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Theatre, Music, etc.


December 28, 2012

Two bars to close as West 29th Street building is sold

Cleveland--The city is losing two more longstanding gay bars in one night, as the Tool Shed and A Man’s World close their doors on December 31.

Owner Richard Husarick is selling the Striebinger Building at West 29th Street and Detroit Avenue to former congressional hopeful Graham Veysey, who ran against Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur in the Democratic primary for the 9th District seat eventually won by Kaptur.

Veysey already owns a former fire station across the street that now houses his video production company, North Water Partners, as well as Rising Star Coffee Roasters and a florist shop.

In addition to the bars--once known as the Ohio City Oasis--the two-story building has other storefronts on the ground floor and apartments upstairs. Apartment tenants have complained that they received notices telling them that they have to be out by the time the deal closes on January 15. Veysey told the Plain Dealer that he would be willing to give them more time to find new residences.

“I understand people would want more time,” he told the newspaper. “As soon as the deal closes, I can have conversations with people. I’m not going to on closing day do anything to put anybody out on the street.”

Husarick, who owns the bars as well as the building, will be retiring when they close, after decades of being literally and figuratively a center of the LGBT community in Cleveland.

The Cleveland LGBT Center was in this building for 12 years, at 1418 West 29th Street. It was there that the name was changed to the Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland. In four prior spaces it had been known as the GEAR Center after the parent organization’s earlier name, the Gay Education and Awareness Resources Foundation.

The Center moved to West 29th in 1988, eventually spreading into four storefronts and part of the basement before outgrowing the location and moving to its present site at 6600 Detroit Avenue in 2000.

Since the early 1980s, the bars have hosted countless Northern Ohio Coalition, Inc. events, Mr. Leather Cleveland contests, the inaugural Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend, as well as pool leagues and Rainbow Wranglers weekly dances.

However, for all the good memories over the years, there have also been tragedies. In 2007, Joseph Melaragno was in a neighbor’s apartment when three men came in and demanded money the neighbor owed for drugs. Melaragno panicked and ran, and was shot to death by the men.

A year later, a fire broke out in the basement of the building, damaging the Ohio City Café and filling the bars and clothing store Dean Rufus House of Fun with smoke. Since the café’s kitchen was not damaged, Husarick put tables and chairs on the Shed’s dance floor so the restaurant could do business while repairs were made.

While Veysey wants the residential tenants out so he can begin renovations, Rufus says that he is not being asked to leave.

“I am part of the resurgence on West 29th Street and very excited,” he said. “The shop is here to stay.”

He also promised “more details forthcoming on the fabulous new things taking place in the neighborhood.”




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