On Sept. 24, developers broke ground on The Rising, a $20 million development project that will be the largest investment in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood in 25 years.
Earl Pike, director of University Settlement, said the new facility will serve as the anchor of Broadway Rising, a campaign led by the organization that is aimed at improving the living conditions in the area.
According to University Settlement, the Slavic Village neighborhood has a poverty rate of 42% and a child poverty rate of 62%.
Although the new facility is a major component of Broadway Rising, Pike said the campaign goes beyond the building.
“This is not a building project,” he said. “It is a community renaissance project. We’re conceiving it that way on every level.”
The planned development, called The Rising, will be a mixed-use facility that contains 88 affordable housing units (78 apartments and 10 townhomes), along with 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Located at 5115 Broadway Ave., the four-story building will have 18 one-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom and 22 three-bedroom apartments. The location was formerly the site of St. Alexis Hospital, which later became St. Michael Hospital, and closed in 2003.
University Settlement will own and occupy the building’s first floor, along with an additional 3,000 square feet of retail space that will be available for lease. The NRP Group, a Cleveland-based developer, will own and operate the three residential floors. The NRP Group, founded in 1994, manages more than 140 properties in 11 states, according to its website.
Pike said they expect to start operating out of the new facility, which will be built to green standards and aims to achieve a LEED Silver rating on the interior, by winter 2021 or spring 2022. According to its website, University Settlement aims to raise $6.5 million to complete its space within the project, including construction costs, a building fund for future repairs, and a campaign for creation of a lead-safe neighborhood.
University Settlement is a social services organization based in the Slavic Village neighborhood. Founded in 1926, the organization provides a variety of programs and services to those in need.
The nonprofit has operated out of its current space for 36 years. During that time, Pike said the building’s conditions have declined, incurring issues such as leaks, floods and rodent infestations. In addition, Pike said the coronavirus pandemic amplified problems with the current building and has created challenges for University Settlement in providing services to the community.
“The number of people that we can serve inside our space has become more limited because of the requirements about masking and social distancing and cleaning,” Pike said.
About three years ago, Pike said University Settlement began discussions about a new building. The social services organization partnered with The NRP Group to create a project that would positively affect the community, he said.
Changes to programming
In the new facility, Pike said University Settlement hopes to make changes to its food pantry. The current model, called a client choice pantry, is designed to give people options in regard to the food they receive. Pike said the organization wants to broaden this concept and model the pantry after a grocery store.
“By creating kind of a grocery store, we restore dignity to the process of getting food for your family,” he said.
University Settlement also intends to expand its programs in workforce development and entrepreneurship. As the economic effects of the pandemic play out, Pike said University Settlement hopes to assist people in returning to work.
“As soon as folks get re-stabilized in relation to Covid, they’re going to need to get back to work,” he said. “We want expanded programming for them when they do that.”
Through the Broadway Rising campaign, University Settlement is also working with Slavic Village Development, the nonprofit community development corporation that serves the area, in an effort to reduce the levels of lead and asthma triggers in the neighborhood. Pike said the organization hopes to make Slavic Village Cleveland’s first lead-safe neighborhood. He said reducing lead levels would have a “huge impact on the long-term educational trajectories of children growing up in this neighborhood” because high levels of lead exposure can affect brain development.
Pike said the campaign focuses on equity as well. University Settlement is forming a partnership with Slavic Village Development and The NRP Group as part of a three-year initiative in the North Broadway community that aims to “engage in deep community conversations about equity and other issues that matter” to those in the area.
Paige Bennett is a journalist and recent Kent State University graduate. She previously served as general assignment editor for The Kent Stater and KentWired and managing editor for A Magazine. This article was produced through a reporting partnership with the Collaborative News Lab at Kent State University.
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