Artists to earn renter equity with innovative Glencove project

Over the summer, a lucky group of yet-to-be-determined artists in North Collinwood will have a chance to lease amass equity in their living space without taking out a loan or making a single mortgage payment.

"This is a unique opportunity for artists who are not ready to own a home, but still want to have value in the community that they live in as well as earn equity for themselves," says Camille Maxwell, assistant director at Northeast Shores Development Corporation (NSDC).
 
The program will unfurl at the Glencove building, 231 East 156th Street, which has been undergoing renovations since June of 2014. Formerly home to a tavern of the same name and four residential units, the space has been vacant since 2005, when NSDC purchased it for $52,500.
 
The circa 1920 building now houses six units, two one-bedrooms and four two-bedrooms ranging from 650- to 850-square-feet, all of which are outfitted with standard kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer in each unit, and individual HVAC systems. The Glencove also has off-street parking for tenants and their guests and perhaps most importantly, a studio/display space for each resident artist.
 
For two of the first floor tenants, that space will be part of their unit. The other four tenants will each have a dedicated space in the basement that is heated and lockable with access to a utility/cleanup area. Monthly rents are incredibly affordable, ranging from $600 to $700.
 
Inspired by the Cornerstone Renter Equity program in Cincinnati, the project is the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio. LDA Architects were the lead designers. Lawler Construction did the build-out on the $771,000 project.
 
"We received $350,000 in support from the City of Cleveland's Housing Trust Fund," says NSDC's executive director Brian Freidman. "We also have some Kresge Foundation support on the project." The balance of the finance package includes a mortgage on the property with IFF, a certified community development financial institution.
 
Resident artists will earn equity by making timely rent payments, maintaining common areas, doing light landscape work and attending residential meetings.
 
"It's kind of a shared responsibility environment," says Maxwell, "like a family within their living space."
 
Tenants will get monthly statements detailing their earned credits. If they stay for five years, they can earn as much as $4,136.
 
"They can cash out," says Maxell. "If they decide, 'hey, I want to go buy a house,' they can use that $4,000 for a down payment -- or get a gallery. Whatever they want to use that money for, they can." If a resident moves out before their would-be five-year anniversary, however, they forfeit all credits.
 
If they stay on at the Glencove, they can earn a maximum of $10,000 over 10 years. If they cash out at any point after the five-year anniversary, their balance is thusly adjusted, but they continue to accrue credits.
 
"We already have two potential tenants," says Maxwell, adding that she hopes to see a late June or early July move-in date. "They're completing their applications. We're just waiting for them to submit all their paperwork."
 
While the Glencove project is dedicated for artists, Maxwell is quick to stress that the Waterloo neighborhood welcomes everyone, particularly those who just want to be in a creative and active environment.
 
"I don't like to leave out non-artists because they're a big factor in our community too," she says, noting that a diverse population tends to balance itself. "When people start seeing things happen in the neighborhood, they become more involved. Maybe they weren't sure if they could do ceramics, but now we have a ceramic studio. We have a fiber studio. Once you bring that in, you start seeing change in the neighborhood -- a positive change that people can get involved in."
 
Maxwell sees the innovative Glencove renter equity project as a pilot of sorts.
 
"We hope that we can be a model for other neighborhoods and communities."
 
Artists interested in more information about the Glencove, applying for tenancy or touring the property may contact Northeast Shores Development Corporation's assistant director Camille Maxwell at 216-481-7660, ext. 30 or cmaxwell@northeastshores.org.

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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