day in July, says Mesek, adding that number jumped to an average of 4,000 people a day during the RNC.
 
Part of the increase was due to the free admission, sponsored by AT&T, to draw both visitors and locals to the museum.
 
“We wanted to make it easy for anyone in town for the RNC – media, delegates, protestors – and who didn’t have a lot of time but just wanted to explore it,” he says. “We wanted to make it easy for locals too, although not a lot of locals took advantage of it. But some did.”
 
July, says Mesek, was all about changing perceptions. “So many people outside of Cleveland either have an old perception or a neutral perception of the city,” he says. “We just have to get them here. We’re confident that after visiting the museum they’re walk away with a positive perception.”
 
Mesek adds that an increase in tourism to the area means more jobs. “It brings in out of town dollars,” he points out. “They sleep in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and visit our museums. And that creates jobs.” 

Some businesses boom, others see a drought during RNC

When Cleveland first learned it would be hosting the RNC, business owners throughout the region prepared for a hefty increase in customers last week.
 
Pizza Fire, which opened a year ago on Euclid, saw steady business and the line from the just-opened REBoL in Public Square had lines out the door as attendees waited patiently for a one of 90 seats in the air conditioned space.
 
Bloom Bakery, a social enterprise venture to help low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment run by Towards Employment, opened its Public Square location in March and decided to stay open 24/7 during the convention week.
 
“Staying open for a convention like this is a gamble, says Logan Fahey, Bloom co-founder and general manager. “But for us it was more about the visibility of our mission and employing people.” The bakery added an additional eight employees, hired from the Salvation Army Northeast Ohio, to its 15-person staff for the week.
 
The gamble paid off. “On Monday we had a steady flow of convention guests, and then Tuesday through Thursday it really picked-up and we had built a loyal convention customer base that sustained us through the week,” Fahey says. “Most of the customers were international media guests who utilized Bloom's chic cafe atmosphere and free Wi-Fi.” 
 
Fahey reports that media tended to stay in Bloom until 2 a.m., before catering to the bar crowds in the wee hours of the morning.
 
The seven temporary retail stores that set up shop in the Arcade for the RNC saw a steady stream of business as visitors popped in and out of the historic mall on Euclid. Actress and Cleveland native Monica Potter was on hand in her Monica Potter Home pop-up location for most of the week.
 
Store employee Stephanie Dietelbach said business was good last week, but they had yet to make a decision on whether the store would make the Arcade a permanent home. She said the decision would be made in early August.
 
While businesses around the city center saw a hefty draw of customers, anything outside of a two-block radius was a ghost town. Even area bars and restaurants that had booked private events during the convention reported that they saw a decrease in their regular clientele.
 
Hofbrauhaus in Playhouse Square, which brought in a “security dog” – Reagan, an eight-year-old Dachshund – to greet and protect biergrarten guests, was popular with the few guests who opted to patronize the near-empty restaurant.
 
Yet Hofbrauhaus spokesperson Andrea Mueller was upbeat about the week. “Business was slow,” she says. “A lot of the folks that would normally come down didn't. We did have some private parties, so those were our saving grace. But, it's the price we had to pay for such a great event to come into town.”
 
The bars along West 25th Street in Ohio City, many of which had secured the 4 a.m. provisional liquor license, sat open, waiting for business. While many of the bars along the strip had booked private parties for the RNC, Market Garden Brewery, among other establishments, saw a marked lack of traffic and begged folks to come out on its Facebook page, posting photos of an empty bar at 4 a.m.

"We've been very busy, but our business volume has been inverted," owner Sam McNulty said last week. "Instead of a lot of foot traffic and a few events, we've been tremendously busy with events and have seen very little of our local guests and regulars."
 
By the time RNC came to a close and the visitors cleared out of the city, business was back to normal and the regulars began flocking back to their usual haunts.

"I miss my regular customers," said the young woman manning the cash register at Jake's Pizza last Tuesday. "I can't wait for Monday."

Sneak peek: Saks Fifth Avenue pop-up shop at the Ritz-Carlton

Yesterday, staff of the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland treated Fresh Water Cleveland to a sneak peek of the most unique pop-up shop around.

Saks Fifth Avenue will operate a temporary boutique in the sixth floor hotel lobby at the Ritz-Carlton in Tower City from July 17 to 21. While the doors aren't open yet, Fresh Water can say with confidence that Republican National Convention visitors - or anyone dropping in - will be treated to the likes of Judith Leiber clutches, KYBOE! watches and Burberry bags for last-minute gift and accessory shopping. The mini short-time Saks will also offer select clothing and toiletry items.

Guests staying at hotel will receive a $50 savings certificate valid when making a $300 minimum purchase at the boutique. For after-hours fashion emergencies, special trips to the larger Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beachwood can also be arranged for hotel guests, along with overnight tailoring, measurements for which will be taken at The Ritz-Carlton.

The posh boutique will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.
 

Goldhorn Brewery's offerings set to be on draft later this month

Later this month, East 55th Street will return to its roots with the opening of Goldhorn Brewery, 1365 E. 55th St.

While Ohio City usually comes to mind when thinking about local craft breweries, Goldhorn owner Rick Semersky says the St. Clair Superior neighborhood actually was Cleveland’s brewing hub at the turn of the twentieth century..

“East 55th used to be home to a lot of breweries and had one of the first neighborhood beer gardens in the city,” says Semersky, who also owns Sterle’s Country House next door and is developing the 42,000-square-foot Hub 55 complex. "Fifty-fifth Street has a long tradition of brewing business in the city of Cleveland.”
 
The Goldhorn Brewery lends its name from the Slovenian mythical goldhorn goat. Brewer Joel Warger, formerly the pub brewer for Great Lakes Brewing Company, has been busy since April at the 15,000-square-foot brewery, brewing Goldhorn’s signature beers including pilsner, stout, English pale ale and bock. The beers are brewed in nine fermentation tanks and nine brite tanks in the 10-barrel brew house on premises.
 
The beers will be tapped later this month. “The plan is to always have at least nine beers at all times,” says Semersky. Goldhorn Brewery will share a kitchen with Café 55, which serves breakfast and lunch. Semersky plans to serve “sharable plates. We’ll be sandwich heavy – more casual food.”
 
The Goldhorn tap room will seat between 125 and 150 people. Epoxy floors shine in the natural light, as do the bar and fixtures. “The bar and walls are made of reclaimed barn wood and the bar top is copper,” he adds.
 
The idea for Hub 55 first came about when Semersky’s construction company, VIP Restoration, outgrew the former Leiden Cabinet Company building. VIP is now located in two buildings down E. 55th.
 
With the building right next door to Sterles, Semersky decided to create a center for food, drink and business to the neighborhood.
 
“The Hub will bring jobs, education and access to fresh healthy food for not just our community but the city as well,” Semersky says. “A Hub, by definition, is a ‘center around which other things revolve or from which they radiate.’ Our goal is to bring a focus and attention to the St. Clair neighborhood, bringing new business to the neighborhood and at the same time promote the rich tradition and history of the people and business that are already here.”   
 
In addition to Goldhorn Brewery and Café 55, Hub 55 will also soon host a farmers market of some kind. The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation (SCSDC) is in the final stages of a feasibility study for the remaining space in Hub 55, according to Semersky.
 
“Our goal is to have final plans soon so we can move forward,” he says. “In the meantime, SCSDC plans to hold pop-up farmers markets on the weekends here at the Hub until the permanent market is completed.” 

Perplexity Games uncovers secrets from Cleveland's past

While the former Jay Hotel building at 2515 Jay Ave. in Ohio City may have a somewhat shady past, the new tenants in the lower level of the building are helping their guests relive other sketchy aspects of Cleveland history.
 
The 92-year-old building has served as the Ohio City Post Office and the Jay Hotel. It's also housed a bowling alley and a biker bar. Developer Tom Gillespe recently renovated the three-story building in a multi-million dollar project. Today, the Jay is home to Whiskey Grade apparel shop and motorcycle retailer Ohio City Moto on the first floor, while the second and third floors feature apartments.
 
On the lower level, however, Diana and Bill Molchan are fighting crime and solving mysteries. Their escape games business, Perplexity Games, offers role-playing immersive challenge games in which players attempt to rid a 1938 Cleveland of corruption during the reign of safety director Eliot Ness.
 
“It’s kind of like the game Clue, but with real rooms and real props,” says Diana Molchan. “I read about Ness and it was one of the most corrupt cities in the country at the time. He came into Cleveland and took on the Mob.”
 
Players act as sleuths hired by Eliot Ness to investigate a corrupt city commissioner with ties to illegal gambling. They have one hour to find evidence, prove corruption and avoid the Mob.
 
“For our first game we kicked around a vintage detective theme, but wanted to do a story line that was unique to Cleveland,” Molchan says, noting that the increasingly-popular escape games usually focus on bank heists and jail breaks. “The 30s was a very colorful period in Cleveland history.”

Molchan says they wanted to choose a realistic theme for their game. “When Eliot Ness was hired as public safety director there was a lot of organized crime, with Irish and Italian mobs running illegal gambling and liquor operations and paying off cops and judges,” she explains. “Ness investigated his own officers before there was any such thing as internal affairs and really cleaned up the city. So, that's the ‘true life’ background to our game.”

Players are given some context and instructions to begin, but then they are on their own. “They’re not given a lot of information starting out,” explains Molchan. “You’re looking for pieces of evidence, to find clues and piece it together.”
 
One area in the 3,000-square-foot space has been transformed into 1938 style. Molchan, who sold antiques for 10 years, did the decorating. “We wanted to do this in Humphrey Bogart-era style,” she explains.
 
The couple plans to add other escape games in the additional two rooms in the lower level, with one scheduled to open later this month and the other in July or August.
 
One of the themes Molchan is playing with centers around steampunk with a sci-fi twist on the Victorian era. “There will be mechanical, physical puzzles,” Molchan hints. “It’s going to be really amazing and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
 
The layout is such that the Molchans can customize each space for the game’s theme while using the structure's original features. “We have an original brick room with a huge, fabulous fire door that we are going to use for the second game,” she says. “We want to do something steampunk because it fits the space so well.”
 
In the Eliot Ness game, Molchan installed an antique office door between two rooms that players have to unlock with a skeleton key.
 
Each game will run for about a year and different games can run simultaneously in the space.
 
While Perplexity Games is geared toward adults, Molchan says families with children who are at least 10 years old are welcome to play. She says many players hit the bars and restaurants around Ohio City before and after the game.
 
“It’s the perfect location,” she says. “I like being within walking distance to Great Lakes Brewery, Nano Brew, TownHall. It’s the perfect gig to do dinner.”
 
The current Eliot Ness Investigation game runs Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person.
 
Perplexity Games is also available for private parties and corporate team building events.

Apartments coming to historic Wagner Awning building in Tremont

Since 1895, the Wagner Awning building at 2658 Scranton Road in Tremont was a sewing factory. For more than 120 years, workers at Wagner Awning, later renamed Ohio Awning, made everything from tents and sails to awnings.

“If you ever are in a submarine and begin to sink, you likely will be in a flotation device sewn at 2658 Scranton Road,” says Naomi Sabel, Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) co-owner.
 
So when Ohio Awning announced it was relocating to Slavic Village last year, Sabel and her SCA partners Josh Rosen and Ben Ezinga were quick to buy the historic building for development into apartments.
 
The developers of the Fairmont Creamery on the Ohio City-Tremont border are attracted to old Cleveland factories, with the mission of repurposing them into apartments. After working with Tremont West Development Corporation on the Fairmont Creamery, the trio was eager to start another project in the neighborhood.
 
“We fell in love with the building,” says Rosen. “It has operated as a sewing factory of some sort since it was first constructed. There are incredible beams and columns - and maple floors from 1895 are hard to duplicate in a new construction project.”
 
The sale was completed last spring and work on converting the Wagner Awning Building into 59 one-bedroom apartments began in January by designer Larissa Burlij with Dimit Architects. General Contractor Welty Construction is overseeing more than 100 workers on the site each day to ensure the renovations are completed by November 1.
 
Of the 88,000 total square feet, the 59 apartments will all be complete one-bedroom units, ranging from 650 to 1,250 square feet. “We don’t believe in micro apartments,” says Rosen. Monthly rents will range between $900 and $1,500.
 
Each unit will feature the refinished original maple hardwood floors and high ceilings. The 420 new large windows will provide bountiful natural light. A section of the third floor of the L-shaped building that was destroyed by a tornado in the 1950s is also being repaired.
 
A 14,000-square-foot area in the basement of the building, which also has ample natural light, will be converted into office space. About 90 outdoor parking spaces in a gated lot will be available to residential and office tenants. The exterior will be painted a light grey.
 
A raised 2,000-square-foot elevated deck in the courtyard will serve as a socializing area for residents and office users and a buffer to adjacent Scranton Elementary School. The building itself is close to many Tremont attractions such as the Tremont Tap House and Tremont Athletic Club.
 
SCA also owns two 1.5-acre lots across the street, which Sabel says they are considering for future projects. “We need to do our due diligence and talk to folks about the right fit,” she says. “But the opportunity to do a significant four corner development really excites us.”
 
The $14 million project was eligible for $4 million in tax credit equity through federal and state historic tax credits. The tax credit investors are Enhanced Capital and Nationwide Insurance, while Village Capital Corporation provided a mezzanine loan.
 
“Both [Fairmont Creamer and Wagner Awning] required a challenging capital stack and many partners in both the public and private sector in order for the visions to become fully realized,” says Sabel.
 
Rosen is thrilled to be adding another residential repurposing of underutilized factory space to Tremont.
 
“Tremont is a pretty rich tapestry of folks who have been here for generations, newcomers to Cleveland, young families moving back into the city and people who have been working in the grassroots for 20-plus years to improve the quality of life in Tremont,” he says. “The neighborhood is really welcoming and civically motivated and we have a strong CDC in Tremont West that is always willing to help.”

There is already a waiting list for apartments at Wagner Awning, but SCA will begin conducting tours today for prospective tenants and community members. Contact SCA to schedule a tour.

CDCs: the quiet but powerful engines driving neighborhood revitalization

The economic recession that began in 2007 impacted nearly every United States city. Compounded by the burst of the housing bubble in 2008, many Cleveland neighborhoods took a hard hit.
 
“Every neighborhood was affected by the Great Recession pretty much everywhere,” says Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), an organization committed to neighborhood revitalization. “Every one of our neighborhoods suffered.”
 
Many Cleveland neighborhoods have successfully recovered, with thriving places like Ohio City, Tremont and Collinwood being ideal examples. There are pockets in the city, however, that continue to struggle. “Most are coming back,” Ratner says. “The question is: where have they come back to and where were they?”
 
Ratner cites the Hough and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods as two areas that have not quite climbed out of the housing crash. “There are several east side neighborhoods that continue to have vacancies and abandonments,” he says. “The Hough neighborhood continues to struggle and places like Mount Pleasant really have a lot of work to do to restore the real estate market.”
 
For those neighborhoods that are beginning to bounce back, Ratner says the key to success is an active community development corporation (CDC). “We believe that where there is a strong CDC, they are able to lift up the neighborhood,” he explains, naming Tremont, the Detroit Shoreway, Central and University Circle as areas with robust CDCs. “Where there are great CDCs we’re seeing community benefits.”
 
Slavic Village Recovery Project, for example, is a collaborative effort between the neighborhood’s CDC, CNP, Forest City Enterprises and RIK Enterprises that acquires and renovates vacant homes, then sells them at affordable rates. The idea is to stabilize the housing market in Slavic Village while also making it an attractive neighborhood for potential home buyers.
 
At the same time Northeast Shores Development in Collinwood and other agencies have spent the last decade creating a destination for arts and culture with efforts such as the Waterloo Arts District. “Waterloo and Collinwood have a lot of exciting things going on,” says Ratner. “People are starting to see market recovery.”
 
In Glenville, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens reflect the neighborhood’s rebirth. “They’re beginning to see a renaissance there,” says Ratner. “The housing stock is really a treasure.”
 
St. Clair Superior and the Campus District CDCs teamed up to host Night Market Cleveland, creating a popular new destination event that brought exposure to AsiaTown and Quarter Arts District and encouraged appreciation for the diverse cultures that characterize the area. The effort garnered a CNP’s 2016 Vibrant City award.
 
Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office also received a Vibrant City Award for its part in bringing La Placita to fruition. The Hispanic-themed open air market provides business development opportunities to entrepreneurs and easy access to local goods and fresh foods for residents in the surrounding Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.
 
Ratner notes other projects, such as Goldhorn Brewery on E. 55th Street in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood, the Innova apartments straddling University Circle and the Hough neighborhood, and quieter endeavors in the Central neighborhood such as the small but mighty Ka-La Healing Garden and Resource Center show signs of revitalization.
 
"There are a lot of promising efforts going on around our city,” says Ratner. “There’s a lot of great stuff going on.”
 
And people are noticing, he adds. While previous generations moved out of Cleveland in favor of the suburbs, the city’s booming residential construction today is evidence that the locals are coming back. “They’re beginning to see the joys of the city and what a treasure it is,” he says. “Now people are coming in to Cleveland, especially the boomerangers.”
 
Newcomers to Cleveland are attracted to city living as well. “Someone comes in and doesn’t know the city, or they’ve been away, they have a fresh eye and they are not encumbered by the previous notions of ourselves,” Ratner says. “One of our burdens is our too-negative view of ourselves. As more people come here, we have an updated view.”

Building a big dream on a tiny slip of land

As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. In Lakewood, that package is tucked away at 1427 Scenic St. near the city's westernmost border, the Rocky River.

Three years ago, the Cuyahoga Land Bank took over a tiny abandoned house on a 35- by 95-foot parcel in Lakewood’s Scenic Park neighborhood.
 
As the Land Bank razed the 348-square-foot house, cleared the property and laid grass seed, LakewoodAlive, a community-centered non-profit organization focused on maintaining vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood, took notice.
 
“We identified this vacant property in March 2015 while knocking on doors to introduce ourselves and our Community Engagement Program,” recalls LakewoodAlive executive director Ian Andrews, adding that the program focuses on the Scenic Park and Birdtown neighborhoods to make sure everyone has the resources to create healthy and safe homes. “We saw this vacant property and thought: what can we do with that?
 
After neighbors on either side of the property declined to annex the approximately 3,300-square-foot parcel, LakewoodAlive began working with the Land Bank and Lakewood officials to build a new house. The organization took title to the property in January and then transferred it to Lakewood developer Dana Paul with Prairie Stone Group in March.
 
Paul broke ground on a 1,425-square-foot, two-story home with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths on April 30. “It has a deck overlooking the Rocky River Reservation,” says Andrews. “It’s going to be a beautiful home.”
 
Last Wednesday, May 18, a group of community members, mayor Michael Summers, Paul and LakewoodAlive representatives gathered at the site to celebrate the project. Because construction has already begun, with concrete work well underway, officials dubbed the event the “Scenic Park House Project Launch Party” instead of a groundbreaking.
 
Attendees honored the future home by breaking beer bottles over a rock at the construction site.
 
Andrews says the market is hot for a house like the one being built on the pint-sized parcel. “There’s a big market for historic, other people want funky,” he says, adding that the neighbors are pleased. “They’re glad to see this little lot is finally getting some love.”

$3.5 million in improvements commence on Lee Road

After a few delays, the Lee Road Streetscape Improvements plan is underway in Cleveland Heights. Last Monday, May 9, the city and the Cedar-Lee Special Improvement District (SID) began a six-month project that will include street resurfacing, new sidewalks and new traffic lights on Lee Road between Corydon and Superior Roads.

"I think it's great," says Adam Fleisher, co-owner of the Wine Spot. “As a merchant, I’m really excited about it. Lee Road is a great destination place, but it needs updates.”
 
The $3.5 million project is part of a master plan that was created in 2008, just before the economy soured. The plan was taken up again in 2011 with a preliminary engineering analysis, which led to an application for public funding.
 
The city received $1.5 million from Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and $1.6 million from Cuyahoga County, as well as $20,000 from RTA for the bus stop on the corner of Lee and Cedar Roads and $45,000 from the Ohio EPA to fund the project.
 
The Cedar-Lee SID is responsible for funding the landscaping, planters and other street furnishings. The SID funds come from merchants in the district who contribute to it.
 
After the only bid that came in 2012 was too high, the city hired CT Consultants to revise and execute the plan. S.E.T. Inc. is doing the actual construction.
 
Running north to south from Cain Park on Lee and Superior Roads to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library just past Corydon Road, Cedar-Lee is the longest commercial district in Cleveland Heights, says SID president and owner of Zagara’s Marketplace John Zagara.
 
Lee Road has been reduced to one lane in each direction without turning lanes, and is lined with orange pylons as construction began yesterday on the west side of Lee from Superior to Coleridge.
 
On-street parking has been eliminated during construction, but Zagara says there are plenty of parking alternatives.
 
“Lee Road was designed originally [for patrons] to come up the side streets and enter through the side entrances and the back,” Zagara explains, adding that there is plenty of parking available in the lots and garage off of Silsby, Meadowbrook and Cedar.
 
The valet parking service that is available on weekends will move to side streets and the parking lots.
 
Current traffic light poles and will be replaced with poles painted hunter green or black, says Zagara, “to create a differential of the district.”
 
When the street is torn up, new electrical systems will be installed to put in LED pedestrian lighting on the sidewalks. “We placed a priority on better lighting throughout the district,” says Zagara, adding that the street becomes very dark late at night when bar patrons are leaving and other stores are closed. “We wanted to get the lighting for safety.”
 
ADA compliant drop off locations, handicap spaces and crosswalks will be added to the road once it is resurfaced.
 
The large rectangular planters along the street will be removed and replaced with other landscaping to make the sidewalks more pedestrian friendly. “Our current curb appeal is impacted by a hodge podge of street furnishings,” explains Kelley Robinson, director of the Cedar Lee SID. “We will be purchasing new planters that will complement the new street furnishings and help create a more inviting atmosphere.”
 
While the sidewalks will not necessarily be larger when portions are replaced, Robinson says the removal of the current planters will make it easier to for pedestrians to navigate.
 
Fleisher is impressed with the plan. "More sidewalks mean more seating space,” he says, referring to Wine Spot’s front patio.
 
Zagara calls some of the improvements, such as the painted light poles and landscaping, “niceties” that help the district keep up with surrounding shopping districts. We’re competing against places like Legacy Village,” he says.
 
No major improvements have been made to the district since 1983, says Robinson.
 
The six-month project should be done by October or November, Zagara says. Robinson is having maps made to show patrons the streetscape plans, which merchants can display in their shops.
 
Fleisher plans to display one at the Wine Spot. “Time will pass quickly,” he says. “It will be ready by the holidays. The people who come to Lee Road will appreciate it when it’s done.”

Former Fleet retail space to emerge as 12,000-square-foot artists' mecca

Ben Domzalski’s family has long been a staple of the Slavic Village business community, operating the tax and accounting firm Commercial Enterprises on Fleet Avenue since 1952.
 
So when his father and business partner, Jeff Domzalski and Chester Cuiksa, bought the old Magalen Furniture building at 5203 Fleet Ave. three years ago, Domzalski voiced his idea of what to do with the 12,000 square foot space – the largest building on Fleet Avenue.
 
“[Jeff and Chester] believed it could carry a great influence on development of the Fleet Avenue commercial district,” recalls Domzalski. “Both being Fleet Avenue merchants for over 40 years, they were very concerned with the direction of the neighborhood, Fleet Avenue in particular, and wanted to do what they could.”
 
Domzalski immediately saw a way to bring arts to the community. “When I first saw the building I saw its potential for gallery and studio space,” he recalls. “I felt very strongly the size, unique features and location could help this building become a true destination.”
 
In January, Jeff and Chester gave Domzalski control over the space and, he promptly started making plans to convert it to The Magalen a mixed-use art gallery and studio space.  
 
Domzalski’s inspiration came from listening to Cleveland Public Theatre founder James Levin speak ten years ago about community development through the arts. “His words stuck with me,” he recalls. “Artists beautify their surroundings, they are patrons of the local establishments and, most importantly, they're courageous as seen in Waterloo, Tremont and Gordon Square. Each of these areas focused on arts first.”
 
Domzalski calls the artists who helped shape those areas “courageous” because of their influence on revitalizing neighborhoods. “Artists are courageous because of their willingness to venture into new neighborhoods, ones where development has yet to happen or is currently happening,” he explains “They're at the forefront of neighborhood development.”
 
He says he hopes Slavic Village will be the next such example in Cleveland. “As the Magalen grows and we open the studio spaces, I hope for more artists to move to Slavic Village, and in turn attract more people to the neighborhood.”
 
The two-story Magalen dates back to 1908, when the front section and a rear carriage house were built. The two sections were later connected by additional rooms and a loading dock. For decades, the space housed a neighborhood staple, Magalen Furniture.
 
While the front area, with large windows overlooking Fleet Avenue, will serve as a gallery and event space, the rear areas will provide two studios for artists and the second floor area will service as meeting space or additional studios, according to Rachel Hunt, events curator for the Magalen.
 
Hunt shares Domzalski’s vision of how the Magalen will give Slavic Village a boost. “The Magalen will be the only multi-use arts facility in the area that is run not only by management, but by the artists,” she explains. “It will eventually be available for use by artists with studio spaces 24/7. We've been inspired by other art facilities in the Cleveland area and want to bring Slavic Village up to date with what other desirable communities such as Waterloo and Ohio City are doing for their neighborhoods.”
 
Although the entire project will not be complete, the Magalen gallery will be open in time for Rooms to Let this Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22. The event transforms Slavic Village homes slated for demolition or restoration into galleries and art installations.
 
The Magalen will host an after-party during its gallery debut, Reimagined, from 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Four artists will be featured, including Michael Marefka, Dustin Nowlin, Riley Kemerling and Maggie Duff.
 
The gallery will also be open on Sunday for pickup of purchased works. Otherwise, regular gallery hours have not yet been set.

Port of Cleveland adds major client, equipment

In its quest to be the largest inland port in the United States, the Port of Cleveland made some significant announcements last week, ranging from new overseas shipping business to beautification of Cleveland Harbor.

Last Tuesday, May 10 Lubrizol Corporation, one of the largest European exporters in the state, announced it will now be shipping its container loads of specialty chemicals made in Northeast Ohio to Europe through the Port of Cleveland via the Cleveland-Europe Express service. Previously the company was shipping its products via rail to coastal ports in New York, Norfolk, VA and Charleston, S.C.
 
Now Lubrizol’s shipments will ship directly from Cleveland’s port and travel via the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. “For them to go through the Port of Cleveland is really a game changer,” says Jade Davis, the port’s vice president of external affairs. “Other companies called us within hours [of the announcement] to see if the port fits their needs.”
 
Cleveland is the only container port on the Great Lakes and port officials are working to meet the needs of other companies like Lubrizol. The port's business has grown between 500 and 600 percent since 2014, estimates Davis. “If we can get greater volume, the costs can go down,” he says of shipping to Europe via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
 
Meanwhile, the port dedicated two new state-of-the-art Liebherr 280 cranes to assist with the increased loads. The cranes are 40 percent more efficient than the port’s previous cranes and have 40 to 50 percent more lift capacity, according to Davis. “We can do bulk cargo with these,” he boasts. “We can load and unload container ships directly from the dock to a ship, or vice versa.”
 
The port did not have container cranes before the arrival of the Liebherrs, named Crane A and Crane B. The new cranes can handle 20 to 25 containers per hour, Davis says. “Less time on the ground loading and unloading means less cost. It definitely helps us compete and be more efficient with service and production.”
 
The International Longshoreman Local 1317 added 40 jobs to its approximately 125 workers on staff at the port last year and will probably add a few more workers this year, says Davis, while the port itself employs about 20 people.
 
To top off the week, the Port of Cleveland announced plans to illuminate the 150-foot-tall cement silos at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. The project, dubbed “Harbor Lights,” was approved by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board of directors last Wednesday, May 11. Herbst Electric will install colorful LED displays to welcome people entering Cleveland via Lake Erie.

Coffee spot coming to Cleveland Hostel

In the nearly four years since Mark Raymond opened the Cleveland Hostel  at 2090 W. 25th St., tens of thousands of guests have lodged in the affordable Ohio City inn. They hail from more than 60 countries including exotic locales such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritania and Fiji, and range in age from six months to older than 90.

One of the main reasons travelers choose to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel is to meet new people. And while the Cleveland Hostel is located in a city hub that is bustling with social opportunities, it was missing one thing: good coffee. To remedy that, Raymond and partner Trey Kirchoff decided to embark on new venture, Passengers Café in the hostel lobby.

“The social aspect is one of the main things that make a hostel a hostel,” says Raymond. “We have the roof deck, the kitchen and common area on the second floor [and] now the cafe in the lobby.”
 
When completed later this spring, Passengers Café will offer drip coffee from different coffee roasters around the country, espresso drinks, locally-made bagels and a small toast menu. “We will have great coffee offerings from all over the country,” says Kirchoff, who has experience in the industry from his work with Gimme! Coffee bars in his native New York.
 
Kirchoff cites Philadelphia, Arkansas and Minnesota as some places that roast great coffee but don’t have the reputation of places such as Seattle or even Cleveland, which, he notes, is home to the likes of Six Shooter, Phoenix and Duck Rabbit. “They’re all really doing cool things with their beans. We want to start with beans from all over, beans that are probably not as well known.”
 
The cafe will have 15 to 20 seats in the 700-square-foot lobby as well as a few tables outdoors. “Really, right now, there’s no one else south of Lorain that has a presence on the sidewalk,” says Raymond.
 
Raymond and Kirchoff were introduced last year through the Ohio City Merchants Association. Kirchoff moved to Cleveland with his wife, Dana, a Cleveland native, in 2015 and was looking to start a coffee and sandwich shop. Raymond wanted to broaden his offerings at the hostel. By December, the two were working on plans for Passengers Café.
 
The result is a “medium sized, casual space,” says Raymond. “If they want to go on the roof deck and drink their coffee, they’re welcome to.”
 
Raymond also encourages Clevelanders to stop by the café and meet some new people. “I’m excited to bring locals in,” he says. “Travelers will get a more unique experience.”

Loren Naji to live in spherical home during tour

Sculptor Loren Naji has long been disturbed by the number of homeless people in the country. “It seems absurd that humane governments would allow homelessness to exist,” he says. “Our society should not have homeless people and we should not have all these empty houses.”

So, a year ago he set out to create an eight-foot diameter sphere to make a statement about the United States’ indifference to the homeless population and apathy toward unused homes.
 
“Our urban landscape is riddled with vacant homes, abandoned and boarded shut, while the homeless sleep on sidewalks in front of these empty houses slated for demolition and landfills.
 
The sphere is entitled Emoh – the word “home” spelled backwards – and is made entirely with materials Naji has salvaged from demolished homes, including trash, furniture and debris taken from curbs in Tremont and Ohio City.
 
“On the garbage day I drive around looking for things people throw away,” the 1998 Cleveland Institute of Art graduate explains. “The panels of the sphere are made of plywood, which I bought, but everything else is found materials.”
 
Beginning this fall Naji will live in Emoh and begin a nine-city tour, hoping to raise awareness of homelessness.  
 
“This signifies that as so-called humane, intelligent human beings we really do things in a backwards way when it comes to priorities,” explains Naji of Emoh’s meaning. “How is it possible that such intelligence allows its own kind to sleep in the streets without shelter while there are so many vacant structures boarded up, rotting and on their way to the landfills, polluting our home, the Earth?"
 
Naji will compete in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in September for the chance to win a $200,000 juried prize or a $200,000 prize based on public vote. Other planned stops on the tour include Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston. Locally, Naji will also be making a stop at SPACES.  
 
Naji will haul the 1,000-pound sculpture on a trailer to each city on his tour. He points out that Emoh also represents the Earth itself – with the panels forming graphic representations of streets and countryside.
 
While living in Emoh, Naji will have a bed, a camping toilet, a mailbox and a laptop computer. He will get electricity to the sphere with an extension cord, plugged into his hosts’ outlets. Small windows will allow visitors a glimpse into his life inside Emoh.
 
Emoh, is not Naji’s first foray into spherical art. While he studied painting at CIA, he developed an interest in painting on 3D surfaces. “My art seems to have somehow manipulated into making spheres,” he says. Naji went on to study graphic design in post-graduate work on Kent State University.
 
His 3,000-pound work They Have Landed, an eight-foot in diameter time capsule to be opened in 2050, is stationed at the Ohio City RTA station across from the West Side Market, while Global Beat is an interactive, spherical drum set made from repurposed pots, pans and miscellaneous items.
 

Local venues brim with bookings for RNC

Some 50,000 people are expected to descend on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention this summer, including 2,470 delegates, 2,302 alternate delegates and 15,000 members of the media. As the July 18-21 dates draw near, many of Cleveland’s popular entertainment and arts sites are seeing a great deal of interest in, and reservations for, private events.
 
About 70 establishments have registered as preferred venues in the RNC official venue guide. Fresh Water talked to event planners at just a handful of locations around the city about their RNC private event bookings. And while organizers won’t divulge all the details, excitement is definitely building.
 
The Breen Center
 
One event that officials can talk about is the announcement that Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be taping from July 19 through 22 at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School.
 
“They approached us some time ago looking for a venue,” says St. Ignatius director of communications Lisa Metro. “It’s a beautiful venue. It’s the most comfortable place to see a show.”
 
While the Breen Center parking lot will be reserved for the show’s trucks, the St. Ignatius student parking lot will be reserved for audience members. Metro says the center seats more than 300 people and has wheelchair access.
 
Other than the parking accommodations, Metro says the other details are being left up to The Daily Show staff. “The proceeds [from the rental] will be reinvested in the St. Ignatius education fund,” she adds.
 
Tickets for all four days of taping have already sold out.
 
W. 25th Street
 
Nearby on W. 25th Street, Nathan Carr, events coordinator for Market Garden Brewery, Bar Cento, Nano Brew, Bier Market and Speakeasy, has booked events at all the bars, mostly for state delegates, he says.
 
“Our arrangement is a little unique because we are multiple locations in one city block,” Carr says of the restaurant group. “One state requested beers from their home state. [The groups] want a lot of the same stuff, but we’re tweaking it a little to make it unique for everyone.”
 
Carr says that, beginning in July, they are making menu changes to give conventioneers a true taste of Cleveland. “We’re creating really neat new things to give them a unique Midwest/Cleveland experience,” he says. “They’re coming from all over the country and maybe haven’t had the Midwest farm-to-table experience.”
 
One parameter Carr says they must follow for the delegate events is that no forks, knives or spoons can be used. “They aren’t able to use utensils on the premises,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to create mouth-sized kinds of food, snackable finger food kinds of items.”
 
For instance, Carr says they are partnering with Mitchell’s Ice Cream to give guests a scoop of ice cream as they board their transportation back to their hotels, but they had to order little wooden paddle spoons for eating the ice cream.
 
Carr says he has booked groups ranging from 80 people to a complete buyout of one location for an event for 700. They are still in the process of booking additional groups. However, Carr urges the locals to come out to W. 25th as well.
 
“With all the hype," he says, "it’s really important for Clevelanders to come out and see how this week-long event really benefits the city and really highlights the city.”
 
The restaurant group is also working on a special brew for the convention: the GOP Pilsner,  “as a shout out for the reason everyone’s here that week,” says Carr.
 
University Circle
 
University Circle’s cultural attractions are also garnering interest from conventioneers. The Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society has already booked two events and has had “a number of showings,” says center director Angie Lowrie, adding that they are hosting a delegate luncheon for about 100 people that will include a self-guided tour and an evening event for about 250.
 
Lowrie says the center will host a cocktail party paired with a tour of nearby Lakeview Cemetery. “There will be a big focus on Rockefeller and his roots in Cleveland,” she says. “Weather-permitting, we will hold the cocktail hour in the outdoor garden and we will have a Rockefeller impersonator.”
 
The center will also have a Rockefeller exhibit open during the convention week.
 
The History Center is also partnering with other WRHS facilities, such as the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum for a dinner and tour and the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel for a fun diversion.
 
Elsewhere on East Boulevard, the Cleveland Botanical Garden has booked three events ranging from 120 to 400 people and has had “multiple groups come out for site tours,” says rental facility associate Bridget Hays.
 
Hays adds that the Botanical Garden can host up to 500 people on the Katherine Philipp Geis Terrace for a cocktail reception, or smaller events in its meeting rooms or gardens.
 
“It’s a great neighborhood," says Hays. "It’s a fun side of Cleveland over here. This is a chance to show off to the delegates such great culture in the city and leverage our collection to raise visibility.”

Playhouse Square
 
In Playhouse Square, Hofbrauhaus has made a few group bookings and is anticipating more. “We’ve received event inquiries and we’re getting everything secure,” says marketing and sales manager Andrea Mueller.
 
Mueller says some groups have rented the entire Hofbrauhaus space, which seats 1,600 and includes the bier hall, bier garden and the Hermit Club, while others have booked just one specific space for an evening.
 
While Mueller says she’s heard that a groups tend to wait until the last minute to book their events, the Hofbrauhaus staff is already in planning mode. “We have customized menus with each of the groups,” Mueller says. “We’ve been working very closely with our executive chefs. “We want to put our best foot forward.”
 
Mueller says they have also gotten calls from other venues in the area who want to partner with Hofbrauhaus. “It’s impressive how we come together to hold each other up,” she says. “I’ve never experienced such outreach and symbiotic support. We’re very excited to have this opportunity to show Clevelanders and guests alike what we have to offer.”

Roof at CIA's Gund Building set to transform into urban "meadow"

In just a few weeks, the roof of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s (CIA) George Gund Building will be in full bloom will rows of sedum covering 3,364 square feet, or half, of the 6,800-square-foot rooftop.
 
The roof was originally designed to be a green roof system, explains CIA director of facilities and safety Joe Ferritto, but the system was cut from the budget during the 2015 completion of the building. The garden got the green light this year after a successful $19,000 fundraising campaign.
 
The garden was designed by Cleveland-based Rooftop Green, which has a patented system for planting directly on a roof. “They gave us a proposal for a basic green system and tray system,” says Ferritto. “The trays are produced out of recycled water bottles to create a cellular material that is very dense and absorbs water.”
 
The trays, which each measure about 24 inches by 18 inches, are filled with dirt and sedum seeds and then covered with a poly netting material.  
 
Five members of the maintenance team spent three days last week hauling 38 palettes – with each palette holding 40 trays of sedum -- up to the roof via the service elevator. Half of the sedum, planted toward the back of the garden, will grow to be about 14 inches tall, while the front of the garden will have 8-inch tall plants.
 
“The guys thought it was pretty interesting when we put this up,” says Ferritto. “We had a carpenter, a painter, a HVAC guy and an electrician all hauling that stuff up there. It was kind of an all-hands-on-deck experience.”
 
Ferritto is keeping the garden off limits until the sedum has bloomed in about a month. When he does open it, the roof will be accessible only to students and faculty and by appointment. In the meantime, the garden can be admired through the window wall on the building’s third floor and CIA students in the adjacent biomedical arts department have a spectacular view.
 
“Once it hits 60 degrees we should see some seed pollination, then it’s a four to five week growth time. It looks very white right now," he says, adding that the trays will soon fill with color, mostly green. "It will look like a meadow.”
 
The whole rooftop garden system provides additional points toward achieving LEED certification for the building. “I’ve heard claims that it can increase the life of a roof by 50 to 100 percent, but studies are still being done on that,” he says. “There’s increased insulation the green roof provides, and [there is] reduced UV that [can] beat up the roof system.”
 
Now that the landscaping in complete, Ferritto has his eye on the other half of the roof. He says plans for hardscaping for the remaining 3,400 square feet include pavers, furniture and a canopy. “Once we get the hardscaping piece done, there have been discussions on hosting events or making studio space there,” he says. 

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

Giant jammin' Rock Boxes set to line East 9th Street this summer

Seven Rock Boxes, a public art project featuring giant amplifiers along East 9th Street, are almost ready to rock downtown Cleveland and connect visitors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
 
Commissioned in the fall of 2014 by Destination Cleveland and the Rock Hall as a way to promote our town's rock 'n' roll soul and the museum that embodies it, the $500,000 project was designed by Sheffield native and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Mark Reigelman for LAND studio. Reigelman's been the creative force behind a host of notable area projects such as the "Wrap" planters that dot downtown and "Cold Front" along the West 76th Street underpass.
 
“They were looking for a way to further the connection to downtown because the Rock Hall is a bit isolated being on the [North Coast] Harbor,” explains LAND studio project manager Sarah Siebert. “Destination Cleveland wanted a connective impact for folks downtown. The seven Rock Boxes – all located along E. 9th Street – will create a “bread crumb effect,” says Siebert, leading to the Rock Hall.
 
Locations include Progressive Field on Bolivar; Medical Mutual on Prospect; The RTA HealthLine stop median at Euclid; Rockwell Park; One Cleveland Center at St. Clair; the RTA North Coast Rapid station; and the Rock Hall.
 
The boxes will sound off in unison about two or three times a day, playing 30- to 90-second sound clips from a list of two selections from each of the Rock Hall inductees. “We want it to have a similar effect as church bells,” says Siebert. “Over time, folks will see a pattern.”
 
LAND studio is still testing the decibel level of the boxes. “We want to make sure they’re heard, but not be overwhelming,” Siebert promises, adding that the songs will have universal appeal. “Folks can relate to it, regardless of age, generation or time.”
 
While an exact date for the installation’s completion has yet to be determined, Siebert expects the Rock Boxes to be complete by the end of June, in time for the Republican National Convention in July.

Tidal Cool moves into Tremont incubator space

Since 2012, Andrea Howell has channeling her love for sewing clothes into a career with Tidal Cool – selling her colorful and funky designs at popular events such as Cleveland Bazaar, Cleveland Night Market and the Tremont Farmers Market.

Beginning next month, however, Howell will sell her designs at her new 370-square-foot storefront at 2406 Professor Ave. in Tremont.

As winner of the fourth Tremont Storefront Incubator program, sponsored by Tremont West Development Corporation  and the Hispanic Business Center, Howell will explore the pros and cons of running Tidal Cool as a brick-and-mortar shop for the next 10 months.
 
“The bulk of my sales are regional,” Howell explains. “This is something less nomadic that I’m used to. This is exactly what I’m looking for because launching a new business is difficult and there are so many things you don’t think of.”
 
Howell will receive three months of free rent, followed by seven months of below-market-rate rent in the Professor Avenue location that once served as the organization’s meeting room. Tremont West decided to use the space for retail five years ago, says Tremont West assistant director Michelle Davis, to promote area small businesses.
 
“We used to use our storefront for board meetings and community meetings,” she says. “We decided it would be more contributing to our businesses because Tremont has been quite a place where women come to do their shopping.”
 
Previous tenants and incubator winners include pop-up shops for Cosmic Bobbins and Yellow Cake Shop, Tremont Tails, the Beck Center and Brewnuts.
 
While some of these businesses have moved on to other ventures, Brewnuts is opening a permanent location on Detroit Avenue. While Davis says they wanted to see Brewnuts stay in Tremont, the Detroit Shoreway location suited the company’s needs.
 
“We’re happy that they had this experience,” Davis says of Brewnuts. “We just couldn’t find them space that worked for them.”
 
In addition to the storefront, Howell will meet monthly with Jason Estremera, director of business services for the Hispanic Business Center, to go over financials and budgeting. “It’s nice to have someone in your corner,” says Howell of the business advice.
 
Howell applied to be the next incubator tenant back in January and got word in April that she had won the space. “I had my eye out specifically in the Tremont area because the demographics are my brand,” she says.
 
Howell says she has painted and installed new light fixtures. “I’m making it look like my brand,” she says.  
 
While Howell will have a soft opening on Wednesday, her official grand opening is scheduled for Friday, May 13 during Walkabout Tremont, from 6 to 9 p.m. She will present her spring and summer collection, Cuba Libre, which features African and other imported prints.

ODOT conducts George Voinovich Bridge construction tours

Twice a month through September, the Ohio Department of Transportation is conducting free hard hat tours of the George Voinovich Bridge construction area. Tours are rain or shine, although if the weather becomes overly inclement, the event will be cancelled.

Tours are conducted by Trumball-Great Lakes-Ruhlin (TGR), a joint venture between Trumbull Corporation, Great Lakes Construction Company and the Ruhlin Company, which was the successful bidder on the $273 million project that included demolition of the existing 1959 Innerbelt Bridge and the construction of a new, five lane, eastbound structure. The project is slated for completion this fall.

Attendees walk the entire construction site and hear insider details about things such as the steel I-beams that support the concrete pilings, or the "HP18 x 204's," wherein the H indicates the shape, the 18 refers to an 18" measurement on the piling and the 204 indicates 204 pounds-per-foot.

"These piles come in at 90 feet long," said Karen Lenehan, public information consultant for TGLR, during a tour last week. "They're the largest piles manufactured in United States." She adds that the pilings are required to be driven down to bedrock some 200 feet below ground. They must be hammered twenty times with industrial driving equipment in order to move just one inch.

"How do you know when you reach bedrock?" mused Lenehan. "When you hit it twenty times and it doesn't move."

Lenehan also offered comprehensive details on the giant 28- by 28- by 10-foot concrete footers; the prominent concrete columns, which are hollow and include inspection doors; the steel knuckles, tension ties, deltas, bridge bearings and deck girders; and the permanent catwalks that web the area under the deck of the bridge, among other components.

Lenehan also told the tale of how the entire project was nearly held hostage by a pair of mating Peregrine falcons that threatened to delay the demolition of the old bridge. Fortunately, the babies learned to fly ahead of a critical date and vacated the nest.

"We got the okay," recalled Lenehan of getting the thumbs-up from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources when the junior falcons took flight. "We could go ahead with our big explosive demolition on July 12, 2014."

Other softer details of note include a forthcoming fish habitat that will be similar to one that was constructed for the westbound bridge. The protected area is essentially fenced off from the rest of the river by a slotted barrier and is planted with vegetation the fish can eat.

"Fish can swim out of the way of the freighters," said Lenehan. "They can rest; they can feed, and then they can swim back out."

Also included in the project is a protected area for humans - for walking, biking and running. The contract includes extending the southern terminus of the all-purpose trail along Scranton Flats to a point adjacent to Sokolowski's Inn, as well as a new green space for Tremont.

"We get sustainability points for that," said Lenehan, noting that those points are part of a formal sustainability component of the contract.

Lastly at the conclusion of the tour, attendees are given packages of commemorative mints that are shaped like tiny cars.

Registration for the free tours, which fill up quickly, is required and does not start until the beginning of each respective month. Details available here.
 

$4 million expansion coming to University Heights Library

In 2010, the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries began talking to community members about what improvements they wanted to see in the now 64-year-old library at 13866 Cedar Road.

After some talk and initial planning, library officials conducted surveys at various locales including the library, neighboring Whole Foods and John Carroll University.
 
“Participation wasn’t heavy, but there was repetition of key points, so we knew we were on the right track," says Heights Libraries director Nancy Levin, noting that lack of a rear entrance by the parking area was a familiar complaint. "People wanted to see us solve the back door problem, and we knew the building needed updates and repairs.”

The main entrance will be moved to the rear of the building, with new glass panels to be installed in the front. A side entrance with a ramp on Fenwick Road will also be added. 
 
In addition to obvious work such as updating the HVAC and electrical system, making the building energy efficient, fixing roof leaks and installing ADA-compliant bathrooms, the survey led to plans for a fully functional elevator, an easily-accessible back door and children's and teen areas.
 
The $4 million project will add 5,282 square feet to the existing building, which will bring the total space to 10,500 square feet. The cost of the project has already been worked into Heights Library's budget.
 
The lower level will include a dedicated area for kids with a story room, teen space, meeting rooms and ADA compliant bathrooms. The new children’s area and elevators will make a family trip to the library much easier, says Levin. “It’s obvious when you have a stroller and go downstairs for story time, or go down with a toddler who is potty training,” she notes of the current situation.
 
The upper level will have large meeting rooms, independent study rooms and bathrooms. The book collection will be split up, with children’s books going to the children’s area and adult books going to an adult section upstairs.
 
The new HVAC system is in dire need of replacement. “Now we have many systems that have been added, with multiple air conditioning and multiple heating [systems],” says Levin. “It will certainly save us in the cost of operating with a modern, efficient system that turns up during the day and down at night.”
 
The library has purchased three houses on Fenwick Road, which were sold willingly by the owners for $140,000 each. They will be demolished to make way for the addition. A new parking lot will provide 10 additional parking spaces, which will increase from 37 to 47.

Levin also hopes to add a patio off of the new addition. “We’re creating something beautiful for the community and it will become an asset,” she says. “It won’t be a park, but it will be really nice.”
 
This summer, a citizens' landscape committee will discuss ideas for trees and a garden sculpture at the bus stop in front of the library. “There will be a neighborhood component,” Levin says.
 
CBLH Design is the architect working on the project, while Regency Construction Services in Lakewood is managing construction. Plans will be finalized this summer with construction slated to begin in September. September 2017 is the estimated completion date.
 
Library officials a trying to find a temporary home during the renovation, but so far have had little luck. Levin says they want to stay close to their permanent location, to be accessible to library staff and patrons, many of whom rely on the bus to get to the library.
 
Levin says temporary space at Cedar Center may not be feasible because of long lease requirements and vacant space at University Square is in receivership.
 
“We have heard from a number of city officials with good suggestions but they haven't worked out yet because of location,” Levin explains. “We really need to stay in the Cedar-Warrensville area if at all possible. The alternative is to close the branch and store the materials but continue all of the programs in other locations.” 

Holzheimer Interiors carries on its century-old design tradition in new Larchmere home

Jackie Holzheimer fondly remembers spending afternoons at her family’s business at 10901 Carnegie Ave. as a fourteen-year-old, playing hide-and-go-seek, conducting treasure hunts and exploring the goods and fabrics of Holzheimer Interiors.
 
“I would go there on Saturdays and play designer,” she recalls. “It felt like a second home to me.”
 
Holzheimer Interiors was founded in 1902 by John Holzheimer as a store that specialized in interior and exterior residential painting. When his son, Frank, took over he added wall coverings to the company’s specialties. Frank’s sons in turn added furniture and custom cabinetry, upholstery and window treatments.
 
Holzheimer's aunt was a bookkeeper for the store. Her mother, Kathryn was a designer for the company and, although retired, still participates in operations and maintains her client connections.
 
As the fifth generation of Holzheimers to run the store, Jackie has transformed Holzheimer Interiors into a full-service design firm featuring the same quality and standards that established the company 114 years ago.
 
Long gone from its Carnegie Avenue home for 60-plus years, Holzheimer Interiors has always called Northeast Ohio home. In January Holzheimer opened the shop at 12733 Larchmere Blvd. in Shaker Heights in a 1920 store front that was once operated by the sisters of Shaker’s first mayor, William Van Aken.
 
"This, to me, is a nod to our history,” Holzheimer says of the new storefront, which, like the original Holzheimer store, has big windows that display changing vignettes of living areas.
 
Holzheimer moved into the 2,500-square-foot space the first of this year, taking some time to remodel it before she opened the doors to the public, who are invited by appointment only. A coat of paint and new lighting freshened the shop's look. Holzheimer is also having a replica of the store’s original sign at the Carnegie location made for the new Larchmere shop.
 
While updating the space, Holzheimer also discovered a pleasant surprise: the original maple hardwood floors. “When I pulled it up, I said ‘oh my god, we have to refinish this,’” she recalls.
 
Holzheimer installed four islands with white countertops as work areas. “There were certain things I knew I wanted to do with the floor plan, where things would be located,” she says. The large front windows and 10-foot ceilings provide plenty of natural light, while the off-white walls create a neutral palette for customers to evaluate different patterns and colors.
 
The open space allows Holzheimer and her designers to present different floor plans based on their clients’ room layouts – always presenting three distinctive options to each client. “There are thousands and thousands of options out there, so our philosophy is: have it be unique,” she explains. To that end, the store represents 3,000 manufacturers.
 
Holzheimer says she can work with any budget. “Our pricing is very competitive, or often cheaper, than the big box stores,” she boasts. “Everybody deserves good design,” she says. “You can have quality furniture that will last you for 25 years.” She travels all over to work with her clients, the vast majority of whom are referred by other clients. The firm does not advertise.
 
The lower level is reserved for an inventory of lamps, artwork and accessories to complete a room. “It gives an option,” explains Holzheimer. “That finishing touch of a room that bring it all together.”
 
While Holzheimer was previously based in Novelty, she says she chose Shaker Heights because of its history and retail neighbors that complement her business.
 
“Larchmere is a very fitting environment,” she says, adding that other area stores sell antiques, collectibles and Oriental rugs. “We’re a natural fit with our neighbors and all of us help one another.”

History and location notwithstanding, maintaining the Holzheimer Interiors reputation is the biggest priority for her. “To me, the history of the company is very important, the quality of the products and quality of service is very important,” she says.  

“Being fifth generation, I don’t know many people who have that legacy. I want to keep the name strong and keep that name alive.”

New Women's Business Center launches, offers tools for entrepreneurs

While Womenable’s April 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report shows that women-owned firms are outpacing the national average in both job creation and revenue generation, just 27 percent of all firms in Ohio are owned by women, compared to the national average of 38 percent. Additionally, the report indicates that women are half as likely as men to start a business. 

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) decided to do something to boost those numbers. In January 2015, the Cleveland ECDI opened a satellite office of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Columbus.
 
The satellite office was so well received that ECDI decided to open a full-fledged Women’s Business Center of Northern Ohio in order to serve the entrepreneurial needs of women starting a new business.
 
“We were seeing so much demand, we went to the Small Business Administration (SBA) with a grant proposal and officially launched in October 2015,” explains Carrie Rosenfelt, the WBC director. “Since October 2015, we have provided training to over 150 women, one-on-one coaching to over 50 and created nearly 20 new jobs.”
 
The SBA granted the Cleveland center a total of $750,000 in financing – $150,000 a year over five years. Per the agreement, the center must raise a 50 percent match over the first two years and then match 100 percent of the grant in the final three years. ECDI’s two WBCs are the only two SBA-funded women’s business centers in the state.
 
The WBC is located one floor down from the ECDI offices at 2800 Euclid Ave. The 1,205 square-foot space may be small, Rosenfelt says, but it’s designed to be completely focused on women. “We wanted to have a space that is women-centric,” she says. “Something happens when you put a bunch of women business owners in a room together.”
 
Now more than 200 members have access to a resource library, computer lab and free wireless internet; copy, fax and notary services; business coaching/mentoring and one-on-one counseling; training and workshop programs; networking opportunities; and access to small business loans through ECDI.

“It’s been a very quick ramp up for us,” notes Rosenfelt. “We want to be accessible to all women. When you fuel women entrepreneurs, when you invest in family and community, you’re investing in small business and economic development.”

The center has five computer stations, a project or conference room, co-working space and a training center. One entire wall is a white board, while the opposite wall serves as a projection screen. “We designed it that way so women would be forced to work around the room.”

The WBC also received funding from the Business of Good Foundation, Citizens Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First Merit Bank, Huntington Bank, KeyBankU.S. Bank, and, notably, the Cleveland Foundation, which helped the center meet its matching requirements.
 
“We’ve had overwhelming support from our business partners,” says Rosenfelt. “Even women in the business community who are not necessarily entrepreneurs but want to support us.”
 
The WBC of Northern Ohio had an official launch party on April 19 at Ariel International Center attended nearly 200 people and county executive Armond Budish. On Monday, May 2 at 8:30 a.m. the center will have a ribbon cutting ceremony.
 
The free event will feature representatives from the national SBA, who will present the Woman Owned Small Business of the Year Award, as well as WBC of Northern Ohio advisory board, staff, members and funders. The SBC Volunteer of the Year awards will also be presented. Registration is required.
 
The ribbon cutting also kicks off National Small Business Week. Following the event, the WBC will host two free seminars presented by Fifth Third Bank. Banking Services and Credit Reporting for Small Business runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes lunch. Then on Wednesday, May 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the WBC will host two more free seminars presented by Huntington Bank, Financial Management for Small Business Owners and Planning for a Healthy Business.

The ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.

SPACES to expand offerings in new Van Rooy space

After more than two years of searching, SPACES, the 38-year-old organization for new and experimental art, has found a new home home with enough room to offer community programming and studio space.

The 9,300-square-foot first floor of the Van Rooy Coffee building at 2900 Detroit Ave. in Hingetown offers everything the institution needs to continue its mission.

“It’s gorgeous,” says SPACES executive director Christina Vassallo, adding that they will also have rooftop access for programs. “This is really going to make SPACES a vital community resource.”
 
The opportunity came about when Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell approached SPACES staff after buying the building last year and asked them if they would be interested in the first floor of the three-story building. The Bidwells agreed to sell the space to the venerable gallery and are financing the mortgage at a below-market rate. They also made a $150,000 donation toward the cost.
 
“They don’t just support us, they support the entire art community,” says Vassallo of the Bidwells’ generosity.
 
Furthermore, SPACES received a $500,000 grant from the Gund Foundation toward its $3.5 million capital campaign, Project SPACElift, which includes  $2.475 million for real estate acquisition, renovation, and costs associated with the relocation and $1.25 million for the SPACES Future Fund for cash reserves and its first-ever endowment for long-term sustainability.
 
SPACES has already received $300,000 from the Gund Foundation, but the remaining $200,000 is in the form of a challenge grant, meaning SPACES will not receive the remainder until it raises $200,000 through its capital campaign. The organization has raised $72,980 toward that $200,000 goal in a little more than week.
 
SPACES sold its current space at 2220 Superior Viaduct in 2013 and must vacate by November. Vassallo says the old space never provided a conducive flow between galleries because of its shotgun-style layout. In the Van Rooy location, however, the layout will provide better spatiality between the two galleries, which total 3,800 square feet.
 
“With this space, it created a transition between the two galleries,” says Vassallo. “[The transition] is a palette cleanser.”
 
A third 800-square-foot, 40-seat gallery will serve as an educational room for discussion-based and hands-on programming. The organization has never before had a dedicated space for its community engagement initiatives.

Another room will accommodate experimental audio and visual presentations.  Two work rooms totaling 1,300 square feet will serve as art production and studio areas, which is another new feature for the organization. There are 13-foot high ceilings throughout the building.
 
“This creates a work and learn about work [environment],” says Vassallo. “So basically, it’s a one-stop shop.”
 
John Williams, principal of Process Creative Studios in Ohio City designed SPACES new home. “He digested out many different needs,” says Vassallo. “He came up with a comprehensive plan.”
 
Work on the Van Rooy location is scheduled to begin in late May, with a planned January opening. While the gallery will close its current doors in November, Vassallo says they plan to continue programming in temporary locations around the city in the interim.

Gray-Kontar launches unique artistic center in Collinwood

Daniel Gray-Kontar has been performing poetry for 25 years, but it was only recently that it dawned on him that there are no area venues dedicated to his art. “Usually you have to go to a coffee house or a bar [to perform],” he says. “Because there’s nowhere designed for poets and playwrights to craft and perform their works in the early process.”

Gray-Kontar decided to do something about that and now there is exactly such a place. Last month he launched Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator, 325 E. 156th St. in Collinwood. The incubator is an intergenerational teaching, learning and performance space for poets, playwrights and performing artists.
 
The incubator’s unusual name comes from meanings in numerology, says Gray-Kontar. “The number 12 symbolically represents the building of transformative institutions,” he explains. “Hence, our mission is to nurture youth and adults through the creation of literary works that inspire communities to dream and build a more just and equitable society."
 
Earlier this year Northeast Shores Development Corporation approached Gray-Kontar about the 750-square-foot space after he formally applied to take it over as some kind of performing arts center. Gray-Kontar tossed a few ideas around before he came up with the mission of Twelve.
 
He knew what he didn’t want. “What I’m not interested in is adults coming into the space and teaching about their own interests,” Gray-Kontar says. “I really had to take a deeper dive into who I am as a person, who I am as a public intellectual, artist, and artivist, and what the needs of the community of artists are. I do want lifelong learners, adults engaged in working together with youth. Let’s merge the two so everyone becomes experts.”
 
Northeast Shores renovated the space for a variety of uses and leased the building to Gray-Kontar at a discounted rate that made it “relatively easy for a working artist to afford it,” he says. “It could clearly be a space for workshops, for poetry readings, dance rehearsals. But it can just as easily be an art gallery.”
 
Gray-Kontar plans to add a 10- by four-foot stage, lighting, soundproofing and a video projector to the space, which accommodates 60 to 75 people.
 
“The space will always change,” he says. “For some events it will feel more like a comfortable living room space, geared more for very intimate events and workshops/discussions. But for other events it will feel more like a performance space with folding chairs around the stage. It all depends on the feel of the performance.”

Twelve officially opens on Friday, May 6 with a poetry reading featuring Terry Provost, Eris Eady and Alishia McCoy. On Thursday, May 12, The center will host its inaugural Merge at Twelve DJ-poet collaboration with Eva Barrett and DJ Red-I. A membership drive will help fund programming. Memberships are $10 a month or $60 a year.

Those using Twelve are asked to conform to a community agreement, which is posted on the wall and states that people of all races, genders, religious backgrounds and health backgrounds can feel safe in this space.
 
Gray-Kontar unofficially opened last Friday, April 15, with a building session to discuss possibilities for Twelve, which the community has already embraced. “We've found that youth, in particular, really enjoy being in this space because it provides them with a writing space that feels more like their home environment and much less like the sterility of school spaces,” he says.

Sabor Miami offers up authentic homestyle cuisine, warm atmosphere

When Mariela Paz opened the doors to Sabor Miami Cafe in Old Brooklyn on March 31, she knew she had found her calling. The restaurant, which features Latin inspired dishes amid the flair and décor of Miami, was a result of Paz’s desire to put her love of art and cooking into an entrepreneurial endeavor.

“I’m so happy because this is me,” she says of her new restaurant at 4848 Broadview Rd. “It has a full commercial kitchen, art and artwork and my paintings on the walls.”
 
Originally from Honduras, Paz came to Cleveland to be closer to family after working for 13 years as a graphic designer for a silkscreen company in Miami. She previously operated the former Café Miami just down the street while battling uterine cancer, undergoing surgery just four months before its opening. Then she began thinking about running her own restaurant.
 
“I loved my job [in Miami] but I worked at a computer all day,” she recalls. “Everything happens for a reason. For me now, it’s just enjoying the little things. I want to help with art and I want to get involved in the Cleveland community through my art.”
 
The 35-seat café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast options include the bistec a caballo, a popular Miami dish of steak topped with sautéed onions alongside eggs, home fries and Cuban toast. Lunch and dinner items feature Paz’s signature Latin favorites such as vaca frita (fried cow), ropa vieja, (the translation for which is "old clothes," but fortunately, the dish itself is one of stewed beef and vegetables) and an assortments of empanadas.
 
Good coffee and coffee drinks are a must for Paz. The drinks menu includes Cuban coffee, Mayan mocho (a blend of espresso and milk) and Coco Beach latte (iced coconut coffee con leche and whipped cream).
 
“You have to have a good cup of coffee,” says Paz, “because sometimes you go to a place and the food is the best food, but the coffee is not good.”
 
Paz renovated and redecorated the café herself. “The kitchen is good and the place is nice and homey,” she says. It's also where she does all of the cooking herself while her mom, her niece and a friend help run the café. “I am so lucky because I get paid for what I love to do,” she says. “I put my heart into my cooking. It’s a lot of work for me, but I have no complaints.” She plans to hire staff as business grows.

Ahead of opening, Paz joined the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI), which helps small businesses such as hers succeed by providing tools, technical assistance and support, and took advantage of the organization's business training classes. ECDI also gave her a $750 loan to launch the venture and build her credit. Rumor has it ECDI staff will drop in for a plate of Paz's homemade eats on occasion.
 
Customer reviews of Sabor Miami so far have been few but stellar, Paz says, adding that she’d like to eventually offer some Honduran dishes. “I want people to come and feel like you’re a family or you have a friend here,” she says.
 
Or bring your family. To that end, Paz has already started hosting “Painting with Mom” coffee, tea and canvas parties. The first two events were so popular that she will hold another one on Sunday, April 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. The cost is $45 per mother and child pair and includes all painting materials, sandwiches, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, flavored lemonade and pastries. Call (440) 714-0202 for reservations.

Paz plans to host similar events in the future and add community outreach programs, like feeding the homeless, to her repertoire. “I have many ideas in my head,” she says. “Because that makes me feel good. I don’t want material things. I’m a good person. You have to keep going when people tell you, ‘you can’t do that.’”

Sabor Miami Café is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support community.

Talking Salt with chef Jill Vedaa and sommelier Jessica Parkison

Salt, which is unearthed from mines and evaporated from mineral springs and the sea, takes time to form and doesn’t come easy. The same is true of the journey that led chef Jill Vedaa and sommelier Jessica Parkison to become cofounders of Salt, which is slated to open in Lakewood at 17621 Detroit Ave. this June. The two met a few years ago when Jill Vedaa sauntered into Humble Wine Bar, where Parkison was manager, and ordered a flute of rosé.
 
At the time, Vedaa was earning media praise as executive chef of Cleveland Heights’ Rockefeller's restaurant, which was shuttered last May, while Parkison masterfully juggled her front-of-the-house career with the demands of her family with six kids.
 
“My dad was a chef, so if you wanted to spend time with him, you did it in his kitchen,” says Parkison. She spent the latter half of high school in the West Shore Career-Technical District at Lakewood High School immersed in the culinary program. Upon graduation, she was poised to follow in her father’s footsteps with a scholarship to Johnson and Wales University when fate intervened. Parkison shelved her college plans when she discovered she was expecting a child. Waiting tables led to more than a decade of management jobs before a trip to Napa ignited an interest in wine and inspired her to earn a level-one sommelier designation.
 
In the meantime, Vedaa was about to further develop her flair for painting and drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art when she had a change of heart. Pint-size for the profession at 5’ 6” and 19 years old, she took a job as a bar back in Tremont in 1992, eons before it was solidified as a top dining destination. In three years’ time, she’d had three different jobs. Savoring Spanish food at KeKa on her day off, opportunity knocked when the owner Mark Shary approached her with a job proposition. He was short-staffed; she was an inexperienced, albeit eager, apprentice.
 
Under the tutelage of Shary, and then Michael Symon and Karen Small, Vedaa proved a natural in the profession but confesses opportunity preceded her passion.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” is her unpretentious explanation for what lured her into the business as a teen and the secret to maintaining her longevity over a 20-year span in the service industry.
 
As friends and colleagues, Vedaa and Parkison shared a common yearning for autonomy. With Rockefeller’s closing and a vacancy in a prime spot near the popular Beck Center they began realizing their dream of owning a restaurant about a year ago. “Everything has just fallen into place perfectly,” says Parkison
 
Work started on the 2,700-square-foot space in February, where Chris Pocus of McGrann Construction is the contractor. The space includes a 10-seat bar, 25-seat lounge and tables for 40. Kitchen hours are tentatively slated for 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Salt will employ 25.
 
A storefront grant from the City of Lakewood will help fund exterior signage for the restaurant, the balance of the project is privately funded by the co-owners and a throng of supportive colleagues and friends.
 
Every chef knows that a heavy hand with salt can ruin its magic. Nonetheless, when asked what the most under-appreciated ingredient in the kitchen is, the two reply in unison: “Salt!” but insist the name was chosen more for memorability than to foreshadow a sodium-laden menu. Expect an assortment of expertly-seasoned small plates and Spanish-style tapas crafted by Vedaa complemented by a seasonal craft cocktail menu developed by Parkison and an international wine list with selections from Chile, Portugal and Spain.
 
The “magic” is as much about the ambiance as it is the appetizers and aperitifs. Rustic and romance are intertwined in Salt’s dining room and lounge against the backdrop of an exposed brick wall. Without the distraction of WiFi or TV, you’ll discover a respite that harkens back to an era before electronics that will foster connection and conversation sprinkled with Vedaa’s favorite ingredient: fun.
 
Ever out of the box, Vedaa is adamant she doesn’t want to “get painted into a culinary corner ... Salt is more about a way of eating and dining and less about a specific cuisine,” she says.
 
“I’m focused on creating amazing food inspired by dishes I love, with many different ethnic influences.”
 

Boutique Kimpton Schofield Hotel: historic on the outside, modern on the inside

The Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened its doors on March 8 with a host of signature features and perks including being pet friendly, offering free bicycle use, and hosting a nightly wine happy hour.
 
The renovated 14-story Schofield Building houses 122 hotel rooms and six suites on floors two through seven, with 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments on the upper floors.
 
Cleveland architect Levi Schofield constructed the building in 1901 just steps from his childhood home in the boarding house his father built. The $50 million project included six years of renovation to restore the building’s exterior to its original 1901 glory, for which developer CRM Companies secured $5 million in historic state tax credits.
 
“It was a very exciting project,” says Jeff Smith, principal director with StudioCRM, the architect firm charged with the restoration. “It’s great to finally see it come to fruition and people enjoying it.”
 
The process began in earnest in 2009 when crews removed a fiberglass curtain that shrouded the original brick and terra cotta façade and dated back to the 1960s. By the time that segment of the project was done in 2010, Smith was looking at a beautiful, albeit beaten up, Cleveland landmark.
 
“It was in pretty rough shape,” recalls Smith when the original exterior was revealed. “A lot of detail was broken off from the curtain wall.”
 
The team, which included StudioCRM, CRM Companies, Cleveland Construction, preservation consultant Sandvick Architects and New York-based brand design firm Warren Red, set about repairing and replicating the exterior details and creating an appropriate look for the interior.
 
Shields with letters that spell out “Schofield” and the date of the building’s construction were recreated. They line the building about two-thirds of the way up and are illuminated at night.
 
“Pieces that were no longer intact were replaced with terra cotta or RFP,” explains Smith. “It was a painstaking process to recreate.”
 
More than 1,000 windows that had been reduced in size with the curtain wall were returned to their original sizes and openings. The new windows, which actually open, offer spectacular views of Cleveland.


 
“There are awesome views out of the building in all directions,” says Smith. “You can see the lake, Playhouse Square, Public Square, East Ninth Street and you can see toward Gateway.”
 
Of course the most prominent view is that of the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Public Square, which Schofield also designed. “He was a bit of an egoist,” says Marcie Gilmore, a marketing consultant for the Kimpton who led a tour of the hotel and apartments for members for the Cleveland Restoration Society last Saturday. “He built this building with the purpose of seeing his work on Public Square.”
 
There was not much historical significance to the interior, Smith says, other than the center staircase that runs throughout the building and features Schofield’s signature “S” on each newell post. “Everything else is new,” he says. “There wasn’t much left.”



However, Smith did pay homage to Schofield and Cleveland’s history with the décor. Kimpton extensively researches their hotel's host cities, says Gilmore, and hotel planners incorporate each city’s personality into the motif.
 
In Cleveland that means guitars in the lobby that guests can borrow as a nod to the Rock Hall, a map of the world with push pins for them to mark their hometowns and a “good news board” by the elevator bank for broadcasting positive local news.
 
Since Levi Schofield was a founding member of a group that collected and discussed animal specimens called the Cleveland Ark Club, many of the Kimpton rooms feature prints of different insects and butterflies. Other artwork includes prints of historic matchbook covers from Cleveland businesses.
 
The lobby will will be flanked by retail space at the north end of the building and will also connect to the forthcoming Parker’s Downtown restaurant. The hotel also features a 3,800-square-foot ballroom.


 
The apartments feature stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, slate back splashes and walnut trim. The floor plans range from about 700 to 3,000 square feet, with corresponding monthly rents of $1,495 to $7,200. Thus far, 13 of the apartments are occupied. When the historic state tax credits expire in five years, Kimpton may convert the apartments to condominiums.

Hotel rates are running at a discounted rate of about $130 to $160 a night this month as the hotel ramps up, but will increase next month. Gilmore says rooms at the Kimpton Schofield are going for a premium and outpacing other area hotels for the Republican National Convention in July.
 
About 100 people are employed by the hotel while approximately 150 worked on the renovation project. 

Cleveland Insider: the Palace of Fermentation

As Sam McNulty sat in Market Garden Brewery one afternoon last week, the craft brewery owner overheard a couple discussing their plans. As they were leaving one of them said, “Let’s go drop our suitcases at the hotel and then go back to Nano Brew.”

McNulty, who also owns Nano Brew, was tickled by the conversation. “Word is starting to get out how amazing our city is and the brewery scene,” he says. “We’re kind of a best-kept secret. The more I travel, the more I realize Cleveland, hands down, has one of the best food scenes and one of the best brewery scenes.”
 
In fact, McNulty claims Cleveland’s brewery district in Ohio City ranks among the top in the country with the highest density of craft breweries, second only to Portland’s Pearl District. The area is home to eight craft breweries, two of which, Forest City Brewery and Hansa Haus, are about to open. One more, Earlybird Brewing Company, will open later this year.
 
That growth of the craft brewing scene was one motivator for McNulty to build the recently-completed 43,000-square-foot Palace of Fermentation, the new production and distribution facility for Market Garden and Nano Brew. The facility will brew and distribute three of its flagship beers and one of 10 seasonal beers throughout the year.
 
The building at 1849 W. 24th St. dates back to the 1840s. The one-acre plot was once a collection of houses that transitioned into stores and eventually became a manufacturing and distribution warehouse. During the renovation, the construction crew peeled back five layers of wallpaper and discovered a fireplace and other artifacts from days gone by.
 
The Palace, which got its name after brewmaster Andy Tveekrem jokingly named it, has been two-and-a-half years in the making. The facility, which officially opened last week, initially was designed to brew 250,000 gallons of beer with seven 2,200-gallon fermentation tanks in its first year with distribution to select vendors in Cuyahoga County, such as Lizardville, Barrio and Progressive Field.  
 
“The reason we built the production facility is, from day one, we were seeing so much demand and we have to be ahead of the demand curve,” says McNulty.
 
But demand has already exceeded capabilities. So McNulty and co-founder Mike Foran ordered five additional 6,500-gallon fermentation tanks, which will be delivered in a few weeks.
 
“It’s a good problem to have,” quips Foran. “But at the end of the day, I hate not being able to get more people our beer. We want to get beer to anyone who wants to drink it.”


 
In addition to beer production, McNulty sees the Palace of Fermentation as a resource to promote the growing beer tourism industry in Cleveland. The facility has been offering tours since it opened and will open its tasting room and retail store, offering “Market Garden goodies” in mid-May, Foran says.
 
“We're the first brewery - production scale or brewpub - in the city that was built from day one with tours and retail in mind,” McNulty adds.


 
The tours are conducted on five-foot-wide catwalks that run 15 feet above the action on the floor. While the walks currently span about 400 feet, plans include doubling the length in future expansion. The tasting room features a mahogany bar that was salvaged from a Lorain Avenue building undergoing its own renovations.
 
“We're really creating a brewing campus where we brew at three different scales and teach, tour, taste and train in all things brewing and beer,” says McNulty.
 
While keg distribution is underway, the staff was filling bottles of Progress pilsner and Prosperity wheat, which were named after the motto on the Cleveland flag, at the Palace last week in anticipation of the bottled beer distribution in May. Market Garden and Nano Brew will also continue to brew at their respective pubs.

“We're super excited to be a part of the Cleveland craft brewery community," says McNulty. "We're seeing beer tourism grow in leaps and bounds in the city."

Cleveland Insider: the subtle link between CIA, the Browns and Michael Symon's new Mabel's BBQ

When Scott Richardson graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1991 with a degree in interior design, and again when he spent 15 years as an instructor at the school, he found that Cleveland design firms just didn’t offer the kind of conceptual design work he wanted to do.
 
I went to Columbus to work for Fitch,” he recalls of his time with the retail design firm. “I wanted to move back to Cleveland so I started freelancing and teaching at CIA. Then 12 years into teaching I saw all this talent leaving the town. [My students] were saying, ‘I’d love to stay but no one is doing what I want to do.”
 
So Richardson took matters into his own hands and started Richardson Design in January 1994. The conceptual design firm has thrived by providing interior design for consumer hospitality environments, primarily restaurants.
 
In its 22 years, Richardson Design has grown to 12 employees – many of them CIA graduates – and has created the look inside several of Cleveland’s popular dining destinations, from the red-hot Music Box Supper Club to the inventive concession area makeover last year at FirstEnergy Stadium. The company has built a name nationally and works on accounts across the country.
 
“We’re very different for Cleveland,” says Richardson. “We’re interior designers, but we approach projects very much from a brand consultation standpoint. We build brands people can scale.”
 
With FirstEnergy Stadium, Richardson brought in a local theme with Cleveland chefs and local elements. “In the old days you’d go into a stadium and all the food and concessions looked the same,” Richardson explains. “Now it’s all encompassing, it’s completely transformed. You go there and taste some of the best food in Cleveland.”
 
With the newly-opened Bomba Tacos and Rum in Rocky River, a sister restaurant to Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, Richardson wanted to create an atmosphere similar to Paladar but with a lively rum bar atmosphere.
 
But the firm's most recent and highly anticipated project is that of Michael Symon’s 100-seat Mabel’s BBQ, which is scheduled to open on East 4th Street next week.

Richardson has designed many of Symon’s other restaurants, including 13 B Spot locations in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and Bar Symon locations in Pittsburgh and Washington Dulles airports. “We’ve worked with Michael Symon for eight years,” Richardson says. “We did the original B Spot concept with Michael.”
 
But the Mabel’s concept is completely different. With Symon’s first foray into the barbecue restaurant world, Richardson says the venerable chef wanted to emphasize that this is about Cleveland barbecue.
 
“He wanted to put his own sticker on it with ‘this is Cleveland barbecue,’” explains Richardson, adding that the theme pays homage to the West Side Market, backyard and driveway barbecues and tailgating with exposed brick, picnic tables and folding chairs.
 
According to Symon, Richardson's firm made the mark.

"When I set out to create Mabel’s, I wanted to combine the feel of a rustic smokehouse with the relaxed, convivial vibe of a backyard cookout,” says Symon. “Richardson totally brought that vibe to life.”
 
It's simply about the concept and vision, Richardson says of his designs. “We’re just there to support the food,” he says. “The food and the feel support one another.”

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.

Hemlock Trail set to make all the right connections

A multi-purpose trail planned for the City of Independence will serve as a connecting point with the Towpath Trail while also catalyzing the region economically, planners say.

Construction of Hemlock Trail is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017 following a $500,000 grant the project received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Clean Ohio Trails fund. The money will cover a portion of the venture while Independence officials make plans to raise the remaining $1.1 million, says city engineer Donald Ramm.

Partner group West Creek Conservancy, which helped with the grant effort, has been approaching trail advocates for single donations. Meanwhile, the city will call on local foundations to garner additional dollars, says Ramm.

Urgency is the watchword moving forward, as the ODNR grant must be used within 18 months of signing. Engineering for the $3.4 million path began last year and should be completed by the end of 2016. Construction bidding will commence early next year, with work starting in spring 2017. If all goes as planned, the trail will open to the public in 2018.

When complete, the 1.7-mile Hemlock Trail will begin at the intersection of Brecksville Road and Selig Drive, ending  at the Towpath Trail connection on Canal Road in Valley View.  That linkage is significant for a population base that currently has no easy means of accessing the iconic 85-mile track, Ramm says.

"We're excited about it," he says. "Hemlock Trail will be a major link for our residents to get from the center of town to Towpath Trail."

The 10-foot-wide path, designed to cross through private, industrial and national park properties, will have room for both bikers and joggers. Four or five bridges will be built along the trail's snake-like course, along with space for up to 15 parking spots.

Giving Independence residents a new place to walk, run and bike can have a positive impact on local economic development as well, believe supporters. Officials view Hemlock Trail as one piece of an amenities package that can attract people from outside the region and bolster a downtown redevelopment plan now in the preliminary planning stage.

"As a community asset, the path is going to be significant to the city," says Ramm. 

GCP takes long view with project recommendation funding list

As Cleveland prepares for the Republican National Convention (RNC), area business leaders have tabbed a series of high-impact projects they believe can maintain the energy kicked off by the much-ballyhooed summer event.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is recommending 11 projects for financing in the 2016-17 state capital bill, to be crafted by legislators later this year. Economic development that contributes to Cleveland's ongoing renaissance is the theme of this year's project list.

"We have the RNC, but how do we continue this momentum for another generation?" poses Marty McGann, GCP's senior vice president of government advocacy.

This year's capital bill could include up to $100 million for community projects which by law must involve real estate or capital investment and have some connection to state government. GCP's suggested improvements total nearly $50 million, with funding set for infrastructure, healthcare, museums and more.

GCP has asked state legislators to set aside $8.5 million for the Lakefront Pedestrian Bridge, a $33 million venture designed to link downtown to the lake. Though the bridge project had $5 million allocated from the 2015-16 capital bill, $3.5 million of that money was diverted to the  Public Square makeover. Due to inflated costs, GCP is focused on securing an extra $5 million in this year's request, McGann notes.

"The lens we look through is what will have a maximum impact on the community," he says. "The bridge will make it more efficient for people to get around down there."

Stabilizing landslide issues in Irishtown Bend via $4 million for new bulkheads is another example of GCP and project sponsor Port of Cleveland examining the long-term view. A crumbling hillside can lead to shipping problems along the Cuyahoga River, potentially impacting the regional economy all the way to the nearby West 25th Street corridor.

"It's important to a thriving region trying to expand," McGann says.

Other projects on GCP's list include:

• A four-story health-education campus south of Chester Avenue for medical students from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic. The institutions are asking for $10 million for construction of the facility.

• $1 million for a pedestrian bridge providing easier access to Wendy Park from Ohio City and the west bank of the Flats.

• $5 million for the second phase of Cleveland Museum of Natural History reconstruction, an effort that includes new lobby space, courtyard, research labs and expanded exhibit space.
 

Lakewood fish shelf coming along swimmingly, officials say

A "fish shelf"  designed to stabilize about 300 feet of riverfront on the Lakewood bank of the Rocky River is on track for completion this fall.

Last June, the City of Lakewood received a $123,000 grant from the Ohio EPA for streambank restoration and construction of the shelf, which will be comprised of former sound barrier walls or other repurposed concrete construction materials, notes city engineer Mark Papke.

The fish shelf will be built near the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, close to the Lakewood Animal Shelter off Metropark Drive. Bidding will begin in April while construction on the approximately $204,000 venture is scheduled for June. Lakewood will pay $82,000 toward the project cost.

The portion of the riverbank slated for restoration is unstable and eroding rapidly, says Papke. "The trees there have fallen into the river," he says. "There's no vegetation at all now."

While the fish shelf won't replace the 15 feet of land lost to erosion over the last several years, it will protect the bank from further damage, Papke says. In addition, the shelf will prevent the influx of phosphorous-laden sediment into the river. Phosphorous, a primary plant nutrient, is known to play a role in creating potentially damaging algae.

Meanwhile, new trees and shrubs will serve the dual purpose of beautifying and further firming up the space. Gaps in the rubble can provide a habitat for additional greenery as well as animal life.

If planners have their way, the fish shelf will also be site a for sport fishing. The water around the proposed shelf is already known for steelhead trout.

"We met a couple of fishermen last week to show them the plans," says Papke. "They appreciate the chance to have better access to the river."

Partner organization Cleveland Metroparks will conduct a survey prior to and following construction to determine if the enterprise can attract even more fish to the area, Papke says.

City officials estimate the fish shelf to be ready by October. Papke is confident the project will be both an environmental and civic boon for the region.

"It's giving us an opportunity to stabilize the bank and provide a nice place for fishing," he says. 

New bike lanes to amp up Slavic Village connectivity

Road work is a common enough sight in Cleveland, but a large-scale re-paving project on Warner Road in Slavic Village can also be part of an overarching effort to make the neighborhood a safe, attractive and welcoming place to live, maintain those on the ground.

Work on the Warner Road Rehabilitation Project began early last week. Approximately one mile of the residential street will be re-surfaced and re-striped. Other improvements include ADA-compliant ramps and new pavement markings. Construction cost for the nearly year-long project is slated at $2.4 million.  

In the short term, one lane of traffic southbound will be maintained between Grand Division and Broadway Avenues. Northbound traffic will be detoured east along Grand Division Avenue then north along Turney Road.

It's when the project is finished in December 2016 that things get exciting, says Chris Alvarado, executive director of Slavic Village Development, a nonprofit community development corporation serving the North and South Broadway neighborhoods. Six-foot-wide bike lanes will replace diagonal parking spots on both sides of the street, stretching from the entrance of the Mill Creek Falls reservation to Grand Division Avenue on the border of Garfield Heights.

The new bike lanes will create a safe pedestrian passageway, as existing parking spaces are often used as though traffic areas by drivers, says Alvarado. Additionally, installation of much-needed biking options is taking place as strategic efforts, like Mill Creek Trail, aim to connect Cleveland via bike and walking paths.

To that end, Slavic Village is currently working with the City of Cleveland on linking its forthcoming bike lanes to the end of the Morgana Run Trail, a two-mile bicycling and walking path extending from E. 49th Street to Jones Road near Broadway Avenue.

Eventually, the Warner Road bike trail can be a single link in a five-mile biking and pedestrian access chain that runs all the way downtown, notes Alvarado. It can also serve as an amenity that helps draw new residents to the community.

"We pride ourselves on being an active neighborhood where walking, biking and exercise is part of who we are," Alvarado says.

Ultimately, the refurbished road can be part of a brighter future for a community trying to rebound, adds the development group official.

"It's a way to bring in new neighbors and make [Slavic Village] attractive for the people who live here," says Alvarado.

CMHA breaks ground on more than 100 residential units in Campus District

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) broke ground Jan. 29 on  the Cedar-Central Development  a large-scale, mixed-use housing project that supporters believe will weave seamlessly into the fabric of its downtown neighborhood.

The planned 15-acre residential initiative includes an apartment building and townhomes. Construction has already begun on the first two phases, which will utilize approximately eight acres of the site, says Jeffrey Patterson, CMHA chief executive officer.

Phase one is a four-story, 61-unit structure with room on the ground floor for a community area and potential commercial space. Each unit will contain one bedroom, a full bathroom and kitchen. The project's second phase consists of 50 townhome units with multiple bedrooms, depending on unit type.

Future stages representing the project's remaining seven acres could include additional residential units, while green space will be dispersed throughout the redevelopment site.

The mixed-use apartment and townhome space, costing a total of about $33 million, will be built near the corner of East 30th Street and Community College Avenue. The units will rent at both market and subsidized rates.

With this area already active thanks to two nearby colleges and a recently introduced neighborhood clinic, the CMHA project can help link these elements together, Patterson says. "This type of housing is different than what had been there in the past," he says. "It's going to add a new dynamic."

The housing initiative replaces the Cedar Extension Estates, demolished in 2012 to make way for the forthcoming project. Displaced residents will get first dibs on the new apartments at the normal subsidized rate.

These folks will be returning to a project that can help transform the area through streetfront retail and other perks, its backers maintain. Restaurants and shopping options are among the possibilities for the mixed-use apartment complex.

Meanwhile, contracting work and other skilled labor positions related to the year-long construction are currently available, says Donovan Duncan, CMHA's director of asset management. The housing group participated in a building and certification program with Cuyahoga Community College, which taught painting and other valuable skills to laborers who can take those talents to employers beyond the Cedar-Central development.

"These are future job skills we're teaching," Duncan says.

Ultimately, the housing project represents a coming together of community stakeholders, notes Patterson.  Tri-C, Cleveland State University and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center have committed to Employer Assisted Housing, which will offer first-month stipends for staff and students to rent at the property.

A wholesale neighborhood effort will be a boon for the first two phases of the enterprise, slated for completion during the first quarter of 2017, Patterson says.

"Housing is going to be a key component of our community's development," he says.

Formula One style go-kart racing, event center, coming to Brook Park

For all the northeast Ohioans who fancy themselves a would-be Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch or (for the old-timers among us) A. J. Foyt, the opportunity to realize those alter egos will soon arise courtesy of Boss Pro-Karting, which is coming to 18301 Brookpark Road this summer.
 
"Boss Pro-Karting is an indoor professional go-kart track and event facility," says Boss co-founder Brad Copley. "We have an indoor Formula One style go-kart circuit. Additionally, we have meeting and gathering spaces that can accommodate up to 200 individuals."
 
The new 36,000-square-foot facility will feature a 1/5-mile indoor racing track that will expand to 1/4-mile in the fairer months when overhead doors open to an outdoor extension. The 18-turn track was inspired by classic Ohio racing venues such as Mid-Ohio, Nelson Ledges and the seasonal track at Burke Lakefront Airport, which was home to the Grand Prix of Cleveland from 1982 to 2007 when the likes of Al Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy flew beneath the checkered flag. The races at Burke fueled a generation of memories.
 
"We want to tap into that exact feeling," says Copley. "We can deliver that again to Cleveland."
 
Memories notwithstanding, these are not your dad's go-karts. The Sodi RTX European F1 Race Karts go for a cool $20,000 each and while they can achieve speeds of 75 miles per hour, Copley notes that the karts will be governed at 50 mph.

The all-electric emission-free karts will be staged and charged in the two-lane pit area. The battery-powered aspect of the karts also allows management to "have complete control to improve the racing experience and keep it safe," says Copley. Boss Pro-Karting's fleet will include 26 Sodi karts.
 
Boss will have four event spaces with square footages of 2,400, 800, 600 and 400. The largest of will accommodate sit-down parties of up to 200. While catering options are still tentative, Copley says Boss will be flexible with clients when it comes to dining service. There will be a full liquor service with a zero tolerance policy.
 
"You are no longer able to race if have a drink," says Copley.
 
While Copley expects to attract corporate and private clients to the event center for everything from bachelor parties to company team-building events, local teens and adults looking to unleash their inner Andretti will be welcome to enjoy the facility seven days a week.
 
"We'll schedule and book times for private groups," says Copley, adding that casual concessions such as pizza, pretzels and hotdogs will be available and racing will start at $20 a go, with lower pricing for the subsequent races. Future programs include leagues and training sessions and summer camps wherein kids can learn about driving, competing and racing.
 
"Who knows?" poses Copley of prospective attendees. "They could be the next Jeff Gordon."
 
The project is the brainchild of Copley, who wore a business suit for much of his professional life, and his cousin Lee Boss, who wore a racing suit.
 
"Lee was a three-time World Karting Association Champion," says Copley of his cousin. "He won the National Karting Circuit in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He also raced SCCA cars at Mid-Ohio, and Sprint cars in Sandusky, Attica and Eldora," he adds, noting that those three tracks are all in Ohio. "He has a long racing background."
 
Copley's racing experience is more subdued.
 
"I'm a mechanical engineer who grew up making race car parts," says the former vice president and 25-year veteran of MTD Products.
 
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF) orchestrated the deal by uniting the Boss team, the commercial real estate firm Weston Inc. and the City of Brook Park to bring the unique $4.2 million project to fruition.
 
The city came to the table with a $50,000 demolition grant and a 15-year tax abatement that will apply to the improvements on the three-acre lot (namely, the building). While Weston owns the building and the land, the Boss team will operate the facility and owns the business and all the associated equipment. Janotta & Herner is the architect and general contractor on the project.
 
The project was unique, notes NGKF's senior marketing coordinator Matt Orgovan, on account of the build-to-suit aspect.
 
"There's not a lot of those going on right now," says Orgovan.
 
"You design the building around the need," notes NGKF's director Jeff Kennedy, explaining that existing buildings had columns and layouts that simply could not accommodate the challenges of a racing track. Hence a customized "build-to-suit" design was in order.
 
Formerly occupied by a vacant rental car facility and V-Ash Machine Co., demolition on the site is complete and foundation work has begun. Boss Pro-Karting is expected to open this summer ahead of the RNC, a realization that was long in coming.
 
"My first experience with this was in Budapest in 2002," says Copley. "That's what inspired me. When I saw that track in Hungary, I just fell in love. I thought: man, we need one of these in Cleveland." Since then, he's visited tracks around the globe.
 
"It's just taken me since 2002 for the market and the opportunity to be right to actually build one."
 

Latest MOCA exhibits reimagine the body, devastate viewers

Last Friday, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) debuted its latest exhibitions, which somehow manage to stay connected from gallery to gallery while demolishing viewers as they navigate through it all.
 
The fourth floor galleries house Stranger, which includes the work of nine artists from around the globe. The immersive experience includes the portraits of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, which beg the question: am I considering them or are they laughing at me? Next, a slinky figure with a drape of blond hair removes an undergarment courtesy of Valérie Blass's Je suis une image, at least until the sculpture reveals its secret. Blass's sculptures are amid the work of Sascha Braunig, which evokes figures pushing out of the canvas, misshapen heads and brains (in the literal sense).
 
"I want you to sort of feel like a creepy crawly sense of your own skin when you look at those," says Braunig of her works.
 
Then there is Simon Dybbroe Møller's Untitled (How does it feel), an eight-minute video that outgoing MOCA associate curator and publications manager, Rose Bouthillier, describes thusly: "You'll see a variety of images: this model, fruit, flowers, landscapes," she says. "The narrative through it all is about what the body desires and how the world is designed in relation to our bodies' needs and wants. It's sort of surreal and poetic.
 
"And then at the end, this main figure is revealed to be cut off below the shoulders so it just becomes this sort of eerie floating bust," Bouthillier continues. "The camera goes underneath and you see the meat and the structure inside.
 
"You start to question the reality of the images."
 
That theme carries through to Hyperlinks or it didn't happen, a 20-minute video from Cécile B. Evans featuring Phil, a computer generated graphic that bears an uncanny resemblance to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, thereby evoking the controversy surrounding his death about digitally recreating the actor in order to complete "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay."
 
Bouthillier describes the work in the context of our digital advancements and "all these ways the body is changing and might actually become unnecessary."
 
That you can watch Hyperlinks while sprawled upon a thick carpet before the screen twists the experience further by evoking flannel pajamas and bowls of Captain Crunch consumed in front of the TV. Innocence lost, indeed.
 
On the second floor, the harrowing 12-minute abduct from Xavier Cha utterly captivates the viewer. The work features seven actors in a Spartan setting as they display an array of emotions.
 
"They're almost overtaken by these spirits and these ghosts of different emotions," says Bouthillier of the commissioned work. "You'll see rage and terror battling on the face with glee."
 
"It was very exhausting for the actors," notes Cha, who shot the footage in one day at Marlboro Chelsea in New York. "They had to go on this psycho trip that I was really surprised by too," she says, adding that even the rehearsals did not prepare them for the intensity of the shoot, which comes through the finished product with piercing accuracy.
 
"At the end of it," says Bouthillier of the film, "I just feel totally exhausted and hysterical and confused."
 
All of the exhibitions are tethered together by Stair A, in which an audio installment constantly plays. That sounds innocuous enough, but the experience is anything but. Stair A is a disorienting bright yellow affair that winds and turns with wiles befitting Lewis Carroll.

It is never a simple route from point A to point B, but something always to be negotiated. Make no mistake: this stairway controls you, particularly as Marina Rosenfeld's Teenage Lontano thrums all around. The haunting sound is actually a sampling of the fragmented commentary, laughter, objections, asides, and vocal styling of groups of teenagers who previously performed more formal versions of the work.
 
Stair A eventually deposits visitors into the Gund Commons on the ground floor, where they are confronted with nearly six minutes of animated video that, at first blush, might once again recall those Saturday morning cartoon sessions, but the images in Oliver Laric's Untitled quickly turn nightmarish. Human limbs droop down and transform into sprawling roots, man melds with machine and breasts become vicious chewing mouths.
 
"It's this frenetic sense of morphing," says Bouthillier.
 
Laric's Untitled is in the public part of the museum along with the gift shop. Anyone is welcome to view it for free during MOCA's regular hours. The rest of the exhibitions are part of a paid admission and worth every penny of $9.50 and then some, although those on a budget are welcome to visit MOCA on the first Saturday of each month when admission is free.
 
"These are my last shows," said Bouthillier; who is joining the forthcoming Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, as curator (exhibitions). "So I'm very happy to introduce all of you to them," she said during a media tour.
 
And while she was addressing a handful of journalists, the statement no doubt applies to northeast Ohioans near and far, as this swan song is a truly a crowning jewel and not to be missed.
 

Summer opening eyed for Cleveland Coffee in Ecovillage

The plot of land between West 58th and 57th Streets on the north side of Lorain Avenue is one of those spaces Clevelanders pass again and again while their brow knits and they mumble to themselves … huh.

On it sits just one old building from days gone by, shuttered since who knows when. It is the only structure on that block, which is bordered to the north by West Aspen Court. For years, it has looked curious and perhaps lonely, but courtesy of a local entrepreneur that quirky old building in Detroit Shoreway's Ecovillage at 5718 Lorain Ave. is undergoing a transformation.
 
"We've decided to house our first Cleveland Coffee retail environment there," says Brendan Walton, who founded Cleveland Coffee in 2003. He currently roasts at a midtown location and serves his brew at the downtown café and bar, A. J. Rocco's at 816 Huron Road.
 
While Walton has owned the Lorain Avenue building for six years, he only began working on it recently. The first floor café area is approximately 850 square feet. Future plans for the second floor, which is zoned residential, are pending.
 
"Our focus is definitely on the first floor," says Walton, who is acting as his own general contractor. Leslie DiNovi of Mark Fremont Architects is doing the design for the privately funded project. While Walton has not yet submitted an application, he hopes to take advantage of the city's Storefront Renovation Program.
 
"I have to go through the process," he says, adding that he's working with staff at the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization to apply for the popular program.
 
While interior work is ongoing, thus far Walton has replaced all the windows save for the large front window and has installed Dutch lap siding, which is often fashioned from vinyl, but Walton opted for wood.
 
"We tried to match what was there," he says.
 
While specifics are still yet to be determined, Walton is planning to be open seven days a week and have a limited selection of edibles that will complement his high end coffee, which he'll prepare via popular methods such as pour-over and Aero and French press.
 
"A. J. Rocco's doesn't really lend itself to that," says Walton of those slower per-cup methods.
 
He hopes to be serving up his joe – including the new and popular Cavs/Aussie inspired blend – at the new Lorain location by the beginning of summer. Until then, home brewers can purchase Cleveland Coffee at some 40 retail locations across northeast Ohio.
 
While Walton is a bit of a pioneer on this stretch of Lorain, which has more than its share of vacancies, he is quick to tout neighboring successes such as the venerable Lorain Antique District, the gravity of which is loosely centered amid the West 70's, and the burgeoning easterly part of Lorain in Ohio City, into which ventures such as Canopy, The Grocery, and Platform Beer Company are breathing new life. He has stalwart faith that he can pull that energy inward to West 58th Street.
 
"I've always loved Lorain," says Walton, adding that his new coffee spot may inspire others to invest in the area around West 58th Street. "I think this is an important intersection for Detroit Shoreway," he says. And while many of the area storefronts are vacant, they have a certain vintage charm, one that could reemerge with what Walton calls an "old-school Coventry feel," referencing the storied east side neighborhood.
 
"We're Clevelanders," he says. "We like urban renewal and we would love to be a part of a renaissance in this area. We are very optimistic it's going to happen."

Hundreds of residential units slated for Pinecrest

Last week, Fresh Water Cleveland took a closer look at two unique entertainment tenants committed to Fairmount Property's forthcoming $230 million Pinecrest mixed-use development project located at I-271 and Harvard Road in Orange Village. This week, we pull the camera back for an update on the project at large.
 
In addition to a burgeoning list of retail and entertainment offerings, Pinecrest is set to include 90 loft-style apartments, all of which will be situated above the more than 400,000 square feet of street-level retail.
 
"We are in the process of finalizing the layout for the residential apartment units," says Fairmount founder and principal Randy Ruttenberg. "They've been designed with high style and great amenities and they range from one to three bedrooms."
 
The vintage notion of having living space above storefronts, says Ruttenberg, is one of the things that will set Pinecrest apart.
 
"This project is not a lifestyle center by any means," he says. "It will not simply be a row of the same national type tenants that you see in many other projects in Cleveland or throughout the country. It will have a meaningful pedestrian scale and act more like street-front retail than anything else."
 
Those rental units are slated for availability in summer of 2017, with much more to come. In addition to the 90 rental units, 30 of Pinecrest's total 80 acres will be populated with traditional residential real estate properties.
 
"To the north of the theatre, we'll have a seamlessly integrated neighborhood that will feature approximately 250 for-sale residential units including condominiums, townhomes and brownstones geared primarily to young professionals and empty nesters," says Ruttenberg, adding that he expects the first stage of this portion of the sweeping project also to be complete in summer of 2017.
 
Announcements about the host of associated retail and entertainment tenants have been fast and furious. Thus far, dining and entertainment options include Restore Cold Pressed juice emporium, Red, the Steakhouse, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Old Town Pour House, Silverspot Cinemas and bowling/bocce/bistro spot Pinstripes. Retail selections will include Whole Foods Market, outdoor outfitters REI and clothing retailer Vernacular.
 
"All of them are drawn to the district for its architecture and for its collection of daytime traffic drivers," says Ruttenberg, "but given the restaurants we've been fortunate to have attracted – and Silverspot and Pinstripes, the evening traffic will be just as robust."
 
Also atop all that retail will be 150,000 square feet of class A office space and a 150-room hotel.
 
"We've started to have meaningful discussions with both smaller groups as well as larger companies, some of whom are considering Pinecrest for their headquarter locations," says Ruttenberg. "This office building will be unique within this market in that it will be the only suburban office that will have both attached covered parking and a hotel."
 
Ruttenberg describes his vision of how Pinecrest will transform an underutilized parcel in an otherwise densely developed area.
 
"Pinecrest was always planned to be an urban-style infill mixed-use district," he says. "The architecture, merchandising, streetscape and programming all speak to this. Each design and leasing decision has been – and will continue to be – thoughtfully made such that the totality of both will result in an engaging and dynamic district where millennials and college students will seamlessly integrate with the region's old and new money, all of which will be drawn to Pinecrest's first-to-market national and unique regional tenants, targeted events, restaurants and nightlife."

Sophisticated fun to top the menu at Pinecrest with bocce, bowling, movies alongside fine dining

Two unusual entertainment venues will be part of Fairmount Property's forthcoming $230 million Pinecrest mixed-use development project located at I-271 and Harvard Road in Orange Village when it opens in 2017.
 
Silverspot Cinemas will bring movie going to a new level with luxurious leather seats and an upscale restaurant. Pinstripes will feature bocce, bowling and an Italian/American themed restaurant and bar.
 
While plans are still on the drawing board, Randi Emerman, head of marketing for Silverspot, says the approximately 46,000-square-foot venue will tentatively feature 10 screens. All theaters will have oversized seating, including ottomans for those in the first row. Exact seating has yet to be determined, but Silverspot's three other locations in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Naples and Coconut Creek, Florida, have between 80 and 160 seats for each screen. The staff at the new Silverspot will number about 120.
 
For those who prefer to stick with candy, cola and popcorn, those traditional movie concessions and others will be available. But film buffs seeking a more refined plate and cup can step into the on-site (and separate) restaurant that will feature cocktails and chef inspired cuisine.
 
"All of our chefs are hired locally," says Emerman.
 
While moviegoers are not obligated to dine on site and vice versa, the end goal is to bring sophistication to the tried and true dinner-and-a-movie outing.
 
"Once you walk into our doors, we're going to make that movie experience great and well rounded, whether you're going to the movies or having a cocktail or snack," says Emerman. "We're here because we love movies," she adds.
 
The impetus for Pinstripes wasn't a movie, but something much more nostalgic for northeast Ohioans.
 
"The original inspiration for Pinstripes was bowling as a six year old at Pepper Lanes," says the company's owner and founder Dale Schwartz, who is also a native of Beachwood and Hawken School alum. "It isn't there anymore," he adds of Pepper Lanes. The Eton shopping center now occupies its former site on Chagrin Boulevard.
 
While that bowling alley may be gone, the memories it kindled have grown into a thriving business. Pinstripes boast seven locations from Kansas to Illinois, with as many as 10 new locations pending, including the one at Pinecrest, which is already inked.
 
While plans are still tentative, the new facility will feature a 30,000-square-foot two-story interior with about 16 lanes of bowling and eight bocce courts. A large all-weather patio outfitted with fire pits will accommodate outdoor dining and some of the bocce. Pinstripe at Pinecrest will have more than 100 employees.
 
The venue will accommodate up to 300 for banquets and 1,000 for parties. Events will likely include weddings, bah mitzvahs, high school reunions, birthday parties and any number of corporate events. The facility will have a divisible banquet space and private party rooms. The bowling lanes and bocce courts will also accommodate smaller parties.
 
"We plan on hosting close to 2,000 events a year at this Pinecrest location - if not more," says Schwartz.  
 
The full service bar will feature local craft beers amid an array of other potent potables. Kitchen offerings will include Italian American classics, all of which are made from scratch on site.
 
"We make our own pasta, pizza dough and all of our own sauces," says Schwartz, adding that his kitchens take the concept of homemade down to the smallest detail. "We make our own marshmallows."
 
A number of events will include regular Sunday brunches, live jazz on Saturday nights and Tot Time play dates during weekdays.
 
Schwartz says his team was attracted to the Pinecrest project on account of easy accessibility via Interstate 271, Cleveland's vibrant business community, a good selection of area hotels and local people who appreciate sophisticated fun.
 
"Cleveland has wonderful communities," he says.
 
That Pinecrest is signing other topnotch tenants also fits into Schwartz's grand scheme.
 
"We really like locations where there's a very attractive and quality mix of other entertainment, retail and restaurants," says Schwartz, praising the recently announced inclusions of Silverspot, Whole Foods Market, Red, the Steakhouse and REI within the Pinecrest project.
 
"Those are all either unique or some of the best-in-class in their respective categories," he adds, "which is what we like to be amongst."

State allocates $6.1 million to Cuyahoga County for residential demolition

As part of the state's effort to eliminate blight, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency announced last November that it would distribute $13 million in funding for the demolition of distressed residential properties. This was the fourth such round of the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP), which has received $79 million in funding from the U. S. Department of Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund.
 
Cuyahoga County received $6,075,000 of the $13 million.
 
"This program started in summer of 2014," says Cuyahoga Land Bank's chief operating officer Bill Whitney of the NIP. "Before this $6 million, we received $14 million and have spent approximately $13 million of that." In doing so, he adds, the organization has demolished about 1,050 properties with the funds, 850 of which were done in 2015.
 
"This last award of $6 million brings the total to $20 million since 2014," says Whitney of the NIP funding. "We expect now be able to continue the program and probably demolish an additional 480 to 500 properties."
 
Of the 12 Ohio counties receiving these most recently announced allocations, Cuyahoga was awarded the lion's share, with Lucas County's $2.3 million allocation coming in second. The 10 other counties received $500,000 each.
 
Coming in "first" in a funding round such as this is sobering indeed, but not unexpected considering the state of northeast Ohio's residential vacancy rate.
 
A comprehensive property survey conducted last year by Western Reserve Land Conservancy, in collaboration with the City of Cleveland, counted 3,809 vacant residential properties graded D (deteriorated) or F (unsafe or hazardous). When combined with the 1,437 residential properties condemned by the city, the total is 5,246 structures that may be candidates for demolition. While that figure is daunting, it is also 32 percent lower than the city's 2013 estimate of 7,771 vacant and distressed properties.
 
The Cuyahoga Land Bank acquires foreclosed properties from HUD and Fannie May as well as tax foreclosures. Demolitions are restricted to vacant and abandoned blighted properties the organization owns. It does not demolish properties that have more than four units, those that might have historical significance or any property that is connected to other residences such as row homes.
 
Referencing a graphic that categorizes Cleveland neighborhoods and a host of eastside inner ring suburbs as either undergoing "revitalization" or nearing a "tipping point," Whitney explains that the revitalization sections are experiencing the most severe effects of the foreclosure crisis. They are also in predominately African American neighborhoods.
 
"In general, the foreclosure crisis here – and maybe in other places – was extremely racist," says Whitney.
 
If a property is salvageable, the land bank works with community development corporations and humanitarian organizations to rehabilitate it and put it to constructive use.
 
"We try to save any property we can," says Whitney. The organization prioritizes at-risk populations such as refugees, veterans and the disabled. Partner organizations include the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry and a host of area CDC's. Whitney tags Slavic Village Development, Northeast Shores Development Corporation, the Famicos Foundation and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. In such cases, properties will transfer for as little as one dollar.
 
"Everybody needs housing," says Whitney.
 
"To keep things in perspective," he continues, "in our six years of operation, we've acquired about 5,000 properties. We've demolished about 3,500 and have been able to save about 1,000." Of that number, approximately one third go to humanitarian causes with the balance going to market. Prospective buyers are thoroughly screened and the land bank holds the title until they have brought the property up to municipal code.
 
To get an idea of the task at hand, Fresh Water invites readers to scroll through the properties owned by Cuyahoga Land Bank.
 
"There's still an awful lot of stuff to do," says Whitney, "but it's gradually getting better."
 

The Edison to bring 306 new market-rate luxury apartments to Detroit Shoreway

Denizens of the Gordon Square Arts District within the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood have been watching on since last fall as demolition has transformed approximately ten acres between West 58th and 65th Streets north of Breakwater Avenue. Workers have been making way for more than 300 new class A luxury apartments. Initially dubbed Breakwater Bluffs, developer NRP Group is now calling the project The Edison.
 
"We're pretty much done with all demolition," says Aaron Pechota, vice president of NRP, noting that the site was previously home to approximately 300,000 square feet of vacant industrial buildings. "We're really commencing site work, dirt work," he adds, noting the current rough in includes a public road. Pechota estimates the business end of the build-out will begin in 30 to 60 days.
 
"You'll start to see real construction," he says of work scheduled for late winter/early spring. And as the summer months loom, "you'll start to see vertical construction on a number of the buildings." NRP is the general contractor on the project. The group will also own and manage The Edison. Dimit Architects did the design.
 
The venture will consist of eight structures including four apartment buildings, three townhouse buildings and one carriage house garage. One-bedroom/one-bath apartments will range from 561 to 1,047 square feet. Two-bedroom/two-bath units will go from 1,027 to 1,248 square feet. Some will include a den/study.
 
Townhouses will have a ground floor garage with two floors of living space above. Two- and three-bedroom units with two and a half bathrooms will range from 1,530 to 1,764 square feet. The largest three-bedroom townhouses will be 1,946 square feet and will feature three and a half bathrooms.
 
Rents for all the units will be market rate. While details have not been finalized, Pechota says they will range from under $1,000 for the smaller one-bedroom units to upwards of $2,000 for the larger townhomes.
 
"They're going to be consistent with what you're seeing in the market at places like Mariner's Watch and The Shoreway, which are two projects in close proximity to us," he says.
 
Common amenities will include one acre of green space, a 1,880-square-foot swimming pool, parking, an entertainment/club space and a fully equipped fitness center. Pechota expects move in dates to commence in summer 2017 and for the entire project to be complete before we ring in 2018.
 
"The total build is 20 months, plus or minus," says Pechota. "That gets us right into before the end of the year."
 
The project is unique for many reasons, most notably its scale and that it is a new build amid a market where adaptive reuse of vintage and industrial properties has been all the rage.
 
"There's almost no true new construction," says Pechota of Cleveland's ongoing boom, adding that many among the millennial and empty nest generations desire the "product quality and class" The Edison will provide.
 
For those who might second guess the project, NRP's experience speaks for itself. Based in Garfield Hts., the development giant focuses keenly on new rental development across the country, with more than 30 market-rate projects in highly competitive markets such as Charlotte, NC; Orlando, FL and Austin, TX. The company also boasts approximately 300 other student, senior and affordable housing ventures.
 
While Pechota is quick to praise adaptive reuse projects, he touts the experience only new construction offers regarding unit functionality and amenities.
 
"The quality that you can present with new construction is a whole other level," he says. "There's very little of that in northeast Ohio."
 
The Edison's other assets include its close proximity to downtown and the Gordon Square Arts District as well as expanded access to the lake and Edgewater Beach courtesy of the new West 73rd Street underpass.
 
"We feel we have a true waterfront type development," says the lifelong northeast Ohioan, noting that Edgewater is well within walking distance and offers a nicely groomed beach that is clean and welcoming. Attractive views of the lake and downtown will also enhance the new apartments, says Pechota, particularly those that have balconies.
 
The financial package includes $40 million in taxable bonds, $5.4 million from NRP and a $12 million loan financed by foreign investors seeking federal visas. Cleveland International Fund administered the loan, which is structured around the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, under which, per the website, "entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they: Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers."
 
"It’s a pretty well known established program that's used all over the country for international investment," says Pechota.
 
As for the name, Pechota says it's a bit of an homage to Thomas Edison as well as the iconic Westinghouse Building and the area's previous incarnation as an industrial hotbed. The name also evokes creativity.
 
"That's a big part of what we're doing here," he says. "We're taking an existing neighborhood that’s got an amazing fabric and history and we're bringing in something new and different and stylish and contemporary."

Vintage La Salle set to explode with arts, mixed usage and zoomin' Internet

With a funding package all but complete, the staff at Northeast Shores Development Corporation (NSDC) in the Collinwood neighborhood is eyeing a February groundbreaking for the much-anticipated rebirth of the La Salle Theatre, 823 East 185th Street.
 
"We're redeveloping the La Salle Theatre into the La Salle Arts and Media Center," says NSDC's executive director Brian Friedman of the 30,000-square-foot-building. "This is going to be a video and music production facility." The rehabilitated venue will also house retail and residential space. Construction is expected to be complete in time for October 2016 move-in dates. Town Center Construction is the contractor on the project, for which LDA Architects did the design.
 
Of course, the building is home to the beloved 12,000-square-foot theater, 7,000 square feet of which is unobstructed. The finished space will accommodate an array of activities including multimedia art exhibitions, weddings, community meetings, musical and theatrical performances, rehearsals, parties, and other public and private events.
 
The second floor houses five residential units. Three one-bedroom and two two-bedroom units will let for $475 and $550 respectively. Three retail storefronts on the first floor include spaces that are 900, 700 and 300 square feet. The largest retail space has already been preleased to Milk Glass Cakes, which specializes in high-end confections depicting everything from a bouquet of paperwhite Narcissus to a come-hither hot pink corset.
 
"They do amazing graphic portrayals on cakes," says John Boksansky, NSDC's commercial project coordinator.
 
While the new arts center will not necessarily be a full recording studio, it will have a mixing board and high capacity Internet service with download and upload speeds of 50Mbps provided by Lightower Fiber Networks.
 
"It's critical that we have competent dedicated high speed Internet in the building so musicians, performers and others creatives are able to digitally send what they're doing back to a master recording studio, or live stream it to an audience or…  a thousand different things," says Friedman.
 
The unfettered upload capacity will set the La Salle apart, he adds.
 
"Most people's Internet provider have intentionally put a dampener on your ability to put stuff into the pipeline – into the Internet," explains Friedman, citing the slow speeds of activities such as uploading footage to YouTube. "You're able to pull down information, but you're not able to put it up – or you're allowed to put it up at a very slow speed."
 
That advanced 50Mbps Internet service will be available to all La Salle artists and retail and residential tenants as well, whether they're downloading or uploading.
 
"The entire building will be lit that way," says Friedman. "Not only will the theater space be ready and able with that connection, all commercial and residential tenants will have that included in the rent."
 
Approximately $3.3 of the $3.7 million needed to bring the project to fruition is in place.
 
"We are just rounding the bend on fundraising efforts," says Friedman. "We're trying to raise about $400,000 in the next 30 days."
 
The rest of the financial package includes more than $700,000 from the City of Cleveland, a $685,000 loan from Cuyahoga County, state and federal historic tax credits ($250 and $505 respectively), loans from Cortland Bank, Village Capital Corporation, IFF and a host of other funding sources.
 
Built in 1927, the La Salle originally featured vaudeville performances and silent movies. The 1,500-seat theatre went dark in the early 1990's. Its last use was a display area for classic cars: The La Salle Classic Auto Theatre housed more than a dozen vehicles including a '26 Ford and a '69 Camaro. It opened in 1997 and was part showroom and part swap meet. The space has been dark for more than a decade.
 
Now with the burgeoning success of the Waterloo Arts District, Friedman sees the La Salle as key to the Collinwood area at large, particularly as the forthcoming Made in Collinwood initiative comes online.
 
"La Salle is kind of a cornerstone for that new program," says Friedman, noting that Waterloo's storefronts are nearly all occupied and new makers, artists and vendors wanting to move into the area need a place to go. East 185th Street is their next logical destination.
 
"This is a critical step for us moving our efforts forward to improve that corridor now that Waterloo has become resilient and nearly entirely full," says Friedman.  "The La Salle is a major anchor as we pivot from Waterloo to East 185th Street."

Glidden House pitches tent, adds Juniper Room

When spring arrives in University Circle, one perennial resident will be notably absent: The large white tent that has occupied the side yard of the Glidden House, 1901 Ford Drive, for more than 15 years during the fairer months. The canvas structure, however, will not likely be missed.
 
In its place will be a welcome upscale addition. The 3,200-square-foot Juniper Room will seat up to 150 guests for weddings, meetings and conferences. Currently under construction, the new space will feature stone and brick on its exterior in order to complement the stately and historic Glidden mansion, which was built in 1910. The hotel was added in 1989.
 
"It will blend in with the hotel," says Tom Farinacci, general manager at the Glidden House. "As you're walking through the hotel and you walk into that room, it will feel like it's been there forever."
 
The Juniper Room will have a hard wood floor and seven sets of French doors that will open to a manicured lawn embellished with flowers and the mansion's original gazebo, lending garden-style charm to the new venue.
 
While planning for the addition started in April 2014, construction began last November. Town Center Construction is the contractor on the project. LDA Architects did the design, which was rather painlessly approved by both University Circle Inc. and the City of Cleveland after a few comments and changes.
 
"I think we were kind of on the right track from the beginning," says Farinacci. "Nothing really derailed us at all."
 
Combined with the mild weather, those approvals have the project on track for the scheduled April opening. Farinacci notes that they've already booked 25 weddings for 2016.
 
"We've really gotten a great response and it's not even built yet," he says, noting that clients made the reservations for their big day based solely on the architectural renderings. "We're pretty confident we'll do 40 to 50 weddings a year."
 
Just how long had the white tent been a part of the University Circle landmark? Farinacci isn't sure.
 
"I've been here 15 years and it's been here since well before I got here," he says. "We'd put it up in April and tear it down at end of October or beginning of November."
 
Financial details for the privately funded project are confidential. The Glidden House is owned by the Glidden House Associates, a private group of citizens that managing partner Joe Shafran convened when he was unable to get a bank loan for the hotel addition in the late 1980s.
 
"They all told him that a hotel in University Circle wouldn't work," says Farinacci. "He went out and raised the money himself."
 
Obviously, the success, reputation and longevity of the venerable locale have proven those bankers wrong. The hotel has 52 traditional rooms and there are eight suites in the mansion. Marigold Catering handles all events at the Glidden House. Room service, however, is provided by Jonathan Sawyer's Trentina, which is housed in the mansion's original carriage house.
 
Farinacci notes that the majority of the brides and grooms – as many as 90 percent – that choose to have their receptions at the Glidden House also have their ceremonies on the lawn.
 
"It's just really pretty out there," he says.
 
For information about booking an event in the Juniper Room, contact Carrie Cooney, director of catering and events at 216-658-9108.

Revisiting Cleveland's whales after hurricane damage repair

It was about three months after Hurricane Sandy blew through town when Steve Tucky, Wyland Ambassador for Ohio and the Great Lakes region, was driving along the East Shoreway and noticed that the giant whale mural to which we've all become accustomed was in the dark: the array of lights normally illuminating it had apparently been damaged by the notorious October 2012 hurricane.
 
"I'm kind of attached to it," says Tucky of the "Song of the Whales" mural, also known as a Wyland Whale Wall. Additional inspection revealed that a section of the painted panels had apparently blown off the building as well. Tucky contacted the city and Cleveland Public Power in order to get the repairs in motion.
 
It took more than two years and a notable amount of red tape, but 49 new painted panels are now in place and the lighting has been restored. Completed last fall, the work cost $50,000.
 
"They did get it fixed," says Tucky, noting that the new panels do not replicate the original artwork, but are simply painted a solid sky blue (the damaged section depicted clouds). "It kind of blends in," he says. "You don't really notice unless you really look at it."
 
As an ambassador, Tucky advocates for the Wyland Foundation, which was founded by artist and environmentalist Robert Wyland in 1993 and is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways, and marine life. The foundation fosters environmental awareness through education, public art, and community events. To that end, Tucky is active with campaigns and organizations such as Sustainable Cleveland 2019 and the West Creek Conservancy.
 
To be sure, most of today's Clevelanders pass by "Song of the Whales" with little knowledge of it. Hence, Fresh Water celebrates this subtle repair with the following must-know Cleveland Whale Wall facts:
 
- Cleveland Mayor Michael White dedicated Wyland's "Song of the Whales" on Oct. 6, 1997.
 
- "Song of the Whales" was one of 100 aquatic murals Wyland painted over a 27-year period.
 
- Wyland's last such mural, "Hands Across the Oceans," was dedicated in July 2008 in Beijing, China, ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
 
- Wyland painted "Song of the Whales" free hand – without the aid of any templates – inside of a few days. A basket crane provided access and volunteers helped out with paint mixing and clean up. "I was there for that," recalls Tucky.
 
- Sherwin Williams donated more than 160 gallons of paint and primer for the project.
 
- The mural measures 240- by 88-feet.
 
- Per the Oct. 4, 1997 Plain Dealer, the mural depicts, "a humpback cow, calf and 'escort' male, plus another male challenging the first for the honor of escorting the female."
 
- The original mural tour was dedicated to Jacques Cousteau and was aimed at bringing awareness to the earth's aquatic systems and their connectivity. "It all ties in," says Tucky. "The Great Lakes flow into the ocean."
 
- The green space adjacent to "Song of the Whales" is a public park complete with a walkway and benches. While it has no name, "some people fish over there," says Tucky of the space.
 
Considering approximately 24 of the Wyland Whale Wall murals are listed as "extinct" by Wikipedia, meaning they are "no longer accessible" and "may have been covered, destroyed, or significantly altered" and a handful of others are noted as tiled, partially covered or no longer visible, that the Cleveland mural endures so vividly should inflate northeast Ohioans with renewed pride the next time they pass it.
 
Moreover, the gentle giants depicted in "Song of the Whales" quietly urge us to live locally and think globally. After all, the water flowing in our delicate river and lake that we often take for granted eventually end up amid whales and dolphins and flying fish.

Marketing firm Spruce moves into iconic Gordon Square landmark

The building with the iconic turret gracing the intersection of West 58th Street and Detroit Avenue in Gordon Square now houses more than just a popular eatery. The marketing firm Spruce took up residence on the second floor of the building at 5800 Detroit Ave. earlier this week.
 
"Primarily what I do is work with small businesses that love what they do and usually have some kind of connection to the community," says Tom Sarago, owner and founder of Spruce, noting that many of his clients are non-profit organizations. His portfolio includes work for Cleveland Print Room, Seeds of Literary, Kalman & Pabst Photo Group, the Near West Theater and Borrow Rentals among others.
 
Sarago spent his first day in his new 250-square-foot office this past Monday.
 
"It's not a big room," notes Sarago, adding that he does have access to a shared area. The second floor offices are also home to Spice of Life Catering, which is a sister business of Spice Kitchen & Bar, the building's first floor restaurant. While Sarago is delighted with the new space and gets along wonderfully with the Spice team, he concedes there is confusion between the two names Spice and Spruce.
 
"It's never easy," he says, laughing at life's little stumbling blocks, but it's a fair assessment considering he's in the business of name recognition and brand management.
 
Spicy distractions notwithstanding, Sarago moved his operation, which he founded in May of 2014, from his Lakewood home to the Gordon Square neighborhood in order to lend more legitimacy to his growing business. The move also supports the separation of home and work, particularly when home matters include a curious 16-month-old daughter who does not always understand the requirements of a professional setting.
 
"I owed it to myself and to my clients to have my own space outside of the house," says Sarago. "Business is going well."
 
The Gordon Square address was appealing for many reasons, including the energy in the area, a compatible space and a feeling of homecoming. Sarago worked for the Detroit Avenue Arts nonprofit in the mid-aughts, just ahead of the neighborhood's boom. The group occupied the then-vacant parish hall in the former Orthodox church campus.
 
"I felt like we did a really great job of bringing a young demographic to the neighborhood," says Sarago, "which you see now but you didn't see back then. It was a little bit ahead of the curve." He did that work while holding down a day job. Sarago worked as a marketer for Playhouse Square from 2005 to 2012.
 
While Spruce is starting 2016 in its new home as a one-man operation, it may be ending the year with the addition of a part-time employee.
 
"Presently I'm working with a team of freelancers that's working well for me, but being able to rely on that extra person, that extra set of hands and that extra brain would certainly be beneficial," says Sarago. That future employee will be busy. Sarago is already planning big for 2016.
 
"I'm hoping to be active with the Republican National Convention in some capacity, whether it's assisting an organization with trying to get their message out during the event or working on parts of the campaign myself," says Sarago. "I think there will be a lot of relationships forged out of that event," he adds.
 
"There is so much going on in the city right now, it's tremendous," says Sarago. "The sky's the limit for anyone looking to be in in any type of business. And really, if you're focused on being as passionate as possible about it, those results will be there."
 
Two additional units are available for let at 5800 Detroit Avenue, including an 800-square-foot space and another that is 200 square feet. Contact Nathan Dent of fit home realty for more information.
 

Forthcoming Ohio City Music Settlement to attract more than 200 students

The otherwise unremarkable corner of Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street is on the verge of a rebirth that will include hundreds of students, the bulk of which will be five years old and under.
 
"We think Ohio City is a perfect fit for us," says Charles Lawrence, president and CEO of The Music Settlement, a 103-year old organization that offers music therapy, early childhood education, and music instruction to people of all ages and levels of experience. "Hingetown is an incredibly energetic and engaging area."
 
His enthusiasm is in response to the prospect of the organization's announcement last month that it will be expanding into a second location as part of the Snavely Group's forthcoming mixed-use project, which will transform the drab intersection with new construction on the north side of Detroit and renovations on the south side in the historic Forest City Bank Building.

The Music Settlement will occupy 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the new building, which will also house retail and apartments on the upper floors. While all of it will positively impact that stretch of Detroit, a school – particularly one with so many very young children – brings a special brand of activity.
 
"The city and other individuals are looking to make Detroit a walkable street from 25th to Gordon Square. Our school is busy from six thirty in the morning to nine at night. We're open all the time Monday through Saturday," says Lawrence, adding that such constant activity will improve the presence of pedestrian and family traffic.
 
"That's a big thing," notes Lawrence.
 
Slated to open in late summer 2017, the school will serve approximately 150 early childhood program students, 75 music and music therapy students and have about 50 employees. While Lawrence expects the early childhood programs to fill quickly, the music and music therapy sessions are likely to reach capacity more slowly.
 
"It may be four years before we hit out target numbers," says Lawrence.
 
Two thirds of the Settlement's space will be dedicated to the early childhood development center catering to preschool children, kindergarteners and day care kids. The balance of the space will house studios and instructional space for the institution's music and music therapy programs. The facility will also have a kitchen and access-controlled outdoor playground.

Funding for the $3 million project is underway and will benefit in part from New Market Tax Credits. The Snavely group is managing the design (with input from The Music Settlement) and construction of the project.
 
Considering the intersection of Detroit and West 25th was once home to a go-go club and the site of one of Cleveland's most notorious gang murders more than 40 years ago, the ideological transformation for those with long memories is no less than staggering, but The Music Settlement is accustomed to a neighborhood in transition.
 
"We've been in University Circle since 1939," says Lawrence of the organization's home campus, adding that today's desirable University Circle addresses weren't always thusly described. "We've been there in good times and bad times and challenging perceptions of our location. We've persevered through all of it." Lawrence vows that perseverance will extend to the new Detroit Avenue location.

"We're not going about this with a wish and a prayer," he says. "We're in it for the long run. We're going to help to elevate the community and be a key to avoiding the perception that Ohio City is just going to be another Flats, that in 10 years Ohio City will fade." He believes The Music Settlement will become a stalwart anchor with consistent offerings that will help stabilize the area and attract residents and families long term.
 
Outreach programs are a big part of the Settlement's legacy. To that end, the organization is already engaged in an array of off-site programs on the west side including an after-school orchestra program at Tremont Montessori School, a music therapy program at Lutheran Hospital with the Behavioral Health unit and individual music lessons at St. Ignatius High School, where they are also developing a Latin jazz ensemble that will be open to the community.
 
"We're going to be meet with representatives of the Spanish speaking community" in order to solicit their input, says Lawrence. He also emphasizes the fit between the Settlement and the unique diversity of the near west side, tagging residents in new and renovated historic housing, in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority units and the Spanish speaking community.
 
"That's our DNA," says Lawrence, noting the organization's inherent commitment to serving all members of the community.
 
Lawrence notes that the project at West 25th and Detroit has gotten some push back about the issue of gentrification, but he sees the Settlement's move to Ohio City as just the opposite.
 
"The Settlement has always been an organization that exists for those who can afford it and those who cannot. We're bringing programming and opportunity and access for folks regardless of where they're coming from and what their background is. By bringing that element to the Hingetown area, we're actually counteracting any perception of gentrification," he says.
 
"We're raising the sea level for everybody."
 

February opening eyed for duck-rabbit coffee in Duck Island

Calvin Verga, founder of duck-rabbit coffee, has very specific standards when it comes to pouring a proper cuppa, starting with where the beans are grown.
 
"We roast in such a way to highlight all the different characteristics," says Verga, adding that a good cup of coffee is defined by its origin. He tags berry, currant and grape notes in coffee from Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi; citrus and floral flavors from Ethiopian beans and rustic earthy notes in those from Sumatra. Unlike the more common dark roasted beans, a delicate light roast brings out those nuanced flavors.
 
"When you roast light in order to highlight those origin-specific characteristics, you need a phenomenal coffee. Any sorts of defects in the coffee will show in clean cup. It's imperative that our coffee is of the highest standard," says Verga.
 
He launched duck-rabbit in 2014 as a bean-roasting venture and sold his product wholesale. Verga's coffee was heretofore available only at a handful of locations such as Root Café in Lakewood.

As early as February 1st however, Verga will be offering his high-end brew at an emerging storefront at 2135 Columbus Road in Duck Island. The coffee house will be part of the Forest City Brewery project, which is also slated to include a meadery and brewery and is currently home to the quirky Cleveland Cycle Tours operation, with its two 15-seat bikes.
 
duck-rabbit will occupy an 800-square-foot space and will employ about five, with both part- and full-time positions. Verga tentatively plans to have about a dozen seats. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Not surprisingly, the menu will be Spartan in order to showcase Verga's painstakingly chosen and roasted beans, with the star being pour-overs. He'll also sell roasted beans and some brewing equipment. A deep respect for coffee, where it comes from and how it's processed comes free with every purchase.
 
"We'd like people to really get into coffee in a close personal way and be able to replicate/brew great coffee at home," says Verga, adding that he hopes to host workshops in the future.
 
Verga will offer some espresso drinks, including macchiatos, cappuccinos and lattes. As for sugary flavored syrups and cups topped with clouds of whipped cream, they will not be found at duck-rabbit.
 
"The main focus is the coffee going into the drinks," says Verga, who also concedes, "mocha is one thing I could see possibly on the menu at some time." He does, however, plan to offer a very limited selection of small bites such as French macaroons or madeleines, which he will source off-site. 
 
"No details on that yet," says Verga.
 
While construction hums along, Verga has taken delivery on a high-end La Marzocco espresso machine and is roasting beans in a unique vintage German Probat machine, which he chose as carefully as the beans he puts in it.
 
"When you're roasting on this," says Verga as he displays the Probat, "there are no computer programs. It's full sensory engagement by the roaster." Hence, success requires experience and a honed sensitivity regarding the sight and smell of the beans, all of which is married with timing and temperature.
 
Verga, a Lakewood native, was in the San Francisco Bay area when he became engaged in the world of high-end coffee while immersed in academics. He eventually opted for joe over the lecture hall and after he "cut his teeth" in the coffee business on the west coast and established a network, he returned to Cleveland to launch duck-rabbit.
 
"It felt like a great time to come back to Cleveland," says Verga. "That sentiment has really been reinforced since I came back. There is a good energy in Cleveland these days."
 
Since Freshwater reported on the Forest City Brewery project last April, partners Matt Mapus, Jay Demagall and Cory Miller have realized their funding package, which now includes a Vacant Properties Initiative grant from the City of Cleveland. Mapus reports that the rental space for Western Reserve Meadery will be ready by February 1st and that Forest City Brewery will be offering up beer by this Saint Patrick's Day.
 

Model home of yesteryear on track for rebirth in Shaker Heights

Built in 1922 for the then-princely sum of $30,000, the stately home at 2834 Courtland Blvd. in Shaker Heights is long on history – including its celebrated inception as the future of Cleveland residential living and, more recently, a dark period when it was abandoned, neglected and slated for the wrecking ball.

But now with the careful ministrations of the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), this fascinating home is set to return to its former grandeur.
 
The home was built as one of four swanky demonstration units put forth by the Van Sweringen brothers, an iconic Cleveland real estate development team that was heavily involved in the development of Shaker Heights. Famed architects Howell and Thomas designed the quartet of homes, all of which are located at the intersection of Shaker and Courtland Boulevards near what was the terminus of the Shaker Rapid at that time.
 
"These demonstration homes represented what you could expect in Shaker Heights," says Michael Fleenor, director of preservation services for CRS, noting that the homes were marketing tools similar to the model homes we see today heralding a new residential development. The original architectural drawings for 2834 Courtland, as well as a 1933 addition (also designed by Thomas and Howell), are available via the Cleveland Public Library.
 
The 4,738-square-foot home, for which CRS is asking $379,000, features a two-story great room with a vaulted ceiling, seven bedrooms and four full and two partial baths. It also has an attic, basement and in-ground pool, which is rumored to be the first in Shaker Heights. Enduring design elements of the English Tudor include half timbering, projecting gables, fireplaces, leaded glass with some stained glass embellishments and a slate roof, one wing of which required significant work by CRS.
 
"We had that wing done in slate and copper," says Fleenor, noting it had previously been covered in asphalt, which was an interim measure the city took after a roofing contractor walked off the job in 2009, leaving that entire wing open and exposed to the elements.
 
Other work included extensive drying as all the gutters had been salvaged by the previous owner. Also, a billiard room had to be completely demolished on account of moisture damage.
 
"We took out mold in another section," says Fleenor.
 
The home at 2834 Courtland had eight owners, the last of which abandoned it. The property rapidly became a tangled legal nest of mortgages, unhappy bankers and liens. For over a year, CRS worked to straighten out the mess while simultaneously getting the neglected structure stabilized and grounds cleaned up.
 
Although the structure is sound and in generally good condition, the current status is very rough as evidenced by a lengthy repair list compiled by the city. Fleenor notes, however, that many items on that list will likely be moot when the new owner guts spaces such as the kitchen or bathrooms.
 
Challenges notwithstanding, Fleenor says that several parties are interested in the home and that CRS is optimistic about forthcoming offers and an eventual sale. Interest was evident last month, when the group held two open houses that garnered more than 200 visitors. They included the serious, the curious and the nostalgic.
 
"Several former owners came through," says Fleenor. They recalled everything from teenage years spent in the house to fond memories of a grandmother. Conversations understandably included recollections on how different spaces therein were previously employed, which is par for the course for the restoration group. After all, every notable and historic structure has as many stories as the people it's housed.
 
"So much of what we have… " says Fleenor referencing the group's portfolio, "the properties have different stories related to different people's lives."

Holiday connections of a different sort: a little chickadee and a police station party

This holiday season, the Cleveland Metroparks invites families looking for something beyond the season's ubiquitous candy and glitzy digital animation to make a more authentic and gentler connection – with nature.

An array of free hand feed the chickadees programs offer up a breathtaking experience that's been a Metroparks tradition for more than five decades. Avian enthusiasts stand in a designated spot with an open hand of sunflower seeds and the tiny creatures land therein, pick up a seed and fly away to eat it.
 
"The trick is to watch a person's face as a bird lands in their hand," says the Metroparks' director of outdoor experiences Wendy Weirich. "That's worth everything."
 
The program is available at the Brecksville Nature Center from Dec. 19 through 31 from 10 a.m. to noon every day except Christmas, and on Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 2 through Feb. 28 also 10 a.m. to noon. Two 1.5-mile Chickadee Feeding Hikes will be conducted at the Rocky River Reservation on Jan. 3 and 24 from 10 to 11 a.m., or meet the hungry and not-so-timid chickadees at the North Chagrin Reservation, which hosts bird-watching hiking events of various lengths on Dec. 19, 21, 26, 27, 29 and Jan. 4.
 
Would-be wildlife explorers are advised to dress for the weather with layered clothing and appropriate footwear (trails may be snowy or icy). Calling ahead to confirm programming and registering is always a good idea.
 
"It's connecting people to nature," says Weirich. "What’s more important than that? If we don't get the next generation falling in love with nature, we're in for some trouble."
 
She notes that the feed the chickadee programs do not impact the birds' natural feeding habits - but it does impact program participants.
 
"It's a life changing experience," says Weirich."
 
For a connection of a different sort, this Saturday, Dec. 19, the 73rd Street Block Club and Ka-La Healing Garden Resource Center will team up for their fifth annual Winterfest event, which is for children up to age 17. Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Cleveland Police Department's Third District Community Room, 4501 Chester Avenue. Kids will enjoy a host of holiday treats and receive toys as well as hats and gloves. Last year's event attracted nearly 20 volunteers and 100 area kids, many of whom come from economically disadvantaged homes.
 
Previously held at the Ka - La Garden, this year holding Winterfest at the new police station will help reinforce one of the ongoing goals of the organizers: getting urban youths to interact with police in a positive way. While that ambition is surely lofty and honorable, event founder and community organizer Tanya Holmes says it's not the best part of the annual Winterfest.
 
So what is?
 
"The looks on the kids' faces," she says, and somewhere a chickadee chirps.

CLE Clothing opens third storefront ahead of holiday rush

Earlier this month, Cleveland Clothing Co. (CLE) opened a new location in Uptown at 11435 Euclid Ave. The shop joins three other CLE ventures: Native Cleveland at 15813 Waterloo Road, Cleveland Clothing Co. at 342 Euclid Ave. downtown, and a holiday pop up shop in Legacy Village.
 
"We've been working on this over a year now with the developer," says CLE owner/founder Mike Kubinski of the newest venture, tagging MRN Ltd., the real estate development force behind the resurrections of both East Fourth Street and Uptown. MRN had a space available and offered it up to Kubinski, who jumped at the chance.
 
The new store will employ four or five, bringing CLE's total workforce close to 30. The company is the brainchild of Kubinski and Jeff Reese, who started it in on a creative whim in 2008. At the time, Kubinski was 28 and working as a graphic designer… sort of.
 
"I worked for a company doing packaging graphics, but I was relegated to the box of packaging," he says, which meant drawing up directions, cautions and regulatory information. "I needed a creative outlet."
 
The duo saw a void for Cleveland-centric clothing, so they purchased some shirts and a printing press and got to it. Now they've grown to the retail outlets, a warehouse in the Lake Erie Building (aka the Screw Factory) and a robust online business via their website.
 
Kubinski takes pride in a few well-earned achievements, starting with brand establishment. Everyone knows that CLE skull and crossbones means apparel and gear for 216 aficionados. The iconic trademark graces the front left breast and back of one the company's best-selling shirts.
 
"We can't keep them in stock," says Kubinski of the CLE Logo Tee. "That's truly a testimony of what we've done."
 
He cites another achievement: CLE is debt free.
 
"In 2008, they weren't handing out business loans," recalls Kubinski. Great Recession notwithstanding, he and Rees plowed forward, putting every nickel they earned into printing more shirts. They were riding on a wing and a prayer and a voice from inside only a northeast Ohioan could understand.
 
"In 2008, the economy was down; Cleveland was down," says Kubinski. "But there was this shop local/local pride that was starting. We could see that the renaissance had started. We wanted to be on the forefront of what was to come."
 
Cleveland Clothing Co. never looked back, but the founders did start to look around and found organizations worthy of a helping hand. To that end, CLE has donated creative efforts and portions of proceeds to The Gathering Place, the Cleveland Metroparks, the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the West Side Market (WSM) in the aftermath of the 2013 fire.

For the WSM effort, they created a tee shirt to sell with the proceeds to help make affected tenants whole. Along with efforts from Michael Symon, they raised $13,000 for the WSM Vendor Relief Fund.
 
"That was really cool because it was helping small businesses just like us during hard times," recalls Kubinski.
 
They didn't stop there. They continued selling the shirts, with 20 percent of proceeds going towards the market's subsequent restoration, in order to "make sure we have the market for another 100 years," says Kubinski, adding that the firm's ongoing philanthropic efforts go to entities big and small, public and private.
 
"We're always connected to the community."
 

Cleveland Confidential: the mysteries of Willey Avenue

Willey Avenue is one of those odd, storied streets deep in the belly of Tremont. Walk this hilly winding road that connects Columbus and Scranton Roads and you’ll encounter any number of urban mysteries: Buildings that may or may not be occupied, railroad tracks leading nowhere obvious and wildflowers you’ll see few other places in the city.
 
But first things first: How the heck do you pronounce “Willey?” Is it a long ‘i,’ as in Wile E. Coyote? Or a short ‘i,’ as in Free Willy?
 
That depends on who you ask.
 
“When I was little, I always heard ‘Willy,’” says George Cantor, chief city planner for the City of Cleveland. “There was a show on TV called ‘Captain Penny,’ and he’d have dogs up for adoption from the Animal Protective League. He’d always say the APL’s address and pronounce it ‘Willy.’” The organization is still located on Willey.
 
Thomas Stickney, president of the Scranton Averell Corp., a real estate leasing company with long-time land holdings on the street, also says "Willy."
 
“It’s a double ‘l,’ right? So that’s ‘Willy.’”
 
The more recent trend, though, is to pronounce the name with a long ‘i.’ That’s how Josh Rosen, developer of the mixed-use Fairmont Creamery, says it. So do Dave Walker, whose family owns the old Byrne Sign building, and Sharon Harvey, the APL’s president and CEO.
 
Most of the long-‘i’ advocates admit, though, that they prefer that pronunciation mostly because it sounds less, well, silly than "Willy."
 
The street is named after Cleveland’s first mayor, John W. Willey, in office from 1836 to 1838. That provides little guidance, though, because Willey died long before anyone’s living memory or the invention of recording equipment.
 
The debate over how to pronounce ‘i’ before a double ‘l’ in proper names is fierce enough to have inspired a lengthy discussion on the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania's Language Log which cites the Willey conundrum.
 
A less academic mystery, meanwhile, can be found at the street’s lowest point, where a small cropping of blue tanks - fronted by an acre or two of muddy swamp - offer periodic, metallic belches.
 
Turns out they’re a lot less insidious than they look and sound. They belong to Werner G. Smith Inc., the last active industry on Willey. Present here since about 1950, the company uses the tanks to process vegetable and fish oils into industrial lubricants and ingredients for paints and consumer products.
 
The company produces cetyl palmitate, for example, one of the key ingredients in Vicks VapoRub. It’s made from palm oil that’s certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, according to plant manager Jennifer Bugbee.
 
The “belches” are the sound of steam traps letting off pressure, but they don’t contain any gases, she says.
 
The swampy area used to hold even more tanks, most of them containing the nation’s last remaining legally imported whale oil. The U.S. banned its import under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The tanks that held the oil were drained by the 1980s, and the company deconstructed them.
 
“People sometimes say, ‘Let’s plant trees and grass,’” she says. “I’d love that. The problem is, then people would think they could throw whatever trash they wanted down there because no one would see it.”
 
Bugbee has worked at the company for 22 years and keeps a tongue-in-cheek Facebook page full of photos documenting the plant’s present and past, along with a few cat memes.
 
She says she loves seeing the way the up-and-coming street is evolving into a place where industry and residents coexist.
 
“I watched the Creamery being rehabbed and I thought, ‘oh, cool!’” she recalls. “Having more people down here is only going to improve the neighborhood and make it safer.”
 
As for the million-dollar question?
 
“I usually say it with the long ‘i’ and then correct myself,” she says.
 
And the mystery persists.
 

Winter is coming … and so is fresh local produce and permaculture from the urban greenhouses of CGP

Community Greenhouse Partners (CGP), an urban greenhouse and farm, is about to fly in the face of winter with fresh produce and an all-season teaching venue for an array of people,including some of the city's most disadvantaged youths.

This beacon of all things organic, sustainable and green will also continue to sell their produce at affordable prices even as the snow flies.
 
"We happily sell out the back door," says CGP executive director Timothy Smith, inviting anyone and everyone to visit this unique farm in the middle of the city at 6527 Superior Road. "Come and see. Come and help us harvest your greens."

Hours are between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the week. The organization also sets up shop every Saturday at Coit Road Farmers' Market and on Wednesdays from June through September at Gordon Square Market.
 
The greenhouse will operate through the winter courtesy of a compost heater, designed and built by engineering students from Cleveland State University (and funded by Virtec Enterprises). The system heats the farm's hydroponic water system to a balmy 70 degrees, keeping the roots of the plants warm even in winter.

Current crops include lettuce, kale, arugula, root crops and CGP's specialty, sunflower microgreens, which include the first stem and leaf of the sunflower plant.  
 
"They are nutty and sweet and crunchy," says Smith. "They taste a little bit like a sunflower seed. Some people say they taste like green beans or asparagus." He recommends them raw in a salad, as a sandwich topper or a salsa add-in. "I tend to sauté a handful of them in a little bit of butter and add my eggs."
 
Touting the plant's nutritional value, Smith tags protein, B vitamins, folic acid and antioxidants. "They're a superfood that's healthier than kale," he says of the tender greens. "We sell lots of them."
 
The group also offers up handmade value-added items such as apple jelly, herbed vinegars and cherry tomato chutney, which Smith describes as sweet and spicy hot. "It is delicious."
 
The CGP site was formerly a Catholic Church campus. Working the farm are any number of revolving volunteers and seven interns who live in what used to be the rectory, which was originally a farmhouse built in 1865. The interns get room and partial board in exchange for 20 hours of work per week. The live-in staff changes, with candidates coming from schools, internship programs and the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program, which links international volunteers with organic farmers and growers. Working visitors of CGP have come from New Zealand, France, Peru, England and Germany.
 
While the organization is all about outreach and has engaged in educational and volunteer partnerships with Case Western Reserve University, Hawken School and an array of interested parties and downtown residents, CGP's work with students from the Saint Francis Elementary School truly exemplifies Smith's goal of teaching permaculture -- a hands-on learning approach to the ethical care of people and the planet that creates a "fair share" environment.  
 
The Saint Francis partnership starts aptly enough in the school's cafeteria with microgreen salads purchased from CGP once a month for student lunches.
 
"They love them," reports Smith of the students' reactions to the monthly salad delivery, which started in September. "They tear into them. They're so excited when we bring them in."
 
The kids also have monthly science classes at the farm, where they learn all about urban farming with hands-on instruction on topics such as composting, microgreen planting, bed preparation and harvesting crops like green beans.
 
Sometimes, however, just showing kids where vegetables come from – out of the ground - sparks an epiphany.
 
"You can see them make the connection: this is where (food) comes from. The light bulb goes on," says Smith. "It's remarkable just to watch them," he adds, noting that the Saint Francis students are largely disadvantaged.
 
"They're really smart and they want to learn," says Smith. "They're hungry for information and they're hungry for good food."
 
Community Greenhouse Partners is soliciting donations for an expansion that will include doubling the organization's greenhouse space from approximately 1,250 to 2,500 square feet and transforming CGP's growing system from hydroponic to aquaponic, which will utilize fish as living natural fertilizers. Click here to help the urban farm meet its $12,000 goal.
 

American gastropub aims to shake up tradition in Little Italy

For decades, Cleveland’s Little Italy has been the city’s mecca for Italian cuisine, with dining venues in business across generations. Classic eateries such as Guarino’s, La Dolce Vita and Primo Vino feature authentic dishes cooked a casa, with recipes tracing back to the Old World.
 
But what about ordering a burger and a beer?
 
That's what Dominic Gogol had in mind when looking to start his Tavern of Little Italy, an American-style gastropub set to open later this month at 12117 Mayfield Road. On the site of the former legendary Mayfield Café and more recently a barber college, the newly chic 2,200-square-foot tavern features a modern bar with 14 taps, a burgundy interior designed by co-owner Eric Kennedy, and a slim alleyway patio that is scheduled to open in the spring. As for its American appeal, Gogol affirms he’s fine with delineating from tradition.
 
“Everywhere else in Little Italy you can get some good calamari, good chicken piccata, good veal Parmesan, good osso buco,” says Gogol. “Yet there’s no place in the neighborhood where you can get good American food. This is primarily what we’re doing.”
 
Along with co-owners Kennedy and Brian Hamilton, Gogol has opted for this venerable neighborhood spot in his hometown because, he says, “it was just natural to do so.” After breaking ground this past February, Gogol set out enlisting others to help build or invest in the venture. Almost all of then were friends and family, which makes the project, he says, “similar to an old barn raising.” Others joined on as part of the 20-person staff.
 
In fact, the communal vibe is where the Tavern of Little Italy inspired its slogan: “From The Hands of Many.”
 
With head chef Ian Esses as chief menu designer, Gogol hopes to capitalize on the more modern taste of today’s Little Italy residents. Hence, the two-floor, 80-seat pub will boast a 25-and-counting craft beer list and specialty wines to be paired with the likes of fish tacos and turkey burgers with homemade mustards -- all made from mostly local ingredients.

Yet both Esses and Gogol aren’t neglecting the heritage entirely. “Yes, there’ll be some garlic here and there, of course.” Gogol says. All because, Esses adds, “we need to remember where we’re at.”
 
With the mere mentioning of words such as “IPA” and “hamburger” it would seem that veterans of the neighborhood would balk at the very notion of an American style tavern in Little Italy. Robert Fatica, the 67-year-old owner of Primo Vino, however, welcomes Gogol’s venture with open arms.
 
“What Dominic is doing… is a little different,” says Fatica, who will soon celebrate 33 years in business at the corner of East 125th Street and Mayfield Road. “To me, it’s one of those places I’m looking forward to seeing finished. And, of course, going in and having a beer myself.”
 
As for inviting the new tavern into a very traditional neighborhood, Ray Kristosik, the executive director of the Little Italy Redevelopment Corporation, believes the gastropub will fare well alongside established eateries like Primo Vino, noting that diners are attracted to variety and choice.
 
“It definitely changes the scenery for the better,” Kristosik says of the soon to open tavern.
 

Urban section of Towpath Trail inches closer to completion with funding for pedestrian bridge

As the ever-popular Towpath Trail continues to wind its way north from Harvard Avenue to Lake Erie, no matter how small each benchmark is, it represents a victory in the expansive $43 million project, which is unfurling amid four complex stages.
 
Last month, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) delivered yet another win when it awarded the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works a $432,222 Clean Ohio Trails grant for a small but important component of the project: A prefabricated 150-foot bridge that will cross traverse West 7th Street in Tremont. The funds are part of $6.1 million in grants awarded to 19 projects around the state through the Clean Ohio Trails Fund, which improves outdoor recreation opportunities and aims to protect and connect Ohio's natural and urban spaces.
 
Currently dubbed the "Tremont Pointe Bridge," the new West 7th Street bridge is part of the $17.5 million Stage 3 portion of the trail. Aesthetically speaking, the prefabricated bridge will be similar to any number of pedestrian bridges in and around area parks, including two adjacent to the Scranton Flats and one traversing Euclid Creek in the Metroparks' Euclid Creek Reservation.
 
Further reading: Ten Takeaways from the ongoing Towpath Trail development.
 
Tim Donovan, executive director of Canalway Partners describes the route of Stage 3: "The trail will connect with the trail that's already established at Steelyard and will make its way north to Literary Avenue in Tremont." Of scheduling he adds, "We're under final design and engineering right now." Michael Baker International is the lead architect on the project.
 
Donovan expects to have the entire 1.9-mile Stage 3 portion of the project (including the new bridge) out to bid late this year or by January 2016. Ground breaking will begin next July 1, when federal funding associated with the project is officially released. He is reluctant to give an estimated completion date other than to say construction and planting may take more than a year.
 
"It will become more apparent once the project gets underway," he says.
 
After the completion of Stage 3, says Donovan, "we have about seven-tenths of a mile from Steelyard to lower Harvard and we probably have another mile or so from Literary to Canal Basin Park." Those sections represent Stage 1 and Stage 4 of the project, respectively. The Stage 2 section of the trail adjacent to Steelyard Commons is already complete.
 
Further reading: Canal Basin Park: 20 acres of urban green space in the heart of the Flats.
 
"It’s a very very complex process that we're involved with building this trail through that industrial valley," says Donovan of the six urban miles of trail, noting that challenges arise with property acquisition, environmental cleanup and funding. "The money part is a as complex as the design part, which is as complex as the acquisition piece and everything else."
 
Donovan emphasizes the collective patience, support and efforts of the four main partner organizations, which include Canalway Partners, Cuyahoga County, the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks.
 
"Everything we do is a team approach," says Donovan.

"Those efforts are bearing fruit. Thankfully, it's all coming together."
 

Up to 250 new sharing bikes coming to the 216 ahead of the RNC

Bike Cleveland has teamed up with the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability to secure 250 bikes for a bike sharing program in time for the Republican National Convention next July. The move is part of a larger countywide initiative.
 
"Over five years we need 700 bikes in 70 stations," explains Mike Foley, executive director of Cuyahoga County's Department of Sustainability.
 
In order to get started on that tall order, last month the team identified CycleHop-SoBi as the preferred vendor for the new bike share system. Negotiations are ongoing, although Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) awarded the county $357,000 in federal funding to bring the plan to fruition. With 20 percent in matching funds, the group has $446,000 available to purchase the bikes.
 
"The federal government requires us to own these things at least for their usable life," explains Foley, "which is deemed five years." The program in its entirety will cost more, he adds, and will depend on a private-public partnership that relies on business and other private sponsors adopting stations and systems. Downtown will be the initial focus area for the first wave of bike stations.
 
The CycleHop-SoBi brand is a collaboration of two entities.
 
"CycleHop operates the system,"explains Foley. "SoBi manufactures the bikes," which he describes as sturdy and equipped with GPS systems. "Heaven forbid a bike is stolen or not returned," he says, "they'll be able to find it. It also helps figure out routes. They call it a smart bike. We were impressed with technology."
 
The bikes can also be locked anywhere.
 
"You don't have to go to a SoBi bike station," says Foley. "You can lock it up at regular bike stop and go get your coffee."
 
The versatility doesn't stop there. Although still tentative, Foley sees the program having flexible membership options, with yearly, monthly and weekly fee structures available, as well as an hourly rental system for one-time users.
 
As the program expands to reach that 700 number, Foley sees it reaching across the county.
 
"There are suburban communities that I know are interested in this. Cleveland Heights is chomping at the bit to be part of it," he says, adding that Lakewood has also expressed interest.
 
"We want this to be larger than just the city of Cleveland."

Safe and Clean Ambassadors now in University Circle

University Circle has expanded its Clean and Safe Ambassador program, which will now be an extension of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance's (DCA) service of the same name. University Circle Inc. (UCI) and PNC sponsored the move.
 
Most Clevelanders have seen the Ambassadors on bikes and as a friendly presence at events such as Walnut Wednesday, but what exactly do they do? Fresh Water posed the question to UCI's vice president of services Laura Kleinman.
 
"They're often referred to as 'Clean and Safe Ambassadors,'" she says. "Generally speaking, those are the services they provide."
 
The "clean" part of their jobs includes picking up litter and debris along major corridors with a pan and broom or sometimes with a more muscled beast. They also identify and remove graffiti from public property and fixtures.

Kleinman notes that graffiti is a loose term that includes "everything from a sticker that doesn't belong, to someone defacing a utility box with spray paint," she says. "It really runs the gamut." Ambassadors also remove gum from sidewalks and will take on special projects such as cleaning up notoriously dirty areas like bridge underpasses.
 
The "safe" portion of their responsibilities includes contacting authorities if they encounter something amiss such as an altercation or aggressive panhandling.
 
"They are the eyes and ears for the neighborhood," says Kleinman, noting that they will not only contact the police and fire departments, but they might assist them as well.
 
Ambassadors also act as informal neighborhood concierges.
 
"They are an extension of our visitor center," says Kleinman. That includes giving directions to museums and area restaurants as well as information regarding public transportation and area anchors. "They let people know where to go and what to do," she adds. "In many cases it's parents with students or prospective students or families with patients at one of the area hospitals that are in need of any number of things."
 
Residents will see ambassadors on foot, bicycles and Segways. They'll also attend events such as Wade Oval Wednesday and Wade Oval Winter.  
 
Kleinman encourages any resident in peril to approach an ambassador. Bike trouble? Flat tire? Ambassadors know where to get help or even one better: "Depending on the problem," adds Kleinman, "they might be able to help you."
 
University Circle has four full-time ambassadors in the fairer months and two in the winter, when their duties also include small-scale snow removal. They are located in the University Circle Visitor Center, 11330 Euclid Avenue. Ambassadors are trained and managed by the national firm Block by Block.
 
"The other great service they provide to us is that they're tracking their activity every day, every hour," says Kleinman of the professional staff. "We get great information about what they've been doing: where they are cleaning up, removing graffiti and how many people they've assisted." The resulting data informs UCI on how to manage and deploy resources and helps to track trends.
 
There is another less quantifiable benefit to the ambassadors' presence.
 
"The hand they reach out and the assist they are providing," says Kleinman, "it's great to have that personal touch in the neighborhood."

Canal Basin Park: 20 acres of urban green space in the heart of the Flats

Earlier today, Tim Donovan, executive director of Canalway Partners, George Cantor, staff planner of Cleveland's Planning Commission and Jeff Kerr of Environmental Design Group presented an ambitious schematic plan development for the future Canal Basin Park to the city's Planning Commission members, who unanimously approved it.
 
The document outlines plans for 20 acres of underutilized urban property in the central part of the Flats. While tentative, the group hopes to see the project, the cost of which will range between $20 and $40 million, come to fruition on June 22, 2019 -- the 50th anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire.
 
"We look at this as being a very flexible park, almost a park with two personalities," said Donovan during a meeting with Fresh Water earlier this week. He described a family-oriented daytime space that has a more mysterious feeling in the evening. "It becomes a place for outdoor concerts, art exhibits, etcetera."
 
While team members described the plan as aspirational, not at all definitive and aimed at stimulating thought, proposed amenities include an interactive water installation, elevator access to the lower decks of the Detroit Superior Bridge, a riverside boardwalk, a life-size working model of a canal gate, a skating rink, lighting/placemaking elements, copious green space and a variety of programs and activities. The park will certainly house the terminus section of the popular Towpath Trail, which will finally reach Lake Erie.
 
The irregularly shaped park will include a large section of area beneath the Veterans Memorial and RTA Viaduct Bridges, the Downtown Dog Park, the existing Settler's Landing Rapid Station and much of the green area that lines the East Bank of the Flats opposite the Nautica Entertainment Complex. The southern terminus of the associated trail will connect to the Scranton Flats via the Carter Road Bridge. The plan includes 165 parking spaces and also calls for a portion of Merwin Avenue to be removed.
 
Ninety percent of the associated 20 acres is already owned by public agencies including the city, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland Metroparks and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). Sherwin Williams and Kassouf Real Estate own the remaining 10 percent. While the Kassouf property is a parking lot and will likely remain as such, Donovan said, "We're talking to Sherwin Williams about a permanent easement over their property."
 
Currently, crumbling asphalt lots cover much of the associated publicly and privately owned acreage.

"Right now you go down there and it's a big asphalt space," said Donovan. "It's very hard. It's very unforgiving." It is also a place you do not notice until you purposefully look at it. Then the vast amount of available land in this incredibly unique and diverse urban pocket blooms before you with endless possibilities.
 
The next steps include formal site analysis with surveys and assessments of the topography, environmental status, infrastructure, utilities and soil; and the assemblage of funding sources. Donovan noted that the lion's share of the $54 million in funding for the six miles of trail from the Harvard Road trailhead north has been public (thus far $49 million has been secured) and that he sees the financial package for Canal Basin Park project coming together from different sources.
 
"We have milked that public cow as much as we can," said Donovan. "Now is the time for the private citizens, the corporations, the foundations to step forward and help us."
 
The City of Cleveland is the lead manager on the project. Partners include Canalway Partners, Cleveland Metroparks, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Cuyahoga County and the Ohio & Erie Canalway.
 
The park will duly celebrate the historic significance of the location and terminus of the canal. Ironically, it will also act as a cosmopolitan urban gateway to the 101 miles of trail that will eventually span from Lake Erie to New Philadelphia, Ohio. That designation has far reaching implications for the region and towpath at large.
 
The team sees the park as an informational hub for the southern features on the towpath trail such as the St. Helena III boat rides in Canal Fulton or events at Lock 3 Akron. Cleveland also has a stalwart hospitality infrastructure for future park visitors, replete with copious lodging and entertainment options.
 
"We’re the funnel for visitors, those people going into this 101-mile regional park system," said Donovan, which per John Zayac, principal of The Project Group, is a very good thing on the heels of an event such as the Republican National Convention.
 
"A project like this can keep the momentum going," said Zayac.
 
Of course, access to the new park is an utmost priority. The team noted that it will be a strategic component in the city's goal of connecting neighborhoods to downtown.
 
"We have a goal of putting all Clevelanders within a 10-minute bike ride to the towpath and its connector trails," said the planning commission's Cantor, noting the park's close proximity to public housing complexes including Tremont Pointe Apartments, Riverview Towers and Lakeview Estates. "It also addresses the issue of waterfront access," he said, tagging both the lakefront and riverfront.
 
While the park itself will be new, the real estate it will occupy as part of the Cuyahoga corridor is incredibly storied and unique in its designation as a National Heritage Area, an American Byway, and an American Heritage River. Per Donovan, those components make the future park an enduring cultural touchstone.
 
"The towpath becomes our cinder spine; he railroad becomes our iron spine, the byway our asphalt spine," said Donovan. "This is the place where our history happened."

East Cleveland duplex now permanent housing for veterans

While social media bloomed with kind words for veterans last week, a project that truly gives back to those who have sacrificed so much was quietly taking shape in a duplex in East Cleveland.
 
Previously vacant, the house is now home to three veterans who were experiencing homelessness and utilizing the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) Men's Shelter, 2100 Lakeside Ave.

This is the pilot project for the Veterans' Affordable Housing Initiative, a collaboration between the Cuyahoga Land Bank (CLB) and LLM. While another non-veteran shelter client is also living in the duplex, it has six bedrooms. Hence LMM is in the process of placing two more vets.
 
"We really try to have the application and criteria as open as they can be," says Michael Sering, LMM's vice president of housing and shelter. "We didn't want to create barriers for someone's housing. There are enough barriers in the community." Prospective applicants must be able to live independently, get along with roommates and pay 30 percent of their income towards monthly rent, but no less than $325. All utilities are included.
 
"We have to break even on it financially," says Sering of the minimum rent payment. "There is no government subsidy or anything."
 
The open slots will be filled by eligible veterans that are from the 2100 Shelter population or via a referral from the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission (VSC), but if there is a vacancy and another appropriate applicant waiting, he will be offered residence.

The housing is permanent, which Sering notes as the most impactful point of the initiative.

"Everyone wants people in permanent housing - not in a shelter. Ultimately that’s the goal," he says. "They pay rent and live here indefinitely. We imagine some people might move on," he adds, citing an increase in income or other housing opportunities presenting themselves. And if not, "this is definitely permanent housing."
 
Located within walking distance of a grocery, pharmacy and two bus lines, the duplex features two separate residences, approximately 1,300 square feet each. Each side has its own front and back doors, kitchen, living and dining rooms, basement and three bedrooms.
 
The land bank identified the property and prepared it for title transfer to the LMM as a donation. The paperwork was completed in September; and the men, who are in their 50s and 60s, moved in just a few weeks ago.
 
So far things are going along well.
 
"Two of the guys had already known each other and were referred together," says Sering. "They're good friends. They're glad to be moving in together. They're a support network for each other; they had that built in. The other two guys are off to a good start."
 
While LMM will be sending along a staffer once a month to check in and make sure the men's needs are met and that they have access to services, that's about it.
 
"This is not a rigorous case load," says Sering, adding that counseling and monitoring will not be required. "These are people that just need affordable housing."
 
As for the house, LMM spent $40,000 refurbishing the interior. King's Sons 820, an organization that helps young people adopt trade skills, did the work. 
 
"The house was in decent shape," says Sering. "It's brick and has a fairly new roof and windows, so most of work was on the interior. They painted everything and sanded the wood floors, which came out beautifully. They pretty much gutted the kitchen," he adds.
 
Sering hopes that the East Cleveland house will prove to be a successful pilot for the initiative and an example for many more to come.
 
"The land bank has thousands of houses that they want to see go to a good use," says Sering. "We have lots of homeless people and homeless vets that need housing.
 
"If this works as we think it should, the sky's the limit on doing it over and over again."
 
LMM is accepting household donations for this venture, including linens for six new mattress sets (four queen and two twin) and pillows that were donated by Mattress Firm. Cleaning and paper supplies are also appreciated. Any duplicate items will be shared with other veterans moving out of the shelter. Contact Kelly Camlin, associate director of LMM's Men’s Shelter, at 216-649-7718 ext. 480 for more information.

Historic Tremont religious campus reborn as an urban business complex

In 2013, Melissa Ferchill, founder and owner of MCM Company purchased the Our Lady of Mercy (OLM) church complex, 2425 West 11th St. in Tremont. The move, however, was sparked by Ferchill's husband Nick Swingos, owner of Hermes Sports and Events, who was looking to relocate that company from its former St. Clair Avenue space.
 
Ferchill recalls when Swingos asked her, "Would you guys have any interest in moving with us?" and the search began.
 
"We started looking in Downtown and Midtown," says Ferchill. "We made offers on a couple other church properties, but we couldn't make deals." Then they learned about the shuttered OLM complex. "It just kind of fit," says Ferchill.
 
Ferchill purchased the 40,000 square feet of space, which includes what was once a school, rectory and sanctuary, for $550,000. The financial package for the $5.2 million redevelopment included $1.56 million in state and federal historic and tax credits; two municipal grants totaling $110,000, approximately $700,000 in owner equity, a $250,000 Small Business Administrative loan and a $2.25 million bank loan.
 
Currently, the office design firm RCF Group occupies 7,900 square feet in the complex. Hermes is in a 5,800-square foot space and MCM's offices occupy 5,200 square feet. Still to let is a single 4,800-square-foot area. Other spaces include a game room, conference center and basement.
 
Renovations began in fall of 2014. MCM, which specializes in historic construction project management, moved from their rental space in the Warehouse District earlier this year. Weber Murphy Fox (WMF) was the architectural firm on the project. MCM acted as its own general contractor.
 
Locally, MCM have been integrally involved in projects involving historic structures such as the new Cleveland School of Art in what was formerly a Ford assembly plant on Euclid Avenue, the preservation and adaptive re-use of the United Motors Company Building on Prospect Avenue, which is now the Cleveland headquarters for the YWCA, and the Nottingham-Spirk Innovation Center on Overlook Road, which was also once a church.
 
Considering those projects and a host of other historic renovations across the country, Ferchill says of the OLM conversion, "It wasn't completely out of our wheel house." There was, however, an unusual twist.
 
"We had to do some modifications to the historic district here," says Ferchill, adding that the West 11th Street campus was not within the geographical footprint of the Tremont Historic District. The firm successfully worked with the state and the National Park Service to get it amended.
 
The project included some unorthodox transformations on the interior as well, including retrofitting the church confessionals to, well, bathrooms.
 
"We needed to figure out how to come up with additional restrooms," says Ferchill, adding that the single restroom in the sanctuary's vestibule wasn't sufficient for the 7,900-square-foot-space. The location of the building's plumbing and a convenient crawl space made the confessionals prime candidates. "Plus, it's funny and most of us have a pretty good sense of humor," says the Catholic business owner.
 
She's also gotten approval from higher authority.
 
"We've had priests come through the building and say, 'At least there's still cleansing going on in the confessionals.'"
 
And to that Fresh Water can only add: amen.
 

Handcrafted jewelry studio moves to Cedar Fairmont, offers custom bridal sets

While prospective customers won't find rows of display cases in Wanderlust Jewelers, they will find something unique: a custom jewelry design and production experience from beginning to end.
 
Founder and jeweler Wes Airgood consults with clients over a small collection of sample pieces in order to "start a conversation," as he puts it. Then he sets out to design the work with hand-drawn sketches.
 
"I'm really interested in building a relationship with the client and getting to know them and their parameters for the work," says Airgood. When it's time to bring the concept to fruition, he sets out to craft "something that's very special to that one person." Airgood focuses largely on bridal sets. All of his work is handcrafted.
 
Previously housed in a 450-foot-space above Presti's Bakery and Café in Little Italy, Wanderlust's new location is just a bit more than a mile away at 12429 Cedar Road in the Cedar Fairmont neighborhood, right above the Starbucks.
 
"I guess we have a thing about being above coffee shops," quips Airgood. He moved the business, which he helms with wife Heather, earlier this fall.
 
"We needed a place where we could put down roots and be part of community," says Airgood. "It was really important to us." The couple has a two-year-old daughter and is expecting another baby in January. They live in a century home in Cleveland Heights.
 
At nearly 850 square feet, the new location begs for Wanderlust's expansion. To that end, Airgood has built three workbenches and hopes to add a part time craftsperson in the coming months, perhaps an intern from the Cleveland Institute of Art. After that, he envisions up to five or six people working in the space.
 
"That's the nice thing about being a jeweler," says Airgood. "Everything is very small; space isn't really an issue. We could make an entire body of work and it will fit in a shoe box."
 
Airgood founded the business in 2011 after working for other jewelers and doing custom work on the side.
 
"When we decided to go this route, we thought we had come up with a smart business model that no one had ever done before," he says. "Then as we got more and more established, we realized that this is the definition of what a local hometown jeweler was for hundreds of years.

"We found we reinvented a very old wheel," he adds, noting that the custom one-on-one service Wanderlust provides is rare. "You don't see much of that today. We go back to a much older tradition."
 
All of his business come from word-of-mouth referrals, which often bloom into something more.
 
"More often than not, we get invited to wedding because we develop such a fast personal relationship," says Airgood, adding that the connections endure over years, with clients returning for the fifth anniversary, the tenth, the birth of the first baby and so on.
 
"That's the thing that I'm proudest of what we've built: our clients," he says. "They're not just customers, they become almost instant friends."
 
Wanderlust Jewelers invites the public to an open studio event on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 12429 Cedar Road, suite 25.
 

Lab spaces dominate CSU's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's (CSU) new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices (CIMP) building opened to students last August. Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the 100,000-square-foot structure, which features three floors and cost nearly $47 million to build. Donley's was the contractor.
 
The airy and modern interior includes spacious common areas, the walls of which are accented with graphics that evoke electrical pulses traveling between a great unseen brain to any number of imaginary limbs. And while CIMP has its share of classrooms, collaborative study spaces and offices, the labs are what set the building apart.
 
In the labs, hands-on practice involves dozens of patients with an array of health needs, from standard blood pressure monitoring to the treatment of acute conditions. These patients, however, won't suffer if a student errs.
 
"They're mannequins," says Dr. Vida Lock, CSU's dean of the school of nursing. "This is simulation. The students have actually practiced and done the psychomotor skills on plastic mannequins before they go into a hospital with a real patient."
 
To be sure, the labs look just like a real medical ward. Monitors beep. Oxygen ports hiss. Gurneys line the walls, each one occupied by a mannequin/patient. The effect is a bit eerie at first, until a visitor notices the names listed above the beds. Try: Ron Stillblowin, Angie Tube, Christopher Crash, Jason Hipster, Tree Shaker or Virginia Hamm. A bit of comic relief per se, but every one of them has a complete electronic health record that includes allergies, medications and the patient's health history.
 
"It's very realistic," says Lock. Students are even required to don a lab coat before they enter the room. "We want students to walk into the lab in role. They have to walk in pretending that they really are the nurse or physician."
 
The mannequins are no cast-offs from Macy's or JCPenney; these are highly technical teaching tools graded as low, medium or high fidelity. Lock describes the least sophisticated models as, "big Barbies with extras," while the high fidelity units cost upwards of $80,000 and simulate heart and lung noises, have blinking eyes and can be intubated or defibrillated among other features.
 
"We can turn these patients from male to female," says Lock. "We can put different body parts, organs, incisions, ostomies … " Versatility notwithstanding, the storage space for those parts is a bit unnerving for the layman.
 
"We actually have a mannequin that gives birth," says Lock. There's also a pediatric ward that features an array of child and infant mannequins.
 
The end result is an all-encompassing educational experience. Students dispense faux pharmaceuticals, confer with one another on patients and review their work courtesy of a digital recording system that captures it all.
 
"We worked with all the different health disciplines to find out what people needed and how various professions could collaborate for education," says Lock. "Health care is really changing and with this new approach, there's not one person in charge. It's very collaborative. Teaching students in silos and then expecting them to graduate and go out and work as a team really is not effective."
 
The center houses 400 students. Approximately 170 are admitted each year. Lock notes that the school receives two and a half times the number of applications that can be accepted.
 
"It's very competitive," she notes of the coveted placements.
 
Other features in CIMP include a speech and hearing clinic, occupational and physical therapy classrooms, a physical assessment lab wherein students practice procedures such as taking a pulse and monitoring heart sounds on each other, a café and CSU's health and wellness services. Community outreach programs include flu shots, a monthly stroke clinic and the Go Baby Go program, wherein children ages six months to two years with Down syndrome and their families work on cognitive development.
 
"The building was really designed to be more than state of the art," says Lock. "It's designed to bring the future of health care to our students and our community. It's designed to be an inter-professional education building. The learning environment that exists here for our students does not exist anywhere else in this region.
 
"We really are cutting edge."

Artscape expands offerings, adds maker workshop

This weekend, November 13-15, the entire first floor of MOCA will be filled with 28 vendors offering up an array of the annual Artscape show's mainstay, handcrafted jewelry, and some new category items.
 
"There are a lot of return vendors and customer favorites coming back," says Artscape coordinator and MOCA Store buyer/manager Desiree Keller. "We are adding a bunch of new vendors as well, which broaden the categories a little bit." New merchandise will include glass items, leather handbags, clothing and other handmade items such as soap. Artscape will open this Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. for early shopping and mingling.
 
"On Friday night we have a party to start weekend right," says Keller. Potent potables will be available as well as tidbits from Marigold Catering. "It's a good social shopping experience with friends. They can drink and eat and shop all at the same time."
 
The evening event will also feature door prizes: gift collections of items from the MOCA store and others donated by vendors. Admission is free for members and $10 for nonmembers, which also includes admission to the galleries. Current exhibitions feature the work of Korean-born Do Ho Suh and an aural installation by Fatima Al Qadiri in the museum's Stair A.
 
This year's Artscape selections will include handbags by Freddy Hill Design, hand blown glass items by Shayna Pentecost, jewelry by Deborah Woolfork, clothing by Tidal Cool, Orlando Pottery, and much more. A complete list of vendors is available here. Keller estimates most purchases range from $20 to $80, although an array of higher-end items will be available.
 
"We try to make sure there is a variety of price points," she says, "because the Cleveland population is our customer and that's a broad range of people."
 
On Saturday and Sunday, the show runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to Artscape is free, although standard admission applies to the galleries. On Saturday afternoon, NinnaNanna will be conducting a 90-minute workshop ($60) on crafting needle felted pets, an item that was a surprise hit at the 2014 Artscape event.
 
"People went crazy for those felted animals," says Keller, "and throughout the year, I had customers calling me and asking for contact information." The workshop will be the first such event associated with