Thursday, June 4, 2009

Unanswered questions about the NRP & B. C. Ziegler project on lower Denison in Cleveland, Ohio

I. Prior histories that may bear on the feasibility or suitability of the project--

A. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, John Baran, his family, and other neighbors presented detailed information about why any additional housing units in the vicinity of Fern Court, Forestdale, Park Place, and Willowdale and the numbered cross-streets north of Denison and east of Pearl would strain the existing infrastructure, especially the sewer systems, and result in backups into the existing housing. Additional housing units were not built as the result of these findings. Where is this study?
B. The garden apartments on Forestdale have a long history of sinking, moving land beneath them and their parking lots; at one time, one of the parking lots looked as though it had been through an earthquake. Some of the apartments have been demolished because of structural problems. These apartments are built over the same ravine or creek as the proposed NRP project. Has this been taken into account in planning the project; do the financing experts at Ziegler and their investors know about the instability of the land over this ravine, and that their particular project is close to the area that was the area dump? Are they aware that their money
is being invested in a traditionally problematic area?
C. A few years ago, some developer ignored the earlier study and tried to build some housing units on the south side of Fern Court. The developer abandoned the project and somehow gave the land back to the city of Cleveland. Who was this developer? Did work cease because the land was unstable? Was there a court case involved and, if so, what number is it? What are the details of this startup and backoff? Who holds the land in question now?
D. Have the historic pictures of the ravine and town dump been entered into the public record of the hearings on this NRP project?
E. What are the details of the way NRP handled a similar case in Akron, where NRP built structures in an area of insufficient infrastructure and then pleaded ignorance when problems developed, blaming the city? How was this situation resolved? What were the damages, the remedies, if any? What is the disposition of these housing units now?
F. In 1968, Louis Fodor Realty constructed senior housing units at 4016 Denison, then called the Park Dennison apartments. In 1988, after a holding period of 20 years, the units began to be used for all CMHA disabled as well as seniors, with the result that the “normal” seniors fled as the quality of life quickly deteriorated; never did the units have a resident manager. What are the intentions for this subsidized housing on lower Denison?

II. Current

A. All of Brooklyn Centre has vacant housing units; some are for sale, some are for rent. They have not yet been absorbed, or used. What economic studies have been done recently showing how adding 60+ units of new, subsidized housing positively affects the pricing of existing housing stock?
B. Why isn’t this NRP project at the wide-open site of the already-demolished Memphis School, as was originally advertised to all of us?
C. How much more money is being spent to acquire properties and demolish them to make a site on lower Denison?
D. We hear that current residents in the property-acquisition area are being pressured to sell, and that the representatives of NRP tell them that this is merely phase 1, and that phase 2 will be ever more undesirable to live near. What is this about pressuring our neighbors, first of all? And, what is this about phase 2? We’ve never heard about it.
E. This lower portion of Denison has open space/green space with W. C. Reed Field, Denison Cemetery, and Riverside Cemetery; what studies have been done in this vein, if any? How much of this space does NRP think it can eventually acquire from an all-too-cooperative city central planning department?
F. What covenants do we have in place to protect our open areas and our green space?
G. Which population will this project serve? A recent article by the OBCDC executive director puts the senior population at less than 15%, and they seem quite well off in their current homes. What are the proposed rents in the new projects? Would our seniors be able to pay them without subsidy, coming from fully paid-up homes? Would they need a subsidy?
H. What is the rental experience of the completed NRP projects in the city? We hear that they have high vacancy rates.
I. Recently, subsidized people-warehousing housing of one type or another has sprung up all over the place, and I think we probably have more than our quota. There is the new place over near Metro, the monstrosity on East 55th past Broadway, the existing CMHA apartment units and scattered-site single housing, the Ohio City NRP project--it’s almost as though the city’s central planning department is engaging in block-busting.
J. What are the conflicts of interest involving Abe Bruckman’s promotion of NRP from his salaried positions and his secular-nonprofit board positions? At times, he seems to be acting as the agent of NRP, as their salesman, and I wonder if he should be subsidized with a regular paycheck while pursuing entrepreneurial interests.
K. What are the conflicted interests of the recently cobbled-together Near West Design Review committee? It seems that none of them is from or has any stake in Brooklyn Centre, and that they may have a vested interest in keeping this project as far from their homes and businesses as possible, and to subvert the interests of Brooklyn Centre by using it as a dumping ground for the projects nobody else wants.
L. Please disclose the fees earned by the secular nonprofits in this
M. Please disclose the fees and commissions earned by those acquiring the properties for demolition
N. Please explain the delinquent property taxes on one of the Denison Elderly properties being used in this project. O. Has anybody mentioned that this really alters the streetscape and the scale for lower Denison, taking out a row of stores & businesses and a rowhouse that have significance, making future renovation and preservation far less desirable?
P. There was a frame house that was quickly demolished at 2000
Denison--why was is demolished, what were the acquisition costs, what were the demolition costs, what is the chain of ownership starting with the Howells, and who paid for what, and who took what losses in transactions? We need complete disclosure in this case.
Q. Has anybody looked into the prospects of locating this up near Deaconess Hospital and the shopping strip, on the site of the abandoned housing now being “deconstructed” by Lightning Demolition?
R. Would you care to answer these questions permanently, for the record, transparently, publicly, on the Denison Avenue blog at We can grant you government types contributor privileges.
S. Why is this project on such a fast track?
T. Why has the normal process of approval been altered to propel this project forward?
U. There seem to be a lot of changes of ownership, changing players, ad hoc committee formations, and other seemingly frantic, disjointed movements in this project--lots of changes, perhaps even baiting and switching. Can we have rationales on all the changes, switches, and transfers? It’s too much like a shell game right now to be allowed to pass muster as a legitimate development.

III. What about the future?

A. Are there studies extant on the future impact of such subsidized
senior-housing units on a neighborhood?
B. What are the current plans for resale?
C. What are the holding periods?
D. What might disqualify the property?
E. What is the future liability of the local government here?
F. What is the future liability of NRP here?
G. What is the future liability of the Near West Design Review committee here


  1. What documentation is available regarding the ravine over dennison park apartments. Is this a former dump area? And if so what is the source.

  2. Lots of research done 3 and 4 years ago, another batch of research done in the early 1980s--I know of these two compilations personally. You may be able to glean a few things on the internet through the library system or through Sandy Rozhon's (Barbarova neighborhood).

  3. Try not to be Anonymous next time you want to comment here, please.