Suite Life: Welcome Wagon

Kris Monaco and Fred Geis

Property Ladder // Last summer, Fred Geis, co-owner of Geis Construction, bought part of the Avenue District building. As an owner, Geis and his fiancee, Kris Monaco, thought it would be convenient to move into the apartment themselves. "Our goal for the building was to make it into a little community," Monaco says. "I organize outings with the tenants. We go bowling, go to the Browns games together and do brunch on Sundays." Floor Plan // Before the duo moved into their penthouse apartment, they gutted everything. "We hired our own construction crew and ripped everything apart," says Monaco. "It was a three-bedroom unit that we made into a one bedroom." Adds Geis, "The DoubleTree is one block away. If friends visit, we have them stay over there." View Finder // "We have roughly 35 windows, which cover the entire penthouse. They are all floor to ceiling," says Monaco. "We have an entire view of the city." City Life // "As a company, we do a lot of work downtown," says Geis. "It's logical not to live in a place where we have to do a lot of driving. And as developers in the area, living downtown helped us understand the community before doing work here." Block Party // "Almost all of our neighbors are new to Cleveland," says Geis. "If we lived in the suburbs, we would be hard-pressed to find the same concentration of people who are excited about the energy and changes that are happening in the city."

Kayla Barnes

Fire Starter // Kayla Barnes opened her own public relations firm after graduating from high school. "I think it's a very special thing to protect and innovate a person's brand," she says. Having worked with hospitality groups, restaurants and hotels throughout downtown, she eventually moved to be closer to her clients. Clean Space // Barnes chose her one-bedroom apartment — with white walls, white tile floors and glass sliding doors on the walk-in closet and master bathroom — for its sleek, modern style. "I have a fast-paced work environment," she says. "When I come home, I look forward to a clean space." Pick-Me-Up // After dividing her time between here and New York City, Barnes has a suggestion for Cleveland: "We could have an improved quality of cabs. In New York, they start off at 50 cents. To get from my apartment to West Sixth is $7. It shies people away from using them." Energy Boost // "I have to stay healthy and I try to use food as an energy source," says Barnes, who gets a juice cleanse from Anna in the Raw once a month. "I just think it's nice to give your body a break for one day a month from solid food, because a lot of your energy is actually used to digest the food." Happy Place // For some rest and relaxation, Barnes often walks to the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Public Square. "The lobby is extremely elegant, almost regal. On Wednesdays at 5 p.m. they have live music, and that's always quite entertaining."

Nasser Alrashidi, Manal Alrashdi and Almass Alrashidi

Campus connection // Living in the Campus District makes perfect sense for Nasser Alrashidi, 33, and his wife, Manal Alrashdi, 29, both from Saudi Arabia. He's close to finishing his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Cleveland State University, where he founded the Saudi Students Association. Manal's getting her master's degree in education technology at CSU. "It's close to school and everything," he says. "Day care is nearby and my classes, too." Lofty View // The vista outside the couple's eighth-floor apartment reminds Nasser why he's here. "My apartment is facing Euclid. You can see the students walking to the school every morning." Urban Parenting // The couple is part of a growing trend: families living downtown. They go on walks with their daughter, Almass, 4, to Tower City and the East Ninth Street pier and to Reserve Square to visit other Saudi students. "You don't have to be worried to have kids downtown," he says. Comforts of home // The couple's spacious apartment includes two bathrooms, one for each bedroom. "The way they designed it is like the way I got used to back in Saudi Arabia," Nasser says. That gives them space to put up guests overnight, which impressed a friend's parents so much that they leased an apartment at the 1900 Euclid Avenue Lofts for their son. "They were amazed that we have this apartment like this in America," he says.

Justin Vance and Ryan Whitcomb

City Living // "I always wanted something different from the suburb thing," says Justin Vance, who went to Lake Catholic High School and Bowling Green State University with his roommate, Ryan Whitcomb. "We wanted to invest in the booming downtown area and thought it would be a good time." Social Status // "I walk to Bar Louie a lot on West Sixth and eat there, watch games and have a beer, or Mallorca on West Ninth," Whitcomb says. "Anything I want is within a five-minute walk."Bachelor Pad // "I think our space has a great view of the city," Vance says. "They have the common grills and picnic eating area for all the Stonebridge properties." Adds Whitcomb, "A couple times a year, we'll have a bunch of people over for a cookout, go to the Indians game and have them back over after." Reverse Commute // Vance works in Willoughby, while Whitcomb commutes to Strongsville. "It's very easy going against the traffic," says Vance. "It takes 20 to 25 minutes, about half the time as opposed to going with it." Flats Forward // "I'm excited for the East Bank stuff. A lot of companies are investing in the area," says Vance, who points to the planned Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, two-story Panini's Bar and Grill and Big Bang dueling piano bar. "If you make the city more attractive to younger people, not only are they going to want to visit on weekends, but hopefully more will want to live in the area as well."

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