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City Of Cleveland To Hire Consultant For West Side Market

Amid departing vendors and continued complaints about city management at the 107-year-old institution, the City of Cleveland will hire a consultant to make recommendations for the West Side Market.

The city this week issued a "request for proposals [RFP] for a consultant to help reshape the West Side Market customer experience by evaluating existing practices and developing a strategic action plan to drive change at the Market,” according to a Friday press release.

There is an operations side and a facilities side to improving the market, said City of Cleveland Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown. The process of $5.4 million in capital improvements and site development work has already started and, in December, the city released goals for 2020. The operations side changes are based on customer survey results, Brown said.

"It spoke to issues around product quality, vendor and product diversity, consistency and availability of vendors in terms of hours of operations, modern conveniences like online shopping," Brown said.

The city did not speak with tenants and vendors of the West Side Market before putting out the RFP.

Help improving relationships with existing and potential tenants are, however, part of the city's request to interested consultants.

"Providing a plan on how we can not only work on our internal relationships and strategies with the tenants in the city and the community, but also how to work on strategic relationships outside of those particular parties, or things we haven't done well," Brown said.

The city plans to focus more on qualifications than cost in considering the RFP responses, Brown said, taking into consideration “experience, competency and ability, a proven track record in specific disciplines, not whether or not you're the lowest bidder.”

A local company may not get additional consideration, or "extra credit" as Brown called it, but familiarity with Northeast Ohio is addressed in the request.

"Some of the desired qualifications do speak to having an experience and understanding of the local culture, history and personality of Cleveland," Brown said

Brown maintains the city is best equipped to manage the market, but says it's important to have experts look at it on an impartial basis.

West Side Market Tenant Association President Don Whitaker has not yet responded to ideastream’s request for comment.

According to the RFP, the city wants the consultant to focus on four main areas: administration; entrepreneurial growth and recruitment facilities management and capital planning; and encouraging community engagement, outreach and bridge building.



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