Energy Efficiency Program Sparks Value CRE Investments – a look into Cleveland’s first C-PACE financed commercial property improvement

by | Dec 5, 2018 | Market Growth, News

Cleveland’s new commercial buildings and historic rehabilitations deserve attention, but as MAN Holdings CEO Amanda Mayan sees it, important opportunities exist in between as well – particularly among what she calls the “underperforming” category.

“A great number of commercial properties, 50 to 60 years old, are well located and even well occupied but aren’t performing as they should,” Mayan says. “Structures like the Shaker West Professional Building, which we recently acquired and renovated, can benefit from energy efficiency upgrades that will greatly improve their balance sheets. MAN Holdings aims to create value in markets with both high growth potential and challenging barriers to entry,” she adds.

For an economically diverse community like Cleveland to grow and thrive, there is a pressing need for affordable, modern office and residential space. Renovation of older commercial and residential stock provides significant cost savings over new construction, where prices of $150 per square foot and up can result in prohibitive rents for small businesses, and also make the cost of housing a challenge for the average working family.

Innovative PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loans allow investors to consider projects that once seemed unfeasible. By offering favorable, long-term amortization, these loans allow developers to revitalize existing inventory in a cost-effective way. 

Mayan acknowledges the barriers to turning around underperforming properties but notes that the state of Ohio and several economic development organizations have played a part in facilitating reinvestment through PACE financing. Her company’s Shaker West property at 11811 Shaker Boulevard took advantage of two programs:

  • Ohio’s Commercial PACE, or CPACE, program provided funding from private entities such as Greenworks Lending to make fixed and permanent improvements to improve the building’s energy infrastructure.
  • The Council of Small Enterprises (COSE) and Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) commercial energy audit program, backed by FirstEnergy’s Ohio Utilities as a member benefit, also played a role.

Greenworks Lending financed $467,000 in building improvements that Mayan expects will reduce her property’s energy consumption by 42 percent. Energy saving measures included rooftop solar, building envelope (insulation, window glazing), LED lighting and building controls.  

“We are proud to be the first community in Cleveland where C-PACE has been used. This is a big deal for our community. Within Ward 6 and beyond there are many properties that can benefit from this program,” stated Councilman Blaine Griffin. “C-PACE provides long-term funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements from private capital providers such as Greenworks Lending.  The funding and improvements help make businesses more competitive and properties more valuable while lowering our community’s carbon footprint and because the capital is private, there is no cost to the taxpayer.”

The suggested array of upgrades deployed by MAN Holdings are common and frequently actionable by commercial property owners in the Cleveland area.  

Nicole Stika, vice president of energy services for GCP/COSE, stated “The opportunities for improvement were flagged during the energy audit we facilitated following the acquisition of the 49,000 square foot facility by MAN Holdings. Lighting, heating, and cooling represented approximately 90% of total annual energy consumption and 83% total annual energy cost, so upgrading these systems was critical,” she stated.

GCP/COSE also helped Mayan’s firm to secure almost $10,000 in energy efficiency rebates.  

“MAN Holdings use of the C-PACE program to help revitalize an existing commercial building by improving its energy efficiency is a great example of the economic development potential for green design and renovations,” stated Billy Patterson, business development director for Greenworks Lending. “Amanda Mayan at MAN Holdings is bringing new life into several properties and in doing so is improving tenant experiences, creating value, supporting green jobs and we can only hope, setting an example for other commercial property owners in the area.”

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is one of the largest metropolitan chambers of commerce in the nation focused on driving the economic vitality of the region through building a strong and thriving climate for the broad business community, including small businesses, middle-market companies and large corporations. Its organizational core includes its small-business division, the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE).

GCP/COSE Energy Team helps members effectively manage their energy usage to achieve the maximum amount of savings and benefit to their respective organizations. Learn more about the work they do by clicking here. Or, contact the team directly via email at energy@gcpartnership.com or by phone at 216-592-2205.

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