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

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Five years ago, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson talked about plans for Cleveland’s lakefront and riverfront. These days, he’s talking about putting those plans into action. As he recently stated, “The only good plan you have is one you’re doing. Everything else is just a good conversation.”   Jackson recently conducted a waterfront tour called “Back to the Future II” on the Goodtime III to highlight progress in lakefront and riverfront development. Jackson, along with Chief of Regional Development Ed Rybka and Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman, narrated a plan that’s coming to life.   The Mayor introduced the tour by saying, “Cleveland is one of the few American cities with both a riverfront and a lakefront. The waterfront helped build the city and is a vital part of Cleveland’s future -- the important thing going forward is that we do it right.”   With that, Jackson highlighted his goals for the waterfront: conservation, economic development and recreation. Those goals are being achieved through projects such as a pedestrian bridge and redevelopment of North Coast Harbor as well as multi-purpose trails like the Lake Link Trail and Towpath Trail.   The tour kicked off with an overview of plans for North Coast Harbor. Rybka and Zimmerman touted the 200 market-rate apartments and 80,000 square feet of office space planned for Phase I. “Phases Two and Three will become a walkable, mixed-use maritime development, including housing, retail and a school site,” explained Rybka.   As the tour continued up the river, residents, media and public officials caught a great view of the new Flats East project, where Phase II currently is under construction, and the recently opened Music Box Supper Club on the west bank.   Zimmerman pointed out Rivergate Park, which offers riverfront dining at the newly opened Merwin’s Wharf. He also highlighted the new Crooked River Skate Park, which is employing “the best practices in skate park construction.”   Overall, the tour showcased how far Cleveland has come in the past five years. “We’re using the investments to rebuild the city, connecting people to the lakefront,” said Rybka. “We’re placing value on what created Cleveland in the first place. We’re positioning Cleveland as one of the great waterfront cities.”   Jackson said he’s pleased development is moving ahead along Cleveland’s shore. “A plan is a plan until you do something about it,” he said. “It’s timing. We’re in a position now where things are just lined up right.” Photos Bob Perkoski

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

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Housing First, a coalition of more than 40 public and private organizations throughout Northeast Ohio, was formed in 2006 to end "long-term and chronic homelessness" in Cuyahoga County. With the recent completion of Buckeye Square, an $11.3 million building that offers 65 affordable, furnished studio apartments for low-income individuals and families, the group is closer to its goal of building 1,271 units of permanent supportive housing. “Housing gives residents security and stability to combat other issues and get back on their feet," said Marc McDermott, Vice President and Ohio market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., the Housing First Initiative leader, in a release." All of the partners that made Buckeye Square possible are changing lives, and the model’s success in Cleveland proves that housing makes all the difference.” The coalition has seen a 73 percent drop in chronic homelessness since the program began, which it cites as evidence that the strategy has been successful. Buckeye Square, which officially opened this week, is located at Buckeye Road and E. 116th Street. The building offers shared laundry facilities, a community room with kitchen, a computer lab, resident parking, a 24-hour staffed front desk, outdoor space and on-site social services. Supportive housing is aimed at helping the chronically homeless get back on their feet. Support services are provided to help them become more independent and reintegrate with their neighborhoods. Enterprise leads Housing First projects by assembling capital, working with local leaders and offering expertise. Cleveland Housing Network has acted as lead developer, while EDEN has served as co-developer and property manager. FrontLine Service helps provide supportive services to residents. Buckeye Square was built using Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as HOME funds and other grants. Enterprise furnished a predevelopment loan of $572,600. Housing First also recently obtained a grant from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to create a mobile health clinic that will serve all of its buildings.

can small ideas add up to big change for cities? 13 projects that prove they can (VIDEO)

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Urban revitalization is not built on stadiums and skyscrapers alone. Vibrant cities begin with passionate people working on the ground, doing the creative heavy lifting to make their communities better. Leading up to Urban Innovation Exchange Sept. 24-26 in Detroit, we take a look at 13 small projects with big potential.

who's hiring in cle: heights arts, cleveland foundation, onshift...

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
There are plenty of good jobs to be had here in Cleveland. This is the latest installment in a regular series of posts in which we feature companies that are hiring, what those employers are looking for, and how to apply. Heights Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization in Cleveland Heights, has a variety of newly-created job openings. The organization is looking for a community engagement and marketing coordinator, as well as a part-time gallery attendant. Deadline to apply is Sept. 30. For more information on these positions, click here. The Cleveland Foundation needs a writer-editor to be the primary creator of written content. Tasks include the writing and editing of executive speeches and talking points, as well as content for print, online and other media. This position also serves as the primary editor and proofreader of all copy for the organization’s marketing and communications. For more information, go to foundation’s careers page. To apply, send resume and cover letter indicating salary requirements by September 30.    JumpStart is looking for a chief credit officer to underwrite the loans for JumpStart’s small business loan products in the organization’s lending program. Click here for more information or here to register and apply.   OnShift, which makes staff scheduling and management software, needs an accounting associate to provide accounting support. The associate will input daily transactions into the ledger system, ensure files are complete and maintained, handle accounts payable duties and assist accounting personnel. Click here to begin the application process.   Sociagram, which offers an online cloud-based platform to create customized personal video messages, is looking for an unpaid social media/marketing intern to assist with social media marketing efforts for the launch of their new consumer product for the 2014 holiday. Applicants must have experience with social media on a personal and professional level. Candidates also must be able to think strategically and see how social media fits into an overall marketing strategy and building long-term relationships with customers. Apply here. Dwellworks is seeking a marketing communications specialist with two to three years of experience who enjoys a fast-paced marketing environment. Experience preferred in branding, social media, writing, event management, and coordination. For more details and to apply, click here.  Have hiring news you’d like to share? Email Karin at Fresh Water Cleveland and send us this information or career links!    

trentina among 'best new restaurants in midwest'

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Conde Nast Traveler has included Trentina restaurant in University Circle among its list of “15 Best New Restaurants in the Midwest.” Here’s the entry: Trentina Cleveland, Ohio Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s new Cleveland restaurant, Trentina, is an homage to the cuisine of Italy’s Trentino region, his wife’s ancestral home. Sure, there’s house-made pasta, but there’s also “egg cooked in a spoon over embers” and edible beef suet candles. Sit on the patio to order from the a la carte menu, or head inside for the 12-course tasting menu—provided, of course, that you’ve purchased a ticket to the meal in advance. Read about the rest of the restaurants here.

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

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Urban Community School, an urban K-8 school founded in 1968, just celebrated the grand opening of a new, $6.3 million middle school. The new facility will allow UCS to serve an additional 150 students per year, bringing the total to 600. UCS, which is considered a high-performing private school, has a mission of helping low-income students become high achievers. The school is an anchor on Lorain Avenue, which is experiencing a shot-in-the-arm of new business investment. "Our long-term vision since 2000 has been serving more kids with a unified campus," said Sister Maureen Doyle, the head of the school, at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "Our goal is to inspire children and teachers to achieve." UCS broke ground on its Lorain Avenue campus a decade ago. The project required tearing down a historic but dilapidated building that was donated to the school. The green-built facility opened in 2005, but the school still had a long waiting list. The new middle school caps off that decade-long expansion effort. The middle school expansion was made possible by a lead gift of $5 million followed by a fundraising campaign. UCS will complete the project this month. The facility allows middle school students to have their own separate wing. It features large classrooms designed for collaborative learning and gathering spaces outside the classrooms for studying or group work. The curriculum has also been redesigned to focus more on project work and social development. Science, math and the principles behind STEAM are also a strong focus area. At the ribbon cutting, Natalie Celeste, Vice Principal of the middle school, outlined how the building's design helps facilitate learning. "We researched what adolescents need to learn best. They're becoming community members in an abstract world. Adolescents need to be able to practice community." In addition to the new classroom and learning spaces, the building also features a new, larger middle school cafeteria. A new program gives every middle school student access to a personal iPad at school. Finally, the campus features a new middle school playground, learning garden and outdoor classroom. Through a partnership with Refugee Response, students learn about urban farming.

but wait, there's more! 10 huge projects clevelanders are eagerly anticipating

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
A fresh energy is crackling all across the 216, from ambitious new developments taking shape downtown and in University Circle, to bike-friendly avenues and the transformation of blight into pedestrian-friendly green space. But the fun’s just getting started. We rounded up 10 of the most exciting projects on the horizon that have us shaking with anticipation.

red lotus offers delicious nut-based vegan alternatives to dairy

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Jeanne Petrus-Rivera became a vegan seven years ago, partly for health reasons. She quickly learned that one of the things vegans miss most is dairy. So she set out to create a tasty, healthy alternative. With that, Petrus-Rivera started Red Lotus Foods, making a variety of cashew-based products that are tasty, healthy and wildly popular at local farmers markets in Northeast Ohio. “As a vegan, I found a lot of people who are interested in going vegan, but found it hard to give up dairy products,” says Petrus-Rivera. “Most non-dairy products are disappointing.” Cashews, on the other hand, are lower in fat but loaded with monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and other good things. Petrus-Rivera discovered that they also make a great substitute for dairy.   Red Lotus produces vegan flavored cashew spreads, cashew sour cream and a sweet cashew creme. “They’re really so flavorful and delicious,” she says. “I think this is the way to go to make vegan more accessible.” Flavors range from sun dried tomato and black garlic to the new spirulina bleu.   Petrus-Rivera participated in both the Bad Girl Ventures and Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen business programs earlier this year. She operates out of the CCLK with one employee, her husband, and sells her products at farmers markets. More recently, she’s been dropping samples by local restaurants in hopes of forming partnerships.   Petrus-Rivera’s dream is to form a cooperative out of Red Lotus. “We’re really just at the beginning of something that’s part of a whole paradigm shift,” she explains. “I have a huge vision and I hope to achieve it in the next three or four years.”

cle named by mag as one of nation's 'best up-and-coming nightlife cities'

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Women's Health magazine teamed up with Yelp to find the “fittest, artsiest, foodiest, and just plain coolest cities on the rise in America.” The results of their research landed them this list: Social Climbers: 5 Best Up-and-Coming Nightlife Cities. Cleveland is among the best. “For our first ever Social Cities package in the October 2014 issue of Women's Health, we teamed up with data scientists at Yelp to help us find the best (and most surprising) cities across America for different types of social scenes. For cities to rank high for nightlife, we looked at bars of all types --champagne bars, dive bars, gay bars, hookah bars, Irish pubs, sports bars, wine bars... you name it! We also looked for cities with a ton of dance clubs, night clubs, a solid karaoke scene, pool halls... and so much more. The five fantastic cities that we named our top up-and-coming nightlife hotspots had a LOT of all of the above on offer. If you're looking for a seriously fun road trip with your closest girlfriends, you should definitely add any of these bumping cities to your must-visit list.” 2. Cleveland, OH “Sure, Cleveland has always rocked. Now, thanks to three reinvigorated neighborhoods, the city's nightlife pulses with a new sophistication. We're not talking cookie-cutter poshness: The after-dark ambience in these trendsetting locales are decidedly diverse.” Mentioned in the item are the Horseshoe Casino, Ohio City's West 25th Street, Uptown, Cleveland Orchestra's Severance Hall, Cleveland Heights and The Grog Shop.   Read the rest right here.  

two artists are finalists in martha stewart competition

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Two local artists are finalists in the national Martha Stewart American Made Awards: Liza Rifkin in the style/jewelry category and Gina DeSantis as a wildcard in the crafts/ceramics, pottery and glass category. Rifkin owns Liza Michelle Jewelry in Ohio City and DeSantis owns Gina DeDantis Ceramics in Lakewood’s Screw Factory. The Martha Stewart American Made Awards recognize makers, creative entrepreneurs and small business owners in crafts, design, food and style.   Liza Rifkin draws inspiration from her natural surroundings. Things like twigs, berries and pinecones she finds in Ohio City end up transformed into original jewelry at her studio and shop on Bridge Avenue. Each of her creations are named after Ohio City streets. Rifkin also makes custom designs and wedding rings.   “I make one-of-a-kind multi-crafted jewelry inspired by nature,” Rifkin explains. “I cast, fabricate and photograph everything in-house. I typically go ‘twigging’ once a week to gather new twigs and such.” A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Rifkin opened Liza Michelle Jewelry in 2010.   Rifkin nominated herself for this year’s competition after hearing that another local designer, Brian Andrew Jasinski of Grey Cardigan, had entered last year’s competition. “A few people suggested I nominate myself for it,” Rifkin recalls. “I decided I was going to do it. With all the support it’s been really great.”   DeSantis also draws her inspiration from nature. But she also is partial to color in her designs. “I don’t do neutrals,” she says. “I’m a child of the ‘80s. I love purple.” DeSantis first went to Lorain County Community College to study graphic design, but never made it to her first class when she discovered the potter’s wheel. She went on to earn her degree in ceramics from Kent State University. DeSantis’ work can be found around town at the Banyan Tree and Urban Orchid, and nationally through Uncommon Goods.    The competition is stiff: 16 judges selected 800 finalists and 200 wild card finalists. The judges will choose nine winners and the public will vote for a tenth winner. Voting opened on Monday and goes through October 13. Fans can vote up to six times a day until voting closes. Readers can vote for both Rifkin, and DeSantis.   The winner will receive $10,000, an opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart media and a trip to the awards ceremony in New York. Despite the competition, DeSantis and Rifkin are actually friends. "I'm wearing one of her necklaces right now," says DeSantis.

cpt's pandemonium, a visual recap

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00am
Pandemonium, Cleveland Public Theatre’s annual benefit and art party, is known as one of the wildest, most spectacular events in the city. That description certainly captured the spirit and tone of this year’s festivities. Here is a visual recap courtesy of Fresh Water photographer Bob Perkoski.

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

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
The Hudson-based Western Reserve School of Cooking (WRSOC) has been in existence for 42 years. It provides a variety of classes for professionals, amateurs and kids and features a small retail space stocked with kitchen gadgets. Now the institution is expanding to a storefront adjacent to Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen (CCLK), a pay-as-you-go commercial kitchen and food business incubator that is located at 2800 Euclid. The cooking school will open by the end of the year. "It's a complementary relationship, and we're excited for the classes to start," says Carolyn Priemer, one of the founders of CCLK. "Previously, we had food, but we didn't have a space for entertainment and events." Priemer also has hired Carl St. John, co-owner of WRSOC, to manage the CCLK kitchen. The new WRSOC will sell a limited range of kitchen gadgets and offer products created by CCLK's food-based businesses, which include Saucisson butchery, Cleveland Kraut and Red Lotus Foods. CCLK entrepreneurs also will help teach classes, workshops and demonstrations at the new school.  St. John and his wife and partner Catherine are opening the cooking school to tap into a new market in Cleveland and join the city's food scene. They will offer single classes geared towards amateur cooks and use the space for corporate team-building events and other functions. The storefront can fit at least 30 to 40 people for cooking classes, and more for a demonstration. St. John says the event space also will be available for rentals.  WRSOC offers classes in bread making, cake decorating, sushi rolling and more. There are Friday night date night classes and weeklong classes for professionals (these will remain in Hudson). Many are taught by Catherine, an experienced chef, but there are guest instructors as well. St. John says he hopes to partner with PlayhouseSquare and other institutions to offer an evening of entertainment where participants cook their own meal and then see a show. St. John says the classes have grown in popularity. WRSOC is far more affordable than a fully-accredited cooking school, yet offers professionals a chance to break into the industry without the coveted degree. Over the years, the school has seen many of its graduates go on to work in the restaurant industry. "The cooking school [in Hudson] is going great, but space is our biggest issue," says St. John. "We're turning down private events and corporate team-building events because we can only host 12 to 14 people. In our new space, we'll be able to have 30-40 people, and more for demos." 

who went where? a roundup of recently filled positions

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
Several Cleveland companies have new faces on their staffs. Here’s a rundown of who’s in new positions.   Ben Faller is the Home Repair Resource Center’s new executive director. Since 2009, Faller has served as a staff attorney and chief housing specialist for the Cleveland Housing Court, working to expand the court’s problem-solving programs and engaging in outreach and policy work on housing and property issues. He previously worked for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland on housing issues and operated his own small business as a general contractor, specializing in residential remodeling. Ben is currently an adjunct professor of law at CWRU and serves as the board chairperson for Larchmere PorchFest. 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Bill Nemeth has signed on to lead JumpStart's Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program after exiting his own company, Mirifex Systems, which was named the fastest-growing IT consulting firm in the United States in the 2005 Inc. 500 list. In his role, Nemeth connects JumpStart’s network of experts with entrepreneurs who need advice and guidance.   Marilyn Mosinski is the new director of business recruitment and development for Slavic Village Development, where she will work with area businesses and recruit new commercial retail and industrial companies to the area. Mosinski joins Slavic Village Development from MidTown Cleveland, where she was manager of planning and development. She is a lifelong Slavic Village resident, and has been active in the neighborhood’s growth and success.   Have a new hire to share? Email Karin with the details and we’ll spread the word!  

making sustainability in cleveland the new business-as-usual

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
In the past five years, Cleveland has made significant progress towards becoming a “green city on a blue lake.” This year’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit will focus on leveraging those successes. But how sustainable are we? A new report examines key indicators and highlights some of the newest, greenest projects across the city. 

twist creative to relocate, expand in new fairmont creamery offices

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
Twist Creative, a small design firm that was founded in Ohio City 15 years ago, is expanding into a larger, custom-designed space at the Fairmont Creamery in Tremont. In part, the move was prompted by the need to consolidate its space, which is spread out over four floors in a building at West 28th and Lorain. Yet the firm also wanted room to grow, as revenues have doubled in recent years and there are plans to hire additional staff. "We definitely wanted to stay downtown or in the surrounding neighborhoods," says founder and design director Connie Ozan. "We have employees and clients on both sides of town. There's a lot of energy here that contributes to our culture." Ozan and her team landed at the Fairmont Creamery thanks to the opportunity to custom build space and be part of a larger project. "We're at the beginning of the revitalization of this area, a new phase of Tremont development," says Ozan. Twist's new offices will be located on one floor, and the space is designed to be more open and collaborative. The interior will have new mechanicals and finishes as well as improved technology features. The design blends old and new, with high ceilings, cement flooring and traditional architectural features like columns. The Creamery's new rooftop garden and deck will be an added bonus. Ozan and her coworkers are looking forward to relaxing with views of downtown Cleveland, and also entertaining clients there. The presence of the Tremont Athletic Club also is a plus as Twist encourages a healthy work-life balance. The entire Fairmont Creamery project is slated to be complete by November. Twist Creative anticipates moving into its new offices sometime in October.  

naturalization ceremony, celebration of diversity on tap at this year's one world fest

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
Clevelanders will celebrate its diversity through artistic performance this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14 at the second annual Cleveland One World Festival. Taking place at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens at Rockefeller Park, the event will feature a variety of arts and activities for all ages, from a parade and performances on a dozen stages to international sporting competitions and art exhibits. Vendors and food trucks will offer authentic ethnic food and drinks.    But for Clara Jaramillo, the One World Festival holds particular significance. She will become a U.S. citizen during the festival’s naturalization ceremony. Jaramillo is one of 25 people participating in the ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday.   “We’re excited about it,” Jaramillo says of becoming a U.S. citizen. “It’s been a long adventure.”   Born in Cali, Colombia, and raised in Medellin since she was eight, Jaramillo moved to San Antonio in 2000 with her husband, Jorge Zapata, for his career as an engineer in the medical field. From San Antonio, Zapata joined Phillips Medical Systems and they moved to San Jose, California, for eight years. They had two sons, Daniel and Nicolas, before they relocated to Cleveland nearly five years ago.   Jaramillo and Zapata settled in Chagrin Falls. “The schools are great, the boys are very happy,” Jaramillo says. “It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s quiet and the quality of life and the schools are much better. We think we’re going to stay here for good.”   Jaramillo is excited about becoming a U.S. citizen. “We’d like to be a part of the system, to be able to vote, to travel the world. As Colombians, we have to apply for visas to go to other countries.”   However, Jaramillo admits she is a bit nervous about the ceremony. “I’m normally very, very shy so it will be interesting,” she says. “It’s nice; it’s going to be a good moment to share with a lot of people.”   Zapata will receive his citizenship in a separate ceremony.

insider's guide to cleveland museums: curators show off their favorite artifacts

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
For every well-regarded artifact on display in Cleveland’s world-class museums there are countless more that fly under the radar. Fresh Water tagged along with curators from area museums as they showed off their favorite hidden gems, sharing often untold stories and behind-the-scenes peeks at choice treasures. 

wire-net survey shows manufacturers in cleveland are doing well, optimistic

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
In its third quarter manufacturing outlook survey, WIRE-Net, a non-profit economic development organization for the manufacturing industry in Northeast Ohio, found that Cleveland area manufacturers are having a good year and are optimistic that business will continue to be good.   Of the 89 WIRE-Net members who participated in the survey, half of the companies reported they anticipated increased profits in the upcoming year and 31 percent expected profits to equal last year. The majority of the companies were small manufacturers, with fewer than 50 employees and sales under $10 million annually.   In previous years, the top two concerns of WIRE-Net members were around attracting qualified workers and sales and new customers. This year, while respondents still reported that talent attraction was a top concern, other priorities shifted to costs.   “They are now talking materials, the Affordable Care Act and electricity costs,” explains Julie King, WIRE-Net’s vice president of resource development and communications. “Sales and customers must be flowing because it wasn’t a barrier. So that’s how we know companies are doing well.”   Tom Schullman, general manager of E.C. Kitzel and Sons, a tool manufacturer for the automotive, aerospace, small appliance and mining industries, participated in the survey and agrees with the results.   The 30-person company has started to see an increase in business this year. “Toward the end of the second quarter we saw kind of an uptick in business and it’s carried over into the third quarter,” he says.   Schullman describes sales as “brisk,” which bodes well for the overall manufacturing ecosystem. “We sell tooling and that’s considered a commodity -- our customers don’t purchase unless they have a need for it,” he explains. “We’ve added new customers in the last six months. The primary thing is our customers are getting busier and it’s causing them to increase orders to us.”   Among WIRE-Net members, manufacturing accounts for 21,000 jobs and $1 billion in wages in Northeast Ohio, which in turn is the engine behind 13,000 additional non-manufacturing jobs.  

container store: small box cleveland announces first tenants

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:00am
Small Box Cleveland, an effort to lure more retailers downtown by converting used shipping containers into small storefronts, will open its first shop on Sunday, September 14th. The Cleveland Browns have signed on to the project, with the team opening a merchandise store just in time for football season. In a few weeks, two additional independent stores, the Banyan Tree and the Wandering Wardrobe, also will open new ventures inside refurbished containers. "This is an exciting time for the city with the growth of downtown, and it's important for us to be part of that," says Brent Stehlik, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for the Browns. "We see this as an opportunity for us to reach fans with a different approach. It's a way to reach new audiences." Small Box is a project of the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation (HWDDC). The new stores will be located on a parking lot at West 6th and St. Clair owned by Weston Inc., a development company that donated nine parking spaces for the project. Small Box is intended to be a creative solution to the retail conundrum in downtown Cleveland -- that is, residents, visitors and office workers say they want more retail options, yet many retailers are not ready to take the plunge until there's proven demand. On top of that, many downtown spaces are larger or more expensive than retailers want. Tom Starinsky, Associate Director of HWDDC, says that he developed the small box idea after learning about a similar project in Brooklyn. He saw it as a way to seed the viability of new downtown retail, and also to test how feasible it would be to redevelop surface parking lots for new mixed-used development. After a successful crowdfunding campaign -- more than 100 individuals donated a total of $20,000 to the project -- and additional fundraising, Small Box was ready to go. Each container store costs $20,000 to build. Cleveland Container StructuresWolf Maison Architects and 44 Steel designed and fabricated the structures. Tenants are being charged modest rents that help cover HWDDC's costs to run the project. HWDDC also plans to create a small park at the corner of West 6th and St. Clair using recycled materials to build out the space. The concrete will be painted green to imitate grass, benches will be made from pallets upholstered with AstroTurf, and fencing will be made from pieces of shipping containers. It will have a "front lawn feel" with an urban vibe, says Starinsky. The 8’ x 20’ shipping containers front the sidewalk. The contractor cut holes in the fronts of them and installed custom-built storefront window systems. The interiors will have electricity to power lighting, heat and air conditioning. The spaces are insulated with OSB board but have no plumbing. Tenants have the ability to paint their own boxes and add creative signage. Starinsky says the aim was to attract established independent tenants that would add to the downtown area without poaching from other retail districts. He couldn't be happier. "The tenant mix is pretty perfect," he says. "We have a national business, an established small business and an entrepreneurial business." Small Box is hosting special events this fall and during the holiday season, and additional retailers will be invited to special outdoor markets. The shops will be open five days a week initially, and weekends-only during the holidays. Leases run through March 2015, at which point tenants will have the option to renew. Starinsky wants to grow the project and add more container stores to the mix. If the site gets developed by Weston or another investor, the shipping containers can be relocated to another site to seed the next wave of downtown development. Small Box is making it possible for the two smaller retailers to try out new shops downtown. Christie Murdoch of the Banyan Tree says she's thrilled to be opening Banyan Box, a small gift, art and apparel store that will function as a cozier, more selective version of her Tremont location, which has been successful for the past 13 years. "This is such a cool concept, and I'm excited to be part of a surge of retail to go into downtown Cleveland," she says. "There are plenty of great restaurants downtown, but retail is just something that completes a town." Additional support for the Small Box project was provided by Weston Inc., Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Sherwin Williams, Sign-Lite, Enterprise Community Partners, Ohio Savings Bank and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.