La Villa Hispana

FreshWater kicks off 12-week On the Ground reporting series in La Villa Hispana

Many Clevelanders view the stretch of W. 25th Street between Clark Avenue and I-71 as a pass-thru between Ohio City and Old Brooklyn.

That’s about to change.

A vision 35 years in the making is hitting critical mass as the community of La Villa Hispana takes shape with a renewed sense of community and a flurry of new development. Long known to Greater Clevelanders as Clark-Fulton, Cleveland's near west side has long played home to the state’s largest concentration of Hispanic residents—but is now branding itself with the identity to match.

A recent report from Cleveland State University found that commercial and residential investment in the area will generate $29.4 million in annual labor income and support 500 jobs per year by 2024.

It’s a golden opportunity for the many food vendors, retailers, and entrepreneurs who’ve been there for generations, as well as those who want to be part of this emerging cultural and commercial hub. (No less than 15 projects are currently in the works.) The project is set apart by the fact that it’s neighborhood-driven and geared to support the residents who've long called La Villa Hispana home.

FreshWater Cleveland will have a unique vantage point from which to follow the neighborhood's progress as we embark on a 12-week On the Ground reporting initiative (similar to the one we did in Old Brooklyn last year) covering La Villa Hispana. Long-time FreshWater contributor Mark Oprea is acting as lead writer, keeping "office hours" at Las Tienditas del Mercado and reporting from within the neighborhood.

Some of the themes and topics explored will include: momentum in economic development; the neighborhood's cultural heritage (and how it plans to retain it); planned projects and development; and profiles of the people who make the neighborhood so special. Along with reported stories, content will include photo essays and multimedia, as well as a live event.

The On the Ground - La Villa Hispana community reporting project is being made possible by partnerships with Dollar Bank, Hispanic Business Center, Esperanza Inc., Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and Cleveland Development Advisors.

Read our first story in the series here and follow the rest of our coverage here.