The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation (DSCDC) owns more than 300 affordable housing units in the neighborhood, but Aspen Place apartments marks the agency’s first-ever new construction project for affordable housing.
Located on a one-acre triangular parcel of land previously owned by RTA, design-builder Marous Brothers Construction broke ground on Aspen Place (6016 Lorain Ave.) in August 2017. The first tenants began moving into the one-, two-, and four-bedroom units in January.
This Thursday, April 25, a ribbon cutting celebration will officially mark the opening of the affordable living complex with an emphasis on transit-oriented housing.
Anya Kulcsar, DSCDC’s director of real estate development, says the 49,000-square-foot Aspen Place is just the newest addition to affordable housing options in the Detroit Shoreway area. The new apartments specifically target residents who make 30 percent to 60 percent below the neighborhood's median income levels, thanks to low-income housing tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Rents are determined on a sliding scale based on income.
“We’ve been developing affordable housing since 1988 using the low income tax credit,” she says. “These buildings and Aspen Place will remain affordable for 30 years. We really want to make sure that all people can reside in the Detroit Shoreway, especially with all that is happening here.”
To help the project come to fruition, Enterprise Community Partners provided a $20,000 pre-development grant and $8.7 million in equity. Other project funders include KeyBank, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the Finance Fund.
The $10.7 million complex sits just adjacent to the W. 65th Street/Lorain Red Line Rapid Station, near the #22 RTA bus line, and across the street from Michael Zone Recreation Center—making the building within walking and biking distance (or a short RTA ride away) from neighborhood attractions, downtown Cleveland, or the airport.
“Lorain Avenue is seeing a lot of new investment,” says Kulcsar. “With the Lorain Avenue antiques district and the development that’s coming in east from Ohio City with the new [MetroHealth] health campus, we’re really excited to be on Lorain.”
Aspen Place is a 10- to 15-minute walk to places like Gordon Square Arts District, Forest City Shuffleboard, Sweet Lorain vintage store, Water Garden Café, and Frank’s Falafel House. Also nearby are Urban Community School, Joseph Gallagher School, Max Hayes High School, Metro Catholic School, and Menlo Park Academy.
By bike, residents can easily get to Edgewater Park and the West Side Market in just 10 minutes.
“I am most excited to see the new life and activity on this former vacant lot, filled with new neighbors enjoying our great amenities such as Zone Rec Center and the Rapid station,” says Kulcsar. “The intent of this building is transit-oriented development, and from this site, you can get to downtown in 10 minutes, the airport in 20 minutes, or anywhere else around town on the bus.”
An extension of Cleveland EcoVillage, Aspen Place offers 40 units, ranging from 680 square feet for a one-bedroom unit to 1,400 square feet for a four-bedroom apartment, with rents between $360 and $975 per month. The building also features 20 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom units.
Because the building has an environmentally-friendly focus, Kulcsar says Aspen Place has just 10 car parking spaces, but 20 indoor and five outdoor bike storage spaces. Additionally, each apartment comes with a free monthly pass for RTA. “We’re trying to break down the barriers for residents who may not be able to afford a car,” she says.
Inside the building, Kulcsar says they focused on a tight envelope in terms of improved insulation on the roof and in the building walls; operable optimized, triple-glazed energy-efficient windows reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent. Kulcsar says each unit is equipped with high-efficiency mini split-system ductless heating and cooling systems that can control temperatures separately for each room.
“We were able to reduce the size of the heating and cooling equipment needed for the building, and invest the savings in high-efficiency equipment,” explains Kulcsar. “We hope that this will lead to lower utility costs for residents within the building.
All units include new energy-efficient white appliances, vinyl plank flooring, and plenty of windows.
The building has rain gardens and retention basins to collect stormwater runoff, and the surrounding space is landscaped with native plantings, with outdoor space for community gardening.
Also in Aspen Place is a 1,000-square-foot commercial space that currently houses the Undesign the Redline interactive exhibit exploring the history of race, class, and U.S. housing policy and how inequity and exclusion continues to shape our communities. The exhibit runs through June, and then a permanent tenant will occupy the space, says Kulcsar.
Aspen Place is already 75 percent full, says Kulcsar, who expects the building to be completely full by next month. The DSCDC is still accepting applications for Aspen Place, as well as other neighborhood housing.
Thursday’s ribbon-cutting event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson, councilperson Matt Zone, and representatives from other involved organizations will be present. Light refreshments will be provided.