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$3 million investment could lead to Broadway revival 

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

Part Three in a series of articles


According to Chris Amato, Heritage South Initiative president, “Heritage South is making good on its commitment to revitalize the housing stock in the Old South End, while working to renovate a local park. The efforts also have drawn the largest business investment in that neighborhood in decades—a million-dollar carryout pizza shop expected to create up to 60 permanent jobs [July 13, 2018, La Prensa].


“All told, what is now known as the Old South End will become somewhat new again, with more than $3 million invested in housing, an anchor business, and improved recreational amenities, including a new baseball field at Danny Thomas Park [July 20, 2018, La Prensa]. All of the improvements will occur in the next year to 18 months.”


Historic South secured $300,000 in state funding from the biennial budget to rehab older housing stock in a four-block area bounded by Western Ave. and Crittenden Ave. But the community development corporation had to raise match funds, for a total pool of $600,000. Toledo City Council recently added $50,000 more to the pot with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. Key Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and ProMedica contributed matching funds.


“We’re raising another $400,000 or $500,000 on our own, in addition to that funding,” said Amato.


That brings the total funding for housing rehab to roughly $1 million.


“We’re going roofs, windows, siding. Sometimes we’ll do a foundation or we’ll paint the house,” explained Amato. “There’s literally a major transformation going on in those four blocks.”


In a handful of cases, Historic South bought the property for an entire overhaul of the house—a $70,000 investment in most cases—in order to resell the home. Contractors are replacing the water heaters, furnaces, entire electrical systems where needed. Even bathrooms have been completely renovated.


Home ownership—owner-occupied homes—is just above 40 percent in the Old South End, so the effort is aimed at moving that needle upward in the next couple of decades to ensure neighborhood stability long-term. The other goal is to increase property values in the area.


“The very first house that we sold in that neighborhood is to a Hispanic guy, a first-time home buyer and his monthly rent was about $700,” said Amato. “Now his mortgage with taxes and insurance is $355. Here is a first-time homebuyer, with about half the monthly cost compared to when he was renting. So they’re getting a great deal on what is basically a new house.”


Another home is being sold to a Latino family of 11, following a total rehab in partnership with St. John’s Jesuit High School and Dr. Richard Paat, who is well-known for medical missions to Puerto Rico and Central America. A third home is ready for sale at $45,000. Historic South plans to buy two more residential properties directly from the Lucas County Land Bank with the aim of more total home renovations.


When all is said a done, 80 houses will receive some sort of improvements. Contractors, dumpsters, and scaffolding have been common sites in that four-block radius since early spring.


“Basically, it’s no questions asked,” said Amato. “If they live in that four-block area, they qualify. Most programs have an income requirement. Here there is no requirement.”


Beautification efforts also took place this spring. A local doctor donated boxwood shrubs for any homeowner who wanted to plant them. St. John’s students performed some of their required community service by traveling the neighborhood and handing out annuals so homeowners could plant flowers in their front yards.


“The goal is we’ll start with this one neighborhood and expand it over time,” said Amato. “What all the experts told us was to concentrate on one small area and grow it out over time. What we’re hoping is that when this two-year project is done, the state will see it as a huge success and that we’re leveraging their money and that we can expand it to another four-block area. This is not going to happen overnight—but if we can have some patience, over the next 20 years, you’re going to see a totally revised Old South End.”



Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/24/18 10:38:39 -0700.




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