CLEVELAND — The historic West Side Market is set to receive $2.1 million in upgrades as part of the City of Cleveland’s Capital Improvement Projects, according to records from Cleveland City Council. The improvements, which include repairs or upgrades to the market's electrical system, vendor booths and other infrastructure-related improvements come as a consultant hired by the city continues to review the market's operations.
City Council approved the legislation Monday, authorizing the more than $31 million in improvements planned for the city’s public buildings, parks, recreation center, pools and other properties.
More than $2.1 million will be allocated for improvements at the West Side Market, where tenants have consistently asked city leaders to fix ongoing infrastructure issues such as faulty electrical outlets, leaky sinks and clogged drains.
"It's an asset in the city of Cleveland and it has just been neglected," said Don Whitaker, the president of the West Side Market Tenants Association. "It has just been neglected. A lot of the [repairs and upgrades] have been promised for three years. [The money] is finally getting allocated."
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the West Side Market saw several departures from longtime tenants. Dohar Meats, a vendor for 60 years, closed up shop. Across the way in the bakery part of the market, Cake Royale said after seeing a steady decline in profits announced its closure after 16 years.
- Replacement of all exterior doors.
- Improvements to the electrical system.
- Masonry work needed on the clock tower.
- New vendor booths.
- Improvements to the meat preparation area used by several butchers in the market.
- Better refrigeration and food preparation areas.
- Upgrades to allow better control of the temperature in the building, which has no heating or air conditioning, to address the heat of summer and cold of winter.
Whitaker said while he certainly appreciates the investment being made into the venerated public market, decisions on how the market is operated -- and by whom -- will be imperative.
"We're hoping that we move on to some other form of management. Just like the trends of the rest of the markets around the country that are doing well," Whitaker said. "The city maintains ownership of it. They still support it. But it needs day to day operational management."
In November 2020, Cleveland City Council approved $137,000 to pay a consultant to research and study to come up with a recipe for a successful market.
David K. O’Neil, who has worked on more than 200 historic markets around the world, was named as the consultant in February 2021 to work with architects and engineers to address the aging infrastructure.
The allocation of money in the city’s annual capital improvement budgets also includes more than $15 million at recreation centers, $2 million at the pool and $1 million for courts and ball field. Structural repairs are planned for the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse, which reopened to the public on May 7 after closing its doors due to the pandemic. Roof work is also scheduled for several buildings, including Music Hall and City Hall.
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