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restored league park set to reopen following $6m renovation

League Park, the historic Hough ballfield where baseball legend Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run over the outfield wall in 1929, is set to reopen this weekend following a complete renovation. The reopening, in the works for years, will not only house the Baseball Heritage Museum, but also a replica of the original ticketing facility, a community room and a huge, new ballfield. It mimics the original down to the fact that home plate is set in the same spot as when Babe Ruth stood there.

Councilman T. J. Dow hopes that the project will spark reinvestment in the Hough neighborhood. "We love the fact that we have a recreational park in the community, but it will also serve as an economic development piece," he says. "Many of the new homeowners moved here with the expectation that League Park would be rebuilt. We believe that it will serve as an anchor."

Dow also believes that the park will serve as a tourist attraction, drawing baseball and history lovers from Greater Cleveland and beyond. The park has a special significance for the African-American community, since many black teams played here and the Buckeyes won the Negro World Series at League Park in 1920.

The restored League Park will also serve as home field for many Cleveland Municipal School District teams, a special privilege since the park is quite large and has brand-new astroturf. Outside organizations can rent the field for a fee, and the money earned will go back into maintaining the park. The ticketing office and museum will be open for regular hours during the week and on weekends.

"We have Hough residents who are starting up baseball clubs," says Dow, touting ways in which enhanced recreational opportunities will help the neighborhood. "They could play on the League Park field during the championship games."

Although there is no active community development corporation in Hough and redevelopment plans stalled out in the recession, that could change. Dow is currently in the process of kicking off a neighborhood planning process, and envisions new housing built on tracts of vacant land around League Park.

League Park is located at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue. A grand opening party is set for Saturday, August 23rd at 1 p.m., and will feature the unveiling of the Fannie M. Lewis sculpture, an appearance by the Cleveland Blues vintage baseball team, a Home Run Derby and other activities.
 

state of downtown is strong, but greater connectivity between amenities is needed, say leaders

Downtown Cleveland was named one of the top cities for millenials to live by The Atlantic, with more than 1,000 new housing units coming online, and major projects like Flats East helping to reenergize formerly moribund parts of downtown. These are just a few of the successes listed in Downtown Cleveland Alliance's 2013 annual report, and touted at this week's State of Downtown forum at the City Club.

Yet more needs to be done to connect downtown's assets, including public realm improvements, pedestrian- and bike-friendly amenities, and especially lakefront connections. These were the messages conveyed by leaders at the forum.

"We're no longer in the 'big box' phase," said Joe Marinucci, President and CEO of DCA. "Now our challenge is, how we can incrementally connect the investments."

Marinucci pointed to Perk Park, a revamped green space at East 12th and Chester, as an example of a successful strategy for creating public improvements.

Now DCA has launched Step Up Downtown, an initiative to engage residents and stakeholders in envisioning the future of downtown. With abundant plans in place, the goal is to prioritize which enhancements to focus on first, garner feedback from residents, and drill down to the implementation phase.

"This initiative recognizes that we've made a lot of investments downtown, but in many ways haven't connected the investments as well as we should," said Marinucci. "We need to make the public realm as attractive as the destinations."

Attendees posed questions about connecting to the waterfront, making downtown accessible to all income levels, and prioritizing educational opportunities for families.

Marinucci cited lakefront development plans, the incorporation of affordable housing into downtown projects and DCA's work with Campus International School and the Cleveland Municipal School District as signs of progress.


Source: Joe Marinucci
By Lee Chilcote

cleveland kurentovanje fest seeks to ward off cold with mid-winter parade, festival

Winter shows no signs of abating with the impending arrival of another Polar Vortex and more of that white, fluffy stuff.
 
But have no fear! The Kurents are here. These mythical fuzzy creatures from Slovenia will be out in force this weekend at the second annual Cleveland Kurentovanje, an all-ages festival that seeks to ward off winter with a fun parade and day-long party.

"We have 10 fuzzy Kurents this year, six of which are waiting for us in customs right now," says Michael Fleming, Executive Director of St. Clair Superior Development, the nonprofit agency spearheading improvement efforts in the area, who expects a good crowd. "There's a lot of excitement this year."

Fleming and his co-organizers ordered the outfits directly from the city of Ptuj in Slovenia, which, in case you don't know, is the capitol of all things Kurentovanje.

Cleveland Kurentovanje takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair, with an after-party set for Sterle's Country House. The parade steps off at noon from St. Vitus Church, and will feature fuzzy Kurents, marching bands from area schools, floats from area businesses, and a DJ Kishka float. Family-friendly activities will take place in the basement of the Slovenian National Home, and kids can also march in the parade.

There will be plenty on tap at the Slovenian National Home, including krofe and sausage sandwiches, wine, beer, music, dance and crafting stations for kids.

Fleming says the Slovenian National Home on St. Clair and Sterle's on East 55th have become focal points for redevelopment activity in the area. The National Home has attracted new tenants including the Slovenian Genealogical Society, a dance studio and a bakery. Sterle's has reinvented itself with additional live music geared towards a younger crowd and an outdoor beer garden, yet it has retained the beer-and-schnitzel atmosphere that has worked for the past half century.


Source: Michael Fleming
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cleveland neighborhood progress launches city life tours to highlight urban vibrancy

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a nonprofit community development organization, has begun offering Cleveland City Life tours to expose suburbanites, millenials, empty-nesters, boomerangs and newcomers to town to all the city has to offer.

CNP Director of Marketing Jeff Kipp says the tours really are about helping Clevelanders see for themselves the positive change taking place in the city.

"We'll do the proverbial handholding and take you into the neighborhoods," he says. "You see the positive headlines and positive trends, but a big chunk of our population doesn't have firsthand experience with the city. This is about removing that intimidation factor and bridging the gap."

Tours starts in Ohio City and include stops in Detroit Shoreway, the lakefront, University Circle, Little Italy, Midtown, downtown and Tremont. Along the way, it also touches on neighborhoods such as Cudell, Glenville and Fairfax. Each lasts two hours, costs $12 and comes with a free Live!Cleveland/City Life T-shirt.
 
"As we drive through University Circle, we can reference the excitement that's happening in North Shore Collinwood," Kipp explains, adding that while the tours can't feasibly cover the whole city, they will highlight all city neighborhoods.

The tours are being marketed through CNP's website and partner organizations such as Global Cleveland and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. There currently are tours scheduled between Christmas and New Year's and around the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

"This is a way to roll out the red carpet and give a reintroduction to your Cleveland neighbors," Kipp adds.
 

Source: Jeff Kipp
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new grant program funds business incubator, other innovative community projects

A new grant program launched by Neighborhood Progress Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides funding and technical assistance to community development corporations in Cleveland, recently awarded $200,000 to five projects. The recipients include a new business incubation program in North Collinwood, youth programming in Ohio City and surrounding neighborhoods, an effort in Central to teach fourth graders about healthy, local food, arts-based development in St. Clair Superior, and a community engagement effort in Tremont.

"The program came to be when we, as an organization, made a decision to develop a program that all CDCs had access to," says Colleen Gilson, Vice President of CDC Services for NPI, of the Neighborhood Solutions grant program. "The idea was, let's not be prescriptive. Let's let CDCs tell us what their solution to a neighborhood problem is or a cool project in their service area."

The awards break down as follows: NPI awarded $45,000 to ActiVacant, a program to recruit entrepreneurs to vacant retail spaces on E. 185th; $45,000 to Near West Recreation to expand its network of youth programming, including baseball, soccer, softball, basketball and bowling; $45,000 to St. Clair Superior for its Urban Upcycle project; $45,000 to Burton Bell Carr for its Urban Farm Diet Program; and $20,000 to Tremont West for its efforts to engage residents in creating a community-based development plan around MetroHealth.

Gilson says the projects reflect "deep collaboration" and non-traditional approaches towards community development. For instance, Near West Recreation is an effort to engage and retain families in six neighborhoods on the near west side -- Ohio City, Tremont, Stockyards, Clark-Fulton and Detroit Shoreway -- and build "intergenerational mixed-income neighborhoods." ActiVacant, spearheaded by Northeast Shores, is a "new take on the American dream" and a "business incubation project on steroids" that will entice young retailers to fill empty spaces on E. 185th by offering them free or reduced rent for a period of time, access to mentors and other support, and incentives for meeting benchmarks.

"The process was pretty amazing," says Gilson, describing a Shark Tank-esque format in which finalists presented in front of a panel of community development leaders, who then ranked and voted on winners. "We invited other CDCs to come watch and learn from their peers, and it was a really good opportunity to learn."


Source: Colleen Gilson
Writer: Lee Chilcote

opportunity corridor could be missed opportunity without better planning, advocates say

Opponents and proponents of the Opportunity Corridor, a 3.5-mile planned roadway that would connect I-490 with University Circle, don’t agree on much. Opponents say that the road is a glorified highway that will encourage drivers to bypass east side neighborhoods without providing much local community benefit. Proponents say the roadway will connect low-income communities with transportation networks and jobs while spurring new development.

“We think this is an example of outdated planning,” said Angie Schmitt of Clevelanders for Transportation Equity at a forum on the Opportunity Corridor, held at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “For decades, we’ve built a highway system and been told that prosperity would follow. A lot of times, this has been way oversold.”

Schmitt believes that the Opportunity Corridor could “entrench auto-dependency” and hurt neighborhoods, and says younger workers want pedestrian-friendly development.

Yet Vicki Eaton-Johnson of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation says that the Opportunity Corridor is a true opportunity if done right. “Our neighborhood has planned with anticipation of this roadway for 10 years,” she said, pointing to the proposed New Economy Neighborhood on E. 105th Street as a benefit.

“Fairfax’s responsibility is to leverage what happens for community benefit,” she added, arguing that the medical and technology businesses that the Opportunity Corridor is expected to attract will provide some jobs to community residents. 

However, there is increased consensus that the Opportunity Corridor must be better designed or it will be a missed opportunity. Panelists said it should be a truly multi-modal roadway that not only maximizes development opportunities, but also works for cyclists and pedestrians while making the area more attractive and vibrant.

“I am a proponent of getting this right, and we need to create complete neighborhoods and complete streets,” said Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle Incorporated.

Schmitt criticized a proposed 10-foot-wide, multipurpose path on the south side of the roadway as a “bone” that was thrown to cyclists in order to pacify some vocal critics. The car lanes are 12-13 feet wide like a highway, which will encourage speeding, she argued. She also said the intersections are not designed to be pedestrian-friendly. Moreover, Schmitt argued that there aren’t enough intersections (13 are planned).

Although Opportunity Corridor proponents refuted Schmitt’s notion that the roadway represents dated thinking, some agree that more planning is needed to get it right. “Angie is right that we’ve got to plan this thing at the intersection level,” Ronayne commented, lamenting a short timeline and lack of funding for alternative plans.  

Architect Jennifer Coleman commented that the City of Cleveland needs to develop a form-based zoning plan for the area in order to foster the kind of development that will lead to community revitalization. “We can do better,” she said in response to drawings showing single-story, office-park development on the vacant land around the roadway.

Moderator Steve Litt called on panelists to lead a community-based planning process and present an alternative plan to the Ohio Department of Transportation, which has awarded $331 million to the corridor. The project is expected to start in fall of 2014.


Source: Angie Schmitt, Chris Ronayne, Vicki Eaton-Johnson, Steve Litt
Writer: Lee Chilcote

downtown cleveland alliance hosts first all-ohio BID conference

As millenials, empty nesters and other demographic groups flock to downtowns across Ohio, business improvement districts -- or BIDs -- are playing an important role in ensuring that these areas are clean and safe and that residents, office workers and property owners have the amenities they need to thrive.

A business improvement district is a defined area within which property owners pay an additional tax to fund projects and services that enhance the area. Downtown Cleveland has a BID, and the organization provides basic "clean and safe" services, organizes events and markets downtown to prospective residents, visitors and businesses.

This week, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, which manages the downtown BID, organized the first all-Ohio BID conference, bringing together BID leaders from across the state to network and learn about issues they share in common.

"It came from the idea that there's not a unifying organization or conference for BIDs," says Anna Beyerle with DCA. "We can learn a lot from other BIDs across Ohio. The idea was to get in the same room and throw out ideas and best practices."

Topics included food truck legislation, downtown transportation, farmers markets, placemaking, and office and retail recruitment strategies.

Participants also enjoyed several tours of downtown Cleveland and the surrounding area and had a chance to learn from Cleveland's redevelopment.

Beyerle says the conference will help BIDs, such as the one in downtown Cleveland, to become more effective. "We're up for renewal in a couple years, and we're looking at how we can improve."


Source: Anna Beyerle
Writer: Lee Chilcote

high-profile merger will help community development efforts across city, leaders say

Three prominent community development groups in Cleveland have merged, and staffers say the resulting alliance will help strengthen community revitalization efforts across the city, foster more unified advocacy, and allow for greater efficiency in citywide efforts.

Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI), a community development intermediary that provides grants and technical assistance to community development corporations (CDCs), has merged with Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition (CNDC) and LiveCleveland. CNDC is a trade association of CDCs; LiveCleveland helps to market city neighborhoods.

That might sound like a mouthful of acronyms to the average city resident, but Joel Ratner, President of NPI, says the collaboration really is about improving Cleveland's neighborhoods.

"We'll have a greater ability to coordinate the marketing of neighborhoods along with advocacy, capacity building and all the other things we've traditionally done," he says. "This is really about uniting the strands of community development across the city in a way that's integrated and strategic rather than separate."

For example, says Ratner, CDCs will be able to have a stronger voice in education reform and other efforts that affect the entire city, residents will see an increased marketing presence, and CDC employees will benefit from shared services like healthcare. It adds up to more effective efforts to improve all of Cleveland.

"Our mission is to foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland," says Ratner, who acknowledges that NPI will still only have resources to provide core operating support to a subset of city neighborhoods. "There are lots of ways we can play a role in lifting up all CDCs and neighborhoods."

CNDC Director Colleen Gilson says that while the merger idea was far from popular among CDCs at first -- they feared losing their independence -- individual leaders saw the value in fostering a citywide community development network that provides more effective services to all neighborhoods, not just a select few.

The merger will be publicly rolled out in September, with NPI moving into its new offices in the Saint Luke's project at Shaker Boulevard and E. 116th by January.


Source: Joel Ratner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

next city leaders ask if cle, other cities can diversify beyond the 'cupcake economy'

Young urbanist leaders who were in Cleveland this week for Next City's annual Vanguard conference were asked a provocative question about this city's future. With new development activity happening in neighborhoods across a city that still is devastatingly poor, how can we do a better job of ensuring that these projects will benefit our poorest residents?

"I'm a little concerned that as we build projects, we're creating a city for yuppies and a city for everyone else," commented Ari Maron of MRN Ltd. in a presentation to 40 leaders from across the U.S. and Canada engaged in fields such as urban planning, entrepreneurship and sustainability. "How many cupcake and yogurt shops can a city sustain?"

Heads nodded and attendees laughed as Maron admitted the challenge was as much to himself as others, since MRN owns three of the city's most prominent new developments, E. Fourth Street in downtown Cleveland, Uptown in University Circle and property along W. 25th in Ohio City.

Several attendees noted that they were surprised by how few of the city's larger developments have translated into prosperity for surrounding neighborhoods. Sitting in the newly-built Museum of Contemporary Art at University Circle, leaders asked how that area's success could benefit its low-income neighbors.

Maron cited the Greater University Circle Initiative and local hiring and procuring efforts by University Hospitals and others. MRN has committed to hiring local residents for its projects, and the company now employs 285 city residents.

"When people from the neighborhood work here, they take ownership of the project because it's their neighborhood," he said, citing DoubleTree Hotel as one example of a University Circle project that employees many local residents.

An attendee from Chicago noted that Cleveland appears to be behind in adding bike-friendly infrastructure. He cited the recent addition of separated bicycle lanes to Surmac Avenue in Chicago as a game-changing project for his city. "Cleveland needs to do one really good pilot project," said the attendee.

Next City is a national nonprofit media organization that organizes the Vanguard conference to highlight best urban practices and develop young urban leaders. Updates from the conference are being posted on Next City's daily blog.


Source: Next City, Ari Maron
Writer: Lee Chilcote

near west theatre announces plans to break ground on world's first passive-built theater

Near West Theatre's new home will be nothing if not active when it opens next year. It will be filled with youth and adults rehearsing for its signature brand of community theatre -- large ensemble productions that bring the arts to youth and city residents.

And when its shows are running, it will draw up to 275 patrons per show into a new, state-of-the-art theatre that caps off a string of investments in the Gordon Square Arts District.

The building not only will be active -- it will be "passive" when it comes to energy consumption. It will boast a super-insulated, passive design common in Europe but still relatively new in the U.S. The 24,000-square-foot ultra-energy-efficient theatre will be the first of its kind in the U.S., featuring super-thick walls, an energy-efficient heat recovery ventilation system, and a 75,000-watt array of solar panels.

"It will be unlike other buildings in the neighborhood," says Hans Holznagel of the new Near West Theatre, which will be located at W. 67th and Detroit in the Gordon Square Arts District. "We hope people will see the sign and say, 'Wow, that metal building looks pretty cool. What's going on in there?'"

Philanthropists Chuck and Char Fowler earmarked a special gift for the building's passive design, which is expected to save more than 35 percent in energy costs, or about $1.2 million over 50 years. That kind of savings appeals to long-term users.

"In a typical commercial building, 30 to 35 percent of the heat going into the building is just to offset air leakage," says Adam Cohen, a Virginia-based architect and passive house consultant who worked on the project. "There's more interest in passive design now, especially from end users who are going to own the buildings."

The project was far from simple. Most passive commercial buildings have fairly static loads, unlike a theatre whose use varies widely. On any given day there could be people working in offices or large casts rehearsing. Cohen helped NWT to develop a high-efficiency mechanical system that can handle such fluctuation.

Holznagel says the theatre will finally realize its dream of moving into a new home (with air conditioning, he says with glee) that offers the right amount of rehearsal, dressing room and backstage space, not to mention modern administrative offices.

"We'll feel very much at home in this energy-efficient building," he says.


Source: Hans Holznagel, Adam Cohen
Writer: Lee Chilcote

benjamin rose set to open 6,000 s/f training center overlooking downtown

The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, a nationally-recognized research organization, service provider and policy advocate that works with older adults and caregivers, is set to open a new 6,000-square-foot administrative headquarters and training center.

"What's new about the facility is that we intend to broaden the scope of our training to a couple of new audiences," says CEO Richard Browdie of the building at Fairhill Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. "There are many professions that interface with older people and their families on a routine basis but may or may not have any training available to them."

The building also provides Benjamin Rose with the first permanent home for its training programs. Traditionally, such programs had been conducted at off-site locations. Browdie finds it poetic that the organization is building its home in the Shaker-Buckeye neighborhood of Cleveland where they've been for many years.

"The board just really came back to the conclusion that, no matter what they did, they wanted to remain here in the city," he says. "We have replications of our evidence-based practices all over the country, but our home is in Cleveland."

The building cost about $7.5 million and the project cost $11.4 million. Funds came from the sale of another facility to Kindred Hospital, New Markets Tax Credits and other sources. Browdie says the facility will also be available for rent for retreats and other events hosted by nonprofits organizations with compatible missions. The hilltop location offers sweeping views of downtown Cleveland.

Benjamin Rose will celebrate with a free afternoon celebration on Sunday, May 19th from 2-4 p.m. The new BRIA training center is located at 11890 Fairhill.


Source: Richard Browdie
Writer: Lee Chilcote

barroco brings latin american street food to the warehouse district

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: Juan David Vergara
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new korean-fusion eatery set to open in playhousesquare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: Jiyoung Sung
Writer: Lee Chilcote

community development leader says city's population can be stabilized, all neighborhoods can succeed

During a recent address at the City Club of Cleveland, Joel Ratner of Neighborhood Progress Inc. touted recent success stories that the nonprofit has invested in, including a new home for The Intergenerational School underway at the Saint Luke's campus.

Ratner believes that even though Cleveland has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, the city can stabilize its population and begin to grow again through promoting thoughtful, equitable, synergistic development that helps everyone succeed.

"For a long time, there was a debate over whether it makes sense to invest in people or place," said Ratner. "However, we believe it should be people and place."

Ratner cited Pittsburgh as an example of a city whose population has been right-sized and has even begun to grow again in recent years.

As examples of why community development matters, Ratner presented statistics showing that neighborhoods where NPI invested heavily over the past decade not only fell less steeply in the recession, but are also coming back more quickly than others. He also believes that every Cleveland neighborhood can be successful.

Ratner touted the recently-announced Slavic Village Reclaim Project, which leverages private investment by Safeco Properties and Forest City to help rehab 2,000+ properties on 440 acres, as one example of innovative best practices.

He also cited NPI's partnership with the Key Bank Financial Education Center to help low-income residents build wealth through savings and investment programs. Through a possible merger with Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition and LiveCleveland, Ratner hopes to begin serving additional neighborhoods.


Source: Joel Ratner
Writer: Lee Chilcote

new west park club paddyrock presents live music in concert setting

Two Cleveland families with deep Irish roots have teamed up to open an Irish bar and concert venue in Kamm's Corners. They say that Paddyrock Superpub will live up to its name, offering a range of live music, live sporting events on big-screen TVs and a full menu.

"What we're doing is original for a neighborhood bar on the west side, because there are no other concert-type venues like this one," says Sheila Sheehan, who opened Paddyrock with her husband Jimmy and West Park native Danny Riley and his family. "We love Irish music. We're excited to showcase the music."

But it won't just be Irish music, says Sheehan, who describes the style of bands as "just fun." They include country, lounge, and, soon, polka. Paddyrock is a large venue with two levels, including a sizeable bar area and a stage for live music.

Other amenities include a 15-foot high-definition superscreen for games, and an upper level with pool tables, dart boards and a balcony overlooking the stage.

Sheehan, who has owned two other West Park bars and lived in the neighborhood for over two decades before recently moving to North Ridgeville, says there's no interesting story behind the location. "They offered it to me and I said yes," she says of the former Stir Niteclub space.

Yet she lights up when talking about the Wolf Tones, an Irish band that is stopping by on Sunday night as part of their American tour. "They're legendary," says Sheehan excitedly. "We've been getting great crowds for the music."

Sheehan is also excited about the direction West Park is taking. "When I first moved here forever ago, the community businesses were good but they were closing up," she says. "Recently, it's become more of an entertainment district."

"This is one of the last communities where families really know each other," she continues. "It's all non-corporate businesses, actual mom-and-pops. There are deep community roots here, and we all stick together and help each other out."

If you stop by, there's a good chance you'll bump into a member of the Riley or Sheehan family -- many of them work here. It's a West Park tradition, after all.

Paddyrock Superpub is located at 16700 Lorain Avenue.


Source: Sheila Sheehan
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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