The future of La Villa Hispana: These 5 projects are set to transform the Clark-Fulton neighborhood

As Clark-Fulton transforms into La Villa Hispana, the neighborhood is shape-shifting as well. As we wrap up our On the Ground community reporting series, check out our list of five transformative projects set to change the neighborhood landscape.

Floressa Café: When Sara Cisheimer was house hunting seven years ago, she “fell in love” with La Villa Hispana—and that’s exactly why she not only lives there now but is also opening a neighborhood bakery with her business partner Caitlin Dobson.


“When it was time to look to expand our business and find a brick-and-mortar, I was naturally drawn to that area,” says Cisheimer, who lives three blocks away from the bakery’s future site. “There is just something about it. My heart feels at home in this neighborhood.”

When Floressa Café opens next spring, the 2,800-square-foot house will feature the allergy-friendly, (mostly) vegan bakery on the first floor and—eventually—apartments on the second floor. According to Dobson, the space was abandoned for eight years before she and Cisheimer worked with Metro West Community Development Organization and the Urban League of Greater Cleveland to secure it. “We were able to put in our bid and share our vision for it, which was really exciting.”


Floressa Café has been a wholesale bakery since 2015, and this marks its first foray into retail, which Cisheimer says coincides nicely with the neighborhood’s momentum. “I’m excited to have our fingerprints on this neighborhood’s growth,” says Cisheimer. “I see its potential, and it’s great to be part of that.”

Phunkenship by Platform: The Phunkenship has landed. This fall, Platform Beer Co. will open its long-anticipated souring facility—replete with a tasting room and event space—on Sackett Avenue.


It’s been a big year for Platform, which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in August. Located less than two miles from Platform's Ohio City headquarters, the stand-alone building will enable the brewery to produce its “pharm-to-table” sour beers in a dedicated space (necessary to avoid cross-contamination during the open fermentation process, according to Brew Studs).


Astrup Awning: The historic Astrup Awning building will soon be a beacon for art, culture, and goodwill in La Villa Hispana.


According to Ricardo Leon of Metro West, the Cleveland Museum of Art will become the primary tenant of the building, establishing an annex of sorts to its East Side location and occupying roughly one-third of the building. To date, the museum has used the space to store props and equipment for Parade the Circle.


Other organizations to be housed there include Inlet Dance Theatre, LatinUs Theater Company, The Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children & Adults, The Boys & Girls Club, and a Latinx-owned restaurant. A total of 11 organizations will have the opportunity to reside in and later become part-owners in the building, in an effort to combat gentrification. Future potential plans for the space include providing services to victims of human trafficking in the hopes of rewriting the area's recent history.


“[It’s going to] change the way people from outside view the neighborhood,” says Leon. “This is going to be a huge benefit to the community.”

MetroHealth transformation: It’s no doubt that MetroHealth, as a leading health care institution, is doing its best to know its neighbors a little better—and they're in the midst of an approximately $1 billion campus transformation to prove it.

The large-scale project aligns with MetroHealth's philosophy that health care is about more than medicine, placing importance on social determinants of health and keeping top of mind that only 10% of one's health stems from medical care. To that end, the new MetroHealth campus will feature a 12-acre park and more than 25 acres of green space; 72 units of affordable housing (one- to three-bedroom); and a new, LEED-certified 270-room hospital tower. Construction on the new hospital began in April and is slated for completion in August 2022.

CentroVilla25: In the great span of CentroVilla25’s existence, from concept to planning, the entire feeling has been of prolonged anticipation: We’re almost finally there.

After a momentous summer for La Villa Hispana, CentroVilla25 is getting ready to take flight. In September, NEOHCED will assume full ownership of the vacant H.J. Webber Building as the first step in a phased construction schedule slated to begin in September 2020.

The nearly two-acre space will feature 20 micro-retail shops (aka "El Mercado"); a 3,000-square-foot commercial kitchen, a galleria event space with a 400-person capacity; a multipurpose wellness center; and an outdoor plaza. The Las Tienditas incubator will also move over to CentroVilla25 with three slots for emerging entrepreneurs.

For her part, Hispanic Business Center executive director Jenice Contreras is excited to see the hard work come to fruition. “It’s taken years to plan this huge vision, but we are so close to making it a reality,” says Contreras. "I can close my eyes and see it.”

This article is part of our On the Ground - La Villa Hispana community reporting project in partnership with Dollar Bank, Hispanic Business Center, Esperanza Inc., Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Cleveland Development Advisors. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Jen Jones Donatelli
Jen Jones Donatelli

About the Author: Jen Jones Donatelli

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast.

When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
Mark Oprea
Mark Oprea

About the Author: Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea is a regular contributor to FreshWater Cleveland. He’s written for the Pacific Standard, OZY, and Cleveland Magazine, and was a correspondent in Mexico in 2018. He lives in Ohio City. More of his work can be found on his personal website.