From Forgotten to Fabric: Linen Company Breathes New Life into Historic Building

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From Forgotten to Fabric: Linen Company Breathes New Life into Historic Building

In a story that weaves together threads of history, sustainability and urban renewal, local linen company YaYa & Co. will soon expand its operations to a previous laboratory in Cleveland’s St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

The former American Gas Association (AGA) building has stood vacant for decades. After a remarkable restoration effort, it will be reborn as the vibrant new headquarters for YaYa & Co.

“I was immediately drawn to the building’s character and potential,” said Candy Mashmoor, YaYa & Co.’s founder. “You cannot imagine what it looked like, and we could barely walk through it with the falling ceilings, dirt and debris. My contractor told me I was crazy, but when you are creative you can see past the destruction and envision the beauty in this forgotten space.”

Adding to the appeal of the structure, built in 1925, is its rich history. The original building was one of few in the area to survive the 1944 East Ohio Gas Co. explosion that leveled a square mile of the city and killed 130 people. “Somehow this building endured and remains structurally sound today,” Mashmoor said.

Mashmoor and her partners are investing up to $3 million to renovate the site, which was awarded city historic landmark status by the Cleveland Landmark Commission last October and by Cleveland City Council in January.

YaYa & Co. is known for its commitment to using all-natural and organic textiles to create bedding, home goods, and décor from artisans and makers worldwide. The company is Fair Trade USA-certified and known for its sustainable goods, eco-friendly production methods and ethical practices. Restoring a historic building aligns perfectly with its philosophy.

The AGA laboratory building is part of a 68,000-square-foot, three-building complex that fell into state forfeiture in December 2019 and then brought into the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s inventory in 2021 after nosuccessful bids were offered at Sheriff’s sale. Mashmoor purchased the buildings and an adjacent parking lot from the Cuyahoga Land Bank in March 2022.

“We had a lot of interest in the property,” said Marcelina Śladewska, Cuyahoga Land Bank Special Projects Manager. “Ultimately, we decided the building would be the perfect site for YaYa & Co.’s expanding e-commerce business.”

The company’s new headquarters will be in the original building’s north addition (built in 1960), which will be used for the assembly of textile products. The south addition (built in 1950) will serve as a showroom and transfer warehouse for the company’s textile products. The original building will become a 28,000-square-foot collection of co-working spaces and classrooms to support local young women and minority entrepreneurs in developing their businesses. Co-working spaces will be geared toward creative businesses like design and photography.

In keeping with YaYa and Co.’s mission, all the renovations to the building will be entirely sustainable. “It’s a beautiful building and we are committed to recycling materials and avoiding demolition, when possible,” says Mashmoor. “We are using the age of the building and developing around it.”

Mashmoor is excited about this new chapter in her business and expects the south building to be open by late summer or early fall 2024, with the other two buildings up and running by spring of 2025. This move marks a significant step forward for YaYa & Co. and sets the stage for continued growth and success. It’s a story not just about fabric but about the enduring power of craftsmanship, sustainability and the magic of breathing new life into the past.