Shaker council puts up funding to rehab then sell one house, tear down 6 "public nuisances"

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Shaker council puts up funding to rehab then sell one house, tear down 6 “public nuisances”

September 16, 2013 [Thomas Jewell,]

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — The city continues its ongoing efforts to improve or remove its dilapidated housing stock.

Last month, City Council approved an agreement with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland to renovate another home on Pennington Road in the Moreland neighborhood.

Then in a special Sept. 9 meeting, council agreed to front $70,500 toward that rehab, expected to arrive later in a grant through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, administered through the Cuyahoga County Department of Development.

“I have a very strong expectation we’ll get back more than that when the property is sold,” said Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken.

The three-bedroom, one bathroom house in the 3500 block of Pennington was acquired by the city through land sale forfeiture.

Under the agreement, Neighborhood Housing Services will sell the property to an owner-occupant through its Land Trust Program, putting it back on the tax rolls.

In asking council to award the no-bid contract, city Director of Neighborhood Revitalization Kamla Lewis, the city’s representative on the NHSGC board, said the non-profit is the only one that meets all the necessary grant criteria.

In nearly a decade of working with the city, they most recently partnered on two “Entrepreneurial Houses” on Chelton Road in Moreland which are owned and managed by NHSGC and rented to interns at the Shaker Launch House.

Councilwoman Julianna Johnston Senturia pointed out that the city has already partnered with private developers to renovate and sell three other houses on Pennington to owner-occupants using federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds.

“What I like about the project is that it adds to that cluster of houses,” Senturia noted.

At the same time, council also voted last month to add another $100,000 into the city’s demolition fund for six more abandoned houses that have already been declared public nuisances.

City Housing Inspection Department Director William Hanson told council that the $90,000 private property demolition fund for 2013 has already been exhausted on what Councilwoman Nancy Moore characterizes as “walkaway” owners, giving way to banks taking over the deeds.

“To date, the owners have failed to comply with notices to repair or demolish these dwellings,” Hanson stated in a memo last month to council.

The half-dozen houses in question are on Colwyn, Menlo, Milverton and Sudbury roads in Moreland, as well as Newell and Rolliston roads in the Lomond neighborhood.

“In order to abate these blighting conditions and to protect the public safety, we would like to move forward with the demolition process, but are unable due to the absence of funding,” Hanson said.

With that in mind, council approved the additional demolition money, which averages out to nearly $16,500 per house once asbestos surveys and remediation are figured in.

So far this year, a total of 21 properties had already been demolished — 17 of those funded by outside sources, primarily the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.

“The city will continue to pursue external funding, but the options are limited,” Hanson noted.