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New apartments in Hough try to prevent gentrification

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Posted at 4:32 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 19:11:18-04

CLEVELAND — The new Addis View Apartments in Cleveland’s Hough community broke ground on Monday in a community many residents claim outsiders don’t understand.

“The ones that have the negative attitude about [Hough], I prefer they don’t come in the first place,” said long-time resident Al Jenkins. “We’re good here.”

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Addis View will bring more than 400 apartments over a handful of buildings along East 90th Street near Chester Avenue.

The Hough neighborhood Jenkins lives in today is a lot different from the one he first moved to in the 1960s.

“Used to be you’d have to worry about break-ins,” said Jenkins. “Nobody breaks in anymore.”

He says despite what other people think of his community, he doesn’t have a lot of problems on East 90th Street near Chester Avenue, where he’s purchased a handful of properties over the years.

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Addis View apartments will run along East 90th Street near Chester Avenue in Hough.

For that reason, he’s welcoming the $80 million Addis View Apartment complex coming down the street.

“Having properties in the area that are going to increase the value, I’m happy about that, big time,” said Jenkins.

“I was a pharmacist 25 years ago in that area and I was always asking myself, ‘Why don’t we have affordable housing for students, nurses, and middle-class families,” said Addis View Apartments developer Lemma Getachew. “So me and my wife decided, ‘Let’s have a workforce environment.”

Getachew's company, The Inspirion Group, is run with his wife and business partner, Guenet Indale. The pair recently renovated The MidTown Apartments on Euclid Avenue near East 30th Street (right next door to WEWS' studio).

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Getachew addresses the crowd during Addis View Apartments' groundbreaking.

The new buildings, which will be built in four phases, will replace smaller and older apartments that were recently demolished. Getachew says those buildings have asbestos and weren’t fit for residents. The first building will have about 130 apartments in four stories, with a common space, patio, fitness center, bike storage, and electronic locks that link to tenants’ cell phones. Each apartment will have a washer and dryer, Energy Star appliances, and a movable wall that will allow residents to make their space feel more spacious.

Those extra steps and features have become common in a downtown apartment market often driven by the amenities that a property can provide.

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Getachew says Addis View Apartments will be designed with nurses and students in mind so they have a place to live close to where they work and go to school.

The goal for Addis View is to have smaller apartments, making them more affordable for tenants like nurses and students even if they still cost market-rate prices to construct. Getachew says the smallest units will start at $900 per month.

“They work here, they deserve to live here,” said Getachew, referring to local students and nurses at the nearby Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Western Reserve University.

Farther down East 90th Street, Jenkins is excited about anything that will drive the value of his properties up without much concern about higher property taxes he’ll eventually have to pay. He admits that he and some of his neighbors disagree on that point.

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Construction on Phase I of Addis View starts in May with the following pieces to follow.

“There are people that are concerned about the fact that this is going to increase their taxes and they’ll be taxed out,” said Jenkins.

Those neighbors are still waiting for any kind of help.

Senator Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus) introduced Senate Bill 159, called the Property Tax Relief and Local Government Support Act, which would cap property tax increases on qualifying homes at 5% from one year to the next on April 13, 2021. Since it was just introduced, it was only assigned to a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

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Council member Jones addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking for Addis View Apartments.

City of Cleveland Ward 7 Councilmember Basheer Jones says the city doesn’t have any legislation right now that would address property tax increase caps, but he hopes some of the hundreds of millions of dollars of COVID relief funds can be used to help residents fend off rising property taxes because of investment nearby.

“We have 15-year tax abatements for $500,000 townhomes, but what about our grandmothers and grandfathers who have lived here for generations who just need their roof fixed,” said Jones.

Another issue is that “affordable” means different things to different people.

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Getachew's company recently renovated The Midtown Apartments near Euclid Avenue and East 30th Street in Midtown Cleveland.

Addis View’s smallest units will start at about $900 per month, which would be a steal in the downtown apartment market but is still pretty steep for other people.

Councilman Jones says the goal isn’t just to build apartment units that are affordable to the surrounding neighborhood right now, but instead build what is as affordable as possible and then help build up the community so that it can afford to cover that kind of rent.

“It hurts my heart that there’s a fear that the community won’t be taken care of, and there’s some historical context with that so I get it,” said Jones.

Construction and Healthcare companies were also at the groundbreaking, giving local residents a chance to find a job working in either of those fields.

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