Famicos Foundation Seeks Cleveland Cultural Gardens Welcome Center

Cleveland's Cultural Gardens are a popular place for strolling and weddings, but the Famicos Foundation thinks the park could draw even more visitors.

The development agency wants to create a welcome center nearby, in the huge brown mansion at the corner of E. 99th and East Boulevard in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood. Famicos Director of Real Estate Development Khrys Shefton says the home, with its huge columns, is a neighborhood landmark. Turning it into a welcome center will bring more attention to the gardens.

“Rockefeller Park and the Cleveland Cultural gardens are an important asset to the Hough and Glenville neighborhoods we serve," Shefton says. "So we thought it was important that we bring a spotlight to a regional destination."

But the building is in disrepair, with boarded-up windows and broken steps. Famicos acquired the property from the old Glenville Redevelopment Corporation and is trying to raise $1.6 million to rehabilitate it, Shefton says. So far, the foundation is applying for  federal and state historic tax credits.

Famicos is a community development corporation with a three-pronged focus: neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and integrated social services for residents in St. Clair-Superior, Hough and Glenville. The foundation builds and restores residential and commercial properties then resells or rents them. Restoring the mansion ties in with work Famicos already does, Shefton says.

“This project really gives us the opportunity to do something that we do very well, while also attempting to bring people, getting them to access the park for all manners of activity," she says.

The welcome center would be available for educating visitors about the gardens themselves as well as offering a hub for activities such as snowboarding and bicycling. The latter would encourage year-round use of the gardens, while providing operating funds for the center, she says.

Shefton could not give a timeline for the project’s completion and fundraising is still in progress.

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens hosts One World Day on Aug. 25.

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