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foreign language immersion school set to open next year in cleveland

Educational opportunities for Cleveland grade-schoolers could soon expand with the addition of a new foreign language immersion school in the 2015-16 school year. Last February, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) gave the Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) the thumbs up on a new charter school for children in kindergarten through grade eight.
 
"This is going to be the first foreign language immersion school in the region," notes GALA's founder Meran Rogers, adding that it will also be the first Mandarin immersion school in the state.
 
"Outside of our country, attending a school where you're immersed in another language is typical," says Rogers. She should know. She taught at an immersion school in Taiwan for a year and saw the benefits it brought to children there. The experience made Rogers wonder, why don't we have this here? And GALA was born.
 
The new charter school expects to open for the 2015/2016 school year offering Spanish and Mandarin programs, although Rogers hopes to expand in the coming years, particularly with Portuguese and Arabic programs. Upcoming milestones for the school include getting a preliminary agreement filed with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) next March, and a formal contract between CMSC and GLA filed with ODE next May. The group is optimistic that these procedures will go smoothly as GALA plans to begin hiring staff in February and start enrolling students in March. They are currently accepting intent to enroll forms for their inaugural year.
 
Enrollment is free for all Ohio residents. GALA will receive the standard state and federal per-pupil allocations. Private donors have included the Albert B and Audrey G. Ratner Family Foundation, RPM International Inc. and Margaret Wong & Associates. Rogers is also hopeful that GALA's application of a $653,000 federal three-year grant will be approved in the coming days.
 
GALA will announce the school's location in December, after completing a series of community information meetings (tonight, Oct. 4, Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, RSVP required). Information gleaned from those gatherings and the intent to enroll forms, such as where students live, will determine the school's location. GALA is considering three potential spots, although Rogers will not disclose details except that all three are in Cleveland proper with one on the west side of town, one on the east side and one in the middle.
 
In addition to her international teaching experience, Rogers has another more personal reason for starting the venture.
 
"I grew up in Cleveland and both of my parents were immigrants. I grew up speaking a blend of four languages: Polish, Taiwanese, Chinese and English," she says, adding that the confusion over language caused the Cleveland Public Schools to label her as a special education student instead of one with English as a second language. When she transferred to Lakewood Public Schools in second grade, the mistake was corrected. Nonetheless, Rogers still carries negative feelings over the experience and disappointment that her diversity wasn't valued and nurtured.
 
"I grew up feeling that my culture and my languages were a burden—something that needed to be done away with—to assimilate," she says. "If I offer students in similar situations a program that embraces their culture and diversity—or other cultures and diversity—I think that's good for our community."
 
Rogers stresses that GALA is not targeting Mandarin or Spanish speaking students. "It's actually just the opposite," she says. "Our model is to target English speaking students."
 

keybank donates $4m towards revitalization of public square, bringing project closer to its goal

The KeyBank Foundation has announced a $4 million donation towards the revitalization of Public Square, bringing this long-sought project one step closer to a fall groundbreaking and completion in 2016. The gift is the project's first corporate donation, and the single largest gift in the KeyBank Foundation's history. In recognition, Group Plan Commission leaders spearheading the project have pledged that the new pathway that will ring Public Square will be called the KeyBank Promenade.

“The redevelopment of Public Square will be one of the most significant projects in the city’s history, and we are proud to be able to play a part in making it happen,” said KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney in a press release. “It will provide the kind of public space that acts as a magnet for residents and visitors. Years from now, Clevelanders will regard this project as one of the essential elements in the city’s revitalization.”

KeyBank's gift also meets the requirements of a $1 million challenge grant from the Cleveland Foundation. The gift includes $500,000 for long-term maintenance.

Check out Fresh Water's past coverage of Public Square's revitalization here and here.

craft sandwich and beer bistro planned for gordon square will offer delivery service

It seems there's a new venue with reclaimed wood and industrial furnishings opening up every day on the near west side of Cleveland. Yet Jon Mavrakis, who is opening up the new craft sandwich and beer bistro Local West in Gordon Square with his dad and brother, says his new eatery will fill a gap in the marketplace. Every sandwich will be locally sourced, and they'll be priced between $8 and $14. Local West also plans to offer delivery service, something that is not widely available.

"We'll be able to deliver craft sandwiches and a six pack of craft beer right to your doorstep, if that's what you want," says Mavrakis, a real estate broker who owns CitiRoc, a real estate sales and marketing firm focused on the urban market.

Local West, which will be located in the former Niko's Greek Grille at 7400 Detroit, is expected to open by January. Mavrakis says they will source all of their meats, poultry and produce from Ohio, and will make their burgers from scratch with grass fed beef. Orlando Baking Company will supply locally made bread. The menu will feature burgers, Cuban and pressed sandwiches and poutine. 

"We'll have homemade sides and exotic things like octopus sandwiches or a beef tongue sandwich," he says. "We'll have an Italian double dip sandwich with prime cuts in it. It's not going to be a Subway by any stretch of the imagination."

The bistro is considered family-friendly and will be open from 11 a.m. until about 11 p.m. The owners have applied for a full liquor license but only plan to serve craft beer and wine. Most of the selections will be from Ohio, and they'll only serve bottles. Mavrakis says he's excited that Banter is opening up next door.

The building seats about 35 people inside and fits another 18 on the front patio. The venue will be very casual and will only offer counter service. Mavrakis says they're only sprucing up the exterior, but the interior will be "dramatically different."

"We'll have reclaimed wood with wrapping around it, and all our furniture will made from recycled wood and steel we had fabricated," he says. "We'll have vintage chandeliers and lighting. It’s basically going to be a walkup open kitchen where you’re going to order from the chef."

Local West benefited from several incentives from the City of Cleveland, says Mavrakis, including a Neighborhood Retail Assistance Grant for new job creation. With the addition of Banter and Local West, the Gordon Square Arts District is now seeing development activity spread further west along Detroit Avenue.
 

ohio city-based urban orchid opens second location in renovated little italy church

Urban Orchid, a floral boutique that opened in Ohio City in 2011, recently celebrated the opening of a second location at 2062 Murray Hill Road in Little Italy. The new shop is located inside an elegant, historic church converted to retail space. With business booming, the owners needed an east side workspace for arrangements and deliveries on the other side of town. Larger arrangements for weddings and other events are still being done in Ohio City.

"We wanted to keep it in the city, but we wanted to be in another neighborhood with a similar feel to Ohio City," says Jeffrey Zelmer, who owns Urban Orchid with Brandon Seitler, a floral designer. "We thought Little Italy was a good opportunity."

Zelmer describes the new space as possessing "amazing" architecture; it offers soaring ceilings, hardwood floors and many other historic features. The owners worked with local contractors John Paul Costello and Alex Loos to custom-build furnishings and work stations using reclaimed materials. "We tried to enhance the architecture of the space, and not mask it off," says Zelmer of the build-out.

The new location boasts a choir loft that allows visitors to get a bird's eye view of the space. Zelmer and Seitler are considering hosting pop-up shops there.

The company already has 75 weddings booked for this year and additional staff has been brought on to keep up with demand. "Brandon’s design capabilities and floral style are exceptional and people really respond to it," says Zelmer. "The word of mouth spead like wildfire. We also carry a really interesting line of locally made merchandise that can’t be found in other places. People are attuned to wanting to shop local, and we are a local business that carries local artists."
 

newly-unveiled flats plan prioritizes projects, sets stage for additional development

The 2014 Flats Forward Framework Plan, which is being unveiled today at a public meeting at the Music Box Supper Club on the West Bank, offers a roadmap for the area's future. Some of the key priorities identified in the plan include preserving the area's history as an industrial corridor, further developing recreation and riverfront access opportunities, investing in infrastructure and wayfinding signage, and designating land uses to clear the way for additional development.

"The Flats are a critical part of Cleveland's history and demonstrate immense opportunity for future growth," the report states, citing the $4.5 billion in new development that has occurred downtown since 2010, 95 percent apartment occupancy rates, and the growth of Ohio City, Tremont and Gordon Square as reasons for optimism.

The report divides the core of the Flats into six different areas -- the Old River Channel, East Bank, West Bank, Columbus Peninsula, Scranton Peninsula and Irishtown Bend. Some of the challenges identified in the report include confusing entryways into the Flats and the lack of wayfinding signage, the underused riverfront, crumbling infrastructure and poor public transit access.

So what's the future look like? The Flats Forward plan shows a network of green spaces (Whiskey Island, Canal Basin Park, Scranton Flats, Rivergate Park)  connected by trails (Lake Link Trail, proposed River Walk Trail, Towpath Trail). It calls for a maintenance plan to improve the condition of streets and sidewalks and make the area more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. It calls for wayfinding signage, better waterfront access, and improved public transit links.

The plan also develops a roadway typology, suggesting that certain streets should be designated for primarily industrial uses.This could reduce the conflicts that currently exist between industrial concerns and other users in the Flats.

Other immediate next steps including identifying and applying for funding for planning efforts, hiring a marketing and branding firm, and determining market demand and potential land uses through a detailed economic study.

Although this plan represents a long-term vision, new economic activity is already being generated in the Flats. The shipping channel is very active, Rivergate Park is a recreation hub, the Columbus Peninsula is seeing redevelopment and both the East and West Banks are adding new businesses. This report suggests that this activity will increase -- and provides a roadmap to help guide it along.
 

flats-based brick and barrel brewery to open before end of october


Brick and Barrel, a new brewery, winery and taproom at 1844 Columbus Road in the Flats, is finally set to open its doors after months of delays. The tentative opening date is Tuesday, October 21st, the same day the new Columbus Road bridge is expected to open to traffic. Partner Jason Henkel promises that at the very least, the venue will roll up its garage doors and start pouring pints by the end of the month.

That's good news for Cleveland beer fans, who will soon be able to quench their thirst at yet another new brewery. The venue will no doubt prove popular, with a new taproom that is airy and comfortable, a location offering views of iconic bridges and the downtown skyline, and easy access to Rivergate Park.

The squat, one-story building was a machine shop and coal processing plant in its former life. It was "a complete mess," says Henkel, when he and co-founders Mike Dagiasis and Karl Spiesman leased it from owner Mid-State Restoration. The partners have renovated it from top to bottom and installed a 3.5-barrel brewing system, a seven-barrel fermenter and a seven-barrel conditioning tank. There will be a new front patio.

The minimalist interior furnishings are made from reclaimed materials that were procured from Old School Architectural Salvage. A church pew and 19th century barn wood were used to build the bar, and the bartop is made from an old chalkboard. Tables were constructed using old warehouse carriages once used by industrial businesses in the Flats. The taproom seats about 35, but can hold up to 150, and patrons have great views of the beer and wine production areas.

"We wanted to give people a feel for the neighborhood, and bring some of the outside inside," says Henkel of the decision to use reclaimed materials.

Spiesman says that Brick and Barrel will offer traditional styles such as German Kolsch and English ales. There will be no pasteurization or flavoring. Brick and Barrel will sell kegs to individuals and distribute them to restaurants and bars. The brewer eschews some of the eclectic, ultra-hoppy beers that are popular these days, preferring simpler styles and doing a few things well.

"There are other people doing beer and doing it well," says Henkel simply. "We want to be another one doing it, and make the rising tide lift all boats."

The winemaking operation is still in the works, but the partners already have experience with importing grapes and making their own wine. The rear of the facility will house a wine press and crush that will be used to produce whites and reds. Brick and Barrel expects to sell wine onsite by the glass and bottle.

Phase II of the brewery will involve a beer garden out back. The owners have to work out plenty of details with the city, including purchasing a vacated alley, but Henkel envisions a group of picnic tables with a cool outdoor chandelier hanging overhead. The location offers views of Rivergate Park.
 

$11m buckeye square building offers supportive housing for chronically homeless

Housing First, a coalition of more than 40 public and private organizations throughout Northeast Ohio, was formed in 2006 to end "long-term and chronic homelessness" in Cuyahoga County. With the recent completion of Buckeye Square, an $11.3 million building that offers 65 affordable, furnished studio apartments for low-income individuals and families, the group is closer to its goal of building 1,271 units of permanent supportive housing.

“Housing gives residents security and stability to combat other issues and get back on their feet," said Marc McDermott, Vice President and Ohio market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., the Housing First Initiative leader, in a release." All of the partners that made Buckeye Square possible are changing lives, and the model’s success in Cleveland proves that housing makes all the difference.”

The coalition has seen a 73 percent drop in chronic homelessness since the program began, which it cites as evidence that the strategy has been successful.

Buckeye Square, which officially opened this week, is located at Buckeye Road and E. 116th Street. The building offers shared laundry facilities, a community room with kitchen, a computer lab, resident parking, a 24-hour staffed front desk, outdoor space and on-site social services.

Supportive housing is aimed at helping the chronically homeless get back on their feet. Support services are provided to help them become more independent and reintegrate with their neighborhoods. Enterprise leads Housing First projects by assembling capital, working with local leaders and offering expertise. Cleveland Housing Network has acted as lead developer, while EDEN has served as co-developer and property manager. FrontLine Service helps provide supportive services to residents.

Buckeye Square was built using Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as HOME funds and other grants. Enterprise furnished a predevelopment loan of $572,600.

Housing First also recently obtained a grant from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to create a mobile health clinic that will serve all of its buildings.
 

urban community school opens new $6.3m middle school, increases enrollment

Urban Community School, an urban K-8 school founded in 1968, just celebrated the grand opening of a new, $6.3 million middle school. The new facility will allow UCS to serve an additional 150 students per year, bringing the total to 600.

UCS, which is considered a high-performing private school, has a mission of helping low-income students become high achievers. The school is an anchor on Lorain Avenue, which is experiencing a shot-in-the-arm of new business investment.

"Our long-term vision since 2000 has been serving more kids with a unified campus," said Sister Maureen Doyle, the head of the school, at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "Our goal is to inspire children and teachers to achieve."

UCS broke ground on its Lorain Avenue campus a decade ago. The project required tearing down a historic but dilapidated building that was donated to the school. The green-built facility opened in 2005, but the school still had a long waiting list. The new middle school caps off that decade-long expansion effort.

The middle school expansion was made possible by a lead gift of $5 million followed by a campaign that raised $16.6 million. UCS will complete the project this month.

The facility allows middle school students to have their own separate wing. It features large classrooms designed for collaborative learning and gathering spaces outside the classrooms for studying or group work. The curriculum has also been redesigned to focus more on project work and social development. Science, math and the principles behind STEAM are also a strong focus area.

At the ribbon cutting, Natalie Celeste, Vice Principal of the middle school, outlined how the building's design helps facilitate learning. "We researched what adolescents need to learn best. They're becoming community members in an abstract world. Adolescents need to be able to practice community."

In addition to the new classroom and learning spaces, the building also features a new, larger middle school cafeteria. A new program gives every middle school student access to a personal iPad at school. Finally, the campus features a new middle school playground, learning garden and outdoor classroom. Through a partnership with Refugee Response, students learn about urban farming.
 

mayor jackson's goodtime tour touts long-awaited action on waterfront development


Five years ago, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson talked about plans for Cleveland’s lakefront and riverfront. These days, he’s talking about putting those plans into action. As he recently stated, “The only good plan you have is one you’re doing. Everything else is just a good conversation.”
 
Jackson recently conducted a waterfront tour called “Back to the Future II” on the Goodtime III to highlight progress in lakefront and riverfront development. Jackson, along with Chief of Regional Development Ed Rybka and Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman, narrated a plan that’s coming to life.
 
The Mayor introduced the tour by saying, “Cleveland is one of the few American cities with both a riverfront and a lakefront. The waterfront helped build the city and is a vital part of Cleveland’s future -- the important thing going forward is that we do it right.”
 
With that, Jackson highlighted his goals for the waterfront: conservation, economic development and recreation. Those goals are being achieved through projects such as a pedestrian bridge and redevelopment of North Coast Harbor as well as multi-purpose trails like the Lake Link Trail and Towpath Trail.
 
The tour kicked off with an overview of plans for North Coast Harbor. Rybka and Zimmerman touted the 200 market-rate apartments and 80,000 square feet of office space planned for Phase I. “Phases Two and Three will become a walkable, mixed-use maritime development, including housing, retail and a school site,” explained Rybka.
 
As the tour continued up the river, residents, media and public officials caught a great view of the new Flats East project, where Phase II currently is under construction, and the recently opened Music Box Supper Club on the west bank.
 
Zimmerman pointed out Rivergate Park, which offers riverfront dining at the newly opened Merwin’s Wharf. He also highlighted the new Crooked River Skate Park, which is employing “the best practices in skate park construction.”
 
Overall, the tour showcased how far Cleveland has come in the past five years. “We’re using the investments to rebuild the city, connecting people to the lakefront,” said Rybka. “We’re placing value on what created Cleveland in the first place. We’re positioning Cleveland as one of the great waterfront cities.”
 
Jackson said he’s pleased development is moving ahead along Cleveland’s shore. “A plan is a plan until you do something about it,” he said. “It’s timing. We’re in a position now where things are just lined up right.”

Photos Bob Perkoski
 

western reserve school of cooking extends reach from hudson to downtown cleveland

The Hudson-based Western Reserve School of Cooking (WRSOC) has been in existence for 42 years. It provides a variety of classes for professionals, amateurs and kids and features a small retail space stocked with kitchen gadgets. Now the institution is expanding to a storefront adjacent to Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK), a pay-as-you-go commercial kitchen and food business incubator that is located at 2800 Euclid. The cooking school will open by the end of the year.

"It's a complementary relationship, and we're excited for the classes to start," says Carolyn Priemer, one of the founders of CCLK. "Previously, we had food, but we didn't have a space for entertainment and events."

Priemer also has hired Carl St. John, co-owner of WRSOC, to manage the CCLK kitchen. The new WRSOC will sell a limited range of kitchen gadgets and offer products created by CCLK's food-based businesses, which include Saucisson butchery, Cleveland Kraut and Red Lotus Foods. CCLK entrepreneurs also will help teach classes, workshops and demonstrations at the new school. 

St. John and his wife and partner Catherine are opening the cooking school to tap into a new market in Cleveland and join the city's food scene. They will offer single classes geared towards amateur cooks and use the space for corporate team-building events and other functions. The storefront can fit at least 30 to 40 people for cooking classes, and more for a demonstration. St. John says the event space also will be available for rentals. 

WRSOC offers classes in bread making, cake decorating, sushi rolling and more. There are Friday night date night classes and weeklong classes for professionals (these will remain in Hudson). Many are taught by Catherine, an experienced chef, but there are guest instructors as well. St. John says he hopes to partner with PlayhouseSquare and other institutions to offer an evening of entertainment where participants cook their own meal and then see a show.

St. John says the classes have grown in popularity. WRSOC is far more affordable than a fully-accredited cooking school, yet offers professionals a chance to break into the industry without the coveted degree. Over the years, the school has seen many of its graduates go on to work in the restaurant industry.

"The cooking school [in Hudson] is going great, but space is our biggest issue," says St. John. "We're turning down private events and corporate team-building events because we can only host 12 to 14 people. In our new space, we'll be able to have 30-40 people, and more for demos." 
 

twist creative to relocate, expand in new fairmont creamery offices

Twist Creative, a small design firm that was founded in Ohio City 15 years ago, is expanding into a larger, custom-designed space at the Fairmont Creamery in Tremont. In part, the move was prompted by the need to consolidate its space, which is spread out over four floors in a building at West 28th and Lorain. Yet the firm also wanted room to grow, as revenues have doubled in recent years and there are plans to hire additional staff.

"We definitely wanted to stay downtown or in the surrounding neighborhoods," says founder and design director Connie Ozan. "We have employees and clients on both sides of town. There's a lot of energy here that contributes to our culture."

Ozan and her team landed at the Fairmont Creamery thanks to the opportunity to custom build space and be part of a larger project. "We're at the beginning of the revitalization of this area, a new phase of Tremont development," says Ozan.

Twist's new offices will be located on one floor, and the space is designed to be more open and collaborative. The interior will have new mechanicals and finishes as well as improved technology features. The design blends old and new, with high ceilings, cement flooring and traditional architectural features like columns.

The Creamery's new rooftop garden and deck will be an added bonus. Ozan and her coworkers are looking forward to relaxing with views of downtown Cleveland, and also entertaining clients there. The presence of the Tremont Athletic Club also is a plus as Twist encourages a healthy work-life balance.

The entire Fairmont Creamery project is slated to be complete by November. Twist Creative anticipates moving into its new offices sometime in October.
 

container store: small box cleveland announces first tenants

Small Box Cleveland, an effort to lure more retailers downtown by converting used shipping containers into small storefronts, will open its first shop on Sunday, September 14th. The Cleveland Browns have signed on to the project, with the team opening a merchandise store just in time for football season. In a few weeks, two additional independent stores, the Banyan Tree and the Wandering Wardrobe, also will open new ventures inside refurbished containers.

"This is an exciting time for the city with the growth of downtown, and it's important for us to be part of that," says Brent Stehlik, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for the Browns. "We see this as an opportunity for us to reach fans with a different approach. It's a way to reach new audiences."

Small Box is a project of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation (HWDDC). The new stores will be located on a parking lot at West 6th and St. Clair owned by Weston Inc., a development company that donated nine parking spaces for the project. Small Box is intended to be a creative solution to the retail conundrum in downtown Cleveland -- that is, residents, visitors and office workers say they want more retail options, yet many retailers are not ready to take the plunge until there's proven demand. On top of that, many downtown spaces are larger or more expensive than retailers want.

Tom Starinsky, Associate Director of HWDDC, says that he developed the small box idea after learning about a similar project in Brooklyn. He saw it as a way to seed the viability of new downtown retail, and also to test how feasible it would be to redevelop surface parking lots for new mixed-used development. After a successful crowdfunding campaign -- more than 100 individuals donated a total of $20,000 to the project -- and additional fundraising, Small Box was ready to go.

Each container store costs $20,000 to build. Cleveland Container StructuresWolf Maison Architects and 44 Steel designed and fabricated the structures. Tenants are being charged modest rents that help cover HWDDC's costs to run the project. HWDDC also plans to create a small park at the corner of West 6th and St. Clair using recycled materials to build out the space. The concrete will be painted green to imitate grass, benches will be made from pallets upholstered with AstroTurf, and fencing will be made from pieces of shipping containers. It will have a "front lawn feel" with an urban vibe, says Starinsky.

The 8’ x 20’ shipping containers front the sidewalk. The contractor cut holes in the fronts of them and installed custom-built storefront window systems. The interiors will have electricity to power lighting, heat and air conditioning. The spaces are insulated with OSB board but have no plumbing. Tenants have the ability to paint their own boxes and add creative signage.

Starinsky says the aim was to attract established independent tenants that would add to the downtown area without poaching from other retail districts. He couldn't be happier. "The tenant mix is pretty perfect," he says. "We have a national business, an established small business and an entrepreneurial business."

Small Box is hosting special events this fall and during the holiday season, and additional retailers will be invited to special outdoor markets. The shops will be open five days a week initially, and weekends-only during the holidays. Leases run through March 2015, at which point tenants will have the option to renew. Starinsky wants to grow the project and add more container stores to the mix.

If the site gets developed by Weston or another investor, the shipping containers can be relocated to another site to seed the next wave of downtown development.

Small Box is making it possible for the two smaller retailers to try out new shops downtown. Christie Murdoch of the Banyan Tree says she's thrilled to be opening Banyan Box, a small gift, art and apparel store that will function as a cozier, more selective version of her Tremont location, which has been successful for the past 13 years. "This is such a cool concept, and I'm excited to be part of a surge of retail to go into downtown Cleveland," she says. "There are plenty of great restaurants downtown, but retail is just something that completes a town."

Additional support for the Small Box project was provided by Weston Inc., Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Sherwin Williams, Sign-Lite, Enterprise Community Partners, Ohio Savings Bank and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.
 

navy pr pop-up vintage clothing shop to open in gordon square

Fashion industry veteran Mary Peffer road-tripped across the U.S. to source vintage clothing for her new pop-up shop in the Gordon Square Arts District. The Cleveland native, who is a consultant in Los Angeles, sifted through estate sales in Boise, Idaho; rooted around at thrift stores in Portland, Oregon; and hunted in stores in North Carolina and Texas, to name a few. Now, Peffer's unique shop is set to open next week.

The NAVY PRoject, which is named after Peffer's communications consulting firm specializing in art, architecture, design, fashion and hospitality, will offer vintage, unisex, ready-to-wear clothing. Examples include vintage Levis, letterman jackets, vintage jackets, CPO jackets ("Chief Petty Officer") and deadstock army t-shirts. Peffer, who has worked for companies like Nanette Lepore and Saint Laurent, says that she was inspired by trends she saw on the runway. As a Cleveland native and lover of the city, she wanted to bring her ideas home.

"There's a lot of excitement about these fashion trends, but I think it's nonsense when I hear that everyone can't have access to it," says Peffer, whose store will open Friday, September 5th and remain open through October. "I thought, why not go to the source and give it to people for a different price?"

Peffer, who owns NAVY PR with her sister-in-law Melinda Peffer, says she's looking forward to being in Cleveland and spending time with family and friends. Her brother, Stephen Peffer, runs the Hausfrau record store in Gordon Square.

Peffer says the NAVY PRoject will launch a series of pop-up shops in emerging markets across the U.S. No details have been announced about future locations. Regarding her fashion road show, Peffer quips, "I thought, 'Well, if everyone just laughs in my face, I'll just keep everything and have this killer wardrobe.'"

The NAVY PRoject will be located at 6602 Detroit Avenue and will have regular hours from Wednesday through Sunday. Peffer says it will be a great place to hang out, with curated racks that are easy to browse and art from Brooklyn-based artist Savannah King of Third Eye and Cleveland illustrator Deanna First. The clothing will also be affordable, with everything priced under $100. 
 
 

new owners transform winchester music hall into the bevy with live music and food

The Winchester Music Hall, a classic Lakewood venue that closed late last year after a decades-long run, will soon enjoy a new lease on life as The Bevy in Birdtown, a restaurant and music venue set to open next month.

New owners Patty Lim and Beth Scebbi of New Century Builders have completely refreshed the space. The bar area has new flooring, a new ceiling, fresh paint and custom-designed lighting crafted from old wine bottles. There are eight draft beer lines, and a new kitchen will allow for a full-service menu that is scheduled to start sometime in October.

"We felt that Madison Avenue is really going to be taking over," says Lim. "Detroit Avenue is at its peak, and this is the next phase of development in Lakewood."

County records show that Dially's Investment Group LLC purchased the building for $150,000 in July from previous owner James Mileti. The building needed to be updated, and the new owners are not only renovating the space, but also adding some new touches that will likely make the Bevy a popular destination spot.

Lim and Sceibbi have cleaned up the historic sandstone and brick exterior, and they're adding a prominent sign featuring The Bevy's logo (a martini glass with birds flying around it -- how cool is that?). They're also adding a large sidewalk patio to take advantage of the building's deep sidewalk. Next year, they plan to transform a lovely brick nook alongside the building into a second patio area.

The Bevy will feature a full lineup of entertainment scheduled to start later this year. Lim plans to hire not only bands playing rock, blues, jazz and other styles, but also comedians. She's not worried about competition from The Music Box, Vosh, Mahall's 20 Lanes or other nearby venues, saying "the more the merrier."

The music hall, which is located in a former bowling alley, will become a bit cozier thanks to the addition of a private party room and offices in the rear. The party room will be nicknamed The Winchester, and the owners plan to keep the historic logo that's painted on the wall. The new hall will feature a section with hardwood floors for dancing, upgraded seating, high-top tables and a standing area.

Lim, who got her start as manager with Cleveland PM restaurant in Valleyview, is glad to be back in the restaurant and bar business. She sees great opportunity in Lakewood, and points to the businesses that are moving to Lakewood and the renovated Madison Avenue streetscape as signs of the area's revival.
 

residences at 1717 offer high-rise apartment living in the heart of cleveland


Downtown Cleveland's residential population has reached 12,500 people, and apartment occupancy rates consistently hover in the 95-98 percent range. As a real estate broker once told me, "That's not really a vacancy rate, that's more like a turnover rate." Most buildings have waiting lists, and new properties continue to come online each year. Still, downtown doesn't have many high-rise apartment or condo buildings like you'd find in New York or Chicago, where you can perch above it all and look down at the vibrant, busy city swarming below.

Yet that's changing with the addition of The 9, which Fresh Water profiled last month, and the Residences at 1717, which we recently had a chance to tour. These units are under construction, with floors 2 through 5 now occupied and a new floor being unveiled every couple of weeks. Although the first residents have barely moved into the building, it's already 65 percent leased. The entire project, which features 223 units on 21 floors, is expected to be complete by March 2015.

There are two commercial spaces on the first floor of the property, which, by the way, is the former East Ohio Gas building at East 9th and Superior. One of these spaces will be occupied by Al's Deli, which is relocating from the Galleria. The other space is not yet officially leased, but K&D, the developer behind the project, is purportedly in talks with various potential tenants.

The Residences at 1717 features a handsome marble lobby built for the previous owner. The sales office is located in the Gas Light Theatre, a neat space with terrazzo floors where East Ohio Gas used to teach workers how to light pilots. The building was gutted from floor to ceiling, with the exception of key historic elements. The exterior wasn't altered, since the developers obtained historic tax credits. Large windows on all sides, the positioning of the building on a corner, and the small floor plate have made for an excellent residential conversion.

The real show is reserved for the spaces themselves. The elegant floor plans and high-quality amenities illustrate how far downtown living has evolved. The 1- and 2-bedroom suites feature granite countertops, ceramic tile floors, hardwood cabinets, walk-in closets, washer-dryer sets, stainless steel appliances, LED lighting and energy-efficient windows. One bedrooms start under $1,000, two bedrooms at about $1,700. The units are priced at about $1.25 per square foot, which is consistent with other downtown apartments but less than what the owners hope to get at The 9.

The Residences at 1717 boast a surprising amount of square footage and expansive windows with premium views. Our tour guide was not able to take us above the fifth floor, yet we caught glimpses of northern views to the lake, western views towards the heart of Public Square, southern views towards Euclid Avenue and eastern views towards Cleveland State University. The two-bedrooms are positioned on the corners of the building with windows on both sides. The one-bedrooms also get plenty of natural light and offer views.

The building's tinted windows offer privacy and shading while affording residents great views. Storm windows installed from the inside have created a quiet, cozy building. The entire place is certified LEED silver, which residents will appreciate because it makes the building not only greener, but more comfortable and affordable. K&D is offering a guaranteed rate increase of two percent per year for the first three years as long as you renew your lease within the expiration date.

There's little space wasted in this thoughtfully designed building. Leasing agents say the units could be leased by the end of the year, and you get the sense it's not just hype. There's a shortage of move-in ready apartments downtown -- with many of the suites coming online, residents have to wait until they're finished.

The Residences at 1717 is a $65 million project. It won federal and state tax credits for historic preservation and also is using federal New Markets Tax Credits. These credits are layered on top of construction financing from Huntington Bank, equity from the developer and funding from the city and county. K&D recently purchased the Leader building and is looking to its next project.
 
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