10,000 Demolitions: Building Safer, Stabilized Neighborhoods One Lot at a Time

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10,000 Demolitions: Building Safer, Stabilized Neighborhoods One Lot at a Time

This June will mark the 10,000th time Cuyahoga Land Bank has positively impacted a community through the removal of an abandoned property.

Strong, stabilized neighborhoods are safer and feature homes with higher property values. Their school systems are also better, and this fact alone can have a long-term effect on individuals’ quality of life. Pair all that with wanting the best for our hometown, and this is why we do the work we do.

Cuyahoga Land Bank has almost 15 years of neighborhood stabilization and revitalization under its belt, creating $1.43 billion total economic impact in our first 10 years of work and adding almost 2,500 regional jobs to the market. Whether we are working with contractors to help them purchase and renovate vacant homes in need of maintenance or helping developers promote strong neighborhoods by building sustainable homes, the Land Bank is making a difference by improving our county’s neighborhoods. Regardless of each successful project’s outcome, they all share the same starting point at the Land Bank: being carefully assessed to determine and promote renovation where possible.

When renovation is not possible and the property creates safety and blight issues for a community, the Land Bank’s demo team takes over. The demo team has been a critical part of the Land Bank since 2009, when legislation was passed to create the state’s first land bank in response to the national housing crisis, which hit our share of Lake Erie’s southern shore particularly hard.

Since then, our demo team has been using essentially the same process once a property has been deemed ready for takedown. “We remove all garbage from the interior and exterior of the structure, assess, abate asbestos if and when needed and then demo,” said Adam Stalder, the Land Bank’s Director of Community Stabilization. “Our demolition contractors raze the structure, grade the property with clean fill so it’s flat, add two inches of topsoil and then plant grass.”

“We’ve been asked why we tear down houses that someone out there could use,” Stalder continues, “but these are not feasible to rehab and negatively impact the neighbors’ quality of life.”

Property that gets a fresh start by way of demo offers residents an array of benefits, including:

  • Blight removal. Neighbors feel the haunting of an abandoned home and relief when it’s gone.
  • Improved community perception: Residents feel prouder of their neighborhood when a condemned house is no longer visible.
  • Opportunity for better use.  Many times, the parcel of demolished houses become public parks, gardens or other community-used spaces.

The Land Bank is gearing up for its 10,000th demo. That’s right – ten. thousandth. This year is also Cuyahoga Land Bank’s 15-year anniversary – two huge milestones in the same year! While most of our demos come without story and celebration, others have made news, shook our team and/or became part of Cleveland history.

As we work our way to 10k, scheduled to take place in June, we will also highlight many of our storied demos on social media, which include a hotel that was so visually intact on teardown day that the towels were still hanging on the bathroom rings; providing a community a collective exhale by the removal of a house where kidnapped girls and one baby were held hostage; and the recovery of two certified Purple Hearts for two brothers killed in World War II.

Every day, we interact with grateful residents. And every day we are grateful for the important restorative work we do to make our county’s neighborhoods brighter, safer and healthier.