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A strong rental market, even during a pandemic, means limited concessions on rent, fees

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Posted at 4:57 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 10:32:33-04

CLEVELAND — The quiet streets and largely empty sidewalks are usually only a sign of the old downtown Cleveland, not the more modern version.

“It’s sort of like post-apocalyptic almost,” said downtown resident Stephanie Koetzle. “It’s dead down here.”

And yet, Koetzle is one of the nearly 20,000 people who live in one of the growing number of downtown apartment buildings.

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Perk Park is mostly empty around lunch time while downtown workers are kept out of their offices.

Residents have little choice but to live close to one another at exactly the moment experts tell us all to remain far apart.

“In our building people are supposed to wear masks and only have two riders in the elevator at one time but people don’t follow that,” said Koetzle.

She says that leaves it up to residents to awkwardly police each other.

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A sign in the lobby of The Statler informs residents about various assistance programs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Elevator passenger limits, increased cleaning, and closed common areas are the obvious places to start, but there are also some changes to what residents are paying to stay downtown, or at least when they have to pay it.

“Company-wide, [Millennia Housing Management] immediately halted all late fees for every resident, regardless of reason,” said Millennia Regional Property Director Bethany Grunenwald.

Gruenwald oversees apartments at The Statler and The Garfield in downtown Cleveland. While social distancing guidelines are in effect, she says potential residents have been taking tours and meeting with staff through Zoom and FaceTime and have seen the building through self-guided tours.

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Potential residents can visit a sample apartment at The Statler digitally or during a self-guided tour.

She says only about five to ten percent of the company’s tenants asked for any kind of concession on rent, but potential residents are also getting some help too.

“We are offering additional incentives for people in more of a thought of: this is a harder time for people to move than it might be in the future,” said Grunenwald.

At The Statler, that means one month free for a one-bedroom apartment and two months off for a two-bedroom.

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A sign tells residents that common areas in The Statler are closed because of COVID.

But Gruenwald says that’s pretty close to the incentives the company usually offers, because despite the pandemic, she says the rental market is still strong.

“I know a lot of places were doing special deals, but this is probably the biggest one,” said Shawn Cummings, who recently moved into The Luckman apartments and also got one month off his rent for moving in.

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Cummings walks his dog three days after moving into The Luckman apartments.

Cummings says the one COVID-related break he got was a drastic decrease in his application fee.

“So it make it $2 for the application, which is $30-40 typically,” said Cummings.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.