Cleveland Foundation, Dunham Tavern Museum, MidTown Cleveland, Inc. partner to create a new civic district in MidTown

Foundation’s move to MidTown will help to anchor new civic space designed to connect Downtown and University Circle and catalyze additional equitable development along the East 66th Street corridor

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Release Date: 6.28.2019

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors today announced it has unanimously authorized the creation of a new home in the MidTown neighborhood for the world’s first community foundation. The proposed relocation for the Cleveland Foundation, which is envisioned to include a significant amount of community space that is open and accessible to the public, marks the launch of a new civic district in MidTown. This vision is designed to connect the center of Cleveland with both Public Square in Downtown and Wade Oval in University Circle, creating one continuous stretch of activity and community engagement.

“This move empowers the Cleveland Foundation to stay proximate to the residents and neighborhoods in which we are working to serve in partnership with our donors, nonprofit organizations and the community,” said Ronn Richard, President and CEO, Cleveland Foundation. “Working with these partners, our goal with this new district is to create new green space, bring new enterprises to the neighborhood, revitalize existing businesses and establish a sense of place that builds on the history of surrounding neighborhoods and provides opportunities for people to interact. And with equitable place-making as the driving force behind this move, we believe this new civic space in the heart of MidTown will unite Cleveland into one contiguous city that benefits everyone.”

For nearly 40 years, the Cleveland Foundation has called Playhouse Square home. During that time, the foundation partnered with the community to support an important vision to redevelop the entire theater district and Downtown Cleveland. Now serving as the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York City, Playhouse Square has utilized the arts to engage individuals and attract over one million guests per year to more than 1,000 annual events.

“I am immensely proud of the leadership demonstrated by my colleagues on the board to unanimously commit to a bold vision for the Cleveland Foundation’s next century,” said Sally Gries, Chairperson, Cleveland Foundation Board of Directors. “By strategically thinking beyond just a stand-alone headquarters building, we believe the scope of this project will catalyze long-term, multi-generational social and economic development as part of the foundation’s strategy to enhance underserved neighborhoods across Cleveland. The foundation will leverage its physical presence to convene the community and help it focus on our shared future by creating a welcoming place where people come together to address Cleveland’s greatest challenges and embrace our greatest opportunities.”

Place-based community development has been central to the foundation’s mission since its inception. In just the past 30 years alone, the Cleveland Foundation has invested more than $75 million to help Cleveland residents rebuild, revitalize and reimagine their neighborhoods. The core tenets of this strategy – enhancing Cleveland’s livability by supporting neighborhood-based projects, convening partnerships to meet neighborhood challenges with neighborhood solutions, and creating opportunities for equitable wealth creation and employment – are exemplified through the opportunity to relocate the foundation to MidTown.

“Congratulations to the Cleveland Foundation on its decision to relocate its headquarters to MidTown,” said Frank G. Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland. “This move is a demonstration of the foundation’s commitment to investing in neighborhoods.”

“Locating the Cleveland Foundation headquarters in Ward 7 will have a dramatic positive impact in the community, transforming the lives of people who deserve and need it so desperately,” said Basheer Jones, Ward 7 Councilman, Cleveland City Council. “This community welcomes the foundation with open arms, and this move presents a perfect opportunity to show the world how foundations and communities are supposed to work together.”

The new civic district will be anchored by Dunham Tavern Museum, whose stated vision is “to provide an urban green space in MidTown Cleveland, and to return the Tavern to its roots by serving as a place for urban history, education, nature and community.” By authorizing the foundation to co-locate its headquarters on an adjacent parcel of land, Dunham Tavern Museum will gain the necessary assets to make improvements to the property, endow its ongoing maintenance, expand educational offerings and offer new programming that achieves this vision. The foundation plans to finalize the purchase and move forward with its headquarters project as soon as outstanding contingencies are promptly resolved.

“The partnership with the Cleveland Foundation is a game-changing opportunity that accelerates us from where we are today as an organization to where we could and need to be for our community,” said Tim Collins, Board President, Dunham Tavern Museum. “To have the foundation as a neighbor is a welcome change for us and the surrounding neighborhoods. We would be hard-pressed to catapult forward to achieve our long-term organizational vision without the Cleveland Foundation, and our board of directors is strongly in support of the inspired creation and launch of this exciting new sense of place and arrival in MidTown.”

MidTown Cleveland, the neighborhood connecting Cleveland’s vibrant Downtown to the cultural hub of University Circle, has seen tremendous development and change over the last decade.  Between 2008 and 2019, more than $335 million of real estate investment in 30 projects has resulted in 750,000 square feet of new or renovated commercial space. Today, MidTown is home to 75 new health- and high tech companies and more than 60 nonprofit organizations, part of a diverse community of businesses, institutions, nonprofits and residents who have chosen to locate in the neighborhood. Recent projects in the area include the Dealer Tire headquarters, Dave’s Market & Eatery, University Hospitals Rainbow Center for Women & Children and the recently opened Tru by Hilton hotel.

Residential development is also picking up, with the One MidTown townhomes now open and construction beginning on The MidTown project, an 80-unit conversion of a long vacant office building. There are also plans for a mixed-income redevelopment at the former Warner & Swasey Co. complex and a 64-unit market rate apartment building across from Dealer Tire. MidTown is also beginning to emerge as an entertainment destination, with the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Agora Theater & Ballroom and the Masonic Cleveland venue among the attractions in the neighborhood.

“The Cleveland Foundation moving to MidTown will be incredibly transformative, not just for our neighborhood, but for the city,” said Jeff Epstein, Executive Director, MidTown Cleveland, Inc. “This signals a sense of investment, not just in MidTown, but in all of the surrounding neighborhoods. The notion of the foundation unlocking the true potential of the Dunham Tavern Museum green space and surrounding civic district for the community is immense and represents the first step into turning the area from a ‘pass-through’ into a ‘place.’”

“Our MidTown board is thrilled that the Cleveland Foundation is moving to the neighborhood,” said Stephanie McHenry, Chairperson, MidTown Cleveland, Inc. Board of Directors. “We’ve gained a lot of momentum in the last five years with a number of major investments and see the foundation’s decision as a signal of even more confidence in what we’re doing. It’s also consistent with our idea of reaching out to more than just the business community, and we believe the redevelopment of East 66th Street is a great way to open our arms to the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The development of the new civic district in MidTown will also catalyze the community’s shared vision for enhancing the East 66th Street corridor, from Euclid Avenue to the League Park District. In 2012, The City of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), in partnership with City Architecture, developed a streetscape improvement plan. This new vision of a sense of place and arrival from the Cleveland Foundation leverages this momentum and starts to realize this inclusive development opportunity.

“The foundation’s vision meshes with the League Park Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative plan, which will improve East 66th Street from Euclid Avenue up to League Park in Hough,” said 2019 NOACA Board President Valarie J. McCall. “The north-south connection provided by East 66th Street creates links between the League Park District, the Hough community and this new civic district.”

The foundation has launched a design and planning phase to envision a headquarters that harmonizes with the community –– and embodies the place-based mission that launched a global philanthropic movement more than a century ago. This initial conceptual phase was designed by S9 Architecture. Pascale Sablan (senior associate) is leading the team’s effort, with Navid Maqami (co-founding principal of S9 Architecture) and Younsung Chung (associate principal). Sablan was the recipient of The American Institute of Architects’ 2018 Young Architects Award and was the National Organization of Minority Architects member of the year in 2015.

Many in the community have begun to express support for the vision of a new civic district in MidTown and the partnership with the Cleveland Foundation:

John Anoliefo, Executive Director, Famicos Foundation

“This is the right time and the right moment for the Cleveland Foundation. In order to bring equity into community development, someone has to be the pioneer. By the foundation making this announcement, it is putting its money where its mouth is. The Cleveland Foundation is for the neighborhoods – it always has been and always will be.”

Mansfield Frazier, Executive Director, Neighborhood Solutions & General Manager, Château Hough

“The Cleveland Foundation’s decision for its future headquarters will have a profound effect on the entire city of Cleveland. It is going to expedite development that we’ve been working on for years and makes an important statement about the foundation’s deep-rooted belief in strong neighborhoods. The vision beyond just a single building will lead to East 66th becoming one of the first streets to develop north and south and will ignite additional development across several neighborhoods.”

Jordan Javier, Director, University Hospitals Rainbow Center for Women & Children

“It’s been impressive to see the amount of development that has continued in the neighborhood since we moved here almost exactly a year ago. The level of vibrancy and energy in the area has really grown, and it means a lot for an organization like the Cleveland Foundation – which is committed to developing communities and creating places where people want to live and work – to come into this neighborhood.”

Lila Mills, Member, Neighbor Up

“Neighbor Up was started seven years ago to bring unusual suspects together and cross lines of divide that historically keep us separated in this city. So it is very exciting for the community that the Cleveland Foundation is being very intentional about leveling the playing field and welcoming everyone in – both in the location of the building and with the initial design.”

Albert Ratner, Co-Chairman Emeritus & Former CEO, Forest City Realty Trust

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the Cleveland Foundation has made a determination to locate its new headquarters in MidTown. The foundation has devoted both its treasure and its time in the communities of Cleveland, and this is another indication of its commitment to the city. The opportunity to add population in Cleveland primarily resides in the area between Downtown and University Circle – in and around the Opportunity Corridor. The fact that, in addition to its headquarters, the foundation is creating a new civic space will help make the community a wonderful place to live.”

Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc.

“For more than 100 years, the Cleveland Foundation has been an anchor institution in Cleveland. New headquarter offices in MidTown will yield incredible community dividend as the organization would be both a catalyst to further innovation in the HealthTech Corridor and a community revitalization partner in Greater University Circle neighborhoods like the historic Hough neighborhood.”

Rev. Dr. Stephen Rowan, Immediate Past Board Chair, Cleveland Foundation & Senior Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church

“What better place for a community foundation to be located than in the community? By moving to MidTown, the foundation immediately becomes more accessible to the residents it serves and will also help spur additional development in the surrounding neighborhoods. Coupled with the growth already underway in the area, this is a win-win situation for Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation.”

Dan Saltzman, President, Dave’s Markets

“Dave’s Markets is elated with the Cleveland Foundation’s announcement to become our newest neighbor in Cleveland’s MidTown neighborhood. Having this transformational organization choose MidTown will certainly inspire continued economic growth. We look forward to welcoming foundation staff through our doors and into our neighborhood!”

Harlan Sands, President, Cleveland State University

“The creation of a new civic district in MidTown, anchored by the Cleveland Foundation, is a game changer for MidTown and the entire corridor from Public Square to University Circle. We are very excited to welcome the foundation to the neighborhood and look forward to continuing our ongoing partnership to enhance educational access and community development in Cleveland.”

Barbara R. Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University

“We commend the Cleveland Foundation for making this visionary investment in MidTown. In linking construction of its own space to a broader approach to innovative community building and economic development, the Cleveland Foundation again demonstrates how strategic collaboration can lead to benefits far greater than individual entities could ever create on their own.” 

Felton Thomas Jr., Executive Director & CEO, Cleveland Public Library

“We do appreciate that this move brings the Cleveland Foundation closer to the residents of Cleveland. The foundation’s decision demonstrates a commitment to supporting neighborhoods that is critical to the long term-success of Cleveland.”

Michael R. White, former Mayor of Cleveland & Board Member, MidTown Cleveland, Inc.

“I commend the Cleveland Foundation and its board for investing in the art of the possible by taking a visionary approach to the organization’s building needs and a willingness to provide leadership in the area of 21st century innovation and community building. By considering neighborhood connectivity and collaboration, the foundation is presenting an opportunity to plant trees today for generations of Clevelanders to come whom we will never meet – like those who planted trees for us and whose shade we currently enjoy.”

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation’s headquarters project, please visit: and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #CLEHome.

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