Cassady Avenue project in Bexley to be revamped for state funding

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek USA TODAY Network
Bexley City Hall is at 2242 E. Main St.

Although a mixed-use residential and commercial development planned for 420 North Cassady Ave. in north Bexley did not receive funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency this year, the project is still moving forward, developers say. 

The Cassady project is a joint venture between the Bexley Community Improvement Corp. – the city’s nonprofit development entity – and The Community Builders, a national nonprofit housing developer. 

During the CIC’s June 1 meeting, CIC and TCB representatives and city officials discussed why state funding was not approved this spring. The discussion also covered how TCB can repackage and resubmit the funding application next year.  

One factor that led to a low OHFA score for the Cassady application was that the CIC, as the development’s local partner, does not have a long track record of bringing affordable housing to Bexley, said Nicole Boyer, senior development manager in The Community Builders’ Columbus office.  

“The way that OHFA has defined the local partner is it’s a partner that has a history of providing affordable housing or supportive services to the community,” Boyer said. “I think when they were looking at the CIC’s resume, while the CIC has a robust commitment, the actual execution of creating affordable housing just has not been there necessarily in the resume.” 

Boyer cited as an example the Gertrude Wood Community Foundation, an organization that tends to get more favorable OHFA scoring when listed as a community partner in applications. The foundation provides affordable housing and homeownership education programs in the Driving Park community just east of Bexley. 

“They’ve been doing that single-family home investment and doing that investment of keeping houses affordable at a low price point,” Boyer said.  

Another factor that led to the Cassady development’s low score by the OHFA is that the agency prefers developments with a minimum of 50 units, Boyer said.  

“We were at 43, which was the lowest number of new units we could get and still get 1 point,” she said. 

To repackage the application for the OHFA’s next funding cycle in February 2022, Boyer said TCB and CIC representatives plan to meet with the OHFA to get more details about the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s application.  

“We want to be able to make a decision on what our strategy is for 2022 by Labor Day (of 2021) at the latest, so that way, we can have plenty of time to engage community members and really lean into community meetings,” Boyer said. “I’m super excited about the fact that we could have in-person community meetings, and so we can do the meetings that people can come and put Post-It notes on (features) that they like or don't like, and really, we can get that feedback and engagement that was missing over the last 18 months.” 

CIC President Nate Green said the organization must determine what role it will play in the Cassady development going forward since TCB may need to find a different local partner to receive funding from the OHFA. 

“Part of (the) discussion is going to be figuring out who the right partner is,” he said. “We’ll have to figure out what that means for the CIC, what that means for Cassady, how we’re involved, if we choose to be involved. 

“In our coming meetings, we’ll have to figure that out, decide if that's a path where we want to take.” 

Boyer said TCB is also continuing to work out details for a proposed mixed-use development at 2300 E. Livingston Ave. in south Bexley. The CIC is not involved as a partner in that development, she said. 

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