Hough is changing and Mansfield Frazier saw it coming
Some of my favorite stories over the years have come out of MidTown, which is the part of Cleveland that connects Downtown to University Circle on the East Side.
MidTown includes the AsiaTown, Central, Fairfax and Hough neighborhoods. It’s one of the most diverse parts of the region.
I recently reported a story about the Cleveland Foundation’s soon-to-be MidTown Collaboration Center, which is designed to be a resource hub for small businesses, and also a place for community gathering with its food and drink vendors and music venue.
Every politician and Cleveland Foundation rep who spoke at the center’s groundbreaking photo op said they expect it to spark more development in the area, the southwest corner of the Hough neighborhood. Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin made me smile when he paid homage to a man synonymous with Hough — Mansfield Frazier.
“This is an idea that my good friend Mansfield had a long time ago when he told me that this was going to be an activated corridor from Euclid all the way from League Park on East 66th,” Griffin said. “His vision is now coming true.”
Frazier was a longtime Hough resident, entrepreneur and community activist. And his vision that Griffin spoke about was no secret.
I had the opportunity to meet Frazier on a few occasions. We sat together in neighborhood meetings. I interviewed him for stories. And he showed me around Chateau Hough, his winery that doubles as a reentry program and sits a quarter mile away from where the MidTown Collaboration Center is being built.
There’s a lot of beauty in Hough, but there’s also a lot of room for improvement. Walking through Hough and suddenly seeing rows of unfenced grapevines catches you off guard. And that’s what Frazier’s vision was — bold, different and for the community.
“We will never fence ourselves off from our neighbors. We won’t have to. In every community, there’s 13-, 14-, 15-year-old boys that act out. What we do — we hired them,” Frazier said in a 2015 social enterprise contest pitch for his business.
In my conversations with Frazier, he would compare East 66th Street and Hough to other parts of the city, including West 25th Street and Ohio City — one of the more popular places for businesses, restaurants and nightlife. Frazier said there’s no reason his neighborhood couldn’t be like those neighborhoods.
And it’s starting to look like that’s where Hough could be headed.
“I’ve heard them say there’s no place to go and grab something to eat. There’s no place to go and just sit outside and have a glass of wine after a long week of work. There’s nowhere to go hear music. And so, for this to now be walkable, for a lot of folks in this area is huge,” said Connie Hill-Johnson, the chair of the Cleveland Foundation’s board of directors.
The Cleveland Foundation is now headquartered in MidTown. Dave’s Markets built a big store there a few years ago. Gallucci’s Italian market is a neighborhood staple. The MidTown community development corporation has developed more and more in the area, including the MidTown Tech Hive down the street from the foundation. A hotel popped up a few years ago. And several other businesses either moved to or started up in the area.
Plus, the neighborhood celebrated new community events recently such as Cleveland Walls, a mural painting festival, and Leo’s Listening Parties, which honored the legendary jazz and R&B club Leo’s Casino that once brought some of entertainment’s biggest stars to the neighborhood on a regular basis.
All of those things deserve credit for changing Hough and MidTown, and Mansfield Frazier was a catalyst for it all.
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