Cleveland Summit for sale

Redevelopment into a smaller urban hotel is a consideration

JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Posted 7/7/16

A plan is taking shape to sell the Cleveland Summit and give residents a better place to live.

“What the plan is tentatively is to sell the building to the city or the city’s entity,” said …

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Cleveland Summit for sale

Redevelopment into a smaller urban hotel is a consideration

Posted

A plan is taking shape to sell the Cleveland Summit and give residents a better place to live.

“What the plan is tentatively is to sell the building to the city or the city’s entity,” said Chris Hodges, president of Emerald Housing Management.

Hodges said the city could issue a request for proposals to find an interested developer. Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Interim City Manager Melinda Carroll will be talking to a potential buyer next week.

Hodges bought the building in 2006, but sold it to nonprofit Hoosier Housing Group about three years ago. Hodges said his company still manages The Summit and is handling all discussions and negotiations with the city.

“We have talked to our residents about it because we didn’t want them to be anxious,” Hodges said.

The company has begun looking for property to build a new apartment complex for the residents.

“We need more room,” Hodges said. “The building is kind of obsolete for what we are doing.”

Formerly the Cherokee Hotel, many of the apartments are efficiency style. Hodges said they are basically the old hotel rooms.

“The units don’t even have individual stoves,” Hodges said.

Instead, they have microwaves and a shared stove in a community space.

Hodges said the company wants to build “in the same general area” to be near downtown.

“It is going to give the residents a much better place to live,” Hodges said.

The new facility would be a part of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Section 8 program and rent would remain the same for residents.

“The rent would be exactly the same. HUD controls the rent,” Hodges said.

Under the Section 8 program, rent is based on a person’s income.

Although many have expressed interest in the building in the past, Hodges said selling the building to the city would be the least complicated, and a good opportunity to help the City Council in its plans for downtown redevelopment.

“We will literally build a new building and move everyone there,” Hodges said.

Selling the building to the city, or someone the city has negotiated with, gives Emerald Housing Management more time to construct a new apartment building, than if it was being sold directly to an investor who would want to have the building immediately.

He said such a move was a “complicated, long process.”

Hodges said he will be pursuing grant opportunities for the project and hopes to begin construction next spring.

“It will take about a year to build the facility, once we get started,” Hodges said.

The city has not committed to a plan, except to approve funding for studies of the building and the potential for redevelopment. Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said the process will take a little while for the Chamber to select a qualified company to complete the inspections and ensure that the building is structurally sound enough to redevelop.

Hodges said he felt comfortable that the inspections of the building would go well. The building could be redeveloped back to its former use as a hotel or become remodeled apartments.

“We feel like we have done a lot with the building since I’ve owned it,” Hodges said. He spoke of addressing maintenance needs, such as installing a new elevator, but said maintenance is a never-ending issue because of the age of the building. He said the building was nearly 100 years old. Under Hoosier, support services at the facility have increased with the addition of a full-time services coordinator.

The former Cherokee Hotel has mostly single-occupant units with the majority of the 79 units being efficiency apartments.

“We are hoping to build a new facility more conducive to the lifestyle of our residents,” Hodges said.

The City Council has discussed the possibility of converting the apartment complex back into a hotel off and on for about two years.

“We have been in discussions with the city for a long time,” Hodges said.

City personnel and University of Tennessee design students took a serious look at a design for the building as a part of the Smart Communities Initiative. The project was included in the museum display "Cleveland: Exploring Our Future" at the Museum Center at Five Points and at Bradley Square Mall last year.

A market feasibility study conducted by Hotel & Leisure Advisors said the location was not suitable for a hotel and conference center because of “limited expansion capabilities and considerable parking issues.”

“Although [the] location is excellent, resting in the heart of the downtown area, the limited infrastructure on the parcel precludes a ‘right-sized’ fit for a hotel and conference center. The property is more suited for a smaller urban boutique hotel without conference space,” the study stated.

Cleveland City Council is expected to discuss the initiative again in an upcoming session.

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