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Trulia Study Ranks Ohio Cities High for Affordable Housing

18 May 2014, 4:46 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Are you a middle-class American looking to buy a home? Head to the Midwestern United States — and make sure you stay away from California. That was a recommendation of real estate research firm Trulia’s list of the least and most expensive U.S. housing markets for today’s middle class.

According to Trulia, affordability has worsened in the past year. Home prices have climbed faster than incomes and mortgage rates have risen. As the nation recovers from the last housing crash, homes are still relatively affordable. And even though prices continue to rise, they are still below pre-recession levels. But homeownership is out of the reach of the middle class in many markets, especially along the coasts.

If you really want to buy a home, you should definitely start your search in Ohio. Last year, Coldwell Banker named Cleveland the most affordable city in the United States. Second on that list was Garfield Heights, a city in the Cleveland metro area. Now, Trulia reports that five of the top 10 most affordable housing markets for the middle class are located in the Buckeye State.

Akron tops the list, with 86 percent of the homes in the area affordable for the middle class. It shares the podium with two other Ohio cities, Toledo (with 84 percent) and Dayton (with 83 percent). The top 10 also includes Columbus, in sixth place, and Cleveland, in eighth place. In both areas, 81 percent of the homes are affordable for the middle class. The remaining markets in the top 10 are Gary, Ind.; Columbia, S.C.; Detroit; Little Rock, Ark.; and Rochester, N.Y.

The Cincinnati area came close to making the top 10. It occupied 13th place, out of 100, with 80 percent of the homes affordable to the middle class.

But if Ohio is the hero, then the villain is definitely California. Seven of the 10 least affordable markets are located in the Golden State. San Francisco occupies first place with only 14 percent of its homes affordable for the middle class. It is followed by Los Angeles (23 percent) and Orange County (24 percent). San Diego, Ventura County, San Jose and Oakland are the other California markets on the list. That list also includes two East Coast markets, New York and Fairfield County, Conn., as well as Honolulu.

According to Trulia, middle-class affordability will continue to worsen in the nation’s most expensive markets.  It’s not expected to improve in the long term without any new construction.

Chart: Trulia

Developers Plan to Break Ground This Fall of Phase I of Intesa

10 May 2014, 4:04 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

In March 2012, University Circle Inc., a nonprofit corporation established in 1957, announced it had hired the Coral Co. of Cleveland and Panzica Construction Co. of Mayfield Village to develop the mixed-use Intesa, one of the largest such projects to be constructed in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. Groundbreaking was scheduled for early 2013, but the project was delayed and many people started to wonder if it would ever happen. But its time has come.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported that after spending the past year renegotiating its deal with University Circle Inc. and redesigning the buildings, the development team plans to start work this autumn on the first phase of the project.

The Intesa will be developed on Lot 45, a surface parking lot with 200 spaces at the edge of University Circle and Little Italy, a crucial piece of real estate in University Circle. Originally, the project called for the construction of buildings ranging from eight to 12 stories, more than 100,000 square feet of offices, 96 apartments, retail, a 700-car garage and even student housing.

The reconfigured project features all the same elements, but the buildings have changed location on the site. The apartments will sit at Mayfield and Circle, the offices will move to the east and the parking garage to the north to make it more accessible from Euclid Avenue.

This fall, Coral and Panzica plan to start construction on almost 200 apartments as well as the 700-space parking garage. There will be a single residential tower, with three types of apartments: traditional apartments, micro-suites and 13 two-story, townhouse-style penthouses. Units will range in size from less than 300 square feet to 1,900 square feet, with rents going from $600 to $3,000 per month. The apartments and the parking garage are expected to open in the spring or summer of 2016. The 11-story office building will be constructed in the second phase of the project, once it has tenants lined up.

The award-winning Bialosky + Partners Architects designed the Intesa. The entire project is expected to cost between $100 million and $110 million.

Photo credit: Bialosky + Partners Architects.

Developers Break Ground on $272M, 600-Room Hilton Cleveland/Downtown Convention Center Hotel

2 May 2014, 6:28 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Cleveland is getting ready to say hello to a new skyscraper. On April 28, ground was broken on the new Hilton Cleveland/Downtown Convention Center Hotel, a massive structure standing 32 stories tall. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson joined Ted Ratcliff, senior vice president of operations for Hilton Worldwide, for the groundbreaking ceremony.

The new hotel will feature a 28-story tower with 600 hotel rooms, positioned atop a four-story podium of ballrooms, meeting space, retail and the hotel’s lobby. Amenities include approximately 55,000 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant, a lobby bar, a rooftop bar, an indoor pool and a fitness center. The hotel will also have underground connections to both the Cleveland Convention Center and the Global Center for Health Innovation.

The cost of the project is $272 million. The Hilton Cleveland/Downtown Convention Center Hotel will be constructed on the site of the demolished Cuyahoga County Administration Building, right in the heart of downtown. Cooper Cary, an Atlanta-based architectural firm, designed the project. It is being constructed by Turner Construction Co., Ozanne Construction Co. and Van Aukin Akins Architects. Hilton Hotels & Resorts will operate the hotel.

According to Cuyahoga County, the hotel’s construction will employ 25 percent small businesses, 7 percent female-owned businesses and 15 percent minority-owned businesses. Cuyahoga County and Turner Construction also plan to meet or even exceed residency goals for employees hired during the construction project, including 40 percent Cuyahoga County residency and 20 percent city of Cleveland residency.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the new hotel is expected to create 2,800 jobs construction jobs and 450 full-time jobs.

Photo credits: Cuyahoga County

Local Investors Buy Historic Aurora Inn, Plan Full Renovation

25 Apr 2014, 4:36 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

A group of local investors has acquired the historic Aurora Inn. Led by Dan Bliss, Stephen Mansfield and Matt Lopatin, Aurora Hotel Partners LLC plans to invest into this well-known fixture in the center of Aurora’s historic district and give it a full makeover.

The Aurora Inn was built in 1927, on a site that was a stagecoach stop in the 1800s. A fire burned the hotel down in 1963, and it was rebuilt and reopened the following year. Nowadays, the Aurora Inn includes 69 rooms, a restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, and conference facilities.

The current ownership plans to breathe new life into the historic property at the intersection of Routes 82 and 306 through a renovation of its rooms, restaurant, bar, lobby, ballroom and pools. The renovated Aurora Inn will feature 67 rooms, including three suites, a restaurant, patio dining, a bar, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a spa, a fitness center and an outdoor event/wedding space.

HGTV celebrity designer Genevieve Gorder has been hired to oversee the design of the hotel. She will work closely on the project with Cleveland-based architect David Krebs of AODK. The new owners have also retained the Riley Hotel Group, an award-winning management company based in Medina, to manage the hotel.

Bliss, CEO of the Bliss Venture Group, was born in Aurora. He believes the historic hotel can can serve the region’s unmet demand for quality food, atmosphere and event spaces. “For many years, the Aurora Inn was known as a destination for great food and a vibrant bar. Sadly, that was lost over the years. We expect to turn that around and restore the hotel’s stature in Northeast Ohio,” Bliss said in a statement for the press.

“Thousands of people have attended weddings and events at the Aurora Inn, or they’ve dined with their families, or they’ve been members at the pools. There are so many memories here. Our team will restore the Aurora Inn in a way that pays respect to its long history, while also providing guests with the modern amenities of a luxury hotel,” Mansfield added.

Photo credits: AuroraInnOhio.com

Akron’s Newest Luxury Student Housing Community to Open in August

19 Apr 2014, 4:13 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

In May 2013, the Cleveland-based NRP Group, one of the largest multifamily developers in the nation, started work on a 624-bed, four-story luxury student housing community in Akron. Called the Depot, the project is now nearing completion. It is scheduled to open for residents this August.

The Depot is located at 80 East Exchange St., just across the street from the campus of the University of Akron. It offers 624 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units, as well as a host of amenities including a resort-style heated pool, lounge areas, an on-site concierge, a modern clubroom, an on-site mini market, an indoor gas fireplace, a game room, a media lab, a conference room, group study areas, a large group fitness classroom and two state-of-the-art fitness facilities.

Units range in size from 592 to 1,386 square feet. They come equipped with granite countertops, in-unit washer and dryer, walk-in closets, contemporary furnishings and a 42-inch flat screen television. The units are all leased by-the-bed. This means each resident will only be responsible for his or her individual rent.

The Depot is managed by Asset Campus Housing, a leader in the management and development of student housing facilities nationwide. The Houston-based company is also in charge of finding residents. Leasing started last August, and since then the Depot has generated significant interest. The one-bedroom units are completely sold out.

The NRP Group is developing the Depot on the site of the old Akron Beacon Journal newspaper storage and sorting facility. It invested $30 million in the project. Together with other important projects, such as the $200 million expansion of the Akron Children’s Hospital campus, it has significantly improved downtown Akron.

Aaron Pechota, vice president of development at The NRP Group, gave assurances that the new community will open on time. “We look forward to welcoming The Depot residents into their new home come August,” he added.

Photo credit: The Depot

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