Instead of seeking to develop high-rise, quality, affordable housing near rapid transit stations along the Opportunity Corridor, community development corporations are vying for Cuyahoga County’s proposed consolidated jail facility.
The winning site, according to 13 sources, is on East 105th Street at Quebec Avenue. The location is next to the newly expanded East 105th-Quincy Red Line rail station, just east of the county’s nine-story Juvenile Justice Center built in 2011. As part of the Opportunity Corridor project, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) opened the expanded station last year after investing $5 million in local and state funds. The previous station was rebuilt in 2005 for $1.3 million.
|GCRTA’s newly expanded East 105th-Quincy station, looking
westward. The proposed jail facility will reportedly be located
just out of view to the right (GCRTA).
The new Cuyahoga County Consolidated Jail Facility, comprised of two towers, one 27 stories and the other 18 stories over a two-story pad offering restaurants, neighborhood retail and a Star-On-The-Fly drive-through coffee store, is projected to cost $1.8 billion. It will not only address overcrowded conditions at the aging jails downtown, it will unite in one location county and municipal jails from several suburbs.
“This Transit Oriented Development will place hundreds of exciting jobs within a short walk of a rail station, which is what TOD is all about and what the Opportunity Corridor is all about,” said John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, president of Schmidt Corrections Construction Corp. “This jail is about opportunity.”
But Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit that advocates for improved transit and for TOD to address the region’s spatial mismatch between jobs and job seekers, called the project a missed opportunity.
|The proposed location of new Cuyahoga County Consolidated
Jail Facility on East 105th Street at Quebec Avenue (Google).
“This has to be a joke, right?” Prendergast asked. “The largest planned project on the Opportunity Corridor is going to be a jail? Sure, the jail jobs and retail jobs will be a welcome addition to this depressed neighborhood that’s within sight of the shiny towers of University Circle. But that’s not what TOD is all about.”
All Aboard Ohio recently advocated for developing larger-scale housing developments?next to Opportunity Corridor rail stations at East 105th and at East 79th streets. The organization said that new, inexpensive construction techniques combined with Opportunity Zone financing and existing incentives for affordable housing should make these larger-scale developments more viable and likely.
“I’m sure the jail towers will be a tremendous visual addition to University Circle’s growing skyline,” Prendergast added. “But it’s time for this region to stop developing as if every day is April Fool’s Day.”