Issue: March/April 2010
Community Impact Awards: Stage Presence
The reborn Capitol Theatre has energized Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.
Gypsy Beans & Baking Co.’s floor-to-ceiling windows provide a perfect view of the newly renovated Capitol Theatre and the near West Side neighborhood’s freshly minted streetscape.
Patrons color the coffeehouse with khakis, denims and Doc Martens. They tap at laptops and rustle newspapers as breezy baristas brew Tanzanian Peaberry and Costa Rica Tarrazu.
It’s a far cry from when Niki Gillota opened her cafe in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood almost four years ago.
A lot of effort — and about $7.5 million worth of improvements, a city of Cleveland loan and various grants — have gone into changing that.
In 1979, the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization launched an initiative to save the historic but crumbling Gordon Square Arcade and the Capitol, the former movie theater it housed. Financing for the renovation of the Capitol, which opened in 1921 and had been closed since 1985, finally fell into place after decades of planning.
Construction started in May 2008 to create three movie auditoriums with state-of-the-art digital projection systems and a renovated lobby that preserved many of the building’s historic details. The theater re-opened in October.
The Capitol is the centerpiece of a $30 million initiative known as the Gordon Square Arts District and includes the renovation of the Gordon Square Theater, the construction of a new space for Near West Theatre and a greatly enhanced streetscape.
“It looked like a regular Cleveland street with potholes,” Gillota recalls. That’s not what you see out of her windows today. Newly planted trees, special backless benches designed by artist Susie Frazier Mueller and decorative laser-cut brick pavers in yellow and red adorn the sidewalks. “You notice the art that wasn’t there before,” Gillota adds.
And you notice something else: More than 33 businesses, such as Marlin Kaplan’s restaurant Luxe and the trendy boutique Room Service, have opened or moved into the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood in the past four years, creating more than 369 new jobs.
“We’re building a community here,” says Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization executive director Jeffrey Ramsey. It’s a community filled with residents, local workers and shop owners alike.
So Gypsy Beans often serves as the development organization’s lunchroom, as employees grab a quick bite and coffee during their lunch hours.
“This is how things used to work and how they ought to work,” Ramsey says. “It regenerates funds back into the neighborhood.”
UPDATE 3/30/10: March Team NEO study says Gordon Square Arts District will have $317 million in economic activity by 2013. Download the release here.
This record has been viewed 1471