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From housing rubble, sprouts green furniture

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It was a shared penchant for sustainability, history, and good design that brought APOC partners – furnituremaker P.J. Doran, carpenter Aaron Gogolin, housing development manager Chris Kious, and furniture designer Ezra Taxel – together last year in their upcycling business.

Their first venture was chopping blocks and cutting boards made of rescued wood. But it was the tag each item carried – with a researched story of where this “piece of Cleveland” came from – that caused them to sell out immediately. Inspired by the response, and realizing the market potential, they turned their attention to finding more raw materials for their products.

Most of the housing stock in the Cleveland area is made of wood, providing a ready supply. But they wanted to offer something a little bit more than another wooden chair or end table.

“The materials deserved the chance to have new life,” says Mr. Kious, “but their stories also deserved to be retold.”

“Anyone who builds green wants to tell people why it’s green,” says Mr. Taxel.

Using public records, APOC tracks a home’s ownership, square footage, year built, style, and other attributes. But some of the richest findings for the “rebirth certificates” that accompany each piece come from the stories of people in the neighborhoods where the deconstructions are taking place.

For example, In 2007, the City of Cleveland was tearing down a home on Cleveland’s near West Side to make way for a parking lot to accommodate off-street parking for the nearby commercial district.

Through A public records search at the county auditor’s office, APOC learned that the home was built in 1915 and owned by multiple members and possibly generations of the Zarrelli family.

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