Developers’ Roundtable looks at possibilities for Cleveland Heights’ Noble, Taylor neighborhoods –

cleveland heights salt dome pt 2

Cleveland Heights Councilwoman Davida Russell believes that some city-owned sites, including an abandoned dairy off Noble Road — currently home to the city’s obscured salt dome and yard waste collections — could qualify for state and federal Brownfield remediation funding, a program that appears to have gone on hiatus.Courtesy of Davida Russell

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — State, federal, local and union officials convened May 19 in a local “Developers’ Roundtable” discussing opportunities and incentives to break ground in some of the more distressed areas of the community.

Nearly 60 people tuned in for the latest installment of Councilwoman Davida Russell’s “You Talk, I Listen” series, as she invited representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), the AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust (HIT-Building America), along with city officials, to participate in the virtual meeting.

It was already a busy day at the OFHA, where a list of grant and gap financing recipients were being announced, including a senior housing development in Parma.

“There are not as many applicants from the inner- and outer-ring suburbs as we would like,” said Kelan Craig, OFHA Director of Multi-family Housing, noting that the agency can work with relatively small nonprofit developers and vulnerable populations.

The Zoom meeting was facilitated by the Rev. Jimmie Hicks Jr. of Start Right Church in Noble, one of Cleveland Heights’ community development corporations (CDCs), currently negotiating with the city to build single-family houses on 19 infill lots in the Caledonia neighborhood.

As part of its HIT-Building America program, AFL-CIO official Ted Chandler noted that the housing trust was involved with the $60 million Church and State apartment building in Cleveland’s Hingetown.

At the same time, HIT has used some of its nearly $7 billion in assets over the last 50 years to provide a low-cost source of capital for affordable housing efforts, such as Pinzone Towers in Rocky River.

Pam Ashby with the Cleveland HUD office noted that new HUD Secretary and former congresswoman Marcia Fudge — who has represented Cleveland and Cleveland Heights in Washington — believes that housing should be considered infrastructure.

In questions fielded from developers at the roundtable, one asked about the status of state and federal Brownfield funding, used to remediate old industrial sites where contamination may have occurred and whether more funding may become available.

Russell noted that there were properties in Cleveland Heights that could use such funding, including the city-owned property off Noble and Mayfield roads that contains an abandoned and dilapidated dairy, as well as one of the city’s salt domes, currently obscured by piles of yard waste collected by the Public Works Department.

Cleveland Heights Economic Development Director Tim Boland noted that in addition to city-owned Noble-Glenwwood and Noble-Woodview sites, requests-for-proposals have also gone out for one of the Taylor Tudor buildings, with another expected to come into city possession through foreclosure.

Those would qualify under Ohio’s Historic Tax Credit program, in addition to the citywide Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) known as the “Grow Program.”

City Business Development Manager Brian Anderson explained that the Grow program provides tax abatements on new construction, with a tiered system providing targeted areas — like Noble and South Taylor — with higher incentives to spur investment.

Boland and Anderson added that other available city programs include tax increment financing (TIFs), storefront rehabilitation grants and loans, revolving loans and the Job Creation Grant program.

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