CLEVELAND – Eleanor French first moved to the Sylvia apartment building at 6010 Franklin Blvd., on Cleveland’s near-west side, in 1945. NewsChannel5 went with her as she recently toured her newly renovated, lifelong home.
According to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO), the Sylvia was built in the 1920s. Back then, it was part of what was termed the west side’s “millionaires’s row” — a stretch of mansions lining Franklin Boulevard between West 25th and West 85th streets.
“I was 13 when I came,” said French, as she stood on the sidewalk in front of her home of 64 years. “I lived with my aunt,” she recalled. “We lived in apartment 6 for a couple months, then we got the third-floor apartment 18 — where I’ve been ever since.”
The 82-year-old French had to vacate the building in 2008. DSCDO said the building had fallen into foreclosure, was rife with building code violations and faced demolition. But with the help of the city and numerous intermediary financiers, the Sylvia underwent a $3 million refurbishment and will soon be filled with tenants again.
“In every community development corporation deal there needs to be a number of different layers of financing,” said Chief Operating Officer of the Cuyahoga Land Bank , Bill Whitney. “Some are private sector, Huntington Bank in this particular instance. Certainly some are government agencies, like the city of Cleveland. And some are what we call intermediaries, like Ohio Capital Corp., or Village Capital Corporation, that help provide loans, grants, tax-credit equity to these projects to really help move them forward.”
Whitney said about a half-dozen such intermediaries were involved in the Sylvia renovation, but it’s not uncommon to have as many as 15 different financiers working on redevelopment projects.
Whitney cited the ongoing St. Luke’s Hospital project as another example of the layering of very sophisticated financial redevelopment tools.
“These projects aren’t easy and Cleveland is recognized nationally,” said Whitney. “The structuring of these kinds of development models is really what has propelled Cleveland and it’s neighborhood groups to the forefront of city redevelopment.”
“It’s not just brick and mortar,” continued Whitney. “It’s the heart of the neighborhood and all the people who live there.”
Back at the Sylvia building, French completed her walk-through of the refurbished structure — pausing to chat with contractors installing handrails on the front steps.
“They did a good job,” French said. “Now I hope they get good people who take care of the property.”
To hear more from community leaders regarding redevelopment financing, click on the extra video segment below the player box.