East Side Market redevelopment project jump-started after delays

CLEVELAND - Although it has been delayed again and again a redevelopment project that aims to bring a grocery store to the “food desert” in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood appears to be back on track.

Interior and exterior construction have resumed at the former East Side Market, located near the intersection of East 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue.

The redevelopment of the East Side Market has been in the pipeline since late 2015 when the City Council approved leasing the city-owned property to Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON). There was a groundbreaking in May 2016. In addition to turning the property into a grocery store, the development also includes a health clinic, meeting space and demonstration kitchen.

Amid hurdles in construction and fundraising, the anticipated completion date has been pushed back time and time again. NEON, a non-profit, is primarily funding the estimated $3 million+ project. After the most recent, months long delay, construction resumed earlier this week.

“The building has been closed for over 10 years,” said Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell. “By the end of the year, near the holidays, the building will be open with a new grocery store.”

While no firm grand opening date has been set, Conwell said the market may open by mid-November. Much of the interior work is already finished. Even shopping carts could be seen through the automatic front windows. Roofers were seen Tuesday morning scaling the top of the structure.

“Many of my residents don’t have the transportation to go far out. The residents will walk over here. The mothers and fathers will walk straight over here to the store,” Conwell said. “It will definitely become a gathering point so they can go there and find milk, meats, fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s very important. As a matter of fact, it’s important for their health.”

The redevelopment of the former market, which closed in 2007, is seen as a vital piece to the rejuvenation of the St. Clair corridor. For residents living near the East Side Market, access to fresh produce and fruit has grown harder to come by. The closest grocery is at least one mile away.

The new store will also be located across the street from a living community for the elderly and disabled.

“Once they open it’s going to be huge for the senior citizens that live in my building,” said Michael Tinch. “A lot of them are disabled. In the winter time, it’s really hard for them to get around. It’s going to be a real plus to be able to walk across the street. It’s something the neighborhood needs and has been crying for, begging for.”

The city council will also soon consider a piece of legislation that would create a reimbursement grant program of up to $500,000 related to the East Side Market project. The legislation remains in committee. The grant would not be considered a "blank check" but instead be performance-based, Conwell said.

“When NEON completes a certain milestone or hits a certain benchmark, they will have to give the receipts to the city and the city will reimburse them,” Conwell said.

The East Side Market was built in 1988.

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