Photo via West 117 Foundation
On the Lakewood/Cleveland border, two developers, Betsy Figgie and Daniel Budish, have been amassing close to 100,000 square feet of real estate over the last few months. The reasoning behind the acquisition? To form a brand new LGBTQ ecosystem for community members and businesses.
Studio West 117 will focus on philanthropy, health and wellness, arts and culture and entrepreneurship in a response to the needs of the local LGBTQ community. The space will house LGBTQ-oriented entertainment and dining venues alongside other LGBTQ businesses and social services.
Co-developer Daniel Budish, son of Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, states, “This project will feature LGBTQ entertainment and drag on a large scale (think drag performances and brunches, dancing, and a new fieldhouse for sports and recreation), which will generate foot traffic and resources that can support LGBTQ businesses and services - ultimately increasing the ‘philanthropy pie’ for LGBTQ+ causes throughout Cleveland."
He cited the closure of Bounce as one motivation for wanting to create something new that could provide the sense of community and support the bar once did in Ohio City.
“A lot of other cities have a neighborhood for their LGBT community,” Budish told Freshwater Cleveland
. “Because Cleveland doesn’t really have anything like that right now, we’re trying to use this project to catalyze the creation of such an area through a single project.”
Studio West will consist of three main spaces.
The first is The Fieldhouse (11384 Hird Avenue), which will become a new gym, restaurant and sports bar for open gym, fitness classes, dodgeball, volleyball and more. Expect this to open in the summer of 2021.
Next is the Phantasy Entertainment Complex (11802 Detroit Avenue) which will consist of six individual entertainment areas, all with various themes and with a focus on providing an LGBTQ nightlife to the community and to elevate the art of drag in town. There will also be a coworking space, a podcast studio and several ground-floor retail spaces.
Another space (11600 Detroit Avenue) will consist of eight fully leased apartments and five fully leased commercial storefronts. The developers plan to reserve apartments for LGBTQ seniors, students or youth in need when available.
“This new fully inclusive hub will harness the power of drag and dancing and build resources for the LGBTQ community and enhance the entire LGBTQ philanthropic ecosystem of Northeast Ohio,” said Dr. Lady J, a drag queen and drag-history Ph.D. who will serve as the Director of Programming, Education and Outreach for Studio West.
You can read more about the space here
and make a donation here
. Donations will help elevate the art of drag, support LGBTQ businesses and entrepreneurs, advance arts and culture, expand health services and more.
To learn more about how the project came about, Crain's had a good writeup over the weekend.