Sustainable Community Associates, a development company started by three young entrepreneurs, saw a need for quality housing for people of all incomes, a need for new business and job creation, and a need to bring more people to downtown Oberlin, Ohio. They saw their project, East College Street, as an initial solution to the problem.
The East College Street Project has over 20,000 square feet of retail space and 33 one- to three- bedroom condominiums. In addition to universal design features, East College Street was designed to achieve LEED for Neighborhood Development Gold Certification. Public green space is the centerpiece of the development, and bike racks are very well-used by all residents. The project also incorporates a real-time web-based (private) energy use monitoring system to allow residents and business to track and manage their electricity and water use.
Of the 33 condos, 9 are reserved as affordable rentals owned by the developer. All 9 are being leased to people making 80% of AMI and 4 are being leased to people making 50% of AMI.
MBS Urban Initiatives’ and ESIC’s $9.75 million New Markets Tax Credit investment in East College Street is an example of the power of NMTCs to reduce rents for locally owned businesses, and thereby help them thrive in deeply distressed low income communities. The below-market financing allowed tenants to benefit from higher quality space than is otherwise available in the market, at rental rates between $12-14 per square foot (significantly below the market’s $16-$20 per square foot range). The tenants are 100% locally-owned; many are first-time business owners.
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