Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and Cleveland State University partnered on a project to prepare neighborhood themed articles. This work was performed by CSU journalism students to complement 2016 Host Committee efforts to provide content and background information to visiting media for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Editorial review was provided by CSU faculty and Neighborhood Progress staff. For more information, please contact Jeff Kipp, Director of Neighborhood Marketing for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.


By Patrick Kaminowski

Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood has experienced tremendous transformation over the past few decades. The area,


located on the southeast side of Cleveland, is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. It is bordered on the northwest by the Cuyahoga River and adjacent to the Tremont neighborhood, to the north by the North Broadway neighborhood, on the east by Union-Miles and Kinsman, and the suburbs of Cuyahoga Heights and Newburgh Heights.

Slavic Village takes its name from the Central European community that centers itself on Fleet Avenue and Broadway Avenue. At first it saw hundreds of Welsh and Irish settlers. Later, Czechs, Poles, and Slovaks moved into the area to find work in the steel plants and woolen mills, such as Cleveland Rolling Mill Company and Cleveland Worsted Mills.

Over time, the racial composition changed. In 1990, 95 percent of the neighborhood was white. African Americans now make up about 52 percent of the population, with 42 percent white, and 5 percent Hispanic, Asian and/or multiple races.

St. Stanislaus Church is in the heart of Slavic Village. The red-brick Gothic church has a cross-shaped interior with stained-glass windows and gold leaf stylings. St. Stanislaus is open each morning and through Saturday and Sunday for visitors.

The Red Chimney Restaurant at the corner of East 65th Street and Fleet Avenue is home to an economical and delicious breakfast and the menu includes many traditional as well as Polish favorites. This popular spot is a gathering place for Greater Clevelanders to discuss the events of the day.

Krusinski’s Market is a popular choice for meats such as smoked kielbasa, dumplings, and Polish sausage. The market on Heisley Road attracts visitors from all over Greater Cleveland.

Slavic Village celebrates its heritage year round through a variety of community events. The festivals, art walks and 5k runs typically feature live polka music, dancing, homemade food, and handcrafted items for sale.


Slavic Village Recovery Project
By Patrick Kaminowski 

By 2007, Slavic Village had the highest rate of foreclosed homes in the nation during the housing market collapse. Foreclosure hit as high as 70 percent in portions of the neighborhood. With 1,200 vacant and distressed homes the community became labeled “ground zero” for the nation’s housing crisis, according to placenow.org, (Practitioners


Leveraging Assets for Community Enhancement), an organization that brings together nonprofit organizations that work in community development.

This historic area of Cleveland has seen a transformation through the help of the Slavic Village Recovery project. Through this program, partners and staff members of Slavic Village Recovery are working towards success in the areas of housing rehabilitation and market stability.

The project, which is a public-private partnership between Slavic Village Development (SVD), Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Forest City, and RIK Enterprises, focuses on homes near Fleet Avenue. It aims to rehab approximately 500 homes; to date, more than 30 homes have sold, and another 25 are in the pipeline for sale. Homes are acquired at low cost and rehabbed modestly under SVRP supervision. Price points for the turnkey ready homes started at approximately $62,000 and have risen to an average of $72,000 after two years of activity. Proceeds from the home sales are returned to the partnership for investment in new homes.

Christopher Alvarado, executive director of SVD, says the Slavic Village Recovery project operates under a for-profit model. Homes are renovated and profit is generated and invested back into the project. No public subsidy is sought.

A complementary housing activity in Slavic Village is the Neighbors Invest in Broadway (NIB) program, which is a unique housing initiative begun in 2011 by SVD. The program rehabilitates houses and puts them back on the market while keeping renovation costs low.

Sweat equity is the backbone of NIB. The affordability of properties can be maintained when home buyers put in the work themselves and omit hiring a contractor, which ultimately reduces labor costs. Under this program, cost to secure and repair a home range between $15,000 and $30,000.

“Neighbors Invest in Broadway is identifying potential buyers and landlords, and home purchases can be made without bank loans,” explains Alvarado. “To date, 37 homes have been repaired, which is great for the neighborhood,” Alvarado notes. Owners occupy 22 of those homes.

According to a description on placenow.org, the efforts of NIB have saved more than $350,000 in demolition costs and $1 million of private investment has been leveraged toward housing rehabilitation in the neighborhood.

The impact of the joint efforts of SVR and NIB is visible in several aspects of the neighborhood.

Houses on the verge of becoming vacant lots or substandard rentals are now becoming ideal homes for residents. The work done gives buyers maximum control, and shows progress in housing markets that were once known as weak.

Because of this affordable ownership, confidence in Slavic Village is on the rise, which leads to increased pride in being a homeowner. And these homeowners are bringing confidence to a neighborhood where it is welcomed.

For more information and financing inquires, visit http://slavicvillage.org.


Fleet Avenue
By Patrick Kaminowski

Another area of Cleveland’s Slavic Village that has seen major change is Fleet Avenue, a main East/West thoroughfare in


Slavic Village. Reconstruction began in 2013 as the first project in Cleveland under its Green and Complete Streets law, a piece of legislation aimed at making roadways friendlier for transit, pedestrians, bicyclists and the environment.

The street project, which Christopher Alvarado executive director of Slavic Village Development (SVD), says is “a $7.7 million rebuild,” will feature green infrastructure funded by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Plants and basins along the street and vacant property will do their part in slowing storm water.

The Northeast Ohio Sewer District estimates the project will keep 1 million gallons of runoff from entering Lake Erie. The sewer district has agreed to stop 44 million gallons of runoff from entering the lake by creating green infrastructure.

Bioswales, which are elements of landscape designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water, are being implemented in the crosswalk areas, and a median down the street’s center will feature aesthetically appealing salt-resistant plants that will be less prone to damage from winter snow removal. The project will also put new trees in the sidewalk to enhance the appearance of the street.

The Northeast Ohio Sewer District will follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines on green infrastructure by converting two vacant lots on Fleet with large but “pleasing to the eye” storm basins.

The green infrastructure to contain storm runoff will include the reuse of vacant land on Fleet and Union avenues, as well as unused property near Kinsman and East 81st Street.

To add to the aesthetic appeal of Fleet Avenue’s new look, other features include bike lanes, new benches and trash containers, and street sign enhancements.

“The new Fleet Avenue will be a gateway into the neighborhood,” Alvarado says. Completion of

the Fleet renovation project should be done during the summer of 2016.