Cleveland to make prime Ohio City site available

McCafferty Health Center on Lorain Avenue in Ohio City will be made available to developers to construct affordable housing on the site in a neighborhood with many expensive houses and apartments. This view is from the alley Fulton Court behind the health center, near West 44th Street (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Site offered for potential new affordable housing

For years, the underutilized McCafferty Health Center at 4242 Lorain Ave. in Cleveland’s booming Ohio City neighborhood has been a topic of interest among real estate developers and community leaders. Today, Cleveland city officials announced they will soon be entertaining proposals for the site’s development.

But rather than put the property on the block to the highest bidder who might be tempted to build luxury homes, city and community development officials said they want to see this 1.5-acre site be developed with affordable housing. Interested developers will be asked to respond to a request for qualifications due to be issued this summer.

Only about 25 percent of the existing, 19,000-square-foot building on the site is being used. The Cleveland Department of Public Health has a clinic in the building which was built in 1971. The site will become available soon because health department officials have chosen to look for a new, more all-inclusive location. That opens new opportunities for the site’s future, city officials said.

“The Department of Public Health is currently searching for a site to continue offering low-cost reproductive health services and vaccines,” said Cleveland’s Director of Public Health David Margolius in a written statement. “We also recognize that housing has a tremendous impact on health and are pleased to be part of a process to create more opportunities for affordable housing in a neighborhood that needs it.”

The McCafferty Health Center property is at the northeast corner of Lorain Avenue and West 44th Street and zoned for local retail, meaning any use less intensive than that can be built here including multi-family residential. The Pedestrian Retail Overlay, shown by the purple lines along Lorain, means that a public ground-floor use like retail and restaurants must be provided in new buildings built along Lorain (CPC).

He said the city’s new health clinic will be located somewhere on the city’s west side. Margolius said it would ideally be co-located with other social services to provide holistic care for their clients.

Today’s announcement by the city suggested that a multi-family building might be considered, featuring ground-floor uses along Lorain aimed toward accommodating nonprofit or social services that support neighborhood residents. But the city gave few other guidelines at this stage. Another announcement will be made by the city when the RFQ is issued.

Thanks to Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the construction of affordable residential units including workforce housing is one of the few new-housing development trends that remains active. High-end luxury housing is another. Ohio City increasingly has more expensive housing that has priced many long-time residents out of the neighborhood.

Transforming this city-owned site to meet the neighborhood’s affordable housing needs has long been a goal of Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack and it is included in Ohio City’s Strategic Plan. This initiative is further supported by the Cleveland 2030 Housing Equity Plan. McCormack thanked the health care workers at McCafferty who have served the West Side for decades.

The size of the 1.5-acre site is evident from this angle, northeast of the McCafferty Health Center. Views of the site from Lorain Avenue are obstructed by trees. This view is from the alley Fulton Court (Google).

“Their work has touched the lives of many people in need of medical services in our neighborhood,” the councilman said. “As we move forward, I am excited about the future of this site continuing to serve a public purpose by providing affordable housing and social services to the neighborhood. I appreciate the hard work of city staff and look forward to future community engagement to ensure this is the best project possible.”

The Department of Community Development and Ohio City Inc. created a community survey to gather initial input from residents and stakeholders and ensure the future redevelopment of this site takes a placed-based approach to addressing the need for affordable housing in the Ohio City neighborhood.

The survey seeks to understand residents’ community values, the challenges faced in accessing affordable housing, and how the future of this site can preserve its legacy of public health by promoting inclusivity and community wellness.

City officials said that the input received from this survey will be shared with prospective development teams as part of the future request for qualifications process, in order to incorporate community voices and values from the beginning of the project. Once a project team is selected, they will continue to collaborate with the community on the site design and other project elements.


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