the 2016 Vibrant City Awards Finalists

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is pleased to announce
the finalists for the 2016 Vibrant City Awards.

Winners will be announced at the Vibrant City Awards Lunch on Monday May 2, 2016 at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium. To get additional details and tickets for this event, please click here.

CDC Community Collaboration AwardCDC Neighborhood Placemaking AwardCDC Economic Opportunity AwardCDC Neighborhood Branding & Marketing AwardCorporate Partner AwardUrban Developer AwardCivic Champion Award

Ohio City, Inc. – Station Hope

In May of 2015, Ohio City, Inc., Cleveland Public Theatre, Saint John’s Episcopal Church and Councilman Joe Cimperman collaborated for a special event. Station Hope was a free multi-arts event that celebrated the history of St. John’s Church, the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, and contemporary struggles for freedom and justice. Staged in and around the historic church, Station Hope was a celebratory, immersive community event, featuring original work created by professional and community-based artists from across Northeast Ohio. As an  active church in the Underground Railroad, St. John’s Episcopal Church was a last stop for fleeing slaves seeking their freedom across the waters of Lake Erie with its steeple acting as a beacon of freedom. In celebration of this meaningful history, and in recognition of present day struggles for freedom and justice, Station Hope featured a diverse selection of theatre and performance ensembles, including more than 30 companies and 150 individual artists.

Slavic Village Development – At Home in Slavic Village
In the spring of 2015, The Cleveland Orchestra At Home in Broadway Slavic Village residency brought the magic of a world-class orchestra to the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood. The residency was made possible by a strong partnership between Slavic Village Development, the Cleveland Orchestra, Broadway School of Music and the Arts, The Broadway Boys and Girls Club, cultural organizations, and numerous area churches and schools. In April, the orchestra performed a free public concert for an audience of 1,000 neighbors and visitors at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The residency continued throughout the year with smaller ensembles of musicians sharing their talents with hundreds of residents and visitors at the Neighborhood Summit, “Sunday Funday” at The Nash, and at a Family Concert at the Boys and Girls Clubs. Cleveland Orchestra musicians supported school music programs through coachings, masterclasses, and Musical Rainbow performances.   The residency built community among residents and fostered a sense of pride in the richly diverse cultural and ethnic heritage of the Slavic Village neighborhood.

Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Center Community Development Office – La Placita
In 2015, the Stockyard, Clark Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office partnered with the Hispanic Business Center and many local businesses and entrepreneurs to launch La Placita, an open air market near the intersection of Clark Ave and West 25th Street with an emphasis on fresh and local Hispanic foods and produce. The series of five Saturday events proved to be a destination event, as it attracted thousands of guests to the heart of the Clark Fulton neighborhood. These visitors and residents experienced ethnically-based foods and products from 24 local vendors and cultural-centric art and performances from a variety of arts organizations. La Placita also served as an effective venue to expose its audience to “La Villa Hispana,” which is home to a growing ethnic population in the City of Cleveland.

MidTown Cleveland – East 55th railroad bridge painting
Crossing above the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street, a once rusty grey railroad bridge has been given a bright, colorful makeover—transforming it into a symbol of the innovative health-tech and high-tech economy that is emerging in MidTown Cleveland and the Health-Tech Corridor. Displayed on the bridge, alongside a graphic of DNA molecules, are logos of partners that are helping drive the success of the Health-Tech Corridor: MidTown Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, BioEnterprise and the Cleveland Foundation. Twist Creative, Inc. of Cleveland designed the graphics for the bridge painting, calling it a representation of “analog smarts meeting digital optimism.”

Slavic Village Development – Cycle of Arches
The Cycle of Arches is not a single arch but many arches working in concert to create an experiential zone at the urban scale that speaks to the sense of place in all of us. The vision is a design that is meant to evoke allusions to nature, like trees or grasses bent by the wind, and interpret the industrial heritage of the Slavic Village community by invoking the neighborhood’s “steel roots” with its steel tubing construction.   The Cycle of Arches leverages the recently installed $8M Broadway Streetscape and Road Improvement Project by building a premier public art piece to serve as a northern gateway and new greenspace park for Broadway Slavic Village. The streetscape enhancements included historic lighting, brick pavers and trees in the Broadway Historic District. The Cycle of Arches is located at the corner of E.49th and Broadway Ave. on the Eastern leg of the Broadway Ave. portion of the Americas Scenic Byway.   The artist for the project was Jonathan Kurtz, AIA. Slavic Village Development, LAND Studio and the City of Cleveland were all partners.

University Circle, Inc. – Wade Oval improvements
One of the roles of a CDC is to enhance its neighborhood with creative interventions that engage residents, visitors – young and old – to relax and have fun. Many identify Wade Oval as University Circle’s Central Park and significant programming and maintenance are invested by University Circle Inc. to insure that the Oval is inviting and safe for everyone. UCI recently invested in several park improvements: a permanent musical park that offers four large scale instruments, including drums and a xylophone, benches, several large, colorful Adirondack chairs and a chalkboard with the “This is CLE to Me…” tagline emblazoned across the top. Guests are encouraged to creatively express themselves on this vibrant canvas, within this vibrant neighborhood. The park is appropriately named in honor of UCI’s former Board Chair and long-time champion of the Circle and all things musical, Jamie Ireland.

Famicos Foundation – EITC program management
From obtaining expungements so that people can get a job, to counseling people how to best use their tax refund and helping lower income single parent families build wealth through homeownership, Famicos Foundation weaves together a diverse portfolio of economic opportunity programming to maintain and improve family financial stability in the neighborhood. In 2014 and 2015, Famicos was the highest producing VITA site in Cuyahoga County. In 2015, the organization helped complete 1,917 tax returns with a total refund of $2.3 Million for residents. 549 of those returns were for EITC clients and those individuals received $869,000 in refunds. Since 2005, Famicos has grown the number of clients it has served by more than 800%. Also in 2015, while participating in a pilot program, Famicos referred 90 tax preparation clients interested in receiving one-on-one financial counseling to the Community Financial Centers. A member of the Cuyahoga EITC Coalition since its inception, Famicos hosts several EITC events, such as Super Saturday with bank partners, site coordinator trainings, EITC Coalition Steering Committee meetings, and volunteer recognition events.

Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office – La Placita
The Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office was instrumental in the planning and implementation of La Placita. The office is also deeply involved in creating a Hispanic Business District known as “La Villa Hispana”. La Placita served as a catalyst project that encouraged collaboration between the local CDC and stakeholders in the community. This initiative also functioned as an incubator for new businesses that had access to free business training and as an accelerator for those already established businesses looking to grow. Situated in an economically challenged food dessert, La Placita performed as an access point for locals seeking fresh, affordable produce and culturally relevant prepared foods and ingredients. Additionally, small business owners were consistently showcased and brought one step closer to sustainable growth.

University Circle Inc. – Business outreach and development efforts

University Circle Inc. continues to improve upon the economic opportunity programming in the neighborhood. In 2015, its business outreach and development efforts included three key components: Uptown Business Association, NextStep: Strategies for Business Growth, and a financial literacy and QuickBooks bookkeeping program. Together, these initiatives enabled new and existing business owners in the greater University Circle area to meet one another, learn from one another, and gain valuable knowledge and networks to help their ideas or businesses grow. With 17 NextStep alumni and a current class of nine business owners, 65 UBA members, and 7 bookkeeping program participants, UCI consistently convenes all of these individuals at UBA meetings in order to network, enhance their skills and find new opportunities.

Northeast Shores Development Corp. – Welcome to Collinwood website
Over the past decade, Northeast Shores Development Corp. has worked to evolve Collinwood as Cleveland’s premiere artists’ neighborhood. The Waterloo Arts & Entertainment District is filling with studios of all forms, from printing to pottery to galleries. With the help of the CDC, the neighborhood has taken its brand to a new level with the Welcome to Collinwood website. The homepage offers an artistic display of images and designs, and visitors are met with charming copy that boasts the great opportunities available to artists in Collinwood. While navigating throughout the site, visitors are rewarded with helpful information that provides a valuable orientation to Collinwood. The website is well constructed and the design enforces the brand that the CDC is working to reinforce. This online resource not only serves as a great marketing element for the neighborhood, but also is an excellent resource for people seeking more information about the programs, projects and opportunities available in this lakefront neighborhood. 

Slavic Village Development – Rooms to Let
Rooms to Let, a temporary art installation in vacant homes created by Slavic Village Development, was a successful marketing event that changed perceptions about the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood. Over 1,000 neighborhood residents and visitors from the greater Cleveland area attended the event in May 2015. The exhibit included art installations by 30 artists, live music performances and hands-on art for children. Attendees walked through the transformed vacant homes, spoke with artists and each other, participated in hands-on art and appreciated the provided entertainment. Visitors from outside of the neighborhood were reminded of the rich history of Broadway Slavic Village through the exhibits that spoke to the history of the community. Rooms to Let gave them the opportunity to experience the real Broadway Slavic Village, rather than relying on the media to shape their perceptions.

St. Clair Superior Development Corp. & Campus District Inc. – Night Market Cleveland
St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Campus District Inc. teamed up last summer to spark awareness, foster a creative economy, and bring attention to the hidden gems of AsiaTown and Superior Arts District. This neighborhood, geographically hidden and suffering from negative perceptions due to isolation, needed some exposure. The response to this branding need was Night Market Cleveland – a series of four dynamic summer events with local art vendors from the arts district, Asian food from restauranteurs and food entrepreneurs, musical entertainment and Asian cultural performers. The inaugural season of Night Market Cleveland was wildly successful as demonstrated by its 50,000 guests, coverage in 22 unique media publications, and thousands of new social media followers. The establishment of a positive and recognizable brand for the Superior Arts District and AsiaTown neighborhood paired with the excitement around Night Markets has generated pride and ownership in local residents who are now carrying the momentum forward into new projects to benefit the community.

Community Blight Solutions
Robert Klein is the Founder and Chairman of Safeguard Properties. Under Robert’s leadership as CEO, Safeguard grew from a handful of employees in 1990 to over 1,500 today. Safeguard is acknowledged as the leading mortgage field servicing company in the United States. Since Safeguard’s inception, Robert has developed and maintained a reputation as an innovator and is recognized as an industry pioneer and advocate for the property preservation industry. Robert’s vision and ingenuity continue with the creation of Community Blight Solutions, a company focused on understanding, solving, and eliminating the problems of communities experiencing blight. Prominent solutions currently include the Slavic Village Recovery Project and SecureView. Slavic Village Recovery is an innovative project created to revitalize the Slavic Village neighborhood. Through a targeted investment strategy, the SVR partners are taking a holistic approach to community redevelopment, aligning demolition and rehabilitation to eradicate blight one block at a time and supplementing its efforts with community engagement by Slavic Village Development and corporate volunteerism by the for-profit partners. It is focused on gaining access to a critical mass of real-estate owned properties and bank walkaways with the intention of either demolishing or rehabilitating the vacant structures.

Dave’s Supermarkets
For five generations, and over 80 years, Burt Saltzman and Dave’s Supermarket have displayed commitment to the City of Cleveland in numerous ways. During a time when other grocery chains were leaving the city, Dave’s Supermarkets opened new stores in Cleveland and provided a much-needed amenity to city residents, often in economically challenged neighborhoods. Their portfolio of stores sells products that match the profile of the communities they serve and their employees and customer base accurately reflect Cleveland’s diverse population. Asian, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian residents all feel at home in Dave’s Supermarket. Dave’s has provided significant financial support in the form of food donations to many community organizations, churches, and neighborhood groups – and rarely, if ever, passes on the opportunity to do so. The local chain employs over 1,000 people in 14 stores, providing health care and retirement benefits to hard working Cleveland residents. An urban advocate himself, Mr. Saltzman has also volunteered his time and treasure by serving on the boards of Mental Health Services, Metro Foundation and Menorah Park.

PNC Bank
PNC Bank has been an incredibly important and steadfast corporate partner in University Circle’s growth and development these past few years, increasing its support and commitment to various programs and initiatives in 2015. PNC was the proud lead sponsor of UCI’s summer concert series, Wade Oval Wednesdays, or WOW!, a free weekly concert that draws up to 5,000 attendees each week. UCI relies upon PNC’s support of WOW! to create an incredibly diverse, stimulating, and safe event for the community. In addition to PNC’s WOW! support, the bank’s team committed new resources to assist UCI’s other visitor experience initiatives in 2015. Specifically, PNC supported UCI’s newly expanded clean and safe ambassador program. Through their generous support, UCI was able to contract with Downtown Cleveland Alliance and grow its seasonal program to a year round, 7 days per week service with twice as many staff. Additionally, PNC supported the creation and development of a children’s map and activity book to complement UCI’s newest education initiative, Circle Walk, a 40-point interpretive program that weaves compelling stories of innovation into a free, outdoor interactive community experience set to launch in May of this year. Not only does UCI benefit from PNC’s financial support, it also benefits from the support and passion provided by the Cleveland PNC team. They are truly committed to improving Cleveland’s neighborhoods.   In University Circle, PNC’s support can be felt everywhere. It truly provides UCI with the resources to create and manage a highly exceptional, visitor friendly, community asset.

Case Development, Mike DeCesare
Mike DeCesare of Case Development has been a pioneer in residential development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. His company often pushes price points and design to new levels. He successfully finished the Waverly Station community in 2015. That same year, he completed and sold out the Harborview development at Herman Avenue and West 54th St. Mike is also a resident of Detroit Shoreway, and sees his work in the neighborhood as personal. He and his wife Nancy sponsored the “Shoreway Vision” program in 2013 where they gave discounts on their home in exchange for community service hours to be logged by the new home buyers in their communities. Committed to improving the city’s neighborhoods, Case Development is now also moving forward on an Ohio City residential development in Hingetown.

Geis Companies, Fred Geis
It has been less than a decade since Geis Companies have shifted the focus of its projects from the suburbs to the city of Cleveland. In this short time, its pioneering approach to development has helped transform key areas of the city, including a forgotten section of the Euclid corridor in MidTown and a decades-vacant corner of E. 9th Street and Euclid Avenue in Downtown Cleveland. These investments have restored many notable buildings from our city’s past that have long sat vacant, including The Agora, Cleveland Trust Rotunda, and the Breuer Tower. The Geis portfolio also includes the Cuyahoga County administration building, Hofbrauhaus, and The Avenue District apartments. Fred Geis began developing the MidTown Tech Park while the family-owned company remained focused on the suburbs. With nearly 250,000 square feet of office and laboratory space leased to health and technology firms, Geis’s Midtown Tech Park is part of MidTown’s growing Health-Tech corridor. One of Geis’s most transformational projects is The 9, and includes market-rate and affordable housing, a boutique hotel, and a 27,000-square-foot Heinen’s grocery store. With the opening of The 9, Geis moved its headquarters from Streetsboro to Downtown Cleveland. This spring, Geis will break ground on a project in Ohio City, converting the industrial Storer Meat Co. facility into 67 market-rate apartments. Fred Geis was also recently appointed to the Cleveland Planning Commission and will donate his stipend to the Dream Neighborhood refugee housing initiative.

Vintage Development Group, Chip Marous
Vintage Development Group is a proud developer of upscale residential living in both Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway. By providing well-built multi-family residential properties, Vintage Development Group helps support the commercial districts on West 25th Street and the Gordon Square Arts District with residential opportunities and financial support. Chip Marous leads this effort with a passion, drive and a unique vision for development in Cleveland. The transformation of vacant, foreclosed and abandoned land has been reimagined as vibrant neighborhoods like Battery Park. Not to be content with the footprint of Battery Park, Chip has executed plans for extending that footprint and further investing into the growth of the area. He is not just a developer, but also an advocate for urban living. Marous’ passion for complete, walkable urban development is a long-standing tradition that is made possible through trusting and nurturing the relationships in Cleveland’s urban neighborhoods. These relationships prove beneficial for social, artistic, and residential growth, and foster future vision and prosperity.

Joe Black
Joe Black is deserving of the Civic Champion Award because he is committed to developing stronger minds in Central neighborhood youth. He is currently the Neighborhood Engagement Manager for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. As the leader of the engagement team, he is responsible for identifying resources and implementing strategies that create a seamless experience for youth and families to progress through their education from cradle to career. Joe’s passion was sparked by personal experiences with the inequities linked to Males of Color, and has since matured into a responsibility to serve “at risk” communities. He is a tireless, dedicated community volunteer, mentoring youth at his day job as well as during his free time. Joe understands lasting, sustainable transformation of our city requires working closely with youth and families and community partners in neighborhoods like Central. It is community leaders like him that help build a comprehensive strategy for institutional change. Nominated by multiple individuals, Joe is described as a positive force, a role model, a motivator, an advocate, a mentor, a leader, and most importantly, an asset to the Central neighborhood.

Charles Gliha
Charles Gliha is a lifelong resident of the Slavic Village neighborhood. His efforts to make the neighborhood a better place to live span art, civic engagement and business development   Chuck is the founder of Broadway Public Art, has championed the Warszawa Music Festival, is the founder of Street Repair Music Festival, organizes the Polish Constitution Day Parade, and volunteers at Rooms to Let. He is an active member of the Slavic Village Neighborhood Summit planning committee and often constructs elaborate “decorations” for the event. He hosts cash mobs and live music events in retail establishments and created a printed business directory for the neighborhood. Chuck has personally brought $25,000 in grants to the neighborhood and is a tireless cheerleader for Slavic Village.

Allison Lukacsy
Few people embody a love for neighborhood and city like Allison Lukacsy. A Cleveland transplant turned North Collinwood artist, advocate, and promoter, she sees opportunities where others see problems. Since moving to North Collinwood in 2013, first as a renter and now as a homeowner, Ali has secured over $20,000 in grant funding, resulting in projects with direct and visual impact on the neighborhood including:   Storefront Activation utilizing debris from Adopt-a-Beach cleanups, Phone Gallery – Cleveland’s smallest curated art gallery, Locks of Love-Love Lock Fence-a Collinwood Vibrancy Project, Yarn n’ Yoga – a yarn bomb and yoga on historic Euclid Beach Pier, Euclid Beach Book Box, and Bus Stop Moves RTA shelter exercises. Her penchant for applying a creative and artistic lens to address and explore issues ranging from vacancy/abandonment, street/beach litter, community health and literacy seems endless. Allison is a tireless and unabashed North Collinwood and Cleveland promoter on social media. She single-handedly has recruited several new residents moving in and prompted people across the country to share stories and news about Cleveland and its Collinwood neighborhood.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the Vibrant City Awards finalists!

Click here to purchase tickets to the 2016 Vibrant City Awards Lunch