For Release: July 15, 2019
We are issuing the below statement in response to a number of communications over the last week regarding the development of 4145 Apple Street. NEST’s commitment remains the same as it always has been: to develop 4145 Apple Street into a site that contributes to the community and achieves the goals NEST and Northside have laid out.
Since 2005 NEST has worked to ensure Northside thrives as a vibrant and sustainable community by preserving, improving and creating the neighborhood’s built environment. As Northside’s non-profit Community Development Corporation we work with a variety of partners and stakeholders to redevelop residential and commercial properties in the neighborhood. Since Save-A-Lot’s closing in 2013, the Apple Street Market (ASM) team and hundreds of Northsiders has been working tirelessly to design and realize a community owned co-op grocery that would bring quality, fresh food access to our neighborhood. On a personal level, many of NESTs board members have been among the supporters, investing their time and their resources to support this effort.
In 2017 NEST agreed to explore a partnership that would make the market a tenant of NEST-owned property, potentially reducing hurdles to bring the project to fruition. As time passed and the site was at risk of being sold publicly, our organization worked with the City of Cincinnati to enter into a legal funding agreement that allowed NEST’s direct purchase of the property at 4145 Apple Street. This agreement was publicly supported by a majority of residents and stakeholders, the Northside Community Council and the Northside Business Association, and ultimately the Mayor, City Council, and the Administration.
The funding agreement with the City of Cincinnati, outlining clear requirements of NEST, facilitated the property purchase in November 2018. As steward of those public funds, NEST is responsible for overseeing a successful project which must be in development two years following the agreement start date. Like many others in the neighborhood, we were disappointed to learn earlier this year that Apple Street Market’s major funding partners had pulled away from the project. This not only damaged the progress of community food access but it created an urgent timeline for NEST to make progress with 4145 Apple Street’s development. Our organization voted to proceed with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), a step all parties knew to be necessary to identify the path forward.
The RFQ, released in April 2019, garnered significant interest and received seven respondent submissions in May 2019. The RFQ document was released publicly and
specified the need for compliance with:
1. Northside’s Community Land Use Plan:
Calls for 4145 Apple Street to be redeveloped as “Mixed Use: Commercial, Office and/or Residential”
2. Alignment with Community Needs:
-Tenant mix to support diverse and creative culture
-Enhancing food access
To facilitate adequate consideration and selection of a co-developer NEST formed a 9-person selection committee. The selection process, taking place over 8 weeks, allowed ample review time and progression towards the goal of compliance with our funding agreement with the City. During this process, we determined that it was infeasible to select Apple Street Market as co-developer given the unknown funding future and lack of immediate viability to reach compliance with our City funding agreement. NEST’s team chose to notify the ASM team as soon as possible, both to be fair to their public fundraising efforts and to allow them time to prepare for the future collaborative meeting we are committed to hold with the selected co-developer.
Our selection process was consistently based upon respondents’ experience, ability to complete a project, and commitment to working collaboratively in the community. A transparent, fair RFQ selection process takes time and requires careful consideration at every step. In-depth evaluation, review and consideration leads us to our current place where the NEST board has selected a preferred co-developer and will begin negotiations with them on a co-development agreement. As we enter into those negotiations, we are committed to including opportunities for a facilitated meeting with Apple Street Market to measure the feasibility of incorporating their grocery store plan into a larger affordable housing development at 4145 Apple Street. We look forward to sharing further details in the near future.
For more than two years NEST has worked directly with the ASM team, providing countless hours of staff and board time, assisting with project planning and financially covering the cost of property holding. We are confident that the Northside community recognizes both our deep commitment to our neighborhood, to ASM’s goal of food access and also our obligation to responsibly steward public funds.
Throughout this process and all future projects, NEST remains dedicated to Northside’s betterment through community vision, collaboration and successful developments. We look forward to continuing the strong partnerships we have with Apple Street Market, the Northside Community Council, and our friends and neighbors whose lives are made better by the work we are all undertaking.