Port finances Cleveland, Mayfield apartments & more

The Gates Mills Villa Apartments in the Eastgate area of Mayfield Heights will be renovated for $48 million thanks to financing arranged and approved today by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Hopkins, Irishtown Bend, CBT projects also funded

Two major, multi-family residential projects, one in Cleveland and the other in Mayfield Heights, got their financing packages approved today by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. About $47 million in revenue bonds were approved for the two projects which represent a combined investment of $65 million.

Separately, the port authority board also approved financial support for four infrastructure projects. It provided $8.2 million in taxable bonds for the construction of $12.6 million worth of new facilities at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for aircraft servicer Jets FBO.

It also accepted $1.8 million from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) for work at the Irishtown Bend Stabilization Project, spent $1.48 million to improve roads at the Port’s Sediment Processing & Management Facility at Burke Lakefront Airport and funded $925,000 in design work for reconstruction of the iron ore conveyer system at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal on Whiskey Island.

For the largest project supported today, the port authority approved $32 million in tax-exempt, multifamily housing revenue bonds for an extensive renovation of the 191-unit Gates Mills Villa Apartments, 6755 Mayfield Rd. in Mayfield Heights. Related Companies, L.P. is the developer and is one of the largest owners of affordable multifamily apartment complexes in the country.

The $48 million project includes modernization of all units, significant upgrades to common spaces, mechanical repairs and replacements, new free WIFI, new windows, new roofs, landscaping and other site improvements. The property serves older tenants, ages 62 and up; 167 of the 191 units are under Section 8 contracts.

Looking northward along East 101st Street at Newton Avenue in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, the new Gordon Crossing apartments will fill a long-vacant lot and provide needed affordable housing near University Circle where rents are skyrocketing due to growing eds and meds jobs and fast-rising student enrollment at Case Western Reserve University (PCI).

The Gates Mills Villa rehabilitation involves renovating an existing L-shaped, eight-story building on about 4.28 acres. Work is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024 and be completed about a year later, according to a written statement from the port authority.

In Cleveland, $15 million in lease revenue bonds were approved for the 46-unit Gordon Crossing apartments in the Newton Avenue Historic District at the east end of the Hough neighborhood. The building will rise on East 101st Street, between Woodward and Newton avenues.

Gordon Crossing’s affordable apartments, with rents ranging from 30-70 percent of the area’s median income, will be offered in either two- or three-bedroom configurations. Port authority officials said the new-construction, $17.1 million project is expected to see work start immediately.

Woda Cooper Development Inc. and Frontline Development Group LLC are co-owners and co-developers of the Gordon Crossing project. Woda Cooper of Columbus operates more than 350 properties with 16,000 housing units in 16 states, ranks among the top affordable housing developers and owners in the country, and has a development portfolio of $1.5 billion.

Frontline Development Group, LLC is a female- and minority-owned real estate development company based in Cleveland. Frontline develops real estate projects that are committed to innovative economic development and partners at each step of the development to grow the balance sheets of economically and socially underutilized businesses.

Site plan and overhead view of the new Gordon Crossing apartments on East 101st Street in Hough. As a result of the port authority awarding financing, construction is due to get started immediately on the 46-unit apartment building (PCI).

“Woda and Frontline are excited to team up with the port to access their development finance tools in order to help bring this project to the Cleveland and Hough neighborhood,” said Frontline President Sheila Wright.

“This collaboration is unique as Frontline is not just a local partner but a co-owner, actively making decisions and contributing significantly to the project’s success,” Wright said. “We hope our success with this project encourages stakeholders to continue to trust and invest in emerging companies to take on more ownership roles as real estate developers in the region”

“The items the board approved today represent a wide range of tools in the port’s development finance toolkit which are being used to move these projects forward,’’ said Rhonda Winslow, the port authority’s vice president of development finance, in a written statement.

“Two of those projects will help with affordable housing which is something that is in demand,” she said. “The renovations planned at Gates Mills Villa will bring significant upgrades to the senior citizens who live there, and the Gordon Crossing Project includes affordable housing for the city of Cleveland. And the Jets FBO project will help a great business expand its services.”

The port board OK’d $8.2 million of taxable bonds for construction of a cargo and aircraft storage hangar, cargo terminal, pass-through passenger terminal and vehicle parking spaces for Jets FBO on the southeast side of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The total project is planned to cost $12.6 million. Jets FBO and its subsidiaries provide Ohio airports with fixed-base operator aircraft services, including aircraft storage, fuel sales and de-icing.

Jets FBO’s hangar space at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport with Big Bird, the de-icing truck, at right (Jets FBO).

“The project concept gathered traction with the support of Manufacturing Works and the Aerozone Alliance,” said Jets FBO President Michael Hillman. “Bringing the funding to fruition required the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Working with the port has been win for us on a complicated project. With the FAA, municipalities and land leases involved, it takes unique lender expertise that Rhonda Winslow and her team poses.”

The port authority’s board also accepted an additional $1.8 million from NEORSD for the Irishtown Bend Stabilization Project, which involved stabilizing the failing slope along the Cuyahoga River Shipping Channel and re-doing and protecting a crucial NEORSD sewer line. The port authority is administering the $60 million project which is due to be completed by the middle of next year.

Linda Sternheimer, the port’s Vice President of Urban Planning and Engagement, said she welcomed the additional Irishtown Bend funding from NEORSD. “This is critical to the work being done to protect the district’s sewer tunnels at the site,’’ she said.

For the sediment facility roadwork at Burke, a $1.48 million contract with Anthony Allega Cement Contractors was approved. The Garfield Heights’ company’s bid came in below the port’s budget for the project. The project includes major maintenance to re-establish gravel access roads along the Centralized Disposal Facilities (CDFs) as well as pave a portion of the access road between North Marginal Road and the CDFs adjacent to Burke Lakefront Airport.

Meanwhile, RE Warner & Associates of Westlake received a $925,000 contract for professional services to investigate, evaluate, design, assist with public bidding, and provide construction administration and special inspections for modernization of the original section of the ore conveyor system at the port authority’s Cleveland Bulk Terminal.

The 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner often brings iron ore to the Cleveland Bulk Terminal on Whiskey Island. It is seen here on Oct. 30, 2023. The port authority has hired RE Warner to design updates and improvements to the terminal (Lance Aerial Media).

The port acquired the Whiskey Island terminal in 1997 and since then has invested millions of dollars in the bulkhead and material handling equipment and has moved away from old technology to improve the site’s efficiency, increase its throughput capacity and implement more environmentally sustainable best practices.

The original section of the mechanical conveyor system was relocated from Lorain in 2003 and includes a concrete tunnel under the stockpiled taconite iron ore on the dock. The tunnel and conveyor system were extended in 2021, which allowed for the blending of taconite and greater capacity.

But now, the original section of the conveyor system is near the end of its life and in need of major rehabilitation, said Matt Wenham, the port’s chief of engineering and capital development.

“The tunnel structure itself is good, but the steel and mechanics that hold up the conveyor are in poor condition,” he said. “We are watching it closely for maintenance and hope to start construction in January as we can only shut down this tunnel and conveyor for five weeks a year, between early January and late February, when the Soo Locks connecting Lakes Superior and Huron are shut down.”

Because of this, reconstruction at the terminal is expected to take at least a couple of years. “We expect to have two shifts of construction for five weeks until we can improve the conveyor system to a good condition,’’ said Wenham. Although they do not yet know the full costs of the ore tunnel conveyor project, the port is actively pursuing state funding.


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