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Cleveland hands over West Side Market management to nonprofit

Exterior of the historic West Side Market on a sunny day in Ohio City
Tim Harrison
Ideastream Public Media
The West Side Market's new nonprofit management team includes staff dedicated to fundraising in order to move the market away from city subsidies.

The city of Cleveland has officially handed over management of the West Side Market to a nonprofit to handle the day-to-day operations and implement $44 million in planned improvements.

The turnover to Cleveland Public Market Corporation comes at a pivotal time for the city-owned market, which operates at a $700,000 annual loss and where nearly a third of stalls stand vacant.

Even still, the century-old market is home to more than 70 small businesses and is one of Cleveland's most popular attractions with more than 800,000 visitors annually.

"It's an iconic building in Cleveland, and it's worthwhile to ensure the preservation of beautiful spaces. But it's also a community space, and it's a space that supports small businesses," said Rosemary Mudry, the nonprofit's executive director.

The master plan includes a major infrastructure overhaul as well as an expansion to create a prepared food hall, indoor and outdoor seating, a commercial kitchen and more.

Those infrastructure plans are especially needed as the market ages. Recent elevator failures and electrical outages have closed or hindered market operations. Roughly $30 million of that master plan will go toward those improvements. Some of those upgrades, such as replacement elevators, Mudry said, are already in the works, but larger system upgrades like basement renovation will begin in 2025.

Some funding will come from the city, but the nonprofit's leaders have previously said they plan to move the market away from city subsidies with a staff dedicated to fundraising, sponsorship and revenue models. Under the management of the nonprofit corporation, the market is now eligible for between $10 million and $13 million in tax credits not previously available to the city.

"The city has 200-plus buildings that it manages. The market is really a very special building, but it's also a building that really requires true full-time attention without distraction," Mudry said. "I think having a nonprofit whose only mission is to serve this building and to serve the small businesses that are here, and to think about sustaining the market for future is really, is really important to being able to kind of carry out the needs of the market."

The city will maintain ownership of the market's land and facilities.

“West Side Market is one of our city’s jewels and transitioning to non-profit management will help with more efficient management operations, fundraising, and connecting the West Side Market to our neighborhoods,” Mayor Justin Bibb said in a written statement.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit also announced its inaugural leadership team. Mudry, who was appointed as executive director in January after heading West Park Kamm's Neighborhood Development, will lead a team that includes:

  • Tiffany Allen-White, director of operations
  • Liz Andjeski, finance and office manager
  • Camille Rose Dickson, director of development and partnerships
  • Patrick Evans, director of marketing
  • Demarco Jones, assistant director of operations
  • Gabe Fedor, merchant and leasing coordinator
Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.