The West Side Market’s Future

by | Sep 19, 2022 | Dining, Nightlife, Shopping, Shopping

September, 2022 – EA’s Project Managers were treated to an insider’s tour of the West Side Market this month guided by Senior Strategist, Jessica Trivisonno.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb’s 2021 campaign platform included a promise to return this iconic Cleveland food market to its former glory with a dedicated city hall employee who would focus exclusively on this task. Jessica is that person and she wakes up every day thinking about the future of the West Side Market and how she can insure a long healthy future for this Ohio City landmark.

Here’s some interesting things we learned:

  • three main food markets served the city’s population 100 years ago, including the West Side Market, which was originally  located at Franklin Circle just a few blocks away
  • when a more permanent home for the Market was needed, the city bought seven parcels of land at the current location (corner of W. 25th and Lorain) and built a fire resistant new building out of brick, tile and granite
  • construction of the West Side Market cost a little over $600K in 1902, the equivalent of $120M today
  • the location was chosen in part due to elevation, which offered the practicality of the clock tower serving as a highly visible landmark for pedestrians and boat traffic, as well as the time of day in an era before most owned a watch
  • the clock tower originally housed a fire suppression system (more modern sprinkler system now intact)
  • the clock was wound by hand daily until the 1950’s when, after a scary near death fall by the clock man, the tower was converted to electricity
  • market vendors so valued the beautiful clock tower that they raised $1M to help preserve it in the 1970’s when it needed stabilization to keep it structurally sound
  • the building is purposefully asymmetrical, so it feels less formal, more approachable
  • at a quick glance, the architecture of the building suggests a former train station, but it’s always been a food market
  • take the time to notice the dozens of beautiful stone carvings at the many entrances depicting food, like this one:

  • a stone carving, depicting an eagle overtop of cornucopia (W. 25th side), was added to instill confidence that government oversight was insuring fresh and safe food for sale at this location
  • restoration is currently underway and when  complete the clock, which hasn’t kept time for at least a decade, will once again be a timepiece for the neighborhood (as well as being permanently lit up at night)

  • while the market will continue to be owned by the city, daily operations will soon be turned over to a not-for-profit firm who will bring fresh ideas and professional oversight to the building
  • one benefit of having a non-profit manage the building is the opportunity to apply for grants and donations that would not be available to a government run operation; because the city of CLE underwrites the Market’s annual budget by more than $1M/a year, this aspect is critical to the market’s long term financial stability, and its ability to maintain and modernize the equipment, HVAC, coolers, etc.
  • there are just three professional staff who run the market which comprises of 50+ vendors, over a million visitors a year and all daily operations including security, cleaning, utilities, marketing and more
  • the selfie below shows a part of the EA team in space that is being re-imagined as event space (can’t you just picture cooking demonstrations and small corporate events that can overlook the interior of the Market?)

  • produce aisles are 50% vacant providing opportunities to re-imagine how these stalls can be used (seating for those who grab a cold beer and a prepared meal?)
  • most of today’s shoppers demand lots of variety and diversity of fresh produce on a yearly basis but the short growing season in Ohio means that most produce is grown somewhere else and shipped in VS purchased from local farmers and that isn’t going to change much – shoppers go to farmer’s markets for locally grown
  • Ohio offers low income families coupons to trade in for fresh produce at markets, giving them the dignity of being able to choose the foods their families enjoy the most VS a pre-packaged box of foods from a food bank; The West Side Market piloted participation in this program and distributed $35,000 worth of coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables which were quickly used
  • gathering input from the community, the vendors and customers as they begin planning changes that will impact the next 100 years at the Market
  • Cleveland City Hall recently approved legislation, including the future opportunity for alcohol to be sold at the West Side Market, to provide flexibility and potential new opportunities for vendors and visitors

  • Food recovery and compositing will be part of the market’s future
  • New vendors who recently opened up (or are coming) to the West Side Market include:

White Flower Cake Shop

Jack Frost Donuts

The Home Pantry

If your organization would like all of your job candidates and new to CLE/AKN hires to learn about and fall in love with our region, Executive Arrangements is the talent attraction partner for you. 80% of the people we spend just 1-2 days exploring our region with say yes to the job offer and stick around for more than a year. Call us at 216.231.9311

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