Monday, July 11, 2016


Kings Landing Rehab:   A "Mustard Seed-esque" Springboard?==

* Creative Commons attribution (Tree Link, Seeds Link).


Bruce Nordman

President, Vassar Park Neighborhood Ass'n

Updates of Kings Landing Rehab

We all know that anybody who is anyone in Stark County political leadership is ga-ga over the "in progress" Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOFVP).

The reason being that this same leadership has over decades has presided over a city of Canton and indeed a countywide economic slide that has seen the county slip from Ohio's #7 sized county to #8 and these leaders are therefore desperate for something, anything to reverse the seeming inexorable slide further down "the important in Ohio" measure.

Some five to six years ago, it was Utica Shale fracking that was going to being the economic savior of Ohio's county which is home to the McKinley Monument.

Then rah-rah mayor William J. Healy, II looking for a gimmick to make people believe his administration was being effective in reversing a parallel to Stark County slide underway in Canton with much fanfare named Canton "The Utica Capital."

And the Canton. Regional Chamber of Commerce jumped right on board.

The claim:  Utica was going to brings tens of thousands of jobs to the area.  

The reality was that Healy could not even hold major shale player Chesapeake Energy in the city as evidenced with its move to Louisville.

All of which was really a masking or Canton's "real" problem:  "the decline of its residential neighborhoods."

What companies would want to come to Canton?  A city with a declining fiscal ($5.1 million budget deficit in 2016 with more to come perhaps in 2017), physical and social infrastructure.  

Some sectors of Canton neighborhoods have as much as a 40% poverty rate.

Canton's physical neighborhoods infrastructure had deteriorated to such a degree that only solution is to demolish some 5,000 or better homes witness this SCPR blog of March, 2012.

Moreover, Canton has very little money to implement its recently adopted Citywide Comprehensive Plan of recovery to a "rightly sized" city.

Accordingly,  the answer to the "what companies would want to come to Canton" is for all intents and purposes is: "none," in terms of bringing with them living wage jobs, let alone high paying jobs.

In fact, with the reduced TimkenSteel footprint,  the closing of Republic Storage and the pending Nationwide relocation to Columbus; treading water is more the Canton profile than it is a model of attracting outsiders to come to Canton and Stark.

In the end, Healy was unable to pull off a Houdini to reverse tides in Canton, and, in an irony of all Stark County ironies,  if Canton is to be revived to some semblance of her former greatness; it will be long time Healy foe and former Democrat Thomas M. Bernabei (who was fired by Healy in January, 2009 as his chief of staff and service director) sitting as a politically independent mayor having defeated Healy in November, 2015 who will do the reviving.

While Bernabei undoubtedly along most Cantonians and Stark Countians hope that the $500 million plus  HOFVP turns out to be what area leadership enthusiasts are saying (like in the Utica shale case) that it certainly will be in terms of bringings thousands upon thousands of jobs to Canton and Stark County, there are those who question whether or not the project is "pie in the sky"  like Utica and that the financing is not there to make the HOFVP "all that it could be."

And, if the wild eyed projections of HOFVP economic success do not materialize, then what?

Answer:  Back to basics which includes the key component Canton rebuilding its core neighborhoods.

One such neighborhood is Vassar Park.

And a key to Vassar Park is what was formerly Ridgewood-Castle apartments (now Kings Landing) at 17th Street and Market Avenue.

While Canton government is an important part of that rebuilding (e.g. Market Square), it cannot be the only part.

The private sector constituting Canton's rental real estate industry needs to step-up-to-the-plate and upgrade neighborhoods with heavy rental density.

To the SCPR, the KLP initiative ought to be taken as being somewhat like the biblical story of the potential of the tiny mustard seed pictured in the lead graphic of today's blog, to wt:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. ... ” 

Recently, KL Partners, LLC (KLP) purchased the former Ridgewood-Castle apartment complex and single handedly is blazing a pathway for other city of Canton private sector landlords to follow in making rental properties all that they ought to be.

On April 28th, the SCPR ballyhooed the appearance of KLP official Josh Lesak at a Stark County commissioner meeting (Video LINK) to fill the commissioners in on the details of the purchase and KLP's plans for rehabbing the apartment complex.

And at last Wednesday's meeting, Vassar Park Association president Bruce Nordman (who brought Lesak to the April 28th commissioners' meeting), was back to update the commissioners on the spellbinding progress that KLP is making in making Kings Landing a point of pride in terms of being an asset in providing living space to those who want to live in Canton but are unable or do not desire to own individual housing.

Nordman made the following points:

  • Prior to KLP becoming owners of the apartment complex at 17th St NW and Market Avenue on December 10, 2015, the site was the number one location in all of Canton in terms of police and fire calls,
  • On June 21st, Vassar Park Ass'n, Lesak (of KLP) Mayor Thomas Bernabei, Safety Director Andrea Perry,  Councilpersons West, Scaglione, Harmon and Smuckler met re:  Kings' Landing,
    • Note:  Mayor Bernabei met with KLP one-on-one on May 4th,
    • Note:  Nordman has an upcoming meeting with Safety Director Perry on the evolving Kings Landing situation,
  • Of the 200 apartments consisting of Kings Landing,
    • there have been 46 evictions plus another seven anticipating eviction moved out on their own,
      • Note:  KLP has spent:
        • about $15,000 in legal fees on legal matters re:  occupancy,
        • about $140,000 on new electric boxes,
        • about $190,000 on replacing all of the windows,
  • New Kings Landing standards include:
    • the need for residents to have a parking pass to park at the apartment complex,
    • renters have to:
      •  have a credit score of 500 in order to rent at Kings Landing,
      • deposit as a security deposit triple the first month's rent,
      • no felony record,
      • a $200 non-refundable fee for having up to two animals,
    • no tolerance of illegal drugs,
    • the presence of 12 security cameras,
If the HOFVP turns out to be anywhere near what its cheerleaders say it will be, then it will be value added to the Hall of Fame City.

However, for Canton to "really" turn itself around, its neighborhoods need to be right sized and improved.

A major component of improving the neighborhoods is the improvement of rental properties.

KLP is all about do so for its Kings Landing property and is in the process of flowering in to a full blown Mustard Tree as a shining model to all of Canton's landlords as to what the can and must do to as a private sector contribution to turning around Canton.

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