Gordon Square Homes project aims to preserve affordable housing
in Detroit Shoreway neighborhood

(Plain Press, February 2006) On January 25th Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) released balloons in the Gordon Square Arcade to mark the beginning of Gordon Square Homes, a $12 million effort to preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood and rehabilitate neighborhood commercial space.

Among the sixty people gathered in the atrium of the arcade were many residents of the Gordon Square Apartments, one of the buildings being renovated.

Participating in the release were: Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone, City of Cleveland Community Development Director Daryl Rush, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Deputy Director Jeffery Patterson, Ohio President & CEO of Charter One Bank Ned Handy, Executive Director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) Jeff Ramsey, and DSCDO Housing Director Michael Bier.

Gordon Square Homes is DSCDO’s newest effort in the revitalization of Detroit Avenue and the preservation of affordable housing. The project includes the rehabilitation of four existing buildings and the creation and preservation of 85 rental-housing units designated for low-income tenants. In addition, 6,000 square feet of commercial space will be rehabilitated. The project is located in the heart of Detroit Shoreway’s emerging arts and entertainment district.

The four buildings undergoing renovation are located along Detroit Avenue: the Gordon Square Apartments at 6518 Detroit Ave., the P.J. Shier Building at 6515 Detroit Ave, the Conrad-Balsch-Kroehle Building at 6710 Detroit Ave. and the Muriel Apartment Building at 7001 Detroit Ave.

The Gordon Square Apartments will be receiving a moderate rehabilitation with new windows, updated kitchens and bathrooms as well as a new 1,800 sq.ft. resident community room and learning center. Residents of the Gordon Square Apartments have moved to other apartment buildings or will shift to other apartments in the building while their apartments are being rehabbed.
Gordon Square Apartment resident Lou “Donuts” says he is moving to another apartment in the building while his apartment is being refurbished. “Donuts”, who moved to the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood 56 years ago, says the project “helps people like me very much in my old age. I say thank you very much every chance I get.”

The other three buildings, which have stood vacant and boarded for several years, will receive significant improvements. All buildings are designated as historic properties and renovations will follow the Secretary of Interior historic renovation guidelines.

Gordon Square Homes is part of a flurry of development in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. This current project follows DSCDO’s recently-completed West Side Homes, a similar project providing 52 affordable housing units in Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway, 18 of which are adjacent to the Gordon Square Homes project.  

Detroit Avenue streetscape improvements are planned for summer, 2007.  

Additionally, there is a growing effort to revitalize two neighborhood theaters – Cleveland Public Theater and the Capitol Theater – and create a new facility for Near West Theater, as part of a $20 million arts and entertainment district. The new Near West Theatre facility will be built behind one of the buildings being rehabbed as part of the Gordon Square Homes project -- the Conrad-Balsch-Kroehle Building. 6710 Detroit, (the former home of Lou’s Furniture).

Ward 17 Councilman Matthew Zone says, “Approximately $750 million of neighborhood development is either under construction or soon to begin in Ward 17.  Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization is one of several non-profit organizations and private companies making strong efforts to improve this part of Cleveland.”

“There is a very strong demand for market-rate housing in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The Gordon Square Homes project helps to support DSCDO’s efforts to provide quality affordable housing and preserve the character of our community as a diverse, mixed-income neighborhood,” said Jeff Ramsey, DSCDO’s executive Director.

The $12 million Gordon Square Homes project is financed through a variety of sources, making it the largest and most complicated undertaking in DSCDO’s 33-year history.  Low income housing tax credits and historic tax credits are the largest financing source. Enterprise Community Investment will be providing $7,345,000 of tax credit equity. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, will be providing $2,470,000 of Capital Grant funding. Additionally, the City of Cleveland is providing a $1 million Housing Trust Fund loan and a $4 million construction float loan. Charter One Bank has provided $1.7 million in acquisition financing as well as $4 million in construction financing and security for the City of Cleveland float loan.

“Charter One is committed to helping redevelop neighborhoods, and the Gordon Square affordable housing development will play an important role in the redevelopment of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.  As part of our commitment to revitalizing neighborhoods, Charter One is proud to make an investment in this significant project,” said Ned Handy, President & CEO of Charter One Bank, Ohio.

Predevelopment activities have taken about two years, and construction is expected to last about ten months. Marous Brothers Construction, Inc, of Willoughby, Ohio, is providing design and construction services.  DSCDO is planning to have all buildings occupied by December 31, 2006.  Monthly rents for the project’s one-bedroom units will be $400 and two-bedroom units will be $450.

“Inner-city housing development does not follow the path of least resistance, which is why it is so important for community development corporations, like DSCDO, to take on such complicated projects.  Developments like Gordon Square Homes are only possible because there is a dedicated group of funders, real estate professionals and builders that are willing to make the extra effort to make housing projects like this work.  We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our development team and project partners,” said Michael Bier, DSCDO’s project manager.


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