North Coast Waterfront Development Corp. names its first executive director

Implementing Downtown Cleveland lakefront projects that result from a final version of this vision will be ultimate goal of newly hired North Coast Waterfront Development Corp. Executive Director Scott Skinner. But his first goal is to start hiring a support staff to help him implement those projects (FO). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Scott Skinner to lead downtown lakefront development

Over the decades, one of the biggest barriers to developing Downtown Cleveland’s lakefront with public and private amenities was the lack of a staff dedicated to that purpose. That barrier began to come down today with the hiring of the first staff-person to lead the new North Coast Waterfront Development Corporation (NCWDC).

Board members of NCWDC hired Scott Skinner of Cleveland-based NRP Group LLC, one of the nation’s largest developers of multi-family housing, to be the nonprofit entity’s first executive director. Skinner will then hire his staff to carry out specific tasks necessary to implement a newly emerging lakefront development masterplan.

At NCWDC, not only will he be responsible for organizational leadership, he will lead advocacy efforts and funding strategies. Skinner will also make sure the NCWDC’s efforts are aligned with the wishes of city, county, state and federal leaders as well as civic and business community representatives, said a press release issued today by Mayor Justin Bibb’s office.

Skinner most recently served as vice president of development at The NRP Group. His responsibilities at NRP included deal origination, initial underwriting and due diligence, political approvals and community outreach for both market rate and affordable multifamily development projects in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. He also led NRP’s federal advocacy work to promote policies that advance affordable housing development at the national level.

NEOtrans sent an e-mail to Skinner seeking more information about his duties and what his thoughts are on major issues, such as the future of downtown’s lakefront with or without Burke Lakefront Airport, the Cleveland Shoreway or Cleveland Browns Stadium on it. However, he has not replied as of yet. A press release issued by the city today did not include any comments from Skinner.

Scott Skinner served most recently as vice president of development at Cleveland-based NRP Group, one of the nation’s largest developers of multi-family housing. He will now be the first executive director of the North Coast Waterfront Development Corp. (NRP Group).

“Scott’s experience in development, community outreach and advocacy will be essential as he builds this organization from the ground up and begins the work to transform Cleveland’s Downtown lakefront into a vibrant and accessible destination for residents, business and recreation,” said Mayor Bibb in a written statement. “We are pleased to have such an outstanding leader in this role.”

Prior to joining NRP in 2017, Skinner served as a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, a Peace Corps volunteer doing community development work in the country of Georgia and a corporate fundraiser for Capital Partners for Education, a large nonprofit organization in Washington DC. Skinner earned a bachelor’s degree in English from San Jose State University and an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. A native of San Jose, CA, he moved to Cleveland in 2018.

“Moving the lakefront project forward is an important priority for Council,” said Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin. “I’m excited to see Scott take the reins of this new organization and advance the community’s vision of a waterfront that benefits all Cleveland residents.”

“Scott is an experienced leader who brings strong development credentials and understanding of our community to this new role,” said David Gilbert, chair of the NCWDC board. “The board is eager to advance the work of NCWDC to help develop and connect our downtown lakefront. It is one of the most important projects in our community for the next generation of Clevelanders.”

“We are tremendously proud of Scott’s accomplishments throughout his tenure at NRP,” said J. David Heller, president and CEO of The NRP Group. “A mark of a great leader is their ability to nurture and cultivate emerging talent, and that is exactly what Scott has done at NRP.”

The blue-shaded area of Downtown Cleveland shown here is the area of jurisdiction for the new North Coast Waterfront Development Corp. The area is north of St. Clair Avenue, between West 6th Street and East 18th Street in the central business district and from West 9th Street to East 22nd Street along and near the Shoreway (CPC).

“We are grateful for Scott’s guidance to the team who is ready to step in as he completes the developments currently in progress at NRP,” Heller added. “As a lifelong Clevelander, I look forward to seeing Scott’s lakefront vision materialize into a sought-after destination for future generations.”

In addition to lacking staff to carry out lakefront development, another barrier to Cleveland realizing past plans is that advocates of those plans and their priority status would come and go depending on who was mayor at the time. Developing the lakefront is a decades-long process so plans and projects would not survive the change to a mayoral administration that didn’t consider the lakefront a priority. It remains to be seen how independent of the political process NCWDC will be.

The board at the existing nonprofit development corporation for the central business district, Downtown Cleveland Inc. (formerly the Downtown Cleveland Alliance), has not shown an interest in getting directly involved in real estate projects and competing with the private sector. That includes owning and/or developing land like other development corporations — Playhouse Square Foundation in downtown and University Circle Inc. (UCI) in Cleveland’s fast-growing second downtown.

So Bibb, with the support of the new Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne, the former director of UCI, led the creation of a second nonprofit development corporation for downtown Cleveland. The NCWDC is authorized under local and state laws to raise taxes and fees, issue debt, pursue local, state and federal grants, seek value-capture funding mechanisms like tax-increment financing, and receive private-sector investment and philanthropy to implement the lakefront plan.

While DCI will continue to provide downtown services like promotions, special events, public realm improvements, plus cleaning and safety patrols, NCWDC will get directly involved in real estate investment and construction on lands north of St. Clair Avenue in the central business district. Its area of jurisdiction, between West 6th Street and East 18th Street, is north of St. Clair Avenue and from West 9th Street to East 22nd Street along and near the Shoreway.


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