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Canal Basin Park: 20 acres of urban green space in the heart of the Flats

Earlier today, Tim Donovan, executive director of Canalway Partners, George Cantor, staff planner of Cleveland's Planning Commission and Jeff Kerr of Environmental Design Group presented an ambitious schematic plan development for the future Canal Basin Park to the city's Planning Commission members, who unanimously approved it.
The document outlines plans for 20 acres of underutilized urban property in the central part of the Flats. While tentative, the group hopes to see the project, the cost of which will range between $20 and $40 million, come to fruition on June 22, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire.
"We look at this as being a very flexible park, almost a park with two personalities," said Donovan during a meeting with Fresh Water earlier this week. He described a family-oriented daytime space that has a more mysterious feeling in the evening. "It becomes a place for outdoor concerts, art exhibits, etcetera."
While team members described the plan as aspirational, not at all definitive and aimed at stimulating thought, proposed amenities include an interactive water installation, elevator access to the lower decks of the Detroit Superior Bridge, a riverside boardwalk, a life-size working model of a canal gate, a skating rink, lighting/placemaking elements, copious green space and a variety of programs and activities. The park will certainly house the terminus section of the popular Towpath Trail, which will finally reach Lake Erie.
The irregularly shaped park will include a large section of area beneath the Veterans Memorial and RTA Viaduct Bridges, the Downtown Dog Park, the existing Settler's Landing Rapid Station and much of the green area that lines the East Bank of the Flats opposite the Nautica Entertainment Complex. The southern terminus of the associated trail will connect to the Scranton Flats via the Carter Road Bridge. The plan includes 165 parking spaces and also calls for a portion of Merwin Avenue to be removed.
Ninety percent of the associated 20 acres is already owned by public agencies including the city, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland Metroparks and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). Sherwin Williams and Kassouf Real Estate own the remaining 10 percent. While the Kassouf property is a parking lot and will likely remain as such, Donovan said, "We're talking to Sherwin Williams about a permanent easement over their property."
Currently, crumbling asphalt lots cover much of the associated publicly and privately owned acreage.

"Right now you go down there and it's a big asphalt space," said Donovan. "It's very hard. It's very unforgiving." It is also a place you do not notice until you purposefully look at it. Then the vast amount of available land in this incredibly unique and diverse urban pocket blooms before you with endless possibilities.
The next steps include formal site analysis with surveys and assessments of the topography, environmental status, infrastructure, utilities and soil; and the assemblage of funding sources. Donovan noted that the lion's share of the $54 million in funding for the six miles of trail from the Harvard Road trailhead north has been public (thus far $49 million has been secured) and that he sees the financial package for Canal Basin Park project coming together from different sources.
"We have milked that public cow as much as we can," said Donovan. "Now is the time for the private citizens, the corporations, the foundations to step forward and help us."
The City of Cleveland is the lead manager on the project. Partners include Canalway Partners, Cleveland Metroparks, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Cuyahoga County and the Ohio & Erie Canalway.
The park will duly celebrate the historic significance of the location and terminus of the canal. Ironically, it will also act as a cosmopolitan urban gateway to the 101 miles of trail that will eventually span from Lake Erie to New Philadelphia, Ohio. That designation has far reaching implications for the region and towpath at large.
The team sees the park as an informational hub for the southern features on the towpath trail such as the St. Helena III boat rides in Canal Fulton or events at Lock 3 Akron. Cleveland also has a stalwart hospitality infrastructure for future park visitors, replete with copious lodging and entertainment options.
"We’re the funnel for visitors, those people going into this 101-mile regional park system," said Donovan, which per John Zayac, principal of The Project Group, is a very good thing on the heels of an event such as the Republican National Convention.
"A project like this can keep the momentum going," said Zayac.
Of course, access to the new park is an utmost priority. The team noted that it will be a strategic component in the city's goal of connecting neighborhoods to downtown.
"We have a goal of putting all Clevelanders within a 10-minute bike ride to the towpath and its connector trails," said the planning commission's Cantor, noting the park's close proximity to public housing complexes including Tremont Pointe Apartments, Riverview Towers and Lakeview Estates. "It also addresses the issue of waterfront access," he said, tagging both the lakefront and riverfront.
While the park itself will be new, the real estate it will occupy as part of the Cuyahoga corridor is incredibly storied and unique in its designation as a National Heritage Area, an American Byway, and an American Heritage River. Per Donovan, those components make the future park an enduring cultural touchstone.
"The towpath becomes our cinder spine; he railroad becomes our iron spine, the byway our asphalt spine," said Donovan. "This is the place where our history happened."

East Cleveland duplex now permanent housing for veterans

While social media bloomed with kind words for veterans last week, a project that truly gives back to those who have sacrificed so much was quietly taking shape in a duplex in East Cleveland.
Previously vacant, the house is now home to three veterans who were experiencing homelessness and utilizing the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) Men's Shelter, 2100 Lakeside Ave.

This is the pilot project for the Veterans' Affordable Housing Initiative, a collaboration between the Cuyahoga Land Bank (CLB) and LLM. While another non-veteran shelter client is also living in the duplex, it has six bedrooms. Hence LMM is in the process of placing two more vets.
"We really try to have the application and criteria as open as they can be," says Michael Sering, LMM's vice president of housing and shelter. "We didn't want to create barriers for someone's housing. There are enough barriers in the community." Prospective applicants must be able to live independently, get along with roommates and pay 30 percent of their income towards monthly rent, but no less than $325. All utilities are included.
"We have to break even on it financially," says Sering of the minimum rent payment. "There is no government subsidy or anything."
The open slots will be filled by eligible veterans that are from the 2100 Shelter population or via a referral from the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission (VSC), but if there is a vacancy and another appropriate applicant waiting, he will be offered residence.

The housing is permanent, which Sering notes as the most impactful point of the initiative. 

"Everyone wants people in permanent housing - not in a shelter. Ultimately that’s the goal," he says. "They pay rent and live here indefinitely. We imagine some people might move on," he adds, citing an increase in income or other housing opportunities presenting themselves. And if not, "this is definitely permanent housing."
Located within walking distance of a grocery, pharmacy and two bus lines, the duplex features two separate residences, approximately 1,300 square feet each. Each side has its own front and back doors, kitchen, living and dining rooms, basement and three bedrooms.
The land bank identified the property and prepared it for title transfer to the LMM as a donation. The paperwork was completed in September; and the men, who are in their 50s and 60s, moved in just a few weeks ago.
So far things are going along well.
"Two of the guys had already known each other and were referred together," says Sering. "They're good friends. They're glad to be moving in together. They're a support network for each other; they had that built in. The other two guys are off to a good start."
While LMM will be sending along a staffer once a month to check in and make sure the men's needs are met and that they have access to services, that's about it.
"This is not a rigorous case load," says Sering, adding that counseling and monitoring will not be required. "These are people that just need affordable housing."
As for the house, LMM spent $40,000 refurbishing the interior. King's Sons 820, an organization that helps young people adopt trade skills, did the work. 
"The house was in decent shape," says Sering. "It's brick and has a fairly new roof and windows, so most of work was on the interior. They painted everything and sanded the wood floors, which came out beautifully. They pretty much gutted the kitchen," he adds.
Sering hopes that the East Cleveland house will prove to be a successful pilot for the initiative and an example for many more to come.
"The land bank has thousands of houses that they want to see go to a good use," says Sering. "We have lots of homeless people and homeless vets that need housing.
"If this works as we think it should, the sky's the limit on doing it over and over again."
LMM is accepting household donations for this venture, including linens for six new mattress sets (four queen and two twin) and pillows that were donated by Mattress Firm. Cleaning and paper supplies are also appreciated. Any duplicate items will be shared with other veterans moving out of the shelter. Contact Kelly Camlin, associate director of LMM's Men’s Shelter, at 216-649-7718 ext. 480 for more information.

Historic Tremont religious campus reborn as an urban business complex

In 2013, Melissa Ferchill, founder and owner of MCM Company purchased the Our Lady of Mercy (OLM) church complex, 2425 West 11th St. in Tremont. The move, however, was sparked by Ferchill's husband Nick Swingos, owner of Hermes Sports and Events, who was looking to relocate that company from its former St. Clair Avenue space.
Ferchill recalls when Swingos asked her, "Would you guys have any interest in moving with us?" and the search began.
"We started looking in Downtown and Midtown," says Ferchill. "We made offers on a couple other church properties, but we couldn't make deals." Then they learned about the shuttered OLM complex. "It just kind of fit," says Ferchill.
Ferchill purchased the 40,000 square feet of space, which includes what was once a school, rectory and sanctuary, for $550,000. The financial package for the $5.2 million redevelopment included $1.56 million in state and federal historic and tax credits; two municipal grants totaling $110,000, approximately $700,000 in owner equity, a $250,000 Small Business Administrative loan and a $2.25 million bank loan.
Currently, the office design firm RCF Group occupies 7,900 square feet in the complex. Hermes is in a 5,800-square foot space and MCM's offices occupy 5,200 square feet. Still to let is a single 4,800-square-foot area. Other spaces include a game room, conference center and basement.
Renovations began in fall of 2014. MCM, which specializes in historic construction project management, moved from their rental space in the Warehouse District earlier this year. Weber Murphy Fox (WMF) was the architectural firm on the project. MCM acted as its own general contractor.
Locally, MCM have been integrally involved in projects involving historic structures such as the new Cleveland School of Art in what was formerly a Ford assembly plant on Euclid Avenue, the preservation and adaptive re-use of the United Motors Company Building on Prospect Avenue, which is now the Cleveland headquarters for the YWCA, and the Nottingham-Spirk Innovation Center on Overlook Road, which was also once a church.
Considering those projects and a host of other historic renovations across the country, Ferchill says of the OLM conversion, "It wasn't completely out of our wheel house." There was, however, an unusual twist.
"We had to do some modifications to the historic district here," says Ferchill, adding that the West 11th Street campus was not within the geographical footprint of the Tremont Historic District. The firm successfully worked with the state and the National Park Service to get it amended.
The project included some unorthodox transformations on the interior as well, including retrofitting the church confessionals to, well, bathrooms.
"We needed to figure out how to come up with additional restrooms," says Ferchill, adding that the single restroom in the sanctuary's vestibule wasn't sufficient for the 7,900-square-foot-space. The location of the building's plumbing and a convenient crawl space made the confessionals prime candidates. "Plus, it's funny and most of us have a pretty good sense of humor," says the Catholic business owner.
She's also gotten approval from higher authority.
"We've had priests come through the building and say, 'At least there's still cleansing going on in the confessionals.'"
And to that Fresh Water can only add: amen.

Handcrafted jewelry studio moves to Cedar Fairmont, offers custom bridal sets

While prospective customers won't find rows of display cases in Wanderlust Jewelers, they will find something unique: a custom jewelry design and production experience from beginning to end.
Founder and jeweler Wes Airgood consults with clients over a small collection of sample pieces in order to "start a conversation," as he puts it. Then he sets out to design the work with hand-drawn sketches.
"I'm really interested in building a relationship with the client and getting to know them and their parameters for the work," says Airgood. When it's time to bring the concept to fruition, he sets out to craft "something that's very special to that one person." Airgood focuses largely on bridal sets. All of his work is handcrafted.
Previously housed in a 450-foot-space above Presti's Bakery and Café in Little Italy, Wanderlust's new location is just a bit more than a mile away at 12429 Cedar Road in the Cedar Fairmont neighborhood, right above the Starbucks.
"I guess we have a thing about being above coffee shops," quips Airgood. He moved the business, which he helms with wife Heather, earlier this fall.
"We needed a place where we could put down roots and be part of community," says Airgood. "It was really important to us." The couple has a two-year-old daughter and is expecting another baby in January. They live in a century home in Cleveland Heights.
At nearly 850 square feet, the new location begs for Wanderlust's expansion. To that end, Airgood has built three workbenches and hopes to add a part time craftsperson in the coming months, perhaps an intern from the Cleveland Institute of Art. After that, he envisions up to five or six people working in the space.
"That's the nice thing about being a jeweler," says Airgood. "Everything is very small; space isn't really an issue. We could make an entire body of work and it will fit in a shoe box."
Airgood founded the business in 2011 after working for other jewelers and doing custom work on the side.
"When we decided to go this route, we thought we had come up with a smart business model that no one had ever done before," he says. "Then as we got more and more established, we realized that this is the definition of what a local hometown jeweler was for hundreds of years.

"We found we reinvented a very old wheel," he adds, noting that the custom one-on-one service Wanderlust provides is rare. "You don't see much of that today. We go back to a much older tradition."
All of his business come from word-of-mouth referrals, which often bloom into something more.
"More often than not, we get invited to wedding because we develop such a fast personal relationship," says Airgood, adding that the connections endure over years, with clients returning for the fifth anniversary, the tenth, the birth of the first baby and so on.
"That's the thing that I'm proudest of what we've built: our clients," he says. "They're not just customers, they become almost instant friends."
Wanderlust Jewelers invites the public to an open studio event on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 12429 Cedar Road, suite 25.

Lab spaces dominate CSU's new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices

Cleveland State University's (CSU) new Center for Innovation in Medical Practices (CIMP) building opened to students last August. Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the 100,000-square-foot structure, which features three floors and cost nearly $47 million to build. Donley's was the contractor.
The airy and modern interior includes spacious common areas, the walls of which are accented with graphics that evoke electrical pulses traveling between a great unseen brain to any number of imaginary limbs. And while CIMP has its share of classrooms, collaborative study spaces and offices, the labs are what set the building apart.
In the labs, hands-on practice involves dozens of patients with an array of health needs, from standard blood pressure monitoring to the treatment of acute conditions. These patients, however, won't suffer if a student errs.
"They're mannequins," says Dr. Vida Lock, CSU's dean of the school of nursing. "This is simulation. The students have actually practiced and done the psychomotor skills on plastic mannequins before they go into a hospital with a real patient."
To be sure, the labs look just like a real medical ward. Monitors beep. Oxygen ports hiss. Gurneys line the walls, each one occupied by a mannequin/patient. The effect is a bit eerie at first, until a visitor notices the names listed above the beds. Try: Ron Stillblowin, Angie Tube, Christopher Crash, Jason Hipster, Tree Shaker or Virginia Hamm. A bit of comic relief per se, but every one of them has a complete electronic health record that includes allergies, medications and the patient's health history.
"It's very realistic," says Lock. Students are even required to don a lab coat before they enter the room. "We want students to walk into the lab in role. They have to walk in pretending that they really are the nurse or physician."
The mannequins are no cast-offs from Macy's or JCPenney; these are highly technical teaching tools graded as low, medium or high fidelity. Lock describes the least sophisticated models as, "big Barbies with extras," while the high fidelity units cost upwards of $80,000 and simulate heart and lung noises, have blinking eyes and can be intubated or defibrillated among other features.
"We can turn these patients from male to female," says Lock. "We can put different body parts, organs, incisions, ostomies … " Versatility notwithstanding, the storage space for those parts is a bit unnerving for the layman.
"We actually have a mannequin that gives birth," says Lock. There's also a pediatric ward that features an array of child and infant mannequins.
The end result is an all-encompassing educational experience. Students dispense faux pharmaceuticals, confer with one another on patients and review their work courtesy of a digital recording system that captures it all.
"We worked with all the different health disciplines to find out what people needed and how various professions could collaborate for education," says Lock. "Health care is really changing and with this new approach, there's not one person in charge. It's very collaborative. Teaching students in silos and then expecting them to graduate and go out and work as a team really is not effective."
The center houses 400 students. Approximately 170 are admitted each year. Lock notes that the school receives two and a half times the number of applications that can be accepted.
"It's very competitive," she notes of the coveted placements.
Other features in CIMP include a speech and hearing clinic, occupational and physical therapy classrooms, a physical assessment lab wherein students practice procedures such as taking a pulse and monitoring heart sounds on each other, a café and CSU's health and wellness services. Community outreach programs include flu shots, a monthly stroke clinic and the Go Baby Go program, wherein children ages six months to two years with Down syndrome and their families work on cognitive development.
"The building was really designed to be more than state of the art," says Lock. "It's designed to bring the future of health care to our students and our community. It's designed to be an inter-professional education building. The learning environment that exists here for our students does not exist anywhere else in this region.
"We really are cutting edge."

Artscape expands offerings, adds maker workshop

This weekend, November 13-15, the entire first floor of MOCA will be filled with 28 vendors offering up an array of the annual Artscape show's mainstay, handcrafted jewelry, and some new category items.
"There are a lot of return vendors and customer favorites coming back," says Artscape coordinator and MOCA Store buyer/manager Desiree Keller. "We are adding a bunch of new vendors as well, which broaden the categories a little bit." New merchandise will include glass items, leather handbags, clothing and other handmade items such as soap. Artscape will open this Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. for early shopping and mingling.
"On Friday night we have a party to start weekend right," says Keller. Potent potables will be available as well as tidbits from Marigold Catering. "It's a good social shopping experience with friends. They can drink and eat and shop all at the same time."
The evening event will also feature door prizes: gift collections of items from the MOCA store and others donated by vendors. Admission is free for members and $10 for nonmembers, which also includes admission to the galleries. Current exhibitions feature the work of Korean-born Do Ho Suh and an aural installation by Fatima Al Qadiri in the museum's Stair A.
This year's Artscape selections will include handbags by Freddy Hill Design, hand blown glass items by Shayna Pentecost, jewelry by Deborah Woolfork, clothing by Tidal Cool, Orlando Pottery, and much more. A complete list of vendors is available here. Keller estimates most purchases range from $20 to $80, although an array of higher-end items will be available.
"We try to make sure there is a variety of price points," she says, "because the Cleveland population is our customer and that's a broad range of people."
On Saturday and Sunday, the show runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to Artscape is free, although standard admission applies to the galleries. On Saturday afternoon, NinnaNanna will be conducting a 90-minute workshop ($60) on crafting needle felted pets, an item that was a surprise hit at the 2014 Artscape event.
"People went crazy for those felted animals," says Keller, "and throughout the year, I had customers calling me and asking for contact information." The workshop will be the first such event associated with Artscape. "People can learn a skill and get to take something home as well."
The eclectic MOCA Store will be open throughout Artscape. Keller promises a dazzling assortment of merchandise. "We've got a ton of new things in for the holidays," she says. "We're literally still unpacking stuff."
Keller's picks include Applicata beech wood candleholders and Zuny faux leather stuffed bookends, which she describes as "perfect for a kid's room." And while jewelry is the store's number one draw, Keller takes full ownership of the funky-to-chic merchandise. "They're all my babies," she says. "I pick every last thing that comes in here."
As with a portion of the proceeds from the store's sales, some Artscape vendors will donate a portion of their earnings this weekend to MOCA, but the event is mostly about showcasing the artisans, which are largely based in northeast Ohio.
"These are small business people trying to make a live doing their art," says Keller. "Artscape is our way of giving them an opportunity to sell their wares here in Cleveland, especially at this time of year.
"It’s a gift event," she says. "It’s a design event."

University Circle's NextStep program bolsters small businesses

In an effort to offer professional support to small businesses in and around the University Circle neighborhood, University Circle Inc. (UCI) is accepting applications for NextStep, an executive training program designed for businesses that are already established.

Classes will begin in January and continue for seven months. This will be the third cohort, with a cap of 15 participants.
UCI's vice president of services Laura Kleinman recalls the impetus of NextStep: "We wanted to see if there was a way to provide a program that would focus not on start-ups, because there's quite a bit in the community that focuses on those, but there is less in terms of programs that focus on owners of existing businesses that help them scale."
Topics include financial health of the companies, including a focus on what's working and where there is room for improvement; capital investment and identifying financial resources; human resource issues and contracts and lastly, marketing - a module that includes a daunting task.
"We have them interview a customer they've lost," says Kleinman, "assuming they're brave enough," she adds with a laugh before noting that those clients who have parted ways with a business often have immensely valuable information that business can use going forward.

Attendees meet every other week for three hours in the evening; however, conferring with other classmates on off weeks is encouraged. While the program is infused with guest speakers from local anchors such as University Hospital and Case Western Reserve University, Michael Obi, who has a banking, entrepreneurial and coaching background, is the instructor throughout the course.
"He is a very enthusiastic and helpful instructor," says Kleinman.
While some question the duration of the program, Kleinman notes that the timeframe gives way to opportunities that an intense two- or three-day seminar does not, such as applying what participants are learning to their business in real time.
"Over a seven-month period, you can take things you learn, make some tweaks, give it a little time to simmer and see what happens," she says. "You can bring it back to class and get feedback."
The process also nurtures relationships between the business owners, particularly those who make a stalwart commitment to the program. 
"I think it's ideal for someone interested in learning from other business people," says Kleinman. "It takes a couple of weeks for people to get comfortable with one another and for that trust to develop, but the more open minded someone is to that, there's so much value that one can derive from being with like-minded business owners over a seven month period." She cites hearing about others' mistakes as an immediate benefit.
"That peer-to-peer learning and support they get from one another is usually cited as one of the most beneficial things that comes out of the program," says Kleinman.
The curriculum is based on that of Interises's StreetWise 'MBA'™, which has also been adapted by New York City, Columbia University and the national Small Business Administration.
"That was a good endorsement," says Kleinman. "I think its important to acknowledge this is a proven curriculum that has won awards."
The end goal of NextStep is the establishment of a strategic growth action plan for each participating business. Kleinman describes it as and actionable document with specific growth goals.
Seventeen persons have graduated from NextStep. They have included grocers, restaurateurs, an architectural firm, the owner of an auto body shop and an IT company among others.
Requirements include that the company has attained at least $250,000 in sales annually and has at least one employee other than the owner. Businesses that are on the verge of significant change such as opening a second location or going through succession planning, wherein the business in shifting from a parent to a son or daughter, are excellent candidates.
Miesha William of NuLife Fitness Camps touts the program as having pushed her out of her comfort zone in order to lend a critical eye to her business practices. Jennifer Brunkow of CGB Tech Solutions reports that since completing the NextStep program, her number of employees has increased 45 percent and revenues are up 57 percent.
"You owe it to yourself. You we to your business," offers Kleinman to prospective participants. "Take some time out and do some of this analysis. Understand what's working better, understand what's not, and kick some things around with other business owners."
The NextStep program costs $1,250, although financial aid is available to some applicants. UCI is accepting applications through Nov. 15.

Successful pilot program paves the way for 50 sheep to graze vast urban solar field

In a partnership with St. Clair Superior Development Corporation (SCSDC), the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) welcomed three unusual guests last week to their sprawling Kinsman neighborhood campus, 8120 Kinsman Road.
Benny, Kenny and Mr. Wade performed a weeklong audition in anticipation of next season, when CMHA will welcome 50 sheep to tend its six-acre solar field.
"This was a small scale test, says CMHA sustainability manager Tina Brake. "We didn't want to find out the hard way that they were going to interfere with the solar equipment."
In fact, the trio passed with flying colors before heading back to Five Points Farm in Sullivan, Ohio over the weekend. The three were part of the 36-head flock that normally grazes the green space adjacent to the Quay 55 building just north of the Shoreway as part of the Urban Lambscape Program.
Getting up close and personal with the sheep, one finds them to be incredibly friendly and sweet animals that are unafraid of people and quick to nuzzle up in search of a petting hand.
"They're like big dogs," says CMHA landscape assistant Amanda Block. "They'll just follow you around. They like to be in a group," she adds, noting that the preference applies to humans as well as other sheep. "They'll automatically herd with you."
The sheep were chosen over ne'er-do-well goats.
"Goats will eat anything," says Brake, noting that would include wiring and equipment associated with the solar field. "Goats would probably jump on top of the paneling."
Conversely the gentle sheep didn't disrupt anything during the weeklong trial. They're also able to do a task humans cannot. One inspection of the vast 4,200 solar panel array tells the tale.
"This is a very difficult thing for a human and a machine to mow," says Brake. "This natural grazing not only saves us carbon from all the gas guzzling mowing machines, it's also just really hitting those social and sustainability high points." She notes that the sheep will nicely complement the Green Team Initiative, a program through which residents are employed to cultivate young plants on the Kinsman road campus that for the CMHA's 14 community gardens. The resulting harvests are shared with CMHA residents.
To do their part as green ambassadors, when the sheep arrive next June they'll be organic mowers and animated teaching tools for area youths as well, particularly those involved with CMHA's 21st Century 21 program and the local Boys and Girls Club.
"We definitely want to get the kids to come and see them," says CMHA CEO Jeffery Patterson, "but also to hear what value they bring. Also, some kids have never had the opportunity to see livestock like this, so that exposure is tremendous."
"I think that seeing farm animals in action in an urban setting in their own neighborhood is going to be a really great experience," adds Brake.
Judging by the response thus far, the sheep are bound to be a hit with area youths.
"A lot of folks have really taken to them," says Patterson. "I was actually out of town when they arrived, but I saw the pictures of everyone falling in love with them. This batch is so friendly and so nice you can't help but be intrigued and be interested by them."
"It’s a really interesting dichotomy," adds Brake. "You have an urban site over here, trains, solar panels, sheep and you're here on Kinsman. It's a really interesting moment to capture."
Cleveland's urban sheep: the rundown
- Their primary diet is grass and natural vegetation.
- If the grass supply dwindles, the sheep get supplemental alfalfa.
- The sheep have a constant fresh water supply.
- The sheep require no special shelter, although they enjoy the shade the solar panels provide.
- Their wool insulates the sheep from heat as well as cold.
- A llama protects the herd by Quay 55 from natural predators. A stalwart security fence that's already in place will protect the CMHA herd.

Former Cleveland Brown Jurevicius nurtures small business, aims to expand

Amid the ongoing controversies plaguing professional sports, talking with Cleveland native Joe Jurevicius reveals that not all pro players have pro-sized egos.
"I like to call myself a has-been," says the humble Jurevicius. "My plane landed in 2008."
While his professional career with teams such as the Browns, the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks did indeed come to an end in 2008, he was a few years away from an unlikely second act: that of a small business owner dealing in laundry.
"The thing that seems obvious is a steak house or bar," says Jurevicius. "I didn't want to lend a name. I didn't want to just say I was an owner of a business because my name was involved. I literally wanted to be involved in the business. I'm a guy who likes to work."
Hence in 2012, Jurevicius built his first Spins Laundromat at 6912 Lorain Avenue and subsequently opened other locations at 7989 Euclid Avenue and earlier this year at 14930 Saint Clair Avenue.
"One laundromat would literally drive you crazy," says Jurevicius. "You would think that if you doubled or tripled what you had, it would maybe become worse, but it's actually just the opposite," he adds, noting that shopping for supplies in bulk is easier than purchasing the smaller quantities only one location would need. 
Earlier this year Jurevicius also launched a full-service laundry pick up and delivery business, WashClub Cleveland. While he's signed a handful of commercial contracts, including one with Cleveland Hopkins Airport, he's targeting any and all customers and urges people to feel comfortable about someone else, well, dealing with their dirty laundry.
"These are the tee shirts, the underwear - the personal stuff that you wear on a day-in/day-out basis," says Jurevicius. He urges prospective customers to be as comfortable hiring someone to do their laundry as they are hiring someone to plow the drive or mow the lawn.
"I know that for a mother who works all week and has four kids, the last thing she wants to do on the weekend is attack the laundry," says Jurevicius, adding that the same goes for anyone who's short on time and long on tasks. "It's a convenience thing: one less stress for a family or individual."
Services include wash and fold, dry cleaning and tailoring. Customers sign into their account via the website or a mobile app and tap in their order.
"It's basically letting us pick up [your laundry] and taking care of it so the only thing you have to do is take it out of bag and put it back in the closet."
One cannot help but admire the former NFLer's down-to-earth work ethic. He'll take up the slack when duty calls no matter what the task, be it washing clothes, sweeping up, making deliveries or taking out the trash.
"If you're going to know a business you need to know everything that’s encompassed in that business," says Jurevicius. Being a hands-on boss also garners the respect of his 12 employees and eases communications about what's going well and what isn't.
Jurevicius isn't done yet. He's looking to purchase additional property in as little as a few weeks, although he's mum on details other than to say the parcels he's eyeing are on the "near east side and near west side." He's also toying with finding a warehouse space to house all WashClub activities.
"The goal is to ultimately double or triple the number of employees I have," says Jurevicius. He also hopes to turn one delivery van into a fleet of six or more and eventually "walk away from this business down the road someday and say, 'Man, I accomplished something.'"
Judging from what he's been through, it's hard to imagine Jurevicius won't achieve those goals. His NFL career ended after a devastating staph infection put him through numerous surgeries, which he does not recall with bitterness. Instead he regards his 11 years with the NFL with endearing self-deprecation. "I look at a helmet or a pair of shoulder pads now and I go: no way. My body aches just looking at them."
While he concedes that the infection was one of the hardest things he's ever gone through, he is quick to add that it pales in comparison to the 2003 loss of Michael, firstborn son to Jurevicius and wife Meagan, who succumbed to a rare condition at just two and a half months old. Ironically, Michael's short life played out amid the Buccaneer's successful 2003 championship season and Super Bowl victory, when Jurevicius was a receiver for the team.
"I tend to put things in perspective," says Jurevicius. "I lost my career to an infection, but I've always been able to keep that in check compared to what I went through with my son."
For now, he's happy to be involved in the ongoing Northcoast renaissance.
"We have a lot of things to be proud of in Cleveland," say Jurevicius. "We're like a sleeper trendy city. I'm just trying to be part of it."

Three outdoor Fitness Zones open on the east side

Last week, the Buckeye, Larchmere and Woodland Hills neighborhoods each got a new public amenity courtesy of a host of community partners and a tenacious group of residents that make healthy living priority number one.
About 15 residents make up the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Initiative of the greater Buckeye neighborhood, which worked for two years to get Fitness Zones at East End Neighborhood House, 2749 Woodhill Road, Fairhill Partners, 122 Fairhill Road, and the at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's Woodhill Community Center, 2491 Baldwin Road.
"It's really a labor of love," says Erica Chambers, HEAL coordinator for MetroHealth Medical Center. "It took a while to get it here."
Each fitness area features highly durable and rugged resistance training and cardiovascular equipment such as elliptical machines, leg and chest presses and recumbent bicycles, all of which is outdoors and specifically designed to handle the elements. The three installations are also adjacent to kids' play areas, so moms, dads and caregivers can get in a workout while their wards play.
Chambers recalls the project's inception. The Buckeye HEAL walking group was out scouting new routes when they came upon an outdoor gym installation in a suburban park and instantly became interested: How can we get this sort of stuff into our neighborhood?
With that challenge before them, the group reached out to the Trust for Public Land (TPL).
"From there, everything was kind of a go," says Chambers, adding that the HEAL group can take pride in the accomplishment. "They can say, 'You know what? People live here and they do care.' They actually got together. They organized. They learned a lot about this legislative process and how to work with the city and build partnerships and what an investment can look like when you bring the right people to the table to listen to the community."
TPL eventually coordinated the three Fitness Zone projects. Funding partners include the Saint Luke’s, Reinberger and CareSource Foundations, and the MetroHealth System. Saint Luke's granted $250,000 toward the approximately $300,000 project.
While Cleveland's weather is not exactly the same as that of sunny Muscle Beach in California, area fitness enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy pumping iron amid the elements.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for residents who often do not have access to top quality equipment to be engaged in physical activity," says Chambers.
While the new installations will bring immediate benefits to area residents, they may have broader implications across Ohio.
"We've done these across the country," says Kim Kimlin, TPL's Ohio program director. "These three sites were our pilot for Ohio."
TPL will eventually commission a research agency to conduct a usage evaluation of the Buckeye installations, which will determine the future of TPL's Fitness Zone program in Ohio
"W are particularly interested in underserved communities," says Kimlin, "where people don't have access to free exercise equipment. One of the great advantages of (a Fitness Zone) is you can get same workout you would get at an indoor gym, but it's free and its accessible to public."

New CLEpets shop bodes well for downtown residential market

On November 2nd, a new shop is slated to open in the 5th Street Arcades, 530 Euclid Avenue. While the space CLEpets will occupy is just 250 square feet, the subtle implication of the venture is much bigger: A burgeoning downtown residential population means more furry friends. Those four-footers are creating a market of their own.

CLEpet owner and founder Kurt Henschel's muses on the impetus of the project: "I do a lot of work downtown and I'm driving around one day and I’m thinking about all the people living here and it just kind of dawns on me: look at all these people down here walking their dogs," recalls Henschel, who is also a freelance videographer. "This is really starting to look like a real city again. You never used to see this for umpteen years - if ever."
Then came his next thought: "Where will these people shop for little things for dogs or cats?" And the idea for a CLEpets storefront was born.

The shop will offer a variety of very high quality dog and cat food that is made in Ohio. Available for purchase by the pound, the pet chow is free of wheat, corn, soy, additives and animal by-products. Comparing it to high end brands such as Fromms and Orijen, Henschel touts his product as extremely fresh as well.
"The products are manufactured every 30 days, so they're not sitting in a warehouse for months on end," he says, inviting prospective buyers to inspect the ingredient lists on his webpage. Try lamb meal and rice dog food, kitten food or no grain dog food among others.

Locally handmade cat and dog treats will also be available. The all natural offerings from Artzy Fartzy Inspirations will include Sassy's Succulent Salmon Jerky, Natural Chicken Sticks, Mini Mutt Sliders and the best-selling Roxy's Rockin' Peanut Butter Biscuits.
"She actually hand cranks peas into the pea flour they use in products," says Henschel of Artzy's gluten free snacks.
Work on the privately financed project began over the summer. While still tentative, hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Henschel will run the shop with one part-time employee and help from his wife and son. He'll also offer free delivery to anyone living in the downtown area. The delivery vehicle?
"My shoe leather and my legs," he responds, indicating he'll be hoofing it.
Not surprisingly, Henschel is a pet lover.
"I 'm kind of a dog nut," he says. "If I could have 100 dogs and have the room and the time for them, I probably would."
Henschel looks forward to the possible addition of events in the future. Until then, he invites customers to bring in Fido or Fluffy to shop and say hello. He's also excited to be part of Cleveland's ongoing renaissance.
"I'm so turned on about the new vibe in Cleveland," he says. "Just to be a small piece of that whole process, it's very exciting for me."

Gordon Square set to explode with new pop-ups, pinball, poutine and more

A host of highly anticipated eateries and pop-up ventures is set to take the funky Gordon Square neighborhood to the next level and beyond.
"Within two months we are poised to have nearly every vacant space on Detroit from West 54th to 73rd full of activity, which is really exciting," says Chad Jones, director of marketing for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO).
On the verge of opening are three pop-ups that are coming to the corridor courtesy of a contest held earlier this year. Fortunately, the judges were unable to pick just one winner from the 27 applicants.
"We had so many qualified and talented people for the pop-up competition and we had some extra open spaces," says Jones, referring to DSCDO's Gordon Square real estate portfolio. "We were able to name basically three winners."
Trunk took the top prize of $1,000 cash and free rent for the holiday season at 6515 Detroit in a 750-square-foot shop.
"They're a high-end reseller of men's clothing," says Jones. "It's higher-end clothing without higher-end prices."
Two other vendors will receive business training and free rent for their holiday pop-up ventures. Heavy Metal Flea Market will purvey all things, well, heavy metal in a 1,400-square-foot space at 5403 Detroit and Midnight Movie Retail will offer up cool movie art, posters and memorabilia in the former 330-square-foot Guide to Kulchur location at 1386 West 65th Street.
"It's a cornucopia of pop-ups - it's a cornupopia," quips Jones.

Those imminently forthcoming pop-ups will join Collective Upcycle, 6602 Detroit. The 800-square-foot space opened earlier this month and will feature the work of 21 local makers through the holiday season.
Staff at DSCDO hopes some of the temporary retail spots become more permanent.
"The hope is they will enter into a lease agreement with us long term and commit to the neighborhood," says Adam Rosen, economic development director for DSCDO, "We want to set them up for success."
The pop-ups will be joined shortly by an array of white-hot new eateries including Arcadian Food & Drink, 6414 Detroit, and Astoria, 5417 Detroit, both of which are still under construction; and Banter, the forthcoming house of sausage, poutine and beer that is to open imminently at 7320 Detroit.
For those wondering when superelectric will finally open its doors at 6500 Detroit, the pinball emporium has hosted private events, but is still waiting on a final occupancy permit after some last minute changes. Across the street at Councilman Matt Zone's former offices, 6501 Detroit, something nutty is brewing, although everyone's mum on the topic except for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, which will be asking voters next Tuesday:
Shall the sale of beer, wine and mixed beverages and spirituous liquor be permitted by Brewnuts, LLC, an applicant for a D-5j liquor permit, who is engaged in the business of establishing a Donut Bar with craft beer at 6501 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102 in this precinct?
Fresh Water invites readers to draw their own conclusions.
As it unfolds, Gordon Square visitors looking for shopping, noshing and then some can join any number of celebrations planned for the holidays, starting with Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead this Saturday, Oct. 31 (free). Go for the art installations and music, stay for the parade. On Nov. 5, DSCDO will hold its 13th annual benefit, Shoreway on Stage, at the Near West Theatre (ticket prices vary) and on Nov. 7, SouperBowl CLE will benefit the West Side Catholic Center via a $25 dollar ticket that buys attendees a host of soups to taste and judge. Lastly on Dec. 12, the free Holidays in Gordon Square will feature carriage rides, the Cleveland Craft Bazaar at 78th Street Studios and more than 20 vendors inside the Gordon Square Arcade for a winter farmers market.
"We really see this as a neighborhood that’s on the brink of amazing things in terms of residential, retail and commercial," says Rosen of the impending Gordon Square proliferation.
"We want to create something that really inspires people to hang out in the neighborhood," adds Jones. "It's going to be a great winter."

St. Martin de Porres, Salvation Army to benefit from $20m in New Market Tax Credits

The proposed new St. Martin de Porres High School in the St. Clair neighborhood and the Salvation Army's $35 million capital campaign for greater Cleveland will each receive $10 million in Federal New Market Tax Credits, which are part of a $50 million award the Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA) are shepherding on behalf of the city. The award was announced in June.
"At any given time we might have a dozen projects on the list that are close to or getting ripe for investment," says CDA president Yvette Ittu. "Once we get allocation we start moving very quickly to try to move those projects to fruition."
The Salvation Army campaign includes a new family shelter downtown, new community centers in Collinwood and East Cleveland and the renovation of a community center in West Park. The new 65,000-square-foot St. Martin de Porres High School will be at the intersection of Norwood Road and St. Clair Avenue.
As for the remaining $30 million in tax credits to be allocated, Ittu said plans have not been formalized, but hinted that the awards will go to a handful of high profile projects that are ready to move. Per the United States Treasury, the group has up to three years to allocate the tax credits, but CDA does not act leisurely when placing allocations.
"Our awards are generally out the door in less than 12 months," says Ittu.
In the program, entities such as CDA court private investment for local projects, particularly in low-income areas. Investors are rewarded with federal tax credits.
"The tax credit is not applied to the actual project," explains Ittu. "What we're doing is providing a tax credit to an investor who is bringing the capital to the table. It could be a bank or corporation that has the need for a tax credit. Maybe they are willing to invest X amount of dollars into a project in return for the tax credit." Funds must be spent on a project before the investor can reap the tax credits, which may be taken over a seven-year period.
The nature of the program makes for strange bedfellows: Goldman Sachs, for instance, was a satellite investor in the Fairmont Creamery project courtesy of New Market Tax Credits.
CDA, which Ittu describes as a real estate financing organization affiliated with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, selects candidates based on recommendations from its Community Advisory Committee. The group focuses on areas of severe economic distress with unemployment rates more than 1.5 times the national average, poverty rates of 30 percent or more, or median incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median. Considerations also include timing of the project, its readiness for financing, its sustainability and its economic impact.
"A lot of what we do is looking to try to invest in projects that will stimulate additional development and also create jobs," says Ittu.
Specific goals include affordable housing, healthy food accessibility, public transit access and repurposing vacant structures. The group's success can be measured in their results. Including this year's $50 million award, the CDA has received $155 million in New Market Tax Credits since the program's inception in 2003. They have helped finance more than 30 projects including The 9, the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry's Richard Sering Center, the Residences at 1717 and renovations at Saint Luke's Pointe.

Downtown Hilton tops off while management looks to RNC and beyond

Last month, local dignitaries as well as representatives from Hilton Worldwide and Turner Construction celebrated the completion of the framework of the top floor of the 32-floor hotel rising at 100 Lakeside Avenue with a "Topping Out" ceremony. The tradition reportedly dates back 1,000 years and is intended to appease resident deities (Fresh Water will defer to the New York Times for a detailed accounting of the tradition). Attendees signed a construction beam, which was then embellished with an American Flag and a small tree before being hoisted into place.
Construction traditions notwithstanding, per Hilton Cleveland Downtown's general manager Teri Agosta, the hotel is slated to open in June 2016.
"The bottom line is we are on time and we will be ready for the Republican National Convention (RNC)," she says of the July 2016 event. She credits the punctuality on the decision last year to enclose the first six floors of the building to shield the area from the weather and keep construction going.
"That allowed us to really ... get ahead of it," says Agosta, adding that crews focused on the enclosed area when weather shut down work on the higher floors. "There were days when the wind was so cold you couldn't pour concrete. You couldn't run the crane."
The lower six floors make up the "Podium," which houses a glass-enclosed indoor pool, full service restaurant, lobby, fitness center, lounge, and 46,000 square feet of meeting space, which ranges from the spacious 21,000-square-foot Superior Ballroom to a cozy boardroom space of 520 square feet.
So should northeast Ohioans be worried about the fate of the opulent structure once the GOP's elephants lumber out of town? After all, Cuyahoga County taxpayers are funding the $272 million project via a complex finance package.
The unusual public/private relationship is outlined in a formal 15-year agreement that was approved by the Cuyahoga County Council in April 2014. Per the agreement, the county will pay Hilton to manage the hotel on an increasing scale of $639,000 to $1,231,000 per year, and expects in return revenues of $8 million per year for the first three years (additional payments, conditions and incentives apply).
Agosta says Hilton is up to the challenge.
"We literally have a group checking in the day after the RNC and then another group coming in after that," says Agosta, adding that there is "strong interest" for the rest of 2016.
"When we were afforded the opportunity through the county to manage this project, we were excited about it," she says. "We knew it was going to be a market leader and a real game changer here in Cleveland."
Regarding its business ideology, Hilton has a stake in the project as well.
"It's important for Hilton to have distribution in major cities," says Agosta. "We consider Cleveland to be a major growing city and we wanted to have a strong presence here."
Of the buzz going on at the intersection of East 9th Street and Euclid, with the ongoing construction of the Kimpton Hotel and 300 rooms slated for the 925, Agosta says she welcomes the competition.
"We need the bandwidth for us to bring in these larger conventions, which we're capable of," she says. "We need more rooms. We welcome those hotels."
Thirty-seven of the Hilton's 600 units will be suites, four of which will be Rockefeller suites and the most luxurious in the hotel. They'll feature dining, sitting and sleeping areas amid 2,000 square feet. Additional themed suites are in the works.

Agosta estimates nightly rates for suites will range from $1,500 to $2,500 and $225 to $425 for standard rooms, adding that seasonal pricing will apply.
While Cleveland and her good citizens have fielded their fair share of derision, when asked about the most notable characteristic of the new Hilton, Agosta responds with comments that push that negativity even further into the past.
"No matter where you are in the building, you're going to have a great view. You'll see beautiful architecture from every angle of the hotel," she says, adding that Lake Erie figures prominently into the panorama.
"There are really just some magnificent views."

Saint Luke's Foundation funds rapid station upgrades, community programs

Earlier this month, the Saint Luke's Foundation announced nearly $1 million in grants that will directly impact the Buckeye, Mt. Pleasant and Woodland Hills neighborhoods. Founded in 1997, the Foundation has focused mostly on the health and wellness of community members. Three years ago, however, Saint Luke's expanded its mission to include the fostering of strong neighborhoods and resilient families.

"The health of any species is tied to its environment," says Nelson Beckford, Saint Luke's senior program officer for a strong neighborhood. He adds that neighborhoods are our most immediate and impactful environments. "What can we do to make to make our neighborhoods more walkable, more livable, and to create a sense of place?"

The Foundation has always endeavored to focus on the original footprint that Saint Luke's Hospital serviced. Hence the recent Strong Neighborhoods grants will include $300,000 for the enhancement of the East 116th Street Rapid station, which Beckford emphasizes as a vital component of the neighborhood that provides a means for people to get to work and school and to find employment.

"Public transportation is 'small d' democratic," says Beckford. "Folks in this community deserve a good station, a station that's more accessible, that’s bright." Since the East 116th Street station is adjacent to Saint Luke's Pointe, 11327 Shaker Boulevard, he also sees it as an important portal to the resources in that facility, which houses schools, senior living, a Boys' and Girls' Club, a library and the Foundation itself.

The station is slated for a major $6.3 million rebuild starting next year. The Foundation decided to complement that effort with the grant funds, which will support the design and implementation of public art and functional enhancements. Beckford envisions the East 116th Street station going through a transformation similar to that of the Little Italy-University Station, the rebuild of which was unveiled this summer.
"This plan is to enhance the station, make it more connected to the neighborhood, and also to create a better experience for riders," says Beckford. "We believe they deserve it and the neighborhood deserves a high-quality rapid station."
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Inc. (CNP), which is also located on the Saint Luke's Pointe campus, will be shepherding the Foundation's portion of the project.
"I can't say enough about their power and what they can do and their vision for greater Cleveland specifically," says Beckford of CNP and its staff.
Another $110,000 in grant funds will support the launch of ioby in the Buckeye neighborhood. The "in our back yard" movement fosters placemaking and public art as well as the enhancement of public spaces, transit, food access, public health and schools -- all from within.
"It combines digital organization and crowdfunding with straight-up grassroots organizing," says Beckford, adding that ioby approaches situations with the mindset that the community is the expert and that its members have the solutions to the challenges they face. "Often times, the best solution is the local solution."
The initial grant will fund research during which ioby representatives will "connect with local leaders, conduct one-on-ones and assess the landscape," says Beckford.
The Foundation also granted $167,000 to the Food Trust to determine strategies on how to increase access to affordable healthy foods across the greater Cleveland area; $150,000 to The Centers for Families and Children for operational support; $70,000 to the Murtis Taylor Human Services System to upgrade its communication infrastructure equipment; $60,000 to the adult education organization Seeds of Literacy to support the expansion of its facility in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood; and $65,000 to support a collaboration between Towards Employment Inc. and Beech Brook that aims to pair career pathway training with parenthood education and support for persons in the greater Cleveland area.
"We're very bullish about this neighborhood," says Beckford. "Part of our work is to remind people that there's a lot of really good work happening. Part of our role at the Foundation is to help support that and bring that to scale.
"So many people have an emotional connection to this place. We think it’s a special place."
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