I get more excited every day about what’s happening in Cleveland. Downtown residency rates are way up, we have downtown farmer’s markets, chefs create innovative eateries, and downtown is no longer a ghost town at night. And now we have the Furniture and Millwork Fair this week.
When I spoke with Josh Taylor, PR Manager of Downtown Cleveland Alliance, about the increased occupancy rates on Euclid Avenue, he told me “it’s not something that happens all at once, it’s a progression.” That’s how it is with Cleveland’s resurging economy too, and some of the resurgence is taking place on Euclid Avenue. Josh went on to explain that Gateway did a study of E. 4th Street to decide what to do to repurpose it and the Maron Family started to invest money to make it actually happen, with a blueprint to follow. “That retail plan helped determine how to develop the area,” Taylor said. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance expects residential housing to extend from Public Square all the way down to Cleveland State.
Once a critical residential mass is reached, businesses to support downtown living will become a reality. Cleveland is reinventing itself with a vibrant downtown, but also making inroads in the arts, green initiatives, the business of medicine (with the Medical Mart), and film-making.
Small Amish furniture operations from Holmes County, larger Cleveland-area furniture manufacturers, and artisan wood workers will come together to share ideas and innovations. Taylor told me the idea is to partner with District of Design and focus on the area of Euclid Avenue between E. 9th and Playhouse Square where there are special incentives for consumer and fashion designers to showcase their products. In Cleveland, “there’s a high percentage of industrial designers in the process of creating an industrial design mecca,” Taylor said. Like the medical mart concept, the Furniture and Millwork Fair will bring together products with purchasers, and, in this case, designers and purchasers, so that when the purchasers leave town, they will have a plan in place for the products they need. It’s another way of bringing resources together in one place.
The Fair will host educational seminars for furniture makers on design trends and local product sourcing programming for design professionals. A V.I.P. reception on Tues 7/13 evening marks the beginning of the Fair, with Fair hours from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, the hours between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM being reserved for furniture wholesalers and other large buyers, and later hours for the public.
Cleveland’s Design District is centered around Euclid Avenue to elevate local design and manufacturing industries. Those who decry the loss of downtown retail in the form of mega department stores like Halle’s, May Company, and Higbees, should take heart that innovative art and design is alive and well in Cleveland and when fully realized, Cleveland will be known for its creativity. Cool creativity is already taking place at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative at Euclid and E. 13th Street. Isn’t that better than downtown Cleveland being known for its department stores?
Design District concept illustrations by Scott Richardson
Her favorite foods are red wine, salmon, ice cream, and chocolate. She loves to read, write, tour wineries, ride her bike, ease into yoga, and cook gourmet meals for friends. Find her at http://www.claudiatallermusings.blogspot.com.