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  • Writer's pictureSouthside Gateway Community Planning Team

News 5 Cleveland Interview: If you build it, will they come? Plans in the works to develop Lorain neighborhood

LORAIN, Ohio — An agency in Lorain County is taking the first step toward what it believes will transform a neighborhood.

Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority (LMHA) and the City of Lorain received a planning grant through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods program.

“Its goal is to replace distressed public housing,” LMHA CEO Judy Carlin said. “We have public housing here, Southside Gardens, in our neighborhood but HUD realized about ten years ago that you can’t just rebuild housing, you really have to rebuild the opportunity.”

With the money, LMHA is in the first phase of its Southside Gateway Community Plan. By the end of 2024, the goal is to have dirt moving on a container park project at Southside Gardens, which is located near East 30th Street and Vine Avenue.

LMHA Chief Operating Officer Gale Sayers Proby said residents and community members were surveyed about what they wanted to see in South Lorain as an early action item.

“They talked about a safe place, safe space for kids, community engagement place, something that was lighted, services brought to the community, so we came up with this idea of a container park and there’s five containers and it will bring services to the neighborhood, and it will also allow for the residents to hold gatherings,” she said.

This is just the start of the vision for the future in this area, which has its challenges.

“If you spent any time in a Rust Belt city, you can see the absolutely unmistakable skyline of a closed steel mill or much less active and you see the effects of urban renewal, closed streets, [and] blocked access,” Carlin said.

“We are going to put more density, more opportunity. All of Ohio needs affordable workforce housing, everybody understands that need, our goal through this is to be part of the solution too for that, as well as creating a neighborhood that has amenities that would make you want to say, wow, this is a great place to bring my kids, raise my kids and move forward,” Carlin said.

The goal is to create mixed-income housing that’s spread out in the area with the hope of bringing more businesses and essential services within walking distance.

“Transportation is a problem in South Lorain,” said Sayers Proby. “So, we decided we needed to bring the services to the neighborhood.”

The container park itself is a $1.1 million project and after the grant money, another $400,000 to $500,000 is needed to complete the space.

LMHA said it could take five to seven years to complete the rest of the project. There are plans to apply for another grant to help with that, but even if it doesn’t happen, the goal is to continue the vision and construction with other funding sources.


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