UPDATE (Tuesday, January 26): A statement from Home Leasing CEO Nelson Leenhouts follows the story.
Hillside Family of Agencies and developer Home Leasing Services want to build an apartment complex at 1337 East Main Street, but some neighborhood groups have joined together to fight it, saying that it’s not what EMMA, which is the East Main, Mustard, and Atlantic Avenue neighborhood, needs.
The development would have 76 apartments: 56 would be one-bedroom units, and 16 of those would be for developmentally disabled adults. The rest would be available for general occupancy, says Kimberly Russell, executive vice president of Home Leasing. The development would expand on a Hillside building that is already on the East Main Street site, but the developmentally disabled people who would live in the complex may or may not receive services from Hillside.
EMMA’s leaders, along with leaders of nearby neighborhood groups including the North Winton Village Neighborhood Association and North East Main Neighbors United say that a lot of work has gone into improving and stabilizing the neighborhood in recent years. What EMMA needs, they say, is owner occupancy and families, not single-unit apartments.
A lot rides on the stability of their area of East Main Street, EMMA’s leaders say, as it’s a gateway to the city, and it’s the trunk that other neighborhoods branch off of, including Beechwood and the Neighborhood of the Arts. If their neighborhood takes a hit, they say, it affects a much broader area.
But Russell says that EMMA is not strong enough yet to attract market-rate investment and that the East Main project represents much-needed economic development in the neighborhood. A healthy neighborhood, she says, has a place for everyone.
And the development would have affordable units, Russell says, which is important, because too many city residents use too much of their income for rent, and that helps keep people in poverty.
The price of the units for the East Main project hasn’t been settled yet, she says.
City Council member Elaine Spaull, who represents the neighborhood, says that it’s up to Hillside and Home Leasing to decide whether they want to move forward with so little community support.
“Certainly we wouldn’t want to proceed with any development that didn’t provide a community benefit,” Russell says.
"We believe that this $17 million community investment will spur economic development along East Main Street – an important city corridor – and offer quality, affordable mixed income housing to our city’s residents. We are providing to you is current rendering of the proposed community and an updated site plan. Both of these incorporate changes that were suggested at community meetings that were held last fall. We continue to welcome community input and will be scheduling additional public meetings in the near future."
Nelson Leenhouts, CEO Home Leasing