September 27, 2013 [Katherine Bulava, Heights Observer]
On Sept. 25, officials from the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the cities of Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland gathered at 14048 Superior Ave. in East Cleveland. They were there to kick off one of five simultaneous home demolitions in the North Coventry neighborhood that is split evenly between the two cities.
“These demolitions are a marked change that will eliminate decades of decay to make way for economic development,” said East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton. “Through the partnership between the Cuyahoga Land Bank, the City of East Cleveland and the City of Cleveland Heights, in association with the former and current Cuyahoga County prosecutors and Attorney General Mike DeWine, we have embarked on a historic opportunity to rebuild the North Coventry neighborhood in such a way that the future will be brighter than the past.”
Increased foreclosures and decreased investment in the North Coventry neighborhood have resulted in increased crime, lower property values and continued disinvestment. Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland teamed with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to demolish a series of vacant, abandoned apartment buildings in order to remove blight from North Coventry and clear the way for new development.
“The City of Cleveland Heights is pleased to be a part of this revitalization effort for North Coventry. Working together with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and East Cleveland is a partnership that makes a commitment to the value of creative efforts to tackle the all important housing issues of Cuyahoga County,” said Cleveland Heights Mayor Edward Kelley.
The demolitions are the first phase of an effort to revitalize North Coventry, where an estimated 60 more demolitions are necessary as a first step toward recovery in the community.
“This initiative is a positive step forward for the North Coventry community, and for Cuyahoga County. As we demolish abandoned buildings and transform them into usable properties, we are working together to empower our communities and our county. I am proud of the work of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and look forward to being part of this ongoing effort to revitalize North Coventry,” said Armond Budish, Ohio State Representative.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank worked with Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland to acquire distressed properties after those that were not already publicly owned were declared nuisances by the two cities. Now, the Cuyahoga Land Bank can strategically demolish the properties, creating an environment ripe for new investment.
“The ability to work with multiple partners to gather funding and take the necessary steps to make progress happen gives us the unique ability to look past borders to reimagine this community and make that vision a reality,” said Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga Land Bank president.
The estimated cost of the first phase of demolition is $1.1 million, earmarked from the Ohio Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward mortgage fraud settlement. That sum was matched by another $1 million, earmarked for East Cleveland by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.
“Abandoned properties are not only evidence of blight and despair, they are also fertile ground for crime—which leads to more abandonment, blight and despair. Our office works with the Land Bank to break this cycle of decline, and, in this case, we hope, to set the stage for this neighborhood’s rebirth,” said Timothy J. McGinty, Cuyahoga County prosecutor.