First phase of six-year Woodhill Homes project starts with 120-unit apartments

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), the City of Cleveland, and Boston-based The Community Builders (TCB) have officially started construction on Woodhill Station West—the first phase of the new Woodhill Homes, a six-phase, six-year $250 million development project.

The Buckeye-Woodhill Transformation Plan came out of a 2018 strategy that includes activities and strategies for housing, people, and the broader Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood.

General contractor Marous Brothers Construction began construction last week at 9511 Buckeye Road on a vacant lot that was once the site of the former Buckeye-Woodland Elementary School and is across the street from the Buckeye-Woodhill Rapid station.  

“We're very, very excited that construction is occurring on that site,” says CMHA CEO Jeffery K. Patterson.

The $46.4 million phase one of the project will create 120 apartments—42 one-bedroom, 62 two-bedroom, and 16 three-bedroom units—with 90 units reserved for current Woodhill residents, 18 units for residents earning under 60% Area Medium Income (AMI), and 12 units for residents earning under 80% AMI.

Other features include a fitness center, a community room, outdoor picnic area, and playground for a total of 4,520 square feet of community space.

The original Woodhill Homes was built in 1939 and was one of the first public housing developments in Cleveland, and is one of the oldest in the country.

“This is one of the older family properties that we have, and it is very much in need of redevelopment,” says Patterson. “We have a good partner in The Community Builders.”

CMHA officials worked with the City of Cleveland and neighborhood residents and businesses to develop the transformation plan for the property.

“I thought we got good feedback from residents in terms of wanting to see something different, wanting to make sure that they had something that kind of opened up the site a little bit more [because there were] some safety things of concern," says Matt Schmidt, CMHA director of modernization and development. “But we also looked at the housing being a foundation to bring other opportunities and development to the community.”

In 2018, CMHA was awarded a $350,000 HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant. In May 2021, CMHA was awarded a $35 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant to execute the transformation plan.

The Choice Plan focuses on the redevelopment of Woodhill Homes into several new mixed-income apartment buildings. All buildings in each phase will meet high quality health and environmental standards.

With a deadline on the implementation grant, Schmidt says they are facing an “ambitious” goal in completing phase one by the fall of 2023.

“It's going to be a challenge,” he says. “You know we'll get there, but that includes work that is has just really kicked off in earnest this week.”

Other funding sources for Woodhill Station West include Housing Tax Credits and City of Cleveland HOME funds.

“We've gone through a rather lengthy planning and development process with some great community partners,” says Patterson. “We're really looking forward to having a project that's going to be very impactful and beneficial to that community.”

Phase two—the $31.6 million Woodhill Center East—is east of Woodhill Homes along Woodland Avenue, between E 110th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and includes a four-story, 61-unit building and 19-unit townhomes. Like Woodhill Station West, Woodhill Center East also features a community room, fitness center, landscaped greenspace, a playground, and an outdoor patio. There will be a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.

The third phase, the $34.6 million Woodhill Station East, returns to the Buckeye and Woodhill intersection and will neighbor Woodhill Station West. Final specs are still in the planning stages but it will feature a 69-unit apartment building and an early childhood education center.

While the first three phases of the six-phase project are in motion and slated for completion by 2024, Patterson says phases four through six are still in the planning stages and will be designed to improve the larger neighborhood.

“We've worked with the city of Cleveland to identify vacant land that's in the City Land Bank that we can begin to redevelop in very strategic locations throughout the community,” he says, “so our efforts can continue to be a catalyst for future neighborhood redevelopment as well.”

Patterson says all of the phases overlap in terms of construction to ensure the 2027 deadline is met. But he says the final phases will bring the entire community together.

“We're looking at how we invest not just in our housing sites but in the community that surrounds us—as well as in the lives of residents—through a myriad of different social services options, providers, education, workforce development, and health outcomes,” he says. “And we’re doing it as holistically as we can [to benefit] the lives of the community members.”

In the meantime, both Patterson and Schmidt say current residents are both excited and have some anxiety about what will happen as the project moves forward.

The development team put together the Woodland Homes Choice Transformation website, which went live last Friday, July 15 to keep everyone informed on the progress of the phases, new developments, and plans.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: 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.