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Community continues West Side Market conversation while Fahrenheit owner offers solutions

West Side Market
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 17:59:31-05

CLEVELAND — The community conversation about how to improve the West Side Market continues this week, anchored around a conversation at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.

Fahrenheit Chef and Owner Rocco Whalen got involved with the discussion with a single tweet on New Years Eve.

Whalen says 75,000 people saw that post and started reaching out.

Restaurants, businesses, and private investors have all told him they want to help if he does run the market.

Right now, West Side Market is owned and operated by the City of Cleveland, which released this list of ways it would improve the market in 2020:

  • Assess online and delivery platforms to fulfill customer orders
  • Incorporate and respond to the public’s survey responses to expand WSM’s social capacity
  • Plan for underutilized second floor spaces for new educational, entrepreneurial and social purposes
  • Diversify tenants and products at the WSM
  • Expand vision for arcade pavilion to diversify product and develop seating options
  • Improve relationships with tenants through the tenants board
  • Strengthen safety and security plans
  • Improve WSM linkages and accessibility with wayfinding signage
  • Integrate cost-effective means for vendors and Market to be more environmentally friendly
  • Collaborate on innovative ways to attract new customers and improve customer retention
  • Design and complete planned capital improvements
  • Create an informative customer concierge area for pick-up orders and deliveries
  • Develop comprehensive WSM programming plan
  • Create new revenue streams via trademarked merchandise, room rentals, events, etc.
  • Build a retail incubator program to attract and support new small businesses similar to Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative GlenVillage site at E. 105 St. in the Glenville Neighborhood

Over the past few months, News 5 has talked to tenants who say it takes too long to get maintenance requests handled and that there are 30 vacant stalls.

"I think I could do a good job with bringing the right people into place and getting 100 percent occupancy and making it so that the upgrades and upfits are based on what the tenants need, because they're important," said Whalen.

Whalen says he isn't interested in buying the market, but he would potentially be interested in running it for a while with the city remaining a landlord.

City Councilmember Kerry McCormack has told News 5 that he thinks it would be best for a non-profit to run the market permanently.

The City of Cleveland has not yet responded to a question from News 5 about if it would be interested working with community members like Whalen.