Cuyahoga Land Reutilization Corporation

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Cuyahoga Land Reutilization Corporation

Apr 22, 2013 [Wikipedia]

The Cuyahoga Land Reutilization Corporation, commonly known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank, was formed in 2010 [1] as a result of the collaborative efforts of both subject matter experts and policy makers responding to the effects of the foreclosure crisis in Cuyahoga County, which includes the 44105 zip code that ranked as the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in 2007 [2].


Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, current Land Bank President and General Counsel Gus Frangos, Senators Tim Grendel, Bob Spada and Chief Legislative sponsor Tom Patton, State Representative Matt Dolan, Cleveland Council Members Jay Westbrook and Tony Brancatelli and members of the county’s non-profit and academic community convened to develop an entity that could effectively turn vacant and abandoned properties back into productive use. The result of these efforts were several pieces of legislation drafted by current Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos: Ohio House Bill 293 [3] and 294 [4] and Ohio Senate Bill 353 [5]. The passage of these bills resulted in significant revisions to sections 1724 [6] and 5722 [7] of the Ohio Revised Code. The changes to Ohio law allowed for the creation of a land bank as a separate non-profit, government purpose entity tasked to (1) strategically acquire blighted properties; (2) return them to productive use through rehabilitation, private sales, demolition; (3) preparation for traditional economic development; and (4) creative uses of the land[8].


The Cuyahoga Land Bank has multiple programs to return properties to productive use through rehabilitation and sales to new private owners. The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s website makes an up-to-the-minute list of properties available to the public. These properties are categorized by location and status: For Sale, Pending, Scheduled for demolition, as a Vacant Lot or For Sale through the Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage program [9] Homes listed as “for sale” are available “as is” to individuals willing to rehabilitate the property to the housing quality standards [10] set out by the Cuyahoga Land Bank and who meet the Land Bank’s property transfer policy standards[11]. Individuals that are interested in rehabilitating a property in order to make it their new home for at least three years, qualify for the Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage Program[12]. The Land Bank selects properties that need moderate repair for this program so that that work can be completed by anyone handy and the home has more equity from the onset. The Cuyahoga Land Bank makes the properties available for bid exclusively to owner occupants for 30 days [13]


The Cuyahoga Land Bank also demolishes [14] properties that are beyond rehabilitation, which it determines through an assessment process[15].

Whether a property has been slated for demolition or for rehabilitation, it cannot always be turned back into productive use immediately. The Cuyahoga Land Bank preserves these properties in order to diminish deterioration and discourage vandalism [16]. A number of steps are taken in order to preserve a property, including boarding up windows and doors, changing the locks, disconnecting utilities, weatherizing the property and maintaining vegetation. To complete the work, the Cuyahoga Land Bank hires contractors and maintains a partnership with Court Community Service to perform regular maintenance [17].

Urban Gardens

According to the ReImagining Cleveland Vacant Lot Study, urban gardens are an innovative way to breathe new life into a community that can beautify a space, provide local food, and help restore the environment [18]. The Cuyahoga Land Bank partners with local governments and community groups to transform some of the vacant lots into its inventory into urban gardens and makes its vacant lots available to urban gardeners who want to reuse plants and accessories from those properties [19]. The Cuyahoga Land Bank also makes vacant lots available for annexation to adjacent homeowners for $100 [20].


The Cuyahoga Land Bank has gained national acclaim for its groundbreaking partnerships with HUD [21], Bank of America [22], Wells Fargo [23], JP Morgan Chase and Fannie Mae [24]. Through these agreements the Cuyahoga Land Bank is able to acquire low value properties and renovate homes to be placed on the market or tear down those beyond repair.

In addition to its groundbreaking partnerships with banks, the Cuyahoga Land Bank also partners with community development corporations, non-profits and governments to promote economic development through rehabilitation, demolition and strategic land assembly as well as to provide value through urban search and rescue or workforce development training [25]. The Land Bank partners with Career Development and Placement Strategies, Inc. to provide hands-on home renovation training for formerly incarcerated fathers [26].

Some of the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s other unique partnerships are worthy of note. The organization partnered with the International Services Center by providing homes and partial renovation costs in order to create permanent refugee housing [27]. Kononia Homes, Inc., which is the largest private service provider for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Cuyahoga County[28], awarded Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos for the leading role he played in helping Koinonia establish a working urban farm [29]. The farm serves as a learning tool, a food source and an incomes source for the special needs community that Koinonia serves [30]. The Cuyahoga Land Bank also partnered with Purple Heart homes to provide housing renovated to special needs specifications for veterans [31].