Developers reveal Riverview Hope VI plans
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, June 2004) The Hope VI Riverview development seeks to dramatically transform the east side of W. 25 th Street from Bridge Avenue to Detroit Avenue.

On Tuesday May 18th, development partners Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), Ohio City Near West Development Corporation (OCNW) and Washington,D.C.-based Telesis Corporation presented plans for the long-awaited development at a public meeting held in the cafeteria at Riverview Towers , 1725 W. 25 th Street .

The first phase of the development calls for 416 units of new housing, 10,000 square feet of new commercial space, 267 new surface parking spaces and an underground parking garage with 480 parking places. Riverview senior towers with 501 units of housing will be integrated into the site.

Phase I targets the east side of W. 25 from Bridge Avenue to just north of Franklin Avenue . The 12-acre site extends east to Franklin Avenue behind the Riverview towers. As part of the development, W. 25 th Street will be narrowed from Bridge to Detroit to the same width as W. 25 th south of Bridge Ave.

The 416 units of housing will consist of 81 public housing units, 35 affordable housing units and 300 market rate units. William Whitman of Telesis Corporation said that once the development is completed, “You will not be able to tell the market rate from the affordable and public housing units.”

“That’s what nice about this project,” said Laura Noble, acting executive director of OCNW, referring to the plans for people of widely-differing incomes to live side by side. All of the public housing residents will be required to have income below 60% the median family income in Cuyahoga County (currently $36,000 for a family of four). The 35 affordable units and 300 market rate units will range in price from $126,000 to $400,000. The housing units will be composed of one, two, three and four bedroom apartments and condominiums. There will be a condominium association to represent residents and Telesis Corporation or an affiliate management company will manage the entire new development.

CMHA will continue to manage the Riverview Towers . Residents who were displaced when the 135 units of public housing at Riverview were demolished in 2000 to make way for this project will have the first choice to come into the new public housing units being created as part of this project.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost $110 million, including $20 million for the infrastructure and garage; $15.3 million for the public housing units; and $73.5 million for the affordable and market rate housing units. Under CMHA’s Project Area Resident (PAR) program, hiring employment goals include jobs for CMHA residents, according to CMHA Hope VI Coordinator Michael Bowen. Asked whether the developer will work with the local building trades council to provide training that would lead to union apprenticeships and eventually a skilled trade, Telesis Corporation’s Whitman said an employment training program and outreach to the construction trades is “certainly something we have done in the past. It is something we take seriously and hopefully will make happen.” CMHA’s Bowen said one of the reasons Telesis Corp was chosen for this job was their track record in this area.

Plans call for the commercial portion of the development to be on the northeast corner of W. 25 th and Bridge Avenue . It would extend the already existing commercial strip on W. 25 th Street north in front of the south tower of Riverview . Parking spaces would be located behind the retail space in front of the tower in what is now a green space with benches for residents. When residents expressed concern about losing the green space and benches, developers said other public spaces would be created for sitting areas throughout the new development. The plans call for the current turnaround now in front of the south tower to be moved to the front of the north tower. Developers promised to discuss these changes with residents of the towers.

The parking garage will be built under the hillside in the rear of Riverview (between Riverview and Franklin), said Telesis Corporation’s Whitman. Residents will access the garage by means of a new road that will run parallel with Franklin . Whitman says the top fifteen feet of the hill will be removed to add stability to the hill.

Developers hope that Phase I construction will begin in the spring of 2005 and be completed within 5 years. Developers are under pressure to proceed with the housing portion of the development because the $8.5 million in HOPE VI funding targeted for the project’s public housing must be spent by December of 2006.

Members of the Riverview Local Advisory Council, led by President Clara Bell, asked for an opportunity to meet with developers soon to discuss some of their concerns, including proposed changes for the exterior grounds and increasing resident input on maximizing use of first floor community space. A number of residents expressed concern that an effort be made to include restaurants and other commercial ventures that cater more to low-income residents. Residents raised concerns about a proposed joint community center to be shared by current (mostly elderly) residents and the new families. Residents asked that a separate community facility be created for families with children to avoid conflicts with seniors.

Members of the Bridge/Carroll/Jay/Riverview block clubs of OCNW were also in attendance. They asked about when updated plans would be available for the public to view. Developers promised another large public meeting in the fall of this year.

CMHA initially received funding for the Hope VI Riverview and Lakeview proposal in 1996. In 2000, 135 units of public housing at Riverview were demolished to make way for the new development. In 2001 a public charrette was held to allow public participation in the design of the new development. In the interim plans were drawn up by Goody, Clancy & Associates, a Boston-based architecture and planning firm and the new development partnership was formed.

CMHA’s Bowen says there is no current timetable for Phase II. Current plans call for a $70 million-development which would include 266 housing units and a park at the corner of W. 25 th and Detroit . CMHA currently owns all but three parcels in the proposed target area. They are negotiating with Transitional Housing to help find a new home for the facility. The eight units of public housing north of Franklin will be demolished. CMHA’s Bowen says the new housing in this area will include eight units of public housing to replace them.


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