Commercial real estate developer Vision & Beyond Capital Investments has continued its major investment in the greater Cincinnati area with the recent purchase of the Court View Apartments and 1025 Central Avenue buildings in downtown and the west end of Cincinnati.
Vision & Beyond is spending around $7 million to acquire and develop the properties, following what is now a $91 million investment in the Cincinnati area, as it has recently acquired more than 1,550 multifamily residential units.
As part of the purchase, the company is planning extensive renovations on its new properties. The Court View Apartments building in particular is being turned into a mixed-use development that combines commercial spaces with apartments, with the 1025 Central Avenue development also incorporating three businesses.
The company claims that its developments will maintain any historical aspects of the acquired buildings, saying of the Court View project that it will work to “preserve the historical charm that is original to the building while making extensive renovations that elevate residential units to Class-A standards.”
Court View tenants were given a letter on May 25, 2021, which gave them only 30 days to move — a tall order in an unstable housing market where rents are sometimes nearly double what the building’s current tenants are paying.
Katy Crossen, a spokesperson for Vision & Beyond, reinforced this, saying “If you can believe it, the rent for a 1,200-square-foot unit (in the Court Street building) was $500…That’s not market rate. That’s the agreement they had with the previous owner.”
Tenant Tim Reed — who has lived in the Court View apartment building for 19 years — noted that “There’s (apartments) available, but they’re so expensive…Downtown has gotten so expensive. There’s no affordable housing Downtown.”
“It was a total shock, but to this day they have not talked to any of us. We don’t even know who these people are…They came in and stuck the letters under the door telling us we had to move and left.”
Though Vision & Beyond is focused on higher-rent properties, the city itself has been very concerned with affordable housing in 2021, with the city attempting to create affordable housing funds through both public and private action in April 2021 and May 2021.
Even following these moves, city councilman Chris Seelbach proposed a tax increase in June 2021 that would raise $17 million a year for affordable housing projects in Cincinnati, saying that “This is a transformative opportunity to make real progress on affordable housing for the many Cincinnatians who struggle to pay rent every month.”
These struggles are somewhat connected to the work of developers in the city, as well. Vision & Beyond’s ambition and focus in its property acquisition has caused significant distress for some Cincinnati renters, leaving concern that rental disputes could possibly impact project development.
Future expansion promises $200 million in real estatement investment from Vision & Beyond through end of 2021
The company claims that it plans to invest an additional amount of more than $200 million in property located not only in Cincinnati but also Columbus, Ohio, Dayton, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky by the end of 2021.
A March 2021 transaction moved the company a step forward in this goal as it purchased the East Pointe apartment complex in Dayton for north of $2 million — noting that the rising popularity of the Midwest United States would justify their decision.
Stas Grinberg, Vision & Beyond co-founder and co-CEO, noted that the developer “[believes] Dayton’s workforce housing market has a tremendous amount of potential, and that is appealing to our partners.”
“The Midwest is becoming very attractive to companies that are considering relocating from the East and West coasts. Columbus and Cincinnati have seen a rise in real estate value because of that, and we believe Dayton is on the rise next,” Grinberg added.
The company’s other co-founder and co-CEO, Peter Gizunterman, echoed this sentiment, adding that “As prices increase in metros like Columbus and Cincinnati, secondary markets can anticipate seeing a boost, too…International investors are interested in the Miami Valley.”
As developers like Vision & Beyond look to expand, Cincinnati has remained committed to developing affordable housing.
An April 2021 release from the city promised to devote $35.5 million in public funding towards affordable housing, organized in tandem with a fundraising campaign intended to attract an additional $30 million in private donations. The bulk of the public funding comes from a $34 million loan from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city of Cincinnati voted in May 2021 on a controversial charter amendment — Issue 3 — intended to make city leaders provide $50 million to create a new affordable housing trust fund, though the measure was overwhelmingly defeated with 73% of voters voting against it.
Though some in the community want to keep pushing Issue 3, the city and its major union leaders do intend to continue to focus on affordable housing — despite the vote’s result.
Josh Spring, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and major proponent of Issue 3, said that many people within the city are on the same page regarding the need for affordable housing, saying that “At this point, even our opposers, all of the mayoral candidates have affordable housing on the tips of their tongues and are talking about it.”
“…everybody is saying, even though people want to argue about the numbers and the semantics, everybody is saying we care about this – we’re going to do something about this. So that’s good, and we will celebrate that,” Spring continued. “We’ve got to incorporate more tools if we’re going to solve this problem,” he said.
“We will just keep pushing…We don’t intend this to slow down or lose momentum, because there’s just too many people, too many kids are dealing with not having a home. Too many parents are struggling. Too many people die each year for us to slow down.”
Matt Alter, president of the Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local 48, agreed on the need for affordable housing — even as a significant opponent of Issue 3.
“The voters voted ‘no’ on this. But how do we make sure that this doesn’t just fall to the back burner, and we continue on this pace to ensure that we can bring affordable housing to Cincinnati in a responsible manner that doesn’t damage and doesn’t hurt current services?”