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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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.”  

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.”

$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.”

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.

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.”

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.”  
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