June 7, 2012 [WOIO]
CLEVELAND, OH –
County Prosecutor Bill Mason, Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton, and Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli announced the contribution of funds committed toward the demolition of blighted and other nuisance properties in Cuyahoga County.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office committed approximately $5 million and the Cuyahoga Land Bank has committed an additional $6.8 million towards the demolition effort. Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office is matching this total by making $11.8 million available to the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank will strategically demolish properties in areas most needed and, most importantly, on a tactical and collaborative basis with communities throughout the County.
County Prosecutor Bill Mason said, “There is a critical need in Cuyahoga County, particularly in the City of Cleveland and the inner-ring suburbs, to remove the blight and deterioration that is inhibiting neighborhood progress and creating serious safety concerns. Of the $5 million being allocated from my Office, $1 million has been earmarked for the City of Cleveland, $1 million has been earmarked for the City of East Cleveland and an additional $1 million has been allotted through a competitive grant to surrounding suburbs with the greatest need. Each of these allocations will be matched with an additional $1 million from the State Demolition Fund. The balance of the $5 million will be allocated to the County Land Bank’s continued demolition and improvement efforts throughout the County.”
Gary Norton, Mayor of East Cleveland added, “This investment allows us to continue to give relief to residents by eliminating unsafe structures while clearing land for new development. This is unique among Ohio Prosecutors; they don’t often play a role in economic development.”
The City of Cleveland, which has the largest task of removing blight and responding to emergencies, hailed this initiative as a catalytic effort at eliminating blighted conditions. Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli, who also serves as the Chairman of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, said, “We truly appreciate Prosecutor Mason’s commitment to the elimination of blighted and nuisance conditions in our communities that are safety hazards and dragging down property values. The funds will contribute to the stabilization and future growth of our neighborhoods.”
Officials are hopeful that a major dent can be made in removing residential and commercial structures that are in need of demolition. The Cuyahoga Land Bank has sophisticated research capabilities that enable them to target those areas in most need. It is estimated that over 25,000 structures county-wide require demolition.
Cuyahoga Land Bank President and General Counsel Gus Frangos acknowledged the importance of this initiative. He stated that even though the Cuyahoga Land Bank has engaged the private sector to perform hundreds of structural rehabilitations during the last two and one-half years, “we see hundreds of properties coming into our inventory on a monthly basis that are beyond rehabilitation, or located in areas with virtually no resale market. In order to make these areas and these neighborhoods safer and more productive, we need to perform what amounts to a serious root canal.” Frangos said that demolition procedures, environmental regulations and permitting have become complex processes requiring significant expertise. “Land Bank staff has demolished over 1,000 properties since its inception and is recognized as a national model in terms of its ability to acquire and dispose of properties in a professional and environmentally compliant manner. We are fully ramped up and ready to tackle this large undertaking for the citizens of Cuyahoga County.”