Mayor Bibb Launches West Side Market Master Planning, Begins Transition to Nonprofit Operation
Thursday, July 28, 2022 — Cleveland — Following national best practices, the City of Cleveland is transitioning the management and day-to-day operation of the West Side Market to a nonprofit focused exclusively on the iconic institution. The City will maintain ownership of the market.
The transition includes two related initiatives:
1. Establishment of the new nonprofit, carefully considering board and staff responsibilities and leading to tax exempt status, selection of a diverse, skilled, and representative board, and hiring of key staff. An agreement between the City and nonprofit will clearly delineate roles and responsibilities for maintenance, capital projects, and operations.
2. Preparation of a Master Plan for the Market that addresses merchant mix, stall layout, building infrastructure, program development, and financial modeling—resulting in an implementable plan that will guide the new nonprofit once it assumes operational responsibility.
The City of Cleveland will continue operating West Side Market during this transition period, as it has since 1912, laying the groundwork for the new nonprofit’s success.
Jessica Trivisonno, Senior Strategist for the West Side Market, will facilitate master planning in partnership with Market Ventures, Inc., the country’s most experienced public market consulting group.
Master planning and nonprofit formation will be informed by customer surveys, focus groups, and an advisory committee composed of vendors, government officials, community stakeholders, and local experts.
This decision comes after years of advocacy from West Side Market vendors and the community to transition operations of the West Side Market to a nonprofit operator.
“The West Side Market is a critically important anchor institution for Greater Cleveland and has been recognized as one of America’s best public markets. I am thrilled that after years of advocacy, Mayor Bibb has made the Market a top priority from day one of his administration,” said Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, whose ward includes the West Side Market. “I fully support the plan to convert the Market to an independent nonprofit operation, as this approach has proven to be a best practice across the country.”
The Jackson administration began a West Side Market Revitalization Plan in 2019. The plan was completed in February 2022 and recommended the City of Cleveland create a Master Plan for the long-term sustainability of the West Side Market.
“Master planning for the West Side Market is key to ensuring this transition is successful. The West Side Market is a Cleveland jewel that has so much potential for growth and community impact,” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “We will have a strong strategy and specific solutions to problems that have challenged the Market before we hand operations off to a nonprofit to lead the West Side Market in its second century.”
The three-phase Master Plan will take approximately 10 months to complete. Leadership from Market Ventures, Inc. will meet with the United West Side Market Tenant’s Association in August to provide an overview of the process and meet with West Side Market vendors one-on-one to discuss each business and their space and business needs.
“At the end of the day, a public market’s success depends on the success of each Market merchant. The City is taking the right steps to carefully plan for the transition, to include the merchants and other stakeholders in the planning process, and to create the playbook so the new nonprofit can hit the ground running,” said Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures, Inc.
The Bibb administration will continue working with partners to identify opportunities to improve operations at the Market to increase the number of vendors, bring more visitors to the Market, and update infrastructure while the master planning and transition process takes place.