By CAROLINE R. MERK
(Photographs by Caroline R. Merk)
Hingetown is a destination neighborhood within Ohio City. The burgeoning area offers retail, art, food, music, diverse residential options, and is within walking distance of downtown and the lakefront. Throughout its recent gentrification, Hingetown has preserved its history and maintained a sense of uniqueness and authenticity.
The name, Hingetown, was coined by Graham Veysey and his fiancée, Marika Shioiri-Clark, key players in the neighborhood’s rapid, but well thought out growth. They were searching for a word to describe the geographic location of that northeastern part of Ohio City. The former director of SPACES gallery, Christopher Lynn, referred to it as a “hinge,” since the area is a central, connective point between three very different and vibrant neighborhoods. Gordon Square lies to the west, Ohio City’s Market District is just south and the Warehouse District across the Detroit-Superior Bridge is to the east. Once they came up with Hingetown, Graham and Marika had graphic designer Oliver Barrett create a logo for the neighborhood.
The couple got involved in Ohio City when Graham moved back to Cleveland and wanted to be within walking distance of the West Side Market. Marika, who grew up in Berkeley, CA soon followed. They bought the Ohio City Firehouse in 2011, at W. 29th and Church, directly across from the Transformer Station. The couple lives in a section of the building with the remainder utilized as an office and retail center. The very popular Rising Star Coffee Roasters anchors the corner. Urban Orchid, a floral and gift boutique, moved into the Firehouse from another spot in Ohio City. Owners Jeff Zelmer and Brandon Sitler just opened a second location in Little Italy. Besides creating beautiful, organic-style flower arrangements, Urban Orchid hosts book signings, parties and showcases the work of a different artist every month.
Ohio City Incorporated oversees the development of the area. “A ton of credit goes to Fred and Laura Bidwell,” says Tom McNair, acting executive director of Ohio City Inc. “The Transformer Station was the spark that got things started in Hingetown.” As a former transformer station turned West Side satellite of the Cleveland Museum of Art and gallery for the Bidwells’ own collection, it provides Hingetown with a first-rate art destination.
In 2013, with backing from the Bidwells and Christopher Celeste of Hatch, Graham and Marika bought the 1919 Striebinger Block, at W. 29th and Detroit. Now completely renovated, it is transformed into a charming streetscape. Above the independent retail storefronts are apartments and a permanent AirBnB unit. The businesses include Cleveland Tea Revival, Beet Jar Juice Bar, The Dean Rufus House of Fun, Ohio City Dog Have, Blow Hair & Nail Salon, Juke Box and Harness Cycle. In the big picture, the W. 29th redevelopment connects the neighborhood to Detroit Avenue, a major corridor.
Just west of the Striebinger Block on Detroit, a new luxury apartment building is under construction by developer Brian Koch. Mariner’s Watch looks out over the Shoreway to the lakefront. Designed by the notable local architecture firm, Dimit Architects, the attractive addition to Hingetown is set to open in the fall. The old Club Cleveland site at W. 32nd and Detroit is also being developed into a mixed use residential and retail building by Marous Brothers Construction.
On the north side of Detroit, the Federal Knitting Mills Building offers interesting loft-style apartments. The building was redone years ago, and has now been integrated into the Hingetown neighborhood. Also in the area, Bop Stop, the former jazz club, which was recently donated to University Circle’s Music Settlement, plans on holding concerts open to the public next year.
Since the summer of 2013, on Wednesday evenings in July, Ohio City Stages presents a series of free concerts featuring global music. Tom Welsh, CMA director of performing arts, handles the concert programming for the series, drawing from the very best of touring musical groups from throughout the world. As a means of helping to revitalize the neighborhood, “It’s been a runaway success from the get go, with 3,000 people at each concert,” he says.
The Sunday Market in Hingetown was started a year ago by Stephanie Sheldon, the founder of Cleveland Flea. It takes place on the third Sunday of the month — from May through October. Cleveland Flea specializes in vendors that do not have a storefront presence, allowing them to test the market and grow before jumping into a shop. In the same manner, says Stephanie, “The Sunday Market acts as an incubator with many vendors who are doing it on the side until they are able to do it full time.” One of the resulting success stories is Beet Jar Juice Bar, which launched at the Flea before opening up shop on W. 29th. The last Sunday Market of the year will be on October 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a lively and colorful scene!