A photo of Cuyahoga County Council Member Sunny Simon as they take issue with the county’s process for tweaking a loan agreement at the July 17 2023 Cuyahoga County Council Economic Development & Planning Committee meeting.
Cuyahoga County Council Member Sunny Simon takes issue with the county’s process for tweaking a loan agreement. Credit: Cuyahoga County Council YouTube

Covered by Documenter Michaylah Burch (notes)

What happened

Cuyahoga County is moving forward with a $1.7 million loan to support a development in Cleveland. It just may have to wait a little longer than expected to get the taxpayer money back. The loan is to Fairmount Properties for the long-planned construction of a Meijer grocery store in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood. The project, located at Cedar Avenue and East 105th Street, would also include 199 apartments.

New pecking order

The committee discussed and advanced a tweak to the original loan approval. Now, instead of sharing secondary lender status with Cleveland, the county – and the city – will be third or fourth. That means other lenders would get priority in getting their money back. 

The loan vote

The committee advanced the resolution in a 3-1 vote. Council Member Sunny Simon voted no. Simon took issue with what she said was a rushed process. She said Cuyahoga County Director of Development Paul Herdeg tried to bypass council and a loan committee. In the July 18 full Cuyahoga County Council meeting, Simon voted in favor of the legislation, which passed. But first, she warned that the county may not get the $1.7 million back.

Worth the risk

Council Member Scott Tuma asked if the new agreement was worth the risk. It is, according to Herdeg. Terri Hamilton Brown, Cleveland’s interim director of Economic Development, agreed. Cleveland contributed its own $1.5 million loan to the project. The most important issue is addressing Fairfax’s designation as a food desert, Brown said. Huntington Bank is the primary lender. And, according to Herdeg, it will not loan money until supporting loans close. 

Left wondering

Documenter Michaylah Burch asked, “Will the new apartments at Cedar and East 105th be income-based? Or are they primarily for employees of Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and the other medical organizations in the area?”

Read more from Documenter Michaylah Burch:

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Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.