Toledo’s Olde Towne neighborhood, blighted in some areas with abandoned homes and unkempt vacant lots, will have 40 homes constructed over the next eight months, Mayor Mike Bell, Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, and a coalition of nonprofit organizations announced Friday.
The $10.4 million project is to be completed by April, said Bill Farnsel, chief executive of NeighborWorks Toledo Region.
The 40 single-family homes will be built immediately west of the St. Vincent campus and near Scott High School.
While the homes are scattered throughout the area, they are clustered in three distinct locations near the medical center.
“Community development activities are a vital piece of neighborhood revitalization,” Mr. Farnsel said. “A collaborative effort made up of housing industry professionals have worked together to make this idea a reality.”
A group that included Mayor Bell and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) made the announcement.
The first eight homes are being built in the 300 block of Machen Street across from Scott.
The $10.4 million in funding includes $8.8 million from private equity, $750,000 from federal HOME funds through the city of Toledo, and $300,000 from NeighborWorks.
There also was a $1 million loan from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and a $7.7 million loan from Key Bank.
Twenty of the lots were purchased for the project for $200 each from the Lucas County Land Bank. Of those, 14 were vacant and six had structures that the Land Bank razed.
In all, 92 former lots — many of which were too small individually to build homes according to current code regulations — were combined or used for the 40 homes. Half of the homes will have three bedrooms and half will have four.
Income-restricted renters will be able to purchase the homes after 15 years.
“We received over $1 million in tax credits for this project from [the Ohio Housing Finance Agency],” said Matt Sutter of NeighborWorks.
“It was a very competitive application. They received about 100 applications throughout the state and fund 20 to 25 projects a year... We are excited to be part of this community again.”
The project is the housing component of the “Cherry Street Legacy Plan,” he said.
“Affordable housing was a need that was identified,” Mr. Sutter said.
Carol Martin, chairman of the Toledo Old Towne Block Watch, said the neighborhood has “started stabilizing” with the help of St. Vincent, a partner in the project.
“We want new neighbors, we enjoy new neighbors,” she said.
Mayor Bell said the project is one of the first steps to recreating the neighborhood.
“All these people [are] coming together because they want to see quality of life,” the mayor said. “It is about all of us coming together. There is no simple solution.”
In late 2010, Mayor Bell, a number of Toledo's community development corporations, and St. Vincent announced the Cherry Street Legacy Plan, which is aimed at improving the neighborhood surrounding the hospital.
The collaboration between Mercy and the neighborhood includes a strategic demolition plan with blighted homes coming down, development of a crime reduction plan, resurfacing of Bancroft Street, approval of upgraded lighting in the area, and the cleanup of several alleys in the area, as well as a park.
In 2005, the hospital provided grants to four community development corporations in the area to convene community meetings and gather input from residents.
Mr. Bell, who grew up in North Toledo, said he appreciated “the work that Mercy Health Partners is doing and the investment they are making to revitalize the Cherry Street neighborhood.”