September 13, 2011 [The Plain Dealer]
It has been a long time since a private developer has taken a serious look at East Cleveland. But thanks to a happy confluence of events, incentives and personalities, that is about to change.
The Finch Group — a Florida-based developer with several successful projects in Cleveland, including the Park Lane Villa complex in University Circle — has announced plans to build 20 units of townhouse-style apartments on Euclid Avenue at the western edge of Greater Cleveland’s poorest community.
Finch will work in tandem with University Circle Inc., building on 1.5 acres that the nonprofit community planning and development group owns and now uses for parking. Cuyahoga County, East Cleveland and the county land bank are channeling some $3 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds into what is being called the CircleEast project.
This will be UCI’s first project outside its traditional area of operations around Cleveland’s cultural, educational and medical hub. But with construction crews still busy in that district, UCI President Chris Ronayne has been looking for opportunities to add housing targeted at the thousands of people who work there. He found a willing partner literally next door in East Cleveland’s can-do Mayor Gary Norton. Together, they took the long-dormant CircleEast concept to Finch and the county.
Urban planners have long looked at East Cleveland’s prime location and said that maybe someday it would benefit from University Circle’s success. Perhaps that day has finally arrived.