The Music Settlement of Cleveland will establish an Ohio City presence at the Bop Stop

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
The Plain Dealer

By Steven Litt

The Music Settlement of Cleveland ended 2013 with the spectacular gift of real estate that will broaden its reach to the city's West Side.

Jazz aficionados Ron Busch and Anita Nonneman closed a deal Dec. 31 to donate their distinctive Bop Stop building at 2920 Detroit Ave. to the 101-year-old music institution in University Circle.

The property includes a 4,000-square-foot one-story building, a third of an acre of land and 18 parking spaces. It’s adjacent to a curving sliver of city-owned land that overlooks the Shoreway and Lake Erie.

The donation will enable educational programs and free concerts to begin in the facility as soon as March, said Charlie Lawrence, president and CEO of the Music Settlement, formerly the Cleveland Music School Settlement.

“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type gift,” he said Tuesday.

Lawrence said a recent appraisal valued the building alone at $800,000, but he said the total value of the property is closer to $1.3 million to $1.5 million.

Fresh activity in the Bop Stop will add momentum to the burgeoning cultural zone taking shape in the “Hingetown” area of Ohio City around the Transformer Station Gallery, ICA Art Conservation and start-up businesses in the Ohio City Firehouse.

“We are thrilled with that location, because it’s a dynamic area where people understand how arts can energize a neighborhood in a very creative way,” Lawrence said.

Nonneman said on Wednesday that she and Busch had talked for several years about donating the Bop Stop after they stopped programming regular events there at the end of 2010. The Music Settlement was always at the top of their list of potential recipients.

"They educate, they nurture, they bring forward people who otherwise might never be heard. They start careers. They're a wonderful organization," she said. "It was not a hard choice to make."
bop_stop.jpgView full sizeInside the Bop Stop during a concert.Courtesy Music Settlement
Lawrence said that the gift came without strings of any kind, and that the building has been well-maintained and is in good condition.

“They’ve been incredibly accommodating to make sure everything is in place for us,” Lawrence said of Nonneman and Busch. “The building was built to a high level of quality and has held up extremely well."

Lawrence added that "a lot of times when you get a donation of this sort, there are quite a few strings and concerns that come with it. In this case, it’s really a complete package. There is no debt, and no issues that will put us in a hole from the beginning. It’s really set up to help us get started as quickly as possible.”

Busch operated the original Bop Stop from 1991 to 1995 at East 40th Street and St. Clair Avenue. The jazz club then moved to West Sixth Street, where it operated until late 2000. The building on Detroit Avenue, designed by Cleveland architect Doug Wahl, opened in 2003, and earned a reputation as an ideal music venue with good acoustics, seating for 120 and a curving floor plan that made for good sight lines.

The Music Settlement was founded in 1912 as a social service organization intended to use music to help immigrants and the poor “become integrated into the American experience,” Lawrence said. “We’re dedicated to bringing the experience of music to everybody, regardless of ability to pay.”

The organization, serves 4,500 with classes and programs for infants, preschoolers, junior and high school students and adults. It operates on a $3.7 million budget and has an endowment of roughly $11 million, income from half of which is dedicated to financial aid and scholarship. The institution provides $220,000 to $300,000 in aid every year, Lawrence said.

The Bop Stop is likely to become a venue for jazz and classical-music after-school programs. Lawrence said the organization would also like to expand music therapy classes to the West Side. In the summer, concerts may be offered outside on the adjacent city park, although details have yet to be worked out.

"I am over-the-moon enthused," said Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, whose ward includes the Bop Stop.

Nonneman said the gift "is for the city. We have a great city and that's [Ohio City] a great area. I can't think of a more wonderful combination of people and talent and energy to be in that area. It's wonderful, and we are very, very happy."