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Creative Collaboration Leads to Vacant Property Transformation

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1446 Mars Avenue as it appeared in summer 2013.

By: Colin McEwen and Ian Andrews

In 2012, the city of Lakewood bought two boarding houses that had become troubled properties in the community.

One of those homes, at 1446 Mars Avenue, was unveiled to the community at a special open house on Wednesday night.

Since 2013, the city partnered with LakewoodAlive and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization to completely transform the property. A similar project is underway at 1436 Grace Avenue — also a former boarding house.

“Government action, private sector ingenuity, and marketplace trends have aligned for this great outcome,” said Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers. “This is a remarkable transformation from a major threat to this historic neighborhood, to what is now its crown jewel.”

1446 Mars Avenue After

1446 Mars Avenue on April 8, 2015.

The developer, Darren Mancuso of Relief Properties, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to breathe new life into the former 13-bedroom vacant home.

The 2,600-square-foot structure is now a single-family home. Relief Properties created an open floor plan, while preserving many historic elements including a coat tree, a set of pocket doors, original columns, a stain glass window, among other efforts.

Dozens of members of the community, including Mayor   Summers and Ohio State Representative Nickie Antonio, stopped by the home for a tour during the open house, marveling at the restoration.

1446 Mars Ribbon Cutting

Relief Properties Owner and Developer Darren Mancuso cuts the ribbon to celebrate the completion of a near-total renovation at 1446 Mars Avenue.

“I could not be more thrilled to see 1446 Mars undergo such a dramatic transformation,” said LakewoodAlive Executive Director Ian Andrews. “None of this would have been possible without the incredible partnership of the city of Lakewood, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Relief Properties. Additionally, this house serves as an example of how a turn-of-the-century home can support modern design while maintaining its historic integrity.”

Click here to see video shot by Rick Uldricks, Lakewood Citizen.

For more information, call Housing Outreach Director Allison Urbanek at 216-521-0655.

Before pictures of 1446 Mars Avenue

LakewoodAlive Blossoms Now Available for all of Lakewood

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We are pleased to announce the continuation of our very successfulphoto 1
beautification service designed to help YOU—our merchants—make your storefronts more attractive and inviting.

Again this year we are partnering with Lakewood’s own Lakewood Garden Center to provide newly designed and professionally planted Earth Box planters with flowers appropriate for the sun/shade needs of your location. These Earth Box planters have built-in water reservoir that significantly reduces watering requirements.

We have two different options for businesses in Lakewood this year. One option is for Downtown Lakewood businesses, this will be a continuation of the program that has existed over the past few years.  ***New this year*** for businesses outside of Downtown Lakewood is an easy 5 step process for you to purchase your very own Earth Box, Earth Box Stand and flowers that will flourish in front of your businesses. (Deadline March 13, 2015)

Downtown Lakewood Businesses
Downtown Lakewood Blossoms Application 


All Businesses Outside of Downtown Lakewood
LakewoodAlive Blossoms Information

LakewoodAlive Honors Volunteers at Annual Volunteer Breakfast

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LakewoodAlive, a volunteer-driven organization, held its annual volunteer appreciation breakfast on January 23, 2015 at the Women’s Pavilion in Lakewood Park. The event, attended by 50 volunteers, board members and staff, recognized the more than 750 volunteers that help the non-profit economic/community development organization fulfill its mission to strengthen the local economy and improve Lakewood’s quality of life. The dedication and passion of the organization’s volunteers was recognized by board president Bryan de Boer when he said, “You are what makes Lakewood a better place to live and call home.”

Several volunteers were honored at the event for their exemplary service to the organization and the community.

LakewoodAlive thanks both Jay Foran and Paula Reed for their service on the LakewoodAlive Alive Board of Directors as their terms have concluded. Jay was a founding member of LakewoodAlive and served as Community Engagement Chairman and Board Secretary. Paula, “Mrs. Lakewood,” served as the Downtown Lakewood Chairwoman and is the current vice president of the Downtown Lakewood Business Alliance, a program of LakewoodAlive.

Volunteer Champion Awards were given to the following individuals:

  • Mary Bond was the 2014 Light Up Lakewood Chair, an event that drew nearly 10,000 people
  • Cross Point Church volunteers Josiah Sutton & Reid Phifer assisted with five housing projects in 2014
  • Michael & Tina Dolatowski were volunteers for the Lakewood Wine & Craft Beer Festival
  • Rob Donaldson has completed several significant LakewoodAlive Design Committee projects
  • Cindy Friedmann and her crew at Dependable Painting donated a full-house exterior paint job
  • Gordon Geiger served as Lakewood Wine & Craft Beer Festival Chairman
  • Mosaic Leader Kevin Phipps and his volunteers completed a summer-long, full-house exterior paint job
  • Dana Paul provided construction management for the Housing Volunteer Committee
  • Chris Vance has recruited musicians and volunteers for the Front Porch Concert Series for four years

A special award is given out each year to a top LakewoodAlive volunteer for excellence in service. The Laskey Service Award was named for Tim Laskey, a founding member of LakewoodAlive. The 2014 Laskey Service Award recipient is Carl Orban. Carl has volunteered with LakewoodAlive since 2013 and has been an incredible champion of LakewoodAlive, the Housing Outreach Program and the Housing Outreach Volunteer Committee. Carl has helped elevate the program to new heights including project coordination during The Cleveland Orchestra Residency’s PORCHestra events. He and his wife have also volunteered for the Lakewood Wine & Craft Beer Festival. Lakewood is lucky to have the Orban family here and the organization is humbled by all that Carl does.

Click here for pictures of the event.

Part-Time Community Engager – Apply Today

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LakewoodAlive created the Community Engagement Program that is able to focus on neighborhoods that are in need of a special focus. The Community Engager will be responsible for working with Lakewood residents in the Birdtown and Scenic Park neighborhoods as well as community partners to strengthen and engage residents in these neighborhoods to ultimately grow community pride and provide access to resources. READ MORE AND APPLE HERE.

LakewoodAlive Wins Crowdrise Challenge

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Wednesday evening, Enterprise announced that LakewoodAlive won the Crowdrise Challenge and was awarded an additional $10,000. This brings our total raised to just under $15,000 all thanks to you, our supporters. LakewoodAlive also received an additional $500 for raising the most amount of money in a 24 hour period; every little bit helps!

Thank you to all who supported LakewoodAlive through the Challenge. We had a fun time with our inner-office competition and Allison is looking forward to a clean and tidy office. We will definitely share those pictures with you after Ian is done cleaning her office.

The LakewoodAlive Housing Outreach Program has been working with residents across the community to help them with their home maintenance needs. This has been done through our contractor evaluations, housing educational series, one-on-one consultations, PaintLakewood program, volunteer outreach, etc. We’ve worked with homeowners to deal with their home repair needs which have generated significant economic improvements across the community.

LakewoodAlive is always looking for ways to better serve the community and will be rolling out a new program early in 2015. The Community Engagement Program is aimed at assisting those residents and neighborhoods who are most in-need of assistance. We will have a Community Engager working in the Birdtown and Scenic Park neighborhoods engaging residents, coordinating community events like financial literacy and home repair workshops, volunteer projects, community “pot-luck” style meals and resource fairs so that community members are able to re-engage with one and other as well as bring necessary programming into these neighborhoods to reinvigorate community pride.

Want to support this program? We welcome donations of $10, $100 or $1000. Donate online by clicking here or mail a check to:

14701 Detroit Avenue, #LL10
Lakewood, OH 44107

Thanks to Enterprise Community Partners and their sponsor, Ohio Savings Bank, for being invited to participate in this program and for their financial support. Read the Enterprise press release here.

We encourage you to visit our website and Facebook page often for program updates.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.

Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity. We create and advocate for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to jobs, good schools, health care and transportation. We lend funds, finance development and manage and build affordable housing, while shaping new strategies, solutions and policy. Over more than 30 years, Enterprise has created nearly 320,000 homes, invested $16 billion and touched millions of lives. Join us at or

Building on Enterprise’s 30+ years of innovation and leadership, the Enterprise Community Innovation Awards recognize an organization creating new and lasting community development solutions in greater Cleveland.  It embodies the vision and values of Enterprise, sustainability and community engagement in development.

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