Waterson-Lake School

City of Cleveland selects developer for Watterson-Lake School site

Thursday, Sep 14, 2023

2-acre site represents unique opportunity to address community needs in Gordon Square 

Thursday, September 14, 2023 — Cleveland — The City of Cleveland has selected Bridging the Gap, an MBE real estate developer from Pittsburgh, to redevelop the former Watterson-Lake School site in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

New to the Cleveland market, Bridging the Gap has a portfolio of major rehab and new construction projects, including both single and multi-family housing, re-purposing and revitalizing commercial real estate, and community improvement projects including mixed use, industrial, retail, and office space.

Bridging the Gap will partner with local firms and the community in creating a once-in-a-generation project that will benefit all stakeholders. The significant size of the site, prominent placement on a main corridor, and public control of the site all contribute to the unique nature of this opportunity.  

“We were impressed with the creative and innovative designs and the level of proactivity, outreach, and flexibility Bridging the Gap provided in their proposal and presentation,” said Cleveland Director of Community Development Alyssa Hernandez. “They came with both an architectural team and a lending team to present their project to the City and have already started the process of making connections to learn all they can about the local development ecosystem — all indicators of a successful project.”  

Bridging the Gap is participating in Equitable Path Forward, Enterprise Community Partners’ five-year, $3.5 billion initiative to counter racial inequities in housing.  

Through extensive pre-project engagement, community members made it clear that they deeply care about creating a neighborhood that is accessible and welcoming to a diverse mix of residents, both racially and economically.  

This overarching value was clear in design suggestions ranging from the strong emphasis on maintaining public access to the site, incorporating family-friendly intergenerational play spaces, creating connectivity between the eastern and western edges of the site, and requiring affordability as part of the development.  

“Community feedback and engagement around what role this site will play over the next century was critical to this process and has been a guiding force in our selection of a developer,” said Ward 15 Councilmember Jenny Spencer. “I am grateful to all who participated in surveys, pop-ups and community meetings. We believe that your voices are well represented in the winning proposal.”

Last year, Councilmember Spencer allocated $12,000 in Casino Revenue Funds to support a community engagement process resulting in the Watterson-Lake Site Engagement Report. The report was included in the RFP released earlier this year.  

The City is currently engaged in providing technical assistance, negotiating the terms, timeline and milestones that will govern the project, and allowing the developer to prepare for the upcoming Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) round. Bridging the Gap’s full proposal will be released once the development plan is finalized and approved by the Department of Community Development. Additional community engagement is anticipated later in the year.