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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 Sceibbi 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.

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.

rta introduces ohio city connector, making it easier to travel between downtown and ohio city

More than 200 buses run between downtown Cleveland and Ohio City every day. At the same time, both areas have become increasingly popular places to work, live, shop, eat and play. So why not better market, brand and highlight the connections that exist between the two neighborhoods as part of a larger effort to encourage more people to use transit when traveling in and around downtown?

That's exactly what RTA has done with the introduction of the new Ohio City Connector, a branding, signage and marketing program that highlights how easy it is to get back and forth between Ohio City and downtown. With rebranded bus stops located at the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue and West 3rd Street and Superior Avenue, representatives say that the program will facilitate connections between the two neighborhoods and encourage new riders to hop on the bus.

"Connecting neighborhoods is the critical part," says Steve Bitto, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications with RTA. "We're also recognizing the opportunity that transit has with an emerging market like the Millennials. There are a lot of people who live downtown and in Ohio City that fall into that category. It's not all about getting into the car and driving. If it works, they’re going to take it."

Bitto says the service is akin to the popular trolley service that already exists downtown. The trolley service is free, yet RTA does not have funding to expand it. You have to pay bus fare to ride the Ohio City Connector, but officials tout the service as easy and convenient, a way to get from door to door in a few minutes.

Given the parking crunch that now exists in Ohio City and downtown, this service will no doubt prove popular, as drivers grow weary of fighting for a spot.

cwru's new university center to unveil six new eateries in coming weeks

Case Western Reserve University has opened the new Tinkham Veale University Center just in time for the start of the school year. In the coming weeks, six new eateries will be unveiled. The addition of mouthwatering new venues like Melt University, the latest from Matt Fish of Melt Bar & Grilled fame; Naan, an Indian venue by James Beard Award nominee Chef Raghavan Iyer; and Cool Beanz, which will serve Zingerman's Coffee out of Ann Arbor, are enough to make us want to go back to school.

Fortunately, we won't have to. All of the venues are open to the public, and the soon-to-be-named restaurant (a student contest will determine its name) will serve a prix fixe menu when the orchestra plays in town. Cleveland Botanical Garden Executive Chef Tony Smoody will serve as chef of the restaurant.

Additional eateries include 8Twenty6, where customers can build their own salad from an eight-foot counter stocked with 20 seasonal ingredients and six housemade dressings, and Pinzas, which serves personal pizzas, pasta bowls and Italian sandwiches served on pagnotelle rolls. Melt University will serve items off the Melt Bar & Grilled menu as well as "exclusive CWRU-themed sandwiches only available at Melt U, the Case Western BBQ and The Spartan Burger," according to a press release from Bon Appetit Management, the food service company.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the beauty of regional Indian cooking," said Iyer during a recent visit to the university center. "What you typically see in the U.S. is just a sliver of Indian cooking, and what I bring is multi-regional cooking."

CWRU has a large population of foreign-born students, so the ethnic diversity of these options will no doubt prove popular. The university has not only transformed its physical environment in recent years, adding student amenities that create a more vibrant campus, but has also seen a dramatic increase in enrollment.

Previously, there was no full-service restaurant on the CWRU campus, and dining options were a bit limited. These six new eateries add to the increasing vibrancy that can be found on campus and throughout University Circle.

downtown cleveland alliance launches crowdfunding campaign for new flats dog park

An economic development professor at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University once told our class that he knew downtown Cleveland was coming back when he saw the occasional pile of dog waste on the sidewalk. Yes, owners should pick up after their pooches, but the mere presence of pets downtown is a good indicator that the neighborhood is walkable and safe.

But now, downtown Cleveland is really going to the dogs. The neighborhood has become so vibrant and liveable in the past few years that there are now more people and pets than ever. With more than 12,500 residents, apartment occupancy rates at 98 percent and more than 1,000 registered dogs, the area is in need of a dog park.

That's why Downtown Cleveland Alliance is launching a crowdfunding campaign to create a new dog park at Settlers Landing in the Flats. The campaign aims to raise $10,000, which DCA will match dollar for dollar. The park is slated to open this fall.

According to a release from DCA, the park will be located in an "open area adjacent to the RTA rapid station on the eastern bank of the Cuyahoga River. Equipped with pea gravel, fencing, a gated entrance, and benches for their human friends, dogs will have the ability to socialize and play right in the city they call home."

The crowdfunding campaign, which runs for four weeks on the Cleveland-based Tackk site, will offer rewards such as retractable leashes and t-shirts. It will be open for four weeks. Sponsors at the $500 level will be recognized with plaques along the fence of the dog park. Various contests throughout the campaign will be announced on DCA's Facebook page, so look out for some cool prizes.

popular cleveland heights barbershop and spa to expand into adjacent property

Alex Quintana grew up in Cleveland Heights, went to Heights High, and claims to have gone to college at the Tavern Company on Lee Road. (He was a bartender at that popular watering hole for five years.) Now, the Heights resident, who opened Quintana's Barber and Dream Spa with his wife Dawn 11 years ago, is expanding his footprint in the Cedar-Taylor area.

Quintana has purchased a building at 2190 South Taylor Road, immediately next door to the Colonial home where his business is located. They are now renovating the former beauty salon from top to bottom, inside and out. When the project is complete, the facade will be handsomely refreshed with new awnings, the interior will feature contemporary, brushed aluminum finishes and the entire place will be handicap-accessible.

"Nothing had been done to the interior since about 1984," says Quintana. "It had an interior like Mrs. Roper's beauty salon. We're making it more spa-like and modern."

Quintana's is unique, he says, because of the relationship between the two businesses, which are distinct yet complementary. The first-floor barbershop offers a "third place" for men outside of work and home, a kind of communal, comfortable man cave. The spa, which currently is housed on the upper floors, is a place where women can get massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and more. The renovation project will allow the spa to take over the former beauty salon, while the barbershop will gradually expand into the rest of the house.

Quintana says the Cedar-Taylor commercial district is becoming more vibrant. Not only are there fewer vacant storefronts than there were a few years ago, but the newly formed Cedar-Taylor Merchants Association is working on creating a new streetscape plan with public art and also forming a Special Improvement District.

All in all, Quintana is glad to be working in the Heights. "Cleveland Heights is a very unique community," he says. "Residents here are very passionate about where they choose to live. It's a pleasure to service this community."

long-planned mason's creamery approaching its ohio city debut

For the past 60 years or so, the squat cinderblock building at W. 44th and Bridge has been home to an ice cream shop. Many locals will remember it as Dari Delite, the homey soft-serve joint that was here for years. Most recently, the space housed Ohio City Ice Cream.

By the end of this month, the building will welcome its newest tenant in the form of Mason's Creamery, a small batch ice cream shop that will both continue this lengthy tradition and radically update it. The building was boarded up like a veritable fortress for decades, with just two small walk-up windows in the façade of the building. Entrepreneurs Helen Qin and Jesse Mason have uncovered the painted plywood and restored the expansive windows on the front and side of the building.

Known for crafting eclectic flavors like grapefruit sorbet, fig balsamic and strawberry pink peppercorn (they also serve chocolate and vanilla), Qin and Mason have taken an equally unconventional approach to the building, cladding the exterior in dark-stained wood siding, uncovering and polishing the concrete floors, building a brand-new zinc countertop and adding vibrant splashes of color.

Perhaps the best feature of Mason's Creamery will be a sort of hidden "ice cream garden" on the side of the building. The new owners discovered they owned a 60-foot lot west of the building. They plan to clean it up, landscape it and use it for outdoor seating, impromptu picnics and twice-a-month movie nights.

"It's a sea of asphalt right now," says Mason. "This place really needs greening."

The couple also is adding a large patio area bordered by planters and a "living wall" on the side of the building, where herbs like lavender and mint will be grown. There's no drive-through, of course, but there will be a new walk-up window on the east wall. "That way, people with dogs don't have to go inside," Qin says.

Renovating the building has been a challenge, admit the young owners, who are doing much of the work themselves. Mason found himself cutting the front door off of its hinges, because it hadn't been opened in about 40 years and was rusted shut. The interior was crammed with ice cream equipment, much of which has been cleaned up and will be reused.

In addition to the countertop and tables, the shop area will feature a chalkboard wall and French cleats on the walls where art can be hung. Qin's favorite part is the AstroTurf -- added at the last minute to cover up a mistake in the wood paneling -- a creative solution that she says kids will enjoy touching and playing with.

Qin and Mason are transplants from L.A. who fell in love with Cleveland after moving here and decided to start a business. Ice cream has been a great conversation starter. "When we moved here, we didn't know anyone," says Qin, who is originally from Houston. "It's been nice to get to know our customers personally. This has been a great way of getting to know the community."

lakewood again enjoying fresh wave of new business development

Fresh Water has been on top of the dramatic new business development currently taking place in Lakewood, covering it herehere and here. The west side 'burb has seen an explosion of new shops, pubs and eateries in recent years, thanks in large part to a pedestrian-friendly Detroit Avenue streetscape that was completed in 2012. Now the city is poised for another wave of growth, with several new businesses set to open this year.

In a recent chat with Planning Director Dru Siley, we learned about Cleveland Vegan, which is set to open a storefront catering operation in the next 45 days (13611 Detroit), with a planned eatery to follow; Brown Sugar Thai, which will open its fourth location in a 2,600-square-foot space in the Bailey Building at Detroit and Warren; Birdtown Restaurant and Brewing, a project from restaurateur Tom Leneghan, will open next year in the old St. Gregory's Church on Madison; The Bevy, a new restaurant and music venue that will open in the old Winchester Music Hall; and The Stache, a hip new speakeasy set to open in the former Johnny Malloys/Gepettos space (17103 Detroit Ave.).

These are just a few of the new businesses flocking to Lakewood, which has seen impressive business growth along its Detroit and Madison commercial corridors.

"Part of what we've noticed is that Lakewood is a great place to open a first business, such as Beat Cycles, but it's also a good place for a business to do a second location," says Siley. "We're seeing that as a bit of a trend. Business owners are doing some intentional planning, and they're looking at Lakewood."

Although Lakewood is chock-full of independents, plenty of chains are getting in on the action, too. Another new addition to Lakewood is Bob Evan's, which opened up a surprisingly contemporary-looking eatery in downtown Lakewood. "It's the busiest 4:30 dinner spot in the entire world right now," jokes Siley.

new cycling fest to attract 1000s to shores of lake erie

When the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission began looking at creating a new event a few years ago, cycling soon rose to the top of the list. Leaders knew that a premiere cycling event in Northeast Ohio would prove popular well beyond Cleveland, attracting visitors from other cities. Then they refined the idea into a weekend of races, offering multiple rides from which to choose, coupled with a lifestyle festival at Edgewater Park. They had a winner.

The result is NEOCycle, "an urban cycling festival consisting of competitive races and unique rides, connected by live entertainment and an interactive, action-filled festival at Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie," according to the website. The event takes place September 26th-28th, and organizers say it could attract 1,000 people from other cities and generate $250,000 in economic impact.

NEOCycle will feature five rides: Night Ride, which will leave from Edgewater Park and offer views of the sunset and downtown skyline; Forest City Fundo, an untimed, mass ride with lengths ranging from 10 to 62 miles and benefitting Bike Cleveland; Cyclocross, a race through Edgewater Park with natural and manmade obstacles; Criterium, a lapped race through University Circle and surrounding neighborhoods; and a velodrome race in Slavic Village.

Whether you're a competitive cyclist or not, the unique new event holds many charms. The Fundo and Night Rides are geared to both casual and serious riders. Spectators will enjoy heading over to Edgewater Park to watch the races, drink beer, hang out by the beach and listen to music.

Speaking of music, organizers recently announced that Cloud Nothings and Jessica Lea Mayfield would headline the event. Other bands include Ohio Sky, Captain Kidd, Cities & Coast, Ottawa, Muamin Collective & Neil Chastain Trio, Silent Lions, Village Bicycle, JP & the Chatfield Boys and the Luckey Ones.

"The idea is, 'How do you take 1 plus 1 plus 1 and equal a whole lot more than three?'" says David Gilbert, President of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. "How do you take grassroots events and put them in one large festival? You’re going to get an experience here that you're just not going to get at any other event."

reimagining cle tour highlights benefits of citywide grant program

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress recently offered a tour of its Reimagining Cleveland projects to showcase its successes and solicit ideas for the future of the program, which funds projects that reutilize vacant land for gardens, orchards, parks and yard expansions. CNP is currently completing an evaluation of Reimagining Cleveland, which has awarded three rounds of funding in five years.

Leaders say that these small-scale greening projects are critical to Cleveland's future because they fight blight, grow local food and even create jobs.

"We saw that there was a proliferation of vacant land and knew that we needed to have a response, to look at it as an asset rather than a liability," said Linda Warren, Senior Vice President of Placemaking with CNP, guiding a Lolly the Trolley bus. "Now the city is seen as a model for others around the country."

To date, Reimagining Cleveland has fostered 144 projects on 248 parcels of land. Warren admits that this is a drop in the bucket compared to Cleveland's vacant land problem -- there are more than 12,000 parcels in the city land bank, and an estimated 29,000 vacant parcels citywide. But she adds that already the program has made a significant impact in beautifying neighborhoods, increasing access to fresh, wholesome food, creating passive green space and stimulating local food startups.

For example, market gardeners in the program are banding together to launch a website to market their produce to restaurants. This is just one example of concepts that are being brought to scale thanks to Reimagining.

"This is about seeding -- pun intended -- entrepreneurs and concepts for what they can do with vacant land around them," said Warren. "It's also about seeding our own thinking. We want to figure out what's replicable and what's not."

Here are some of the highlights featured on the Reimagining Cleveland tour.

Watterson-Lake Learning Garden. Special education teacher and Detroit Shoreway resident Michelle deBock helped create a school garden on W. 75th Street. Prior to receiving funding from Reimagining Cleveland, there was a vacant lot here, and before that, an empty house that was the target of arsonists. The narrow lot culminates in an arbor and picnic area that feels like a natural oasis.

League Park Garden. Community gardens may be small, but they can have a big impact. Veronica Walton, an urban farmer in Glenville, created League Park Garden and named it to honor her father, who loved baseball. Her market garden uses harvested rainwater and contains hoop houses that allow farmers to grow crops 10 months a year. Walton sells produce at farmers markets in University Circle.

Chateau Hough. Easily the most colorful project funded by Reimagining Cleveland is Hough resident Mansfield Frazier's vineyard, which is now yielding its first grapes. The ex-con-turned-social-entrepreneur recently bottled his first vintage of wine, which he says is not only good, he can't make enough.

Frazier said that he was able to produce 1,000 bottles from his first vintage. He can't sell them yet, because the State of Ohio has not yet issued a liquor license. He claimed that demand is so high he could sell that amount five times over.

"When I applied to Reimagining Cleveland, I asked for the largest amount of money, and they said, 'What do you know about wine?'" Frazier said. "I told them I was an expert at taking the cork out of the bottle. That's all I know. But the vineyard is turning out great, and I've got the wine to prove it."

Frazier detailed the process he underwent to ensure success, including planting cold-hardy varietals and ensuring that the soil drained properly. The wine is made using a 60/40 blend -- 60 percent of the grapes are from his vineyard, 40 percent are from California. "People ask me, 'Why'd you do grapes?'" he said. "Because if I'd done bell papers, all you fine people wouldn't be standing here."

The entrepreneur says that he's employed 26 people so far, mostly young men who live in Hough and have been incarcerated or in trouble with the law. He's helped many of them find jobs. His next project, the world's first biocellar, is now under construction atop the foundation of an old house. Frazier expects to begin planting shitake mushrooms this fall, when the new League Park opens.

What's next. Warren said that the success of Reimagining projects has often hinged on having an individual champion or group of champions. Yet how do leaders sustain these greening projects over a long period of time? In the most recent round of funding, the focus turned towards side yard expansions, because this is a simple, impactful way of reclaiming green space. Warren said that to continue the program, CNP must identify new funding sources, and that the focus will turn to making sure projects are sustainable and leveraging them for impact.

preview of aha festival, an interactive arts fest to take place during gay games

Cleveland's star is burning pretty brightly these days, thanks in no small part to a string of good news regarding a certain political party’s national convention and a certain sports figure’s return. But it's about to get a little brighter. A new downtown festival will bring in nationally renowned artists during the Gay Games to create interactive light/video installations on the downtown malls.

The AHA! Festival is "a multi-day festival of lights celebrating Cleveland's recent development boom and will 'illuminate' changes to our urban landscape," according to the website. The event is scheduled to take place August 7-9. Public events will take place to engage Clevelanders and energize the city.

This week, Fresh Water caught up with several AHA! artists to preview the fest.

Public Auditorium 3D mapping: The artist collective Obscura Digital "will present a giant, digital light show on the outer walls of Public Auditorium using 3D video mapping," according to the website. The San Francisco-based studio uses unique software that allows artists to create animations and send them to one of several video projectors, covering the entire facade of a building.

"What we're trying to do is capture the essence of Cleveland in a poetic fashion," says Marc Melzer, Director of Media and Art with Obscura. "We wanted to capture the arts and culture and revitalization happening in the city."

The video installation will represent the metaphoric evolution of Cleveland by displaying the changing of the seasons from winter to spring, Melzer says. The team created the installation by visiting the site, selecting the building and then obtaining the architectural drawings. They recreated the building in a 3D virtual program and simulated their projections before creating the media.

Eight projectors will tie together in order to create one seamless image on the facade of the building. The projected image will be approximately 150 feet wide!

The Pool: Artist Jen Lewin's interactive work, which has been displayed all over the world, is coming to Cleveland. This large-scale installation "is an environment of giant, concentric circles created from interactive circular pads," according to the AHA! website. "By entering the pool, you enter a world where community play and collaborative movement create swirling effects of light and color. Imagine a giant canvas where you can paint and splash light collaboratively."

The Pool consists of 240 interactive platforms, each one three feet in diameter, which create unique patterns of color when you dance and move on them. Lewin refers to the platforms as being "like LED hula hoops." The installation requires over 30,000 interactive, controllable RGB LED pixels over 5,000 square feet.

"My work is usually very large and interactive, and it enables large groups of people to interact with art and themselves," says Lewin. "This creates a really active and engaged community experience around the artwork. This piece is twice as large as what we normally install, and we're testing a lot of new interaction control."

"What's amazing about the sculpture is that you can put it in any kind of public space," she adds. "It changes it. If you put it in a park that otherwise no one would go to, it changes it completely. It's extremely popular with kids and families."

Lewin builds every piece of her installations by hand in her studio in Boulder, Colorado.

From Cleveland, Lewin's piece will travel all over the world, including the Burning Man Festival, Portugal, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

Global Rainbow: This installation by artist Yvette Mattern "consists of seven parallel beams of laser light, representing the spectrum of the traditional seven colors of the rainbow, and is designed to be projected across large open sites," according to the website. "The Global Rainbow will be projecting the light beams from the Great Lakes Science Center over Mall B, into the sky. This spectacular rainbow will have the capacity to be seen from up to 36 miles away on a clear night! The colorful installation will be a dramatic and thought-provoking piece."

Mattern has noted that the Global Rainbow symbolizes hope and encompasses social and geographical diversity.

Drawing Lines: Artist Ivan Juarez's installation in the Eastman Reading Garden will also be featured during AHA!

Public events throughout the festival include Pecha Kucha, a large-scale yoga event called Believe in CLE, and the East Meets West Glow Ride.

sneak peek of the 9, cleveland's 'game-changing' downtown development

When it comes to The 9 in downtown Cleveland, there's no shortage of hyperboles. The $250-million project, which has transformed Marcel Breuer's long-neglected modernist tower into a 156-room high-end hotel and 194 luxury apartments, is being touted as a "game changer," the city's "first truly mixed-used building," a "best-in-class" property and the first-ever "truly luxury" residential building.

Of course, developers are known more for their sales pitches than their subtlety. So Fresh Water toured the ambitious project to get a sneak peek of the building, which is set to debut in September, to find out what all the hype is about.

The Historic Rotunda

The Cleveland Trust rotunda has been completely restored and is awaiting construction of a new Heinen's grocery store, which is set to open in 2015. (Following our tour, one insider quipped that Cleveland hasn't gotten enough urbanist cred for opening a grocery store without attached parking. "When it opens, we will," counseled another.) Our Metropolitan tour guide informed us that conservative estimates place the value of the Tiffany-style stained-glass dome at a cool $20 million. The guy who designed the murals, Frances David Millet, surprised his wife with a trip on the Titanic shortly after completing them. They didn't survive, apparently, but Millet's glorious murals continue to shine.

The Vaults

Residents, hotel guests and invited friends soon will be able to party in the basement vaults where Mark Hanna and other famous Clevelanders stowed their fortunes. There are four vaults in the lower level, each with the same impossibly large, circular steel-and-glass doors. Back in the day, if one got broken into, there was a special mechanism that sealed off the other three from intruders. Now you can get access to all of them -- if you're lucky enough to score an invitation. Imagine sitting in a plush armchair and sipping a Manhattan with friends in the safe deposit box rooms that once secured the treasures of famous industrialists. Never mind the two-drink minimum; our guide explains that guests who don't spend at least $50 on their first visit will not be welcome back.

(Side note: The safe deposit boxes themselves apparently are being repurposed into an artsy chandelier. It's nice to see the building's original treasures getting second lives!)

The Restaurants 

Although the restaurants still are under construction, from the looks of things, they're going to be very nice. First, there's a lot of natural beauty to work with -- the marble-lined interior of the original bank lobby has soaring ceilings that draw the eye upwards. This space soon will be home to Adega, the main restaurant, which will have a 2,000-square-foot patio. The other spaces will be similarly impressive; for example, the 350-seat Mint Ballroom in the lower level boasts stunning recessed chandeliers.
The 9 will add five new establishments to the downtown scene. Beyond the Vault and Adega, there's The Ledger, a smaller, second-floor bar; Azure, the rooftop restaurant and nightclub (finally, Cleveland scores a new one); and the Alex Theater, a 70-seater that will open for special screenings, comedy shows and the like.

The Hotel

We didn't get a tour of the hotel rooms, but we were told that they're quite spacious -- in some cases, twice as large as typical suites. Rates are not cheap for downtown, hovering in the mid-$200s per night according to a web search (spokespeople won't officially comment on pricing yet). Hotel guests will have access to the same amenities as apartment dwellers, including 24/7 concierge services. Already, there are five weddings booked for November, and the place hasn't even opened yet.

The Apartments

Apartment marketing often is where hyperbole goes overboard, and The 9 is no exception. Promotional materials promise "spa-inspired bathing facilities," "full custom-designed kitchens" and an environment where "the line between everyday living and escape becomes blurred." (We're ready to move in right now, thanks.) These units, which are commanding high prices of $1.75 to $2 per square foot, already are 80 percent leased, according to sales staff. The adjacent 1010 Euclid building, which is less high-end, is reportedly 60 percent leased.  

In addition to the high-end kitchens and baths, suites have granite countertops, bathrooms with double sinks, dimmable lighting, zebra wood cabinetry, 100-inch electric fireplaces, 55-inch flatscreen TVs, wet bars, Thermador appliances with gas stoves, Bosch washer-dryers, walk-in closets and cork floors.

So what are prices like? Apartments in the two adjacent buildings, ranging from 500 to 3,000 square feet, start at about $1,000 and climb to about $6,000 per month. Cha-ching. Top units are called Sky Suites and enjoy panoramic views of downtown from all sides. At this point we're simply hoping to make friends with residents in the building.

Other Fun Facts

Did you know that The 9 also will be home to the city's swankiest indoor dog park? Yes, you heard that right. Apparently there's special technology for flushing. We didn't ask for specifics.

There are 2,500 people presently working in three shifts on this project. It's one of the most complex real estate transactions in the city's history, with 140 documents recorded sequentially in the County Recorder's office.

By now, it should be apparent why this project is so impressive. For residents, it literally will be akin to living in a hotel, because, well, they actually are in a hotel. Hotel guests, on the other hand, will have access to the city's finest amenities courtesy of the residences.

Given that The 9 will soon be "the place to see and be seen," we expect to catch a sighting of LeBron (or at least his cavalcade) on a Saturday night here sometime soon.


cle's first shipping container-based eatery to debut at north coast harbor

Remember the skate park built for the Dew Games held at North Coast Harbor in 2008? Well, it's been dismantled, but the concrete slab remains, surrounded by a metal-flame fence. Very soon the space will be home to the city's first shipping container-based restaurant, Blazing Bistro, which is scheduled to open in late July, adding to the amenities on downtown's lakefront.

"We've recognized for a while that one of the missing amenities on the lakefront is a gathering place for people while they're at the Rock Hall etc.," says Michael Deemer, Vice President of Business Development and Legal Services at Downtown Cleveland Alliance. "We worked with the city and with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry to build off the success of Cleveland's food truck renaissance."

Blazing Bistro will take up residence in a recycled shipping container repurposed by Cleveland Custom Trucks. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM), which operates the successful Manna food truck and employs formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals, was awarded the contract after responding to an RFP from DCA.

The days and hours of operation are not set in stone, but likely will be lunch Wednesday through Sunday with some evening hours added as well. The shipping container idea grew out of the Small Box Initiative, a program of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation to develop retail in parking lots on West 9th Street.

As the new lakefront development takes off, Blazing Bistro can be picked up and moved to other locations, either in the harbor or other parts of downtown.

Blazing Bistro also will be open during various events taking place at North Coast Harbor, including the new Anchors and Ales event, held August 22-23 and September 13-14 in conjunction with Cleveland Browns home games.

Deemer says the seasonal restaurant is a win-win-win for the city, residents and visitors. "It's not enough to have a park on the lakefront; we have to actively drive people there with events and amenities," he says. "We've seen food truck owners open up brick and mortar stores with great success. This is a new wrinkle."
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