Ari Maron recognizes the value of memorable experiences — how a Puccini aria, something he'd performed on the violin since childhood, might alter the mood of a normal Case Western Reserve University conference room, how the yearning strains of "O, mio babbino caro" might impact a review panel deciding who'd earn the rights to a $44 million development project.
So when CWRU and University Circle Inc. invited MRN and four other big-name local developers to compete to build a new downtown for the neighborhood, Maron opened with a violin solo. ...
"His point was to say, 'My heart and soul is here,' " says Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle Inc. "I'm not saying he won it on the tune he played, but it gave you complete confidence that they were 100 percent committed."
This fall, five years later, Uptown is finally rising along Euclid Avenue. For now, it looks like two long blue boxes, three stories tall, pressing up against the street and sidewalk. The storefronts' 20-foot-tall windows invite people in. Upstairs, communal patios and an irregular pattern of horizontal and vertical windows break up the apartments' facades — a provocative, contemporary design by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz.
South of Euclid, where the new project and the existing Triangle apartments create a sort of urban canyon, MRN plans a new pedestrian street called The Alley, an East Fourth for the East Side. Jonathon Sawyer will open a new restaurant there, as will Scott Kim of Sasa in Shaker Square and ABC the Tavern from Ohio City. ...
The street will face the future Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, a postmodern cube of dark glass now under construction next door. "So it becomes this really vibrant, intimate urban space," says Maron, standing where the street will be, sporting a white hard hat, wearing a fleece jacket to ward off a chilly rain.
— from "Urban Active," November 2011