Shoveling to ‘Victory’: Habitat breaks ground on subdivision
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Sep 19, 2012 | 2068 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Habitat groundbreaking
A VICTORIOUS GROUNDBREAKING took the south Cleveland spotlight Tuesday as Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland volunteers, staff, board members and corporate supporters officially launched work on the organization’s third subdivision in 22 years. To be called Victory Cove, the Planned Urban Development will include 27 residences. Of these, 21 will be single-family homes and six will be owner-occupied townhomes.
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A midday reprieve from 48 hours of rain, and a solid layer of grass underneath their gold-painted shovels, kept Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland staff, volunteers and corporate sponsors in the dry Tuesday as they officially broke ground on their third subdivision in 22 years.

Located on the south end of town, it has been named Victory Cove.

“This [development] happened because a lot of folks got together to make it happen,” according to Matt Carlson, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate. “We have been working on this for awhile.”

The 27-dwelling Planned Urban Development is the product of an ongoing partnership between the city of Cleveland, local government planners, the Community Development Block Grant program, private landowners and donors, financial institutions and Habitat for Humanity.

The 5-acre plat on Victory Street just off South Lee Highway is a PUD, meaning that its development will include 21 single-family houses and six townhome units to be included in three standalone structures. All 27 residences will be owner-occupied. None will be rentals.

Carlson said the residential development will be divided into two phases, including the construction of a new street for improved access. No timetable has been confirmed for subdivision completion although the foundation for the first house is already under way.

Part of Tuesday’s symbolic dirt toss also was dedicated to recognizing local leaders and corporate sponsors whose roles have been pivotal in the local Habitat affiliate’s success. Among them were Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Teresa Torbett, who heads the city’s Community Development Block Grant program. Each received a collage of framed photographs of Habitat families whose lives they have had a hand in changing through their support of the Habitat mission.

The day’s biggest presentation came in the form of an oversized check in the amount of $375,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati which was presented to Habitat to pay for home construction. The grant money, which is reimbursable through home mortgages, is made available to Habitat through Bank of Cleveland, a longtime partner with the local affiliate.

FHL Bank of Cincinnati is a regional wholesale bank that provides funding to community banks for a variety of causes and needs. Since 1990, FHL Bank has provided $460 million in grants for 60,000 Habitat housing units nationwide, according to Tom Ciresi, senior vice president of Member Services for the Ohio financial organization. Ciresi, who attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking, presented the check to Julian Sullivan, Bank of Cleveland president and CFO, and Christy Griffith, senior vice president.

Representing Habitat in receiving the check were Carlson and Jessica Barnette, grants coordinator for the local affiliate.

“We at Habitat for Humanity cannot say enough about what Bank of Cleveland and Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati have meant for our work and our mission in the Cleveland and Bradley County community,” Carlson told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “These guys have been there with us every step of the way. They’ve been invaluable partners to us, just as others have like our city government leaders, planners and the Community Development Block Grant Program.”

Barry Boettner, president of the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland board of directors, said the local affiliate views its construction projects as life-changing experiences — not just for volunteers, staff and supporters, but for the families who are buying, and who are helping to build, the homes.

“This (Victory Cove) is more than just a subdivision,” Boettner said. “This will be home for 27 families.”

Dr. Tommy Wright of Cleveland State Community College who serves as vice president of the Habitat board, agreed with Boettner’s assessment. He also praised the sense of cooperation and partnership shown by FHL Bank of Cincinnati and Bank of Cleveland.

Wright pointed to “... years and years of partnership” by FHL Bank and Bank of Cleveland.

“They have been great supporters,” he stressed. “We are so thankful for what they are allowing us to do.”

Because FHL Bank of Cincinnati is a regional wholesale facility, organizations like Habitat for Humanity apply for FHL grant funding through local banks. In this case, Habitat works with Bank of Cleveland which then serves as a liaison between FHL and Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.

Habitat also presented framed photographs to FHL’s Ciresi and to Sullivan and Griffith on behalf of Bank of Cleveland.

“We’re excited about starting this project,” Carlson said as a few sprinkles of rain returned to dot the foreheads of the small crowd of honorees, supporters and local government leaders. “This is a very nice neighborhood and it will be another quality development by Habitat for Humanity.”

In an article published in Monday’s edition of the Banner, Carlson pointed to the symbolism of the subdivision’s name.

“Victory Cove is one of the most appropriate names imaginable,” Carlson said. “That’s because ‘victory’ for us has a lot of meaning. When our partner families move into their new homes, it’s a personal victory for them because they’re taking a step forward in life.”

Several government leaders attended Tuesday’s historic ceremony alongside Rowland. Some included Dan Howell, executive assistant to Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, and County Commissioners Jeff Morelock and Charlotte Peak-Jones. A variety of Habitat board members also attended, as did Habitat staff members.