April 17, 2015 [Beth Mlady, Special to cleveland.com]
Four attached buildings that comprise the former Executive Club at 21330 Center Ridge Road will be razed as the result of a recently awarded property demolition grant.
“We received $304,000,” said Rocky River Law Director Andrew Bemer in a Thursday interview. “This is county money, but the county land bank, which is a freestanding corporation, will act as third-party administrator. They will do all the necessary competitive bidding and practical machine work to get it down. We didn’t have $300,000 sitting in our treasury, so when the county came up with this program, we jumped on it.”
The program is administered through the Cuyahoga County Department of Development and Cuyahoga Land Bank. A Letter to Abate a Public Nuisance was included in the city’s grant application.
Newly emerging property owners have since attempted “creative refinancing” on the “blighted” property, city council meeting minutes indicate. Those owners could demolish the buildings themselves, but Bemer indicated they have had years to remedy the situation and failed to act. Rocky River has six months to complete the demolition process.
Bemer said the 1.9-acre property is worth more without the buildings and has witnessed collapsed ceilings, hanging wires and missing fixtures. Discarded tires and an old television are stacked and hidden in the bushes near a rear door, beside a dilapidated sidewalk.
“Through our fire marshal, we issued a number of warnings and citations, but the principals were located in New Jersey,” Bemer explained, citing prolonged multi-state bank and court involvement for contributing to the four years that have elapsed. “The fire marshal boarded up the property, and there was a property manager involved. The interesting thing is, the property owners have surfaced. I know people are interested in protecting their interests, and we certainly respect that, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to sit on the sidelines now and fold our hands and wait. I’ve been in the building with the fire marshal, and it’s creepy. Let’s get this done.”
More Rocky River buildings likely will encounter the wrecking ball in the future.
“We’ve identified a couple of other properties for the next round (of grant applications, due in May),” Bemer said. “A couple of residences are vacant and in foreclosure.”
City Council needs to pass a resolution to enter into an agreement with the county to execute the demolition. Bemer said he is working with the county law department to get all the necessary documents prepared.