June 10, 2019 [Jordyn Grzelewski, The Plain Dealer]
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Greater Cleveland Partnership announced Monday it will create a $50 million real-estate investment fund intended to spur private investment in economically distressed parts of Cuyahoga County.
The fund is being launched by Cleveland Development Advisors, the real estate and business development finance arm of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, which serves as the region’s chamber of commerce.
CDA’s goal for the new fund is to encourage private investment in certain economically distressed areas by providing low-interest loans, thereby “strengthen[ing] the feasibility of impactful projects in underserved neighborhoods,” according to a news release.
The markets the fund will target include but are not limited to, the 64 “opportunity zones” in Cuyahoga County. Opportunity zones are economically distressed census tracts that have been selected for a federal program that incentivizes investment in these areas. Earlier this year, GCP, CDA, the city, county, Cuyahoga Land Bank and Fund for Our Economic Future, under an umbrella initiative dubbed “Opportunity CLE,” released an investment prospectus, digital portal and website aimed at helping businesses, developers and investors navigate Cuyahoga County’s opportunity zones.
Opportunity CLE has grouped Cuyahoga County’s 64 Opportunity Zones into 11 districts it will market to investors. (Opportunity CLE)
CDA’s new fund is called Opportunity CLE Development Fund. The organization anticipates the fund will spur more than $700 million in investments over the next 15 years.
“Strengthening the feasibility of projects that will make the greatest difference and provide equitable outcomes in low-income neighborhoods and communities is a cornerstone of the fund and future of Greater Cleveland,” said Yvette Ittu, CDA president. “Projects that the fund invests in will be socially responsible — leading to jobs, housing, new businesses and other improvements for the residents of these communities.”
The fund will seek to encourage private investment that results in “measurable community impact.” CDA defines that impact as creating “best-in-class” mixed-income and transit-oriented developments; driving business and job creation to vacant sites; increasing opportunities for minority- and female-led businesses; supporting developments that “activate neighborhoods;” and increasing broadband access.
As far as what areas will be targeted for investment, CDA focuses on projects in areas “around major corridors where significant public infrastructure and institutional investment has or is expected to occur.” The organization noted, for example, the HealthTech Corridor, West 25th Street/MetroHealth Corridor and Opportunity Corridor.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to step up and work together as a community by helping finance well-conceived projects that can create jobs and improve residents’ lives,” said Joe Roman, GCP president and chief executive officer. “This community has a history of coming together to help communities and neighborhoods that are struggling. That’s why we expect this new effort will have support from financial institutions, corporations and philanthropic partners.”
Since it started in 1989, CDA has invested nearly $450 million and leveraged $3.8 billion into 135 real-estate development projects, resulting in 6,750 new housing units and 7 million square feet of commercial space, according to the release.