Choice Neighborhoods grant will help transform CMHA’s Woodhill Homes

The transformation of the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood continues, thanks to a game-changing $350,000 Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant. The grant's recipient is the Woodhill Homes development, one of the first public housing projects in Cleveland built and managed by the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA).

Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Choice Neighborhood planning grant is designed to facilitate a neighborhood revitalization plan—focusing on housing, people, and assets and amenities in the neighborhood.

Built in 1939 on 25 acres of wooded land, Woodhill Homes has more than 60 buildings with 487 two-story houses and three-story walkups available for housing. “Woodhill Homes is one of the earlier public housing developments,” explains Mike Shea, director of modernization and development for CMHA. “It’s a beautiful site, terraced with lots of greenspace."

CMHA officials worked with the City of Cleveland and neighborhood residents and businesses to develop a revitalization plan for the area, according to CMHA CEO Jeffery K. Patterson. Shea calls Woodhill a prime candidate for renewal efforts, citing the RTA Buckeye-Woodhill Rapid station, the work of St. Luke’s Foundation and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and the Opportunity Corridor and the Thrive 105-93 projects as prime reasons for investment.

“Woodhill is one that rises to the top of the list because of the redevelopment initiatives going on,” he says. “From University Circle to Buckeye-Woodhill, the Opportunity Corridor will literally make connections,” he says. “We’re going to be doing a master plan to dovetail what’s going on there.”

When Woodhill Homes was built, the design called for a layout that set much of the development off from the rest of the neighborhood. Shea hopes to change that.

“When you look at the public housing site in this area, it has its own street grade and has a disconnected feel,” he says. “We are reconnecting the site into the neighborhood, both physically and psychologically.”

Patterson likens the planning process at Woodhill Homes to the same redevelopment process CMHA performed with the construction of Sankofa Village in the Campus District as part of its Cedar Transformation Plan.

With the two-year grant period just beginning, Patterson stressed that community feedback will be crucial to Woodhill’s successful execution. “The key to this is the potential for collaboration with so many community stakeholders,” he says. “There are a lot of folks doing exciting things in this community, and this is an opportunity to do things on behalf of low-income residents in the community.”

Patterson adds that workshops and formal conversation sessions are planned throughout the neighborhood. “This is a planning grant, so residents get to give their input,” he says. “Folks will be engaged with what they want to see.”

Patterson also reports that Ward 6 councilperson Blaine Griffin supports the pending plan. “He was excited about this opportunity,” says Patterson. “He looks at the grant as an opportunity to really help, assist, and serve those who [will benefit].”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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