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City of Cleveland to introduce legislation to cap rent, allow alcohol permits at West Side Market

Meet the eight new vendors at the West Side Market
West side market
Posted at 2:41 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 23:15:40-05

CLEVELAND — In an effort to support and keep vendors at the West Side Market, and to help fill vacancies, Mayor Justin Bibb announced he is proposing legislation Monday to cap rental rate increases, expand lease options and permit alcohol sales to support vendors and drive growth at the market.

“Vacancies at the West Side Market is currently at 32%, the proposed changes seek to close the gap and set the stage for growth at the West Side Market with fairer and flexible lease agreements for all. The proposed legislation opens the door to new opportunities for growth, providing security to our existing vendors and flexibility to attract seasonal vendors to the market,” Bibb said on Friday.

The proposed legislation will provide an opportunity for the city to enter into fair lease agreements with tenants. If not changed, the ordinance would require the city to increase vendor rents by more than 30% in 2022. The city said, “it’s unfair to West Side vendors" if rents continue to increase.

The West Side Market has been a Cleveland gem since 1912, but over the years the issues have piled up, including aging infrastructure and electricity.

Vendors who spoke to News 5 are cautiously optimistic that change will come.

"The good changes don’t come overnight. It does take some process, it does take time to come to agreement and things to come together, but I think it’s more promising than ever," said Geeno Pylypiv of Mediterra Bakehouse.

Others are hopeful this means that more marketing and more foot-traffic will come through the gem of a market.

"To be on the media, to be on the radio, promote us as vendors and produce and the other stuff in there that would bring a lot of people, not tourism but customers. Customers who come here to shop," said produce vendor Iman Abrahim. "Promote the market. Bring some life into it."

Leading up to the election, Bibb made it a point in his campaigning to make the West Side Market a major focus for his administration, if elected.

Edward Hyde is a longtime and loyal customer of West Side Market. He, too, is cautiously optimistic that things will look up for vendors.

"I've seen the administration fail on them and I've seen the administration come through," he said. "I've watched it before, like I said, it's like you promise a kid a bike for Christmas and then for Christmas they don't even get roller skates. I've seen that happen here. It's terrible," he said.

The legislation would also authorize the city and Ohio City, Inc. to continue collecting donations for the West Side Market. It would allow donations to be spent on programs that benefit the market by way of marketing, new revenue-generating activities and long-term planning for the West Side Market.

Other key points in the legislation include:

  • Hold rent rates at their 2020 levels for 2022 and cap annual rent increases to no more than a 3% increase in future years.  
  • Allow the City to enter leases for up to three years with one, three-year option to renew. Currently, the City is not permitted to enter leases for longer than one year at a time, which prevents some businesses from securing financing and is a disincentive for those who may want to invest in their space. 
  • Permit short-term leases, which would allow the West Side Market to consider daily pop-up events, seasonal vendors, and food trucks; 
  • Charge prepared food vendors the same rate as traditional (butcher, meat, vegetable) vendors. Currently, prepared food vendors pay a 60% premium on space compared to traditional vendors; and, 
  • Repeal the City of Cleveland ordinance that prohibits alcohol sales at West Side Market stands. 

RELATED: West Side Market vendors hopeful but hesitant about Bibb administration

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