Future World in CLE: Cleveland Development Advisors Pushing Transformative Construction Projects

by | Jun 5, 2019 | Development News, Neighborhoods & Housing

Do you ever wonder how transformative projects that shape a city’s skyline or vibe happen in a risk averse environment? Financing for forward-thinking projects is challening. Executive Arrangements staff recently met with Yvette Ittu, president of Cleveland Development Advisors. Yvette is smack dab in the middle of this scenario daily. At our recent EA University, she shared her thoughts on interesting projects, completed, underway now, and still in the idea stage.

Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA) has a “30-year legacy of providing expertise and investments in real estate and business development projects that are catalytic and increase the vitality of Greater Cleveland.” They manage the investment of private sector capital in projects that attract additional development. Since 1989, CDA has invested more than $448 M in over 135 projects in Greater Cleveland that have resulted in 6,750 new housing units and seven million square feet of commercial space. These projects have generated $3.8 billion of total development!

Many times, these catalytic-type projects are deemed too high risk by traditional financial services. Alternative fund sourcing, subsidies, and tax credits are a must. For example, the poster child of CDA’s work is probably the East 4th Street Neighborhood Development Project. Years ago, CDA worked with Rick Maron and his family to transform E. 4th. Rick began by buying bookend buildings. Traditional financial services were unable to initially invest in this project as the return on investment was too uncertain. This is where CDA steps in. CDA provided loans and New Markets tax credits to help acquire 15 properties to make this redevelopment effort possible. If you have ever visited E. 4th, you know how completely successful this investment was!

Photo credit: East 4th Street.

CDA has been a partner in so many of Cleveland’s redevelopment projects. If you have ever visited Cleveland or are a resident, you are probably familiar with almost all of their projects.

A few completed projects…

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland: In Midtown. CDA provided tax credits and a loan to renovate the Stager Beckwith mansion for its new location. The museum provides an early childhood education and cultural experience to over 100,000 children and their families annually.

One University Circle: In University Circle. CDA provided a loan to assist with the 20-story tower that offers concierge service, fitness and wellness areas, conference rooms, pool and community areas, as well as amazing views of the city skyline.

Public Square

Public Square: Downtown. CDA invested in this project to assist this collaborative public/private effort that dramatically updated the 10-acre Public Square into a catalytic, dynamic, world-class public space.

Innova Phase I and Phase II: In the Hough Neighborhood. CDA invested in this project that not only anchors a 24-hour community but also connects Cleveland Clinic’s main campus to Cleveland’s cultural institutions in University Circle. The project includes additional apartments, commercial and retail space, and affordable housing for seniors in adjacent blocks.

The 9: Downtown. CDA invested in The 9’s rehabilitation of the historic Ameritrust Tower Complex, Cleveland Trust Company Rotunda, and Breuer Tower. The Breuer Tower has been re-purposed to provide downtown housing and the 150+ room Metropolitan at the 9, a member of Marriott’s The Autograph Collection.

The Flats East Bank

The Flats East Bank Phase I and Phase II: CDA provided a loan to this joint venture. Situated on 20-acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie, Flats East Bank has become one of the nation’s most exciting urban waterfront districts.

The Beauty Shoppe: In Ohio City. CDA provided a loan for this co-working operator. TBS provides an accessible, functional, professional, and social workplace environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Ohio City Galley: CDA provided a loan for this this food hall restaurant accelerator. Chef owners apply for one of four kitchen spaces where they will operate at low-cost and low-risk for one year.

Menlo Park Academy: In the Stockyards neighborhood. CDA secured tax credits and provided a loan for Ohio’s only tuition-free community school focusing solely on gifted learners in grades K-8.

A few upcoming projects…

JHB Rendering of Euclid Grand

Euclid Grand: Downtown. CDA provided a loan for this historic renovation of the former John Hartness Brown complex. Spanning three addresses and five facades along Euclid Avenue, the buildings have become known as one of downtown’s worst eyesores.  The remixed-use project will fill a major gap along the Euclid Corridor between Public Square and Playhouse Square.

Boys Hope Girls Hope: In Garfield Heights. CDA secured tax credits and provided a loan to construct the Rajan Academy Center, which will allow more than 200 scholars to participate in an empowering home-like atmosphere fostering a sense of pride from middle school through high school.

The Bowery: In Akron. CDA secured tax credits for this project that will revive the heart of downtown Akron through the redevelopment of six vacant buildings along 156-180 South Main Street, including the iconic Landmark Building.

RSZ Rendering of Glenville Circle North

Glenville Circle North: In Glenville. CDA secured tax credits for the first project to advance as part of the City of Cleveland Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. This initiative is focused on housing, economic development and broader quality of life issues for targeted neighborhoods.

CDA  has also had a hand in helping to develop many of Downtown Cleveland’s apartment building and hotels. The EA staff is often asked about condo living in Downtown Cleveland and the lack of options. Yvette discussed the fact that apartment buildings are often much easier to finance than condo buildings because condo buildings typically require a healthy pre-sale rate of 20% before construction can be considered. But, don’t worry! Many of these new apartment buildings have been designed in such a way that a conversion to available condos is a future option!

Many of these housing development projects include: workforce, market rate, and luxury housing options. All of these positive neighborhood changes aim to be inclusive and community-building.

Outside of CDA’s work, a lot of positive change is on the horizon for many of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Yvette discussed Cuyahoga County’s 64 opportunity zones. These zones are higher-poverty census tracts in which financiers will be able to claim tax breaks in exchange for investment. Many zones in Northeast Ohio are home to major employers, commercial districts, industrial land, or hot real estate markets adjacent to lower-income neighborhoods.

Want to learn more about CDA? Here is some additional reading:

Each month, the staff of Executive Arrangements takes part in a continuing education outing. We take a deep dive into the most current information on interesting places, people, and events in Northeast Ohio. These gatherings are informative and provide great connection…Connection to Northeast Ohio and connection among the staff. If you think your job candidates or new hires could benefit from our knowledge as they relocate to the Cleveland/Akron area, please call us at 216.231.9311.