Can You Build An LGBTQ Neighborhood? They’re Trying In Cleveland

Developers are trying to spark the birth of a new queer neighborhood in Cleveland. But can a massive real estate development succeed as LGBTQ-focused?

Looking to lay the foundation for an entirely new queer neighborhood, a growing LGBTQ community complex in Cleveland is offering everything from cooking classes to drag shows, and providing space for pickleball and nonprofits.

In this episode of the podcast, Next City's Cinnamon Janzer revisits her reporting in February on a large-scale LGBTQ-focused development expanding in Cleveland. We also meet the co-founders of Studio West 117, Daniel Budish and Betsy Figgie, who say they want to create a “center of gravity” for the LGBTQ community, bringing people together to support amenities and services that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Their plan has encountered “growing pains,” reported by Cleveland LGBTQ media, though the complex aims to one day span 300,000 square feet and offer sports, dining, entertainment, housing, businesses, and social services. It’s being developed in three phases, with the first already completed, including three restaurants, a gym, a demonstration kitchen, outdoor courtyard, and event spaces.

“We wanted to kind of turn the model of the traditional bar in Cleveland on its head, where there are a ton of kind of bars and breweries that are straight-owned but have made themselves welcoming to the LGBT community,” said Budish. “We wanted a space that was built by and for the LGBT community that could make itself available and welcoming to everyone else.”

To learn more about the development of a community complex for the LGBTQ community, listen to this episode below or subscribe to the Next City podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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