A screenshot of members of the Development, Planning & Sustainability meeting.
Members of the Development, Planning & Sustainability Committee. Credit: Cleveland City Council YouTube.

Covered by Documenter Daniel McLaughlin (notes)

Bedrock riverfront development plans move forward

Bedrock, a Detroit-based commercial real estate firm, unveiled a $3.5 billion project to transform Tower City and the riverfront over the next 20 years. Bedrock is owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

The proposal included the use of a special type of tax increment financing (TIF) for a section of downtown. This would be Cleveland’s first attempt at using this type of public financing for a district instead of just a project.

Bedrock included examples of what are called “overlay districts” in Ohio cities such as Columbus and Independence. Cleveland City Council officially approved the deal, called a “Master Development Agreement” at its Sept. 25 meeting.

Council Member Joe Jones, Ward 1, praised Bedrock for its developments in Detroit.

Council Member Jasmin Santana, Ward 14, asked about Bedrock’s plans to make sure residents and businesses in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods will not be displaced. Cleveland Chief Integrated Development Officer Jeff Epstein said that was important to think about, but he did not elaborate further.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF): A public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure and other community improvement projects.
A definition card for tax increment financing (TIF). Credit: Signal Cleveland

New affordable housing development in Ward 16

Josh Rosen, a developer for Sustainable Community Associates, presented a $14 million plan to convert the Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School building into 36 residential units. The former Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) school closed in 2013.

Rosen said the estimated rent would be approximately $900 to $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,400 for a two-bedroom unit.

Brian Kazy, Ward 16 council member, called the project “overly exciting” and said he “couldn’t remember the last time a market-rate housing project went up on the far West Side.”

Left wondering

Documenter Daniel McLaughlin has some questions following the meeting.

  • If City Council approves a TIF overlay district downtown, does it give up some of its authority to approve downtown development projects? 
  • Would developers work directly with the Community Development or Economic Development departments and bypass City Council’s approval of financing plans?

Read more from Documenter Daniel McLaughlin:

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Service Journalism Reporter (she/her)
Dakotah is a journalist and audio producer dedicated to untangling bureaucracy and providing power (information) to the people of Cleveland. She spent 10 years on the frontlines of direct service working with youth and system-impacted communities before receiving her master's in media advocacy from Northeastern University. Dakotah is part of the Community team whose mission is to listen and amplify the issues Clevelanders care about most.

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.