City considering creation of novel Shore-to-Core TIF District to help fund critical infrastructure
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 — Cleveland — Yesterday, Cleveland City Council approved the continuation of an updated Master Development Agreement (MDA) between Bedrock and the City of Cleveland (Ord. 787-2023) that serves as a framework for a $3.5 billion riverfront development project.
The MDA is aligned with the Cuyahoga Riverfront Masterplan, a comprehensive multi-year plan that reimagines and transforms 35 acres along the riverfront, including Tower City Center and the surrounding landscape with the core tenets of accessibility, equity, sustainability, and resilience. Bedrock will begin construction on initial public infrastructure improvements, including rehabilitation of the existing bulkhead, in October 2023.
“We are embarking on projects that reconnect us to our waterfronts and bring us closer to our goal of an 18-hour, 15-minute downtown that benefits all Clevelanders through people-centered development,” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “This is a great example of how public-private partnerships can accelerate the pace of change and a jumping off point for our continued collaboration with Bedrock as we design the future of the riverfront together.”
The plan, in coordination with other public and private resources and efforts, anticipates more than 3.5 million square feet of commercial mixed-use development along the Cuyahoga riverfront anchored by transformational public improvements and accessibility. This includes residential—both for-sale and rental units—commercial, office, retail, entertainment and a riverwalk with more than 12 acres of public parks and open space.
“We look forward to the ongoing collaboration with the Administration, Cleveland City Council and stakeholders across the community to deliver a vibrant, accessible and connected riverfront neighborhood,” said Kofi Bonner, chief executive officer at Bedrock. “This is a once-in-a-generation endeavor and every partner is critical to its success. We are honored to participate and partner with the City of Cleveland.”
The MDA is the first to be established under the City’s new community benefits package. Under the ordinance, Bedrock and the City would enter one or more community benefit agreements to maximize opportunities for minority-owned and female-owned small businesses as well as incorporate the City’s sustainability and affordable housing goals into the project.
“This legislation sets the stage for myriad public infrastructure, right of way, public parks, and public space investments,” said the city’s Chief of Integrated Development Jeff Epstein. “Above all, these plans call for unprecedented public access to the Cuyahoga Riverfront. This work, in tandem with the North Coast Connector and lakefront master planning process, is the foundation of the mayor’s sweeping Shore-to-Core-to-Shore development vision for Cleveland.”
To help advance these goals, which will require substantial public infrastructure investments, the City proposes the creation of a Shore-to-Core Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Overlay District—a designated area where new taxes generated by an increase in property values contribute to a public improvement fund.
Historically, Cleveland has used TIF districts and their revenue to fund individual projects, but this will be the first time the city is considering a TIF on such a broad scale. In addition to riverfront and lakefront infrastructure, some of the dollars generated through the TIF will be spent in neighborhoods across the city, funding upgrades to public spaces and other improvements.
Models like the Shore-to-Core TIF have been successfully utilized across Ohio and the country. Locally, cities like Columbus and Independence use similar models to create and sustain catalytic growth for their cities.
The City is currently analyzing the potential scope and geography of the Shore-to-Core TIF District. Specifics will be included with the additional legislation required to create the district, which is anticipated later this year. The Shore-to-Core TIF District will not reduce current taxes paid to entities, like the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, that receive a share of property taxes.
The City is also considering additional project-specific TIFs to help fund other aspects of waterfront development and related projects.