CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has announced that the city has begun the process of transitioning the management of the historic West Side Market to a nonprofit.
While the city will maintain ownership of the market, the nonprofit, when established, will handle its day-to-day operation.
According to a release from Bibb's office, the transition from city management to the nonprofit features two key initiatives:
- "Establishment of the new nonprofit, carefully considering board and staff responsibilities and leading to tax exempt status, selection of a diverse, skilled, and representative board, and hiring of key staff. An agreement between the City and nonprofit will clearly delineate roles and responsibilities for maintenance, capital projects, and operations."
- "Preparation of a Master Plan for the Market that addresses merchant mix, stall layout, building infrastructure, program development, and financial modeling—resulting in an implementable plan that will guide the new nonprofit once it assumes operational responsibility."
“Master planning for the West Side Market is key to ensuring this transition is successful. The West Side Market is a Cleveland jewel that has so much potential for growth and community impact,” said Bibb in a statement. “We will have a strong strategy and specific solutions to problems that have challenged the Market before we hand operations off to a nonprofit to lead the West Side Market in its second century.”
West Side Market senior strategist Jessica Trivisonno will coordinate master planning in partnership with Market Ventures, Inc. The city says Market Ventures Inc. is the nation's most experienced public market consulting group.
Bibb's office says the three-phase master plan for the West Side Market will take approximately 10 months to complete. Market Ventures Inc. leaders are expected to meet with the West Side Market Tenants Association next month to give an overview of their plan. They will also meet individually with each market vendor to discuss their space and business needs.
While the transition takes place, the city of Cleveland will continue to operate the West Side Market.
The move by the Bibb Administration comes amid longstanding tensions between vendors at the 109-year-old market and the city. For years, tenants have complained that their voices were not being heard at city hall, causing them to deal with everything from a poor electrical system, to clogged drains, a damp basement, an unreliable elevator and outdated coolers in the merchant stalls.