The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s new housing construction efforts throughout Cleveland and several inner-ring suburbs are revitalizing the housing stock, boosting home values, and jump-starting additional private development.
When the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s most recent new construction modular home in Maple Heights sold quickly, and at an attractive price point, real estate developer Ishmael Martin took notice. “That house sold so quickly, I knew there was a real opportunity for more new construction in the city,” says Martin. In fact, Martin’s first new home construction project in Maple Heights had multiple offers and sold within days, validating his decision.
At 35 years old, Martin has been involved in real estate in one way or another since high school. He credits a high school teacher who introduced him to the world of finance, sparking his interest in real estate development. “My father, a master carpenter, owned a roofing and carpentry business for 42 years, so I’ve been around it my whole life. But my teacher really triggered an interest and inspired me to learn more,” says Martin.
Martin began rehabbing homes as rental properties and expanded into rehabbing and reselling completely renovated homes in the suburbs before shifting into new home construction about four years ago. He has built six new homes in Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, and Richmond Heights and plans for more than a dozen more homes this year.
A licensed realtor, Martin understands the northeast Ohio housing market. “Looking at market data, it is amazing how many Cleveland suburbs have not seen any new housing development in the last two decades. You see new construction all over on the west side and in some east side suburbs, but diverse communities like Maple Heights are really underserved. Many of today’s home buyers want move-in ready new homes with modern layouts and amenities. I want to bring those homes to those underserved areas. That’s what drives me.”
With new home construction projects currently underway in Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Shaker Heights and South Euclid, Martin is also taking advantage of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Housing Construction Gap Grant Program, which provides funds to help developers cover the gap between construction costs and appraisal values in certain distressed areas.
“The Land Bank’s Gap Grant Program is a blessing. With home values fluctuating and the cost of building materials continuing to increase, the program helps to keep houses affordable in some neighborhoods. It makes it more affordable for the builder and the end buyer.”