By Jeff Gallatin
City and business officials don’t expect a lot of action to develop the Cahoon Creek area properties until after voters make their decision about rezoning on the November ballot.
“Right now, I’d say the developers are regrouping,” said Mike Young, chairman of City Council’s Finance Committee. “This isn’t something you’re going to see in the next couple of weeks or a month or two. I’d say they want to see how this develops in terms of the rezoning.”
Young noted that council formally indicated it wasn’t likely to grant any tax abatements or other public incentives for the project.
“I’ve heard from developers saying no abatement would make it difficult or that without a TIF (Tax Increment Financing, a method which uses future taxes to aid development projects), they can’t move forward on developing those properties,” Young said.
Council held several special meetings during its normal summer break time of July and early August to consider placing the rezoning issues on the November ballot. They set up the meetings after developers Andrew Brickman and Justin Campbell of Abode Living made a presentation to council and Mayor Debbie Sutherland’s administration about developing luxury apartments on the properties. The developers, who have done successful projects in Rocky River, Lakewood and other northern Ohio properties, cited the Cahoon area as a strong candidate for those types of developments. They indicated they were working on deals for the properties and asked council to try to get it on the November ballot. However, Brickman said that the developers wanted tax abatements as part of their moving forward.
Monday, Brickman said he is still interested in developing properties in Bay Billage, but agreed that much would depend on the November vote.
“We can’t really do anything with those properties until we see the results of the public vote on this,” he said. “We have talked with Dino Lustri (who owns most of the property), and we can’t do much about that until the vote. We still have an interest in the other properties across the creek because they’ve already been rezoned a few years ago.”
Brickman said Bay remains on the development group’s radar.
“We believe there is a market for that type of high-end, eco-friendly project because we build quality products and Bay is a great location,” he said. “As to seeking an abatement and whether we’d build without one, we’d have to look at the economics at the time and the different factors going on at the time.”
City Council members and many members of the general public indicated at several meetings and through other communications that they were opposed to granting an abatement; however, Young got council to set criteria for any possible consideration of abatements. To be approved, the rezoning must be approved by both Ward 2 voters, where the property is located, and city voters overall.
Mayor Debbie Sutherland has indicated in current economic conditions, any major development requires some kind of public investment. She said the county has agreed to provide soil testing if the properties are developed.