Hough’s Rainey Institute to be civic incubator

The former Eleanor Rainey Institute on East 55th Street in Cleveland is proposed to become a co-working space and business/civic incubator run by the Cliquepoint Data Foundation. The building at the corner of East 55th and Dibble Avenue is due to be renovated and expanded with a large addition put on the back of the structure (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

East 55th site to be renovated, expanded for $2M

For 120 years, a settlement house at 1523 E. 55th St. has served the philanthropic needs of Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood. Following a planned $2 million structural renovation and expansion by the Cliquepoint Data Foundation, it will continue to serve the community albeit in a different capacity.

Cliquepoint Data Foundation, a grassroots nonprofit organization, aims to revitalize and expand the 7,200-square-foot former Eleanor B. Rainey Memorial Institute as a co-working space and business incubator to serve civic improvement. The goal is to provide a place to train people, fortify social impact organizations and provide vital infrastructure to support their missions that are rooted in systemic causes to thrive.

Self-described social entrepreneur Willie Drake founded Cliquepoint Data Foundation in 2010 to train youths to use technology safely and responsibly, while supporting and promoting the ethical use of technology. Drake is a lifelong Cleveland resident but is borrowing on an active effort in Alabama.

“In partnership with IGNITE! Alabama (a small business “path finder”), I envision curating a supportive environment, featuring workshops and administrative tools needed to help technology and social impact organizations operate in the most fiscally responsible, technically savvy, and efficient way,” he said in e-mail to NEOtrans.

Elevations for each side of the co-working/business incubator to be operated by the Cliquepoint Data Foundation (LDA).

He said the goal is to enable social impact organizations to do what they do best: “provide immediate support to the destitute, while concurrently working to remove barriers and eliminate root causes of today’s societal problems,” Drake added.

The vacant East 55th building will be renovated and expanded with a new addition on the back, or east side of the building. The total project cost of $2 million was identified in a permit application that was submitted to the city last month by LDA Architects of Cleveland.

Drake said he’s received National Park Service History Preservation Fund (NPF) grants totaling $1.25 million. The HPF uses revenues from federal oil and gas leases on the oceans’ offshore Outer Continental Shelf, assisting with a broad range of preservation projects. The former Rainey Institute is a registered city landmark, making it eligible for HPF grants.

Construction of the addition will provide the building with a new stairwell, elevator and lobby on each of the three floors plus the basement. It will expand the building by about 3,425 square feet, bringing it to a total of approximately 10,625 square feet, plans show. The new stairwell will augment an existing, steeper stairwell.

Proposed floor plans submitted to the city for the Cliquepoint Data Foundation’s new co-working/incubator on East 55th Street, just south of Superior Avenue in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood (LDA).

An existing second-floor gymnasium will be converted into a large conference room and meeting space while a basement lunchroom will become one of two planned community kitchens. Classroom and club rooms will become co-working spaces, offices and a podcast/makers studio. There will be copying/prep rooms, mail room, a coffee/gift shop, according to the plans.

“Funds will kickstart the building transformation into a proposed innovative and re-imagined version of the Settlement House Movement,” Drake said.

Drake purchased the property through a Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s auction in 2017. The property was previously owned by Cynthia D. Darling who lost the property through a tax foreclosure, public records show. She acquired it in 2011 for $35,000 from the Eleanor B. Rainey Memorial Institute.

Opened in 1904 as the Wilson Avenue Boys Club, the Eleanor B. Rainey Memorial Institute is a settlement house founded by Anna Edwards and funded by philanthropist Eleanor B. Rainey. The population that the Rainey Institute serves changed from primarily Irish, eastern, and southern European immigrants to largely African American residents serving the Hough neighborhood. In 2011, the institute relocated nearby at East 55th and Payne Avenue.


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