Cleveland’s Fairfax Neighborhood

Fairfax Neighborhood Guide – Cleveland

The Fairfax neighborhood is one with a rich history and an eye toward the future. The area is known for its diverse housing stock — both historical homes and new construction — and a wealth of cultural attractions, such as Karamu House and the Cleveland Playhouse. Fairfax is one of the seven neighborhoods that make up Greater University Circle, and the development corporation administrators the Greater Circle Living Program. “The Fairfax neighborhood is a work in progress, and we are excited about the possibilities,” says Vickie Johnson, executive director of Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp., located between downtown Cleveland and University Circle, the neighborhood affords easy access to virtually all of the city’s attractions and businesses.

Fairfax has a rich African-American heritage with historic churches and is home to the first African-American-owned bank in Cleveland.

Two nationally recognized institutions are located in Fairfax. The Cleveland Clinic, which was founded in 1921 and is now the largest private employer in Cuyahoga County, is the most prominent of these. Karamu House, established in 1917, was the country’s first inter-racial theater and arts center. Since 1943, Karamu House has been located in the Fairfax neighborhood.

“We have a history to build from; we have a good foundation,” says Vickie Johnson, executive director of the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. (FRDC). “We’re celebrating generations. A lot of people have chosen to stay here. It’s common to find three generations of families living on the same street. The neighborhood has a tremendous amount of pride.”

Located between downtown Cleveland and University Circle, the neighborhood affords easy access to virtually all of the city’s attractions and businesses.

Neighborhood Gem

The Fairfax Grandparent Housing Project will be the first of its kind in the Midwest and the first in the country to be built specifically for grandparents raising their grandchildren. The 40-unit townhouse development is scheduled to begin construction in the fall of 2010 and will be located on Central Avenue across from Fairfax Recreation Center. The project’s unique appearance is the result of a national design competition held in 2008.

Langston Hughes Center

Another Gem is the The Langston Hughes Center which returns a historically significant neighborhood gem to productive use. The building, an original Andrew Carnegie Library, was built in 1914 and became know as the Langston Hughes Library to honor Langston Hughes, an African American poet. The structure had various uses after it closed in 1977 but stood vacant since 2001. The original 10,000-square-foot library was renovated and has become the headquarters for Senior Outreach Services, a nonprofit human services organization. A 14,000-sqaure-foor addition houses a commercial kitchen and the Cleveland Clinic’s Community Health Outreach Center, which offers medical screenings and health education and assessment to area residents. The project also acts as a catalyst to spur additional development and completes a critical corner of the neighborhood’s overall revitalization strategy. Support for the project came from the entire community, including 72 foundations, corporations and government entitles and 111 individuals.

Cleveland Clinic

Fairfax is also home to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cuyahoga County’s largest employer. The Clinic is partnering with FRDC to establish the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center along Cedar Avenue. The 65,000-square-foot research facility will be developed and owned by FRDC and host top researchers to commercialize cardiovascular products.

“The project will create excitement along Cedar Avenue,” says Johnson. “It will act as a catalyst to bring new business to Cleveland.”

Local Residents

“Fairfax is a stable area and on its way to becoming a community of choice. I moved to this area in 2001 to be closer to work and to affordable private schools for my two children.
– Debra Wilson purchased a refurbished home on East 87th Street

“For the past 13 years, I’ve had the pleasure of living, working in close proximity to and socializing in the Fairfax neighborhood… I wouldn’t change a thing.”
– Melissa K. Burrows, Ph.D., Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp., board president

Helping Hands

FRDC was established to improve the quality of life in Fairfax. Partnerships with residents and other stakeholders are essential to make the neighborhood a great place to live and to attain the impossible with faith, perseverance and a passion for excellence. FRDC is beholden to public trust, fiscal responsibility, community participation and resident empowerment. Vision and integrity help us to accomplish goals.

Community Project

New housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren will be built on Central Avenue across from, the Fairfax recreation Center. The Fairfax Intergenerational Housing Project will be the first of its kind in the country to be built specifically for this population and will be a green building.

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