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Ohio City Parking Lot To Become High End Apartment Buildings

Officials held a groundbreaking Thursday on a new housing development in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. At the corner of Church St. and West 29th, once called State St., the $60 million project consists of two LEED-certified buildings containing 158 apartments. 

But protesters at the site including Paula Miller fear the Church & State project is using public investment to gentrify the area.

“What we see, as people who have lived in this neighborhood for 20 years or more, it's mostly white people that are moving into this neighborhood,” said Miller, “and we know for a fact that people of color are being displaced.”

Supporters of the development say no one is being displaced because the project is being built on what was a surface parking lot.

Councilman Kerry McCormack says Ohio City once had 28,000 residents but is now down to 10,000. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]

Local Councilman Kerry McCormack says the city is considering changes to help some existing residents as property values and taxes go up.

“We’re also looking at LOOP (Longtime Owner Occupants Program) legislation like they do in Philadelphia,” said McCormack, “where they actually cap the increase in taxes based off of property values especially for seniors and low income residents.”

Cuyahoga county is offering a $2 million low interest loan for the development and the city of Cleveland is providing tax increment financing to pay for infrastructure improvements. Most of the financing is coming through the AFL/CIO Housing Investment Trust Fund.

Dave Wondolowski, Executive Secretary of the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, in front of the project already underway. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]

For the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, the Church & State project isn't just a job creator. The council’s executive secretary Dave Wondolowski says the development is also an investment for the union’s pension fund — the third this year. And this time it’s $37 million.

“These are safely invested dollars and these projects are scrutinized heavily by our underwriters,” said Wondolowski. “Typically, first and foremost we’re looking for good pension returns, but when you can couple that with creating good construction jobs, it’s a win-win.” 

That’s 100 union workers for the near-west side project.

The Church & State buildings are slated to open in 2020. Apartments start at $1300 a month. 

The Church and State apartment buildings include a public space with a splash pad between buildings. [LDA Architects] 

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.