Program turns vacant lots over to adjacent homeowners

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Program turns vacant lots over to adjacent homeowners

August 15, 2013 [WKYC]

Vacant lots and properties around the city of Cleveland aren’t a new problem, but a new solution is gaining some traction among homeowners.

Through a joint effort with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga land banks, homeowners living next to vacant lots in the city can now buy them for $200 a parcel.

Homeowners outside the city limits can purchase empty lots for $100 through the county and transform them into creative green spaces, parking lots, even playgrounds.

“The property has to have been tax foreclosed or donated to a land bank so that we have the title,” explained Gus Frangos, president of the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “Our land bank has conveyed vacant lots from everything to churches for daycare expansion, playgrounds, to businesses for expansion of a parking lot.”

In the city of Cleveland alone there are more than 7,000 vacant lots and properties, and Frangos estimates there are hundreds more in other municipalities.

“Instead of sitting there and remaining overgrown and tax delinquent and not productive, which is a blight on the neighborhood … it corrupts all property values all around and it’s much more broad than just that lot,” said Frangos.

With more homeowners taking advantage of city and county resources Frangos believes “you’re not only preventing decay and establishing value on that one home, you’re preventing decay on the whole street.”

Dianne Krnz recently teamed up with her neighbor to give a facelift to what used to be a vacant lot between their east side homes.

“It was very overgrown, and the city can’t keep up with all the lots. It’s too many,” said Krnz. “Now it’s an eye sore out of the way and it beautifies the neighborhood and it helps people to work together.”

To qualify for either the city or county’s program you must be a homeowner in good standing and have the ability to take over the property taxes and maintenance of the empty lot after purchase.

The city also requires applicants to draw up plans of what they hope to use the lot for. These plans must be in accordance with all local building, housing and zoning codes.

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