Hingetown continues to grow as new apartment complexes attract new residents

Hingetown continues to grow as new apartment complexes attract new residents

by Brian Love

Plain Press, June 2021     Construction sites seem to be a permanent fixture of Hingetown, a booming area of Ohio City seeing not only a growing supply of apartments but also businesses, a brewery, and soon a public park linking the neighborhood to the Cuyahoga River.

   On a typical day, you can see people on the streets looking for a place to have a cup of coffee, a pizza, or a beer, while others are on their way to work or workout, maybe visit an art show at the Transformer Station.

   Hingetown also is noted for murals that decorate buildings, one featuring a colorful tiger and another of a blazing truck that is now obscured by a neighboring apartment complex but still visible on the eastern wall of Saucy Brew Works if you peek between the structures.

   Hingetown is located in the area around West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue. It got its name from business owner and developer Graham Veysey, who has described his hope that Hingetown serves as a link, or hook between neighborhoods.

   Hingetown has already attracted many new residents, and it’s likely to grow much more as the new complexes fill up.

   Only a short distance from Lake Erie and other attractive destinations, the area is attracting lots of attention. What will be one of the largest public parks in the city is emerging on the hillside east of W. 25th Street and south of Veterans Memorial Bridge. Demolition of the former CMHA headquarters and other buildings is currently underway.

   Niche.com has rated the area as being one of the best places to live in Cleveland because of the attractive location, convenient commuting times and the wide range of entertainment.    For example, Cleveland Tea Revival offers more than 60 different types of tea. Harness Cycle is another place that incorporates weights and dance music. Jukebox, a restaurant and bar, plays more than 100 albums, ranging from Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar.

   Those are just some of the places that Hingetown has to offer.

   Recently, Graham Veysey and his wife Marika Shioiri-Clark announced plans for a new development project.

   The project is called the “Longhouses at Hingetown.” Located at the corner of W. 28th Street and Church Avenue, they plan to construct seven metal structures designed for people to live in or work at. The idea stemmed from the notion of creating a village with one-and-two story buildings that served as updated versions of Quonset huts, a form of prefabricated buildings created during World War II.

   The Longhouses project is next to one of the largest apartment projects in the Hingetown area, the 158-unit Church + State. The apartments range from 699 to more than 1,600 square feet. A courtyard joins the buildings on the 5,200-plus-square foot site.

   A construction worker on the site said this is “a massive project that will, hopefully, help to give people in Hingetown a nice home or a decent place to work.”

   The idea for the Longhouses project came to Veysey from a musician who wanted to use one of the spaces as a recording studio.

   Veysey said that recent investments in the neighborhood, including Striebinger Block and the Ohio City Firehouse, will likely top $100 million. He called the designs as a form of “forward thinking,” saying that they would serve to fill in unused space and complement the Church + State apartments.

   “The progress has been strong with continued investment and high interest,” Veysey explained. “We think they will be very successful as we believe that they will be an attraction based on their designs.”

   The project is set to add improvements on the facade of the former Schaefer Printing Co. at the corner of West 28th Street and Detroit Avenue, a site slated to be the home of chef Doug Katz’s Indian-fusion restaurant, according to a recent article in Scene.

   The Cleveland Landmarks Commission reviewed the Longhouses project when Veysey initially presented it last August. While there are some that expressed interest in the idea, others were hesitant or expressed reservations about the choice of site, feeling that the space could be used for different projects.

   This project comes not long after a vote by Cleveland City Council, which made way for tax incentives that would restore the old buildings and the empty lot.

   Back in 2019, City Council approved an ordinance that would involve property owned by Snavely Group, a real estate development company in Cleveland. The ordinance is the first of two steps that provide the tax incentives needed to develop the property on Detroit Avenue. 

   In exchange for these tax incentives, the city would have to collect nearly $34,000 a year in new income taxes. These numbers would come from jobs equivalent to up to 20 full-time positions. The total payroll for these jobs would be estimated to around $1.34 million per year.

   “When you create more vibrant communities in Cleveland, you create jobs,” Kerry McCormack told Cleveland.com. “If you maintain the quality of life in the communities, people will stay.”

   For Veysey and Shioiri-Clark, the goal for the redevelopment of Hingetown was to build a more inclusive and social aware/entrepreneur-based community. 

   “Hingetown is truly a unique place filled with lots of interesting and diverse communities,” Veysey said.

   Before the redevelopment, the LGBTQ scene of Hingetown was considered dying. Once, there was the Striebinger Block building located on West 29th and the Detroit Shoreway, featuring a gay bathhouse, bars, dance clubs and other queer-centric businesses.

   On the corner of the Striebinger Block was A Man’s World, which was an old-school styled bar that sported blacked-out windows. There was a buzzer that would let the patrons in. Decorations were set up in an extravagant manner for the holidays such as Thanksgiving and Easter where members of the gay community would go to, out of choice or estrangement.

   Hundreds of fundraisers were held in these bars for AIDS charities, political campaigns, sports leagues and other communities. Some of these events were to help people with HIV/AIDS pay their rent, utilities, or even funeral expenses.

   The Striebinger Block became the first home of the Cleveland LGBTQ Center. They would host the Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend, which was a charity with more than half a million dollars in donations to its name.

   Back in 2013, Striebinger Block closed its doors, and the gay community isn’t as prevalent in the area. Club Cleveland ended up closing in 2009, along with Argos in 2010, Muggs, and Bounce.

   These places have been replaced by enterprises such as Rising Star, a third-wave coffee company that was started by a former Lockheed Martin executive, Cleveland Tea Revival, Avalon Exchange, and Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, which was a 2019 semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.

   Now, Hingetown serves as an oasis for millennials, families, retirees, and people looking to venture out and grow their businesses.

   “It’s weird to see all of the changes,” said a long-time resident living in the area. “It didn’t feel that long ago that there was such a huge presence of the gay community. Now, there have been all of these projects that have taken the focus away.”

   Graham Veysey and Shioiri-Clark credit the feeling of authenticity and vitality of the neighborhood to the residents having taken ownership in the area.

   “It’s very exciting to see the continued momentum in Hingetown,” Veysey said. “Whether it is making sure there are aspects of fun introduced or places to sit and watch the world go by or filling in vacant lots with vibrant uses, we are excited about the evolution of the neighborhood and optimistic about the future.”

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