Question of the day: does it make sense to build public-subsidized housing near pollution?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 12/23/2009 - 06:00.

New government-subsidized market-rate Tremont Pointe development located next to Mittal Cleveland Works steel mill and expanding I-490 freeway, in the toxic Cuyahoga River valley

The 2002 Canadian scientific report "Air pollution induces heritable DNA mutations" finds "Integrated steel production generates chemical pollution containing compounds that can induce genetic damage." And, the 2009 German report "Long-term exposure to traffic-related particulate matter impairs cognitive function in the elderly" finds "chronic exposure to traffic-related PM (particulate matter) may be involved in the pathogenesis of AD (Alzheimer's Disease)"

So, who thought it was a good idea to spend $43 million of scarce government and quasi-public funding to build Tremont Pointe government-subsidized housing, located within scent and fallout of the Mittal Cleveland Works Steel mill, and other highly polluting industry of the Cleveland Flats, and directly adjacent to the I-490 freeway, planned to have increased polluting traffic through expansion as the "Opportunity Corridor"?

Guaranteed Brain Damage - pollution from steel production at Mittal Cleveland Works combined with pollution from cars and trucks on I-490, which is proposed to be the Opportunity Corridor, contaminate surrounding neighborhoods like Tremont and Slavic Village with toxic air causing DNA mutation, Alzheimer's, Asthma, and other life ending and altering conditions

As a community proud to claim world leadership in healthcare, Northeast Ohio leaders should certainly be well informed and proactive about the harm caused to residents' health by local industry and regional planning decisions like encouraging sprawl, shouldn't we?!?!

That pollution in Cleveland harms residents' DNA and brain function should not surprise leadership of Northeast Ohio, who are responsible for one of the most polluted and polluting regions on Earth, and so one of the most toxic places for humans to live, work and play.

Still, our leaders make decisions like to spend $43 million to build Tremont Pointe.

"Opportunity Cost" REALNEO Header featuring Mittal Cleveland Works and I-490 pollution - planned to increase with construction of Federally subsidized "Opportunity Corridor" freeway extension, adjacent to new Federally subsidized public housing that places residents at risk of genetic mutation, Alzheimer's, asthma, cancer and other health hazards - does this make sense?

The developers of Tremont Pointe are Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), Tremont West Development Corporation, and the for profit development team of McCormack Baron Salazar/Turbov Associates (MBS/TA), from far away from here.

Buried on the MBS/TA website, we find:

Tremont Pointe (formerly Valleview) is a HOPE VI development in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2001, CMHA engaged McCormack Baron Salazar/Turbov Associates (MBS/TA) to develop a Master Plan for the redevelopment of Valleyview Homes. In October 2003, MBS/TA was selected as developer and successfully partnered with the CMHA to secure a HOPE VI grant. The two-phased development includes 189 units of new townhouse and garden apartments on the site of the former Valleyview Homes. Site planning required the relocation of two existing streets and excavation of a significant hillside to allow pedestrian and vehicular traffic to access all levels of the tiered site and, most importantly, to integrate Valleyview with the greater Tremont Neighborhood.

Tremont Pointe | Cleveland, OH - 189 units - Total Development Investment  $43,237,000

Valleyview is a HOPE VI development in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The first phase includes 102 units of family rental, including 51 public housing units.

That means we spent around $230,000 per housing unit... in a place where no humans should live.

Actually, it appear the money was spent with less balance than that, as Phase I built 102 units for $18,089,213, averaging around $177,000 per unit. Phase II only added 87 units, for $25,147,787, averaging around $289,000 per unit.

What did the public get for this $43 million in government and quasi-public funding, and why did the government spend our money on this?

Tremont Pointe offers a lesson in the real meaning of toxic real estate development!

According to a Tremont Pointe press release, we learn:

Funding sources in addition to the HOPE VI grant ($19.6 million) were provided by the City of Cleveland (housing and public improvements), Enterprise Team, Inc. (perm-mortgage lender), Bank of America (construction lender), Enterprise Community Investments and Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (equity investors), and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (low income tax credits).

Marous Brothers Construction is Tremont Pointe’s general contractor and City Architecture is the project architect. Minority-owned subcontractors for the project include, T-Square Builders, Gateway Electric and Tech Ready Mix. Female-owned subcontractors include Dentz Painting and L.M.R. Construction. Tremont Pointe is managed by McCormack Baron Ragan Management Services. For leasing information call 216-298-4060.

Tremont Place has paid-out profits to MBS/TA, City Architecture, Marous Brothers and others, from the $43,237,000 spent developing this superfund site. And, Tremont Pointe is a source of significant ongoing management income for McCormack Baron Ragan Management Services, Inc.

Phase I was completed in October, 2007, and Phase II was completed earlier this year, as featured in a slideshow on the CMHA website.

While this "redevelopment" was funded as public housing - and CMHA displaced residents of around 250 Valleyview public housing units to build Tremont Pointe... and claims to offer over 90 public housing units there, still - there is no listing of housing at Tremont Pointe on the CMHA website, under Family Housing or anywhere else I could locate... and the information that is provided there about the former Valleyview projects is woefully out-of-date.

It is unclear, therefore, how Tremont Pointe provides public housing to the customers of CMHA, what units are made available to public housing customers, and under what terms and conditions.

What is clear is that Tremont Pointe is being sold to the public as a market rate real estate development, rather than government-assisted housing. There are numerous global web-based real estate rental sites featuring the availability of housing at Tremont Pointe, at what appear to be high rental rates... for example, at

    Floor Plans

        Beds     Baths     Price     Floor Plan     Room Planner     Availability
    2 Bedroom Apartment     2     1     $685                 Check Availability
    2 Bedroom Townhomes     2     2     $859                 Check Availability
    3 Bedroom Townhome     3     2     $1035                 Check Availability


ASK ABOUT OUR MOVE-IN SPECIALS! Tremont Pointe is located in Cleveland, Ohio and offers the best Green Living has to offer. Green, city living at an affordable price is what you will find at Tremont Pointe. This apartment community has gorgeous 1, 2, and 3 bedroom townhouses and apartments available to rent. These suites feature great amenities such as in-home washer and dryers, 100% Energy Star appliances and fixtures, central air, carpeting, mini blinds and much more. As a resident of Tremont Pointe, you will also enjoy community benefits such as quick access to local shopping, dining, galleries, public transportion and highways, playground and a fitness center. Call today to find out how to make Tremont Pointe your next green home.

These webvertisements, clearly produced by McCormack Baron Ragan Management Services, Inc. Communities, way  over-sell the development, and make no mention of this being a government subsidized development, at such a polluted location, developed with CMHA, and that there are low income or subsidized units.

The advertising clearly states there are 189 units renting at market rate - $685, $859 and $1035 per month, depending on configuration.

Is that pricing realistic and sustainable, for such a toxic location, and so expensive a development, and is this good strategy for addressing the housing needs of our nation... especially for those in need of financial assistance?

For the sake of financial analysis, if there are 63 X 2 bedroom 1 bath units, at $685, 63 X 2 bedroom 2 bath units, at $859, and 63 X 3 bedroom 2 bath units, at $1035, rented at 95% occupancy, the annual income before expenses is only $491,467 + $616,934 + $743,337 = $1,851,737.

Of course, management will get 10-20% of that, if not more... subtract $300,000. Sewage and water are included in rent, so take $100,000 more off the top.... more off for utilities for common areas. Add a few staff here, and ground and maintenance there... and don't forget about security... it is hard to calculate there being much money left over to service debt on spending $43 million, as a private developer must do to make a development realistic and sustainable.

Tremont Pointe clearly is not realistic or sustainable.

If Tremont Pointe spent $43 million to replace public housing with market rate housing, why was any public funding used to build any of the housing at this toxic location, at all. And, if any of this is actually public housing, which is not clear, is it worth spending on average $230,000 per unit to provide so little real public value.

Especially as the housing was built in a place where no humans should live.

Those renting this government-assisted and/or market rate housing from distant landlord MBS/TA are being placed at risk of genetic mutation, Alzheimer's, asthma, cancer and other health hazards!

Does that make sense?

No, it does not. Humans should not be allowed to live in such a toxic place, much less be subsidized by government to do so, and private investors should not be allowed to profit from placing humans in such risk. This is insanity.

 REALNEO Header featuring toxic Cleveland Cuyahoga River "Flats" superfund/brownfields valley, high voltage powerlines, and I-490 pollution - planned to increase with construction of Federally subsidized "Opportunity Corridor" freeway extension - adjacent to new Federally subsidized public housing that places residents at risk of genetic mutation, Alzheimer's, asthema, cancer and other health hazards - does this make sense?

Yet, in the advertising to rent these carcinogenic condos, the "developers" tout Tremont Pointe as "the best Green Living has to offer... Green, city living at an affordable price is what you will find at Tremont Pointe." And, in propaganda for this development, by the developers and urban development financiers "Enterprise", it is claimed "the diverse residents of Tremont Pointe will reside in a strong, healthy community."

View from back of Tremont Pointe federally subsidized public housing development, showing pollution from Mittal Steel and I-490 freeway

What are the opportunity costs of such poor decisions being made by our leaders in our community.

From a good description of Opportunity Cost, from the University of Colorado:

"the relevant cost of any decision is its opportunity cost - the value of the next-best alternative that is given making choices in how we use our time and spend our money we give something up... laws that protect wilderness areas and endangered species will ensure a better environment tomorrow at the opportunity cost of reduced access to resources today... given limited funds, the opportunity cost of producing one type of good will arise from not being able to produce another."

Our government leaders make mutually exclusive decisions on how to allocate our scarce resources, and the opportunity cost of spending our scarce dollars on this public housing begins with the value of other things that could have been done with those public funds, in this case in excess of $43 million.

The opportunity costs end with the medical and human expenses associated with the harm pollution will cause the 1,000s of people living here, over the next 50 years, versus the value those people would add to the world should they live longer, healthier lives never harmed at Tremont Pointe.

Those costs are far greater than $230,000 per unit.

Fortunately, much of Tremont Pointe appears vacant. It is far more valuable for society to keep it that way.

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According to CMHA, we spent too much

It is interesting to consider, according to a press release about housing property values in Tremont, from CMHA... "Since 2000, the average sales price for a single-family home has risen from $36,445 to $150,000."

CMHA just planned a development that spent around $230,000 per unit, pumping nearly 200 apartments into the bubbling Tremont housing market.

Spending $177,000-$289,000, in the private market, I imagine you get a very nice house.

What did we get for $177,000-$289,000 per unit - for $43 million - through the public-private system, through the Tremont Pointe collaboration?

Disrupt IT

Are poor people special?


The Houston Estates were located at W.7th and I-490 and beyond, down below Valleyview and were the first to go in the 1980s.
Promises were made beginning 25 years ago when the Estates were closed to replenish the lost government housing. It is has taken a long time.

1. Why should government housing have a higher standard than housing for the rest of us? Poor people aren't special. They are just people.

2. Why were these units built there?  CMHA owned the land and simply rebuilt in the same location.
Something else would have been built in this location. If not this development then some other.

3. Our government typically overspends for any and every project. I don't expect that to change. Why that is the case - is a separate topic.
Wherever the units were built, I am confident that the cost would have been equally ridiculously high.

4. The whole neighborhood is toxic and has been for more than a century.

My questions are:

Why do any of us live here? On any day you can watch the metal flakes float right in through your windows around Lincoln Park.
Do you think poor people deserve a safer environment than the rest of us?
Why does government overspend and underdeliver on everything?
If we the people can do a better job than our government, why don't we?



Why government financed buildings cost more

I've done two government financed projects -never again, but can understand why they cost more.  First of all, labor must either be union or prevailing wage.  In our case we were required  to pay our  regular $18 per hour employees "prevailing wage" of $32/hr.  I was happy to do this, but the rate was out of line with  industry skill set.      Secondly with each billing we were required to submit paper work that sometimes took days to prepare.  Our first invoice on Pasadena Post Office stained glass ceiling restoration was 4-3/8" thick! 

Thirdly, in order to get each one of these jobs we spent nearly four weeks working on submittals to meet the criteria. 

In retrospect I realize the hoops thru which Uncle Sam makes you jump are the result of trying to legislate equality and fairness which can't be done as far as I'm concerned. 

2. Why were these units built there?

Hi - thanks for your thoughts... sounds like you live in the neighborhood.

In a region where our government is landbanking 10,000s of acres of property, and has a surplus of government-owned facilities (rememeber, we are a rapidly shrinking city), it is hard to say we need to reuse any particular land for government purposes, at government expense, whether government owns it or not. We may need to put a library at a partcular location, but public housing may go many places... why put it where people are certain to be harmed (and Tremont Pointe is far from the only example, by CMHA).

If "Cleveland" and Cuyahoga government are rich in anything it is land for housing.

I suspect a huge percentage of the cost of the Tremont Pointe project was to reuse that sorry-ass wedge of toxic land... and I can't wait to see them keep that site functional and deal with the environmental harm the site causes down-stream... and they still need a fence along the back of the property... so perhaos $40 per square foot of the cost was for site improvements that would not be needed elsewhere...

Now, add the lifetime costs of treating public housing residents here for asthma, etc., and the risk of mutations, etc... in a free market you are free to pay to live anywhere the govenrment will allow but should the governemnt spend our money to force people to live in unsafe conditions?

By building this facility here, the government forces poor people to live in harm's way!

Imagine those Tremont Pointe acres as greespace, all the way to the Cuyahoga River, with a public environmental awareness center on the river focused on reducing pollution in the area...

And imagine 700 x $60,000+/unit = $43,000,000 stand alone environmentally friendly scattered site pre-fab infill new public housing "homes" placed on landbanked lots near where there are jobs, good schools, and good public transportation and services, and not within 1KM of major source point pollution.

So, we demolished 250 public housing units and spent $43 million to build 189 $230,000+/unit public housing and market rate housing units, that cost way above market rate, when we could have built a HUGE park, environmental awareness center and like 700 really green and smart housing units where they are needed (and completed the towpath trail, at that)

What is CMHA's next great big plan for housing the poor, and who is running this show, other than Marous Brothers?... looks like another RTA, Sewage District, and/or Port Authority dog-pound to me... with lives at risk!

Disrupt IT

ripped off



gas chamber for all in tremont - jewish & non jewish - norm ****

gas chamber for all in tremont - jewish & non jewish - great super non fiction norm


yogi and guy

great super non fiction guy, and yogi

Season's Greetings from your friends at REALNEO!

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The HUD $$ game

So, who thought it was a good idea to spend $43 million of scarce government and quasi-public funding to build Tremont Pointe government-subsidized housing, located within scent and fallout of the Mittal Cleveland Works Steel mill, and other highly polluting industry of the Cleveland Flats, and directly adjacent to the I-490 freeway, planned to have increased polluting traffic through expansion as the "Opportunity Corridor"?

To quote Norm--I will post photos soon of a similar rip-off $11 million dollar project, the subsidized senior housing project as it progresses in Brooklyn Centre. 

It is built on water saturated, unstable and contaminated fill soils, over a buried creek.

Thank you Norm--this lunacy must stop.

What happened here?

Was an "accidental" explosion planned??

A Question of the Day for HUD?!?!

A Question of the Day for HUD?!?! I assume you paid for this public housing within a mile of a steel mill. Aren't their standards of safety and justice applied to your funding?

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The human garbage responsible for poisoning these people

The human garbage responsible for poisoning these people and wasting $100,000,000s of our tax dollars doing all the wrong things in Northeast Ohio - the disgraced former Director of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority - is broke and wants taxpayers to pay for his defense for screwing the community... he wants the public to defend him for killing little children like mine.

I suggest we buy him and his bosses a rope so they may hang in the wind on Public Square.

Let's start the hanging.

I could certainly tell, from CMHA's corrupt and evil work in this community, as expressed in this posting on realNEO and all other expressions of their activity in this community, that this man and those who told him what to do with our tax dollars are evil.

We need to now determine the chain of command that told this evil piece of shit, scumbag, low class Lieutenant what to do - the Generals still need to be brought to justice.

I believe this posting on realNEO, highlighting corruption in and around Tremont that resulted in the wasting of $1,000,000s to build harmful, corrupt public housing in the wrong place - which will result in $10,000,000s in public health problems for residents of CMHA, that the public will carry throughout their lives -  tells us much about who is responsible for the failure of Cleveland and our people.

Follow the money in this project and you will find the real crooks in Cleveland, who seem to really love hiding out in the smog of Tremont.

Who were the bosses of the immeasurably inhuman and dispicable George Phillips-Olivier?

Chain of Command??!

George Phillips-Olivier's bosses should hang the highest in Public Square.

Disrupt IT

guess it is time for me to leave this site

As I don't CONDONE VIOLENCE and if these types of posts keep happening, I am gone.

This is NO way to act professionally to try to get your points across and wishes done. Angry posts, attacking people (even those on the same side and  friends) and cursing; all negative and not IMO ways to get what you want. Instead, QUITE the opposite.

Not hanging with gangs, of ANY type showing potentially physical force condoning activities, even now deadly and judged by???

Bye-Bye; Betty


The problem is, America is NOT a Democracy - it is a Republic! As our Founding Fathers established, can we keep it?



Disrupt IT

good riddance




Hang his ass







It takes all kinds...

There's always been warriors, wars, corruption, peacemakers, gangs, mafias, targets of affection, and people who fought the good fight...

This is a "WRITTEN" forum.

We don't always agree...but I believe most of us have the maturity to "AGREE TO DISAGREE".... when we simply do not like something that directly does not affect us.

Indirectly, every issue herein affects every single one of us somehow.... Pollution, corruption, murder, etc...

We have the ability to "CHOOSE" to react or not... and we have the ability to "VENT" when things are really eating us...

We have the ability to give eachother feedback too....particularly when we realize that the folks we love, respect, and appreciate; who have passion, vigor, and a deep fight in their soul to CHANGE the actions of questionable public servants----is jeopardized by their frustrations with the "way things go.." 

At the end of the day...what I love most about RealNeo is the rare commodity of "TRUTH" that gets spoken fearlessly by our bloggers. It's something you don't get in the public forums... Sometimes the truth is ugly, sometimes people's opinions are ugly. Yet, in 2011, it's really unlikely that any of us REALNEO Bloggers are going to actually do something uncivilized, despite our rants.

We accept the things we cannot change and have the courage to change the things we can... Sometimes we get hell bent on our missions...Sometimes we get assertive....Sometimes we eat crap...Sometimes we make powerful changes...and sometimes we don't....But we try to keep on keeping on....

We all have different passions.

We all have valid points to be reckoned...

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We are all human...

But we care deeply and that is one of the most amazing things about this group of folks.

Sometimes, it's tough to be around such outspoken people... Often, it's not a place for thin skinned folks. Yet, it's always full of hearty exchanges...

I've learned so much from all the folks herein...good, bad, and indifferent....

Peace of mind for peace of heart....

God Bless All! 

Always Appreciative, "ANGELnWard14"