Cleveland.com - First look: FWD club brings Vegas-style pool party to Cleveland Flats
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- You still see the construction machinery. Dumpsters overflowing with debris. Men and women in hard hats.
But the dust is starting to settle on the much-anticipated Flats East Bank Project.
Er, make that FWD. The 15,000-square-foot open-air club is slated to open this weekend.
FWD will roll out a pool and deck area, cabanas, a dance floor and a stage. The 1,000-capacity venue, located alongside the Cuyahoga River on the northern end of the Flats East Bank project, will also be open day and night - hence its full name, FWD Dayclub + Nightclub Cleveland.
Created out of repurposed shipping containers, FWD shoehorns Vegas glitz into Cleveland grit.
"I like a lot of places in Vegas ," says Michael Schwartz, who developed the concept with his partner, Bobby Rutter. "Then I look around and see these bridges and the railroad tracks and the river and it just seemed to make sense to combine these different environments."
FWD is part of the $750 million Flats development, which brings a mix of residences and businesses to the east bank of the Cuyahoga and includes eateries by Cleveland chefs Zack Bruell and Steve Schimoler and a soon-to-open dueling piano bar called The Big Bang.
Schwartz, a veteran of the bar scene, designed clubs such as Tramp and Funky Buddha - clubs that led the Warehouse District overtaking the old Flats at the beginning of the millennium.
"I always wanted to bring an outdoor Vegas style to Cleveland and embrace aspects of Cleveland," says Schwartz, who referenced the pool at the Palms Casino, which bills itself as "Living the Daylife." "But we also wanted to do something different."
The smokestack installed in the middle of the bar is a new touch for the club scene. So are the containers that are assembled to create walls for the club.
Of course, Cleveland is not Vegas - and nowhere more than when it comes to the weather. The seasonal club was initially scheduled to open in May to take advantage of Cleveland's prime weather months, because it has no roof.
"There was a delay, but it was a general delay in the entire project," says Rutter. "We're going to be the first to open."
The club, which also offers private memberships, will close down for the year in October.
"We're hoping the weather cooperates - we're also praying," adds Schwartz, with a laugh.
FWD will make its soft opening on Friday, followed by a grand opening Saturday.
It will host daytime pool parties and DJ nights. It will also bring South Beach sensibilities and high-roller packages to the river.
On Aug. 14, it will throw a Sunset Pool Party, featuring Canadian electronic duo DVBBS.
Tickets, $40, do not include pool privileges. The $100 ticket gets you access to the pool, along with the day beds and VIP dance floor (if you don't want to dance with the commoners). If you have a grand to blow, you can snag the Private Cabanas package, which includes six tickets, two bottles of premium liquor and a bottle of Moet, access to the VIP dance floor and DJ booth - and, yup, the pool.