Rocky River to apply for $3 million state grant for Center Ridge Road traffic study (

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio –- The city is applying for a $3 million state grant to pay for a traffic study on Center Ridge Road.

The study is necessary to upgrade traffic signals and keep up with new development on the busy road that connects commercial, school and residential areas, Mayor Pamela Bobst said.

“We want to support the investments we see today and future investments in the area by having a roadway that functions well,” the mayor said.

A new $29 million 264-unit high-end apartment building at Wooster Road opened to residents in 2014. Goldwood Primary School is on Center Ridge, as is Westgate Town Center. The city has also received a $304,000 grant from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to tear down the old Executive Club at 21330 Center Ridge, a site that Bobst said is almost 2 acres of prime commercial real estate.

“The study will analyze traffic flow and do a traffic count along Center Ridge Road, where we have a lot of points of egress and ingress and a lot of curb cuts,” Bobst said. “We want a good, safe traffic flow and accessibility to our high traffic areas and adjacent residential areas.”

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency denied the city’s application for similar funding a year ago, but the mayor is hopeful that this year will be different.

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Developer J. Shorey plans to turn a vacant foundry into a fish farm, arts complex (

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Central and Fairfax neighborhoods lost an estimated 100 jobs in 2012 when T&B Foundry closed a storied metal casting plant in a foreclosure process that left the eight-acre property vacant, shuttered and saddled with nearly $2 million in liens.

Now Cleveland Heights entrepreneur J. Duncan Shorey has a proposal to transform the plant at 2469 East 71st St. at Platt Avenue with an unusual mix of overlapping uses including a fish farm, an orchard, a studio center for artists, a farmers market, a cooking school and a computer server farm.

The Foundry Project, as he calls it, would encapsulate hot themes in Cleveland redevelopment including sustainability, urban agriculture and the arts as a place-making tool, plus the drive to build social equity by creating jobs in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Also part of the potential mix are federal and state historic tax credits, which Shorey said he hopes to pursue in the restoration of the century-old foundry building, which towers six stories over vacant lots just east of Woodland Cemetery.

“I have an exciting vision, and I have found a group of people who are receptive and who have agreed to help me pursue the vision,” Shorey said last week during an interview at the foundry site, which he acquired in March from the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

Shorey said he is close to securing financing on the first element of the project, a $4.5 million, 40,000-square-foot high-tech fish farm building in which he’d produce thousands of pounds a week of live branzino, or Mediterranean sea bass. A second 40,000-square-foot building would follow after the first is up and running, he said.

Shorey’s goal is to launch the fish farm late this year, in time to serve fresh branzino during the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016.

And he said he could get the computer data center, or server farm, up and running in six months, once a customer is identified.

The rest of the project could take longer, depending on financing and demand. Total investment in the project could run $15 million to $25 million, including $6 million to remove asbestos from the six-story T&B factory building and to restore it, Shorey said.

His investment so far, not counting the value of unpaid time spent by Shorey and his partners, amounts to $100,000, he said.

Shorey and partners including horticulturalist Jay Szabo and Curt Witchey, the chief financial officer for the project, have designed the project with a series of economic and environmental feedback loops that would knit the fish farm together with other elements of the project.

In sum, the project would:

-      Use 5 percent of profits expected from fish farming, or $50,000 to $100,000 a year, to support the nonprofit studio center on three upper floors of the renovated T&B building.

-      Tap into the fiber-optic trunk line buried next to the adjacent Norfolk & Southern rail line to provide high-speed Internet access for a new data center, or server farm, to be located on the property.

-      Use waste heat from the server farm to provide energy and reduce utility bills for the fish farm.

-      Use waste harvested from the fish farm to fertilize fruit grown in an orchard and greenhouse operation on site.

-      Involve the neighborhood by providing jobs, a cooking school and a weekly farmers market to improve what Shorey called a food desert.

Skeptics might scoff at Shorey’s vision, but he has established a record of momentum and buy-in during the two-and-a-half years that he’s spent on the project.

The county land bank, for example, helped Shorey clear $1.8 million in liens against T&B held by PNC Bank and the state of Ohio for workman’s compensation claims, according to land bank lawyer Doug Sawyer.

Cuyahoga County’s Department of Economic Development spent nearly $39,000 on a Phase II environmental survey for the project, which Shorey said indicates that soils on the property are safe for farming.

And Shorey has secured letters of intent from Maximum Seafood, a Toronto-area live fish broker and from Sweetwater Springs Fish Farms in northern Indiana to buy a large percentage of his production of branzino.

Shorey said he’s sharing the letters with potential lenders and investors, along with letters of endorsement from Cleveland chefs Karen Small, owner of Ohio City’s Flying Fig restaurant and bar; and Doug Katz, chef-owner of Fire Food and Drink in Shaker Square.

“To have somebody locally doing aquaculture in our own backyard is something pretty exciting that I would support,” Katz said Monday. “I would certainly buy the fish [from Shorey] for my restaurant.”

Ward 5 Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, who has followed Shorey’s progress since 2013, said Monday, “I’m a believer.”

And Grafton Nunes, president of the Cleveland Institute of Art, the city’s independent, four-year art college, said Monday he was intrigued by Shorey’s proposal to turn the top three floors of the Foundry building into a studio center for artists with infrastructure including a glass-blowing furnace.

“It’s a worthwhile social and economic experiment, and I’m happy to work with him on it,” Nunes said of Shorey’s vision.

Shorey estimated that Ohio has roughly 300 fish farms, most of which are small, pond-based operations, he said.

The Rid-All Green Partnership at East 81st Street and Otter Road established a fish farm in recent years that produces tilapia, but a spokesman, who asked that his name not be used, declined to comment Monday on the farm’s weekly production and whether demand exists for a second, large-scale operation in the city.

Shorey, however, is convinced strong demand exists locally and across the Great Lakes region for the 500,000 pounds a year of branzino he ultimately plans to produce.

A lawyer and president and CEO of the Foundry Project and Northcoast Fish Farm LLC, Shorey learned about the T&B property during the mid-1990s when he served as environmental compliance officer for Oglebay Norton Corp., which bought the forging company in the 1970s and then later sold it back to its previous owners.

Shorey said T&B — formerly known as Taylor & Boggis — experienced difficulties in the 2000s when the customer base for its cast-metal products evaporated.

“It’s just the way the world’s economy is changing,” he said.

But he said he remained intrigued with the T&B property and began exploring ways to acquire it and put it back to productive use.

When asked what would happen if he only gets the first fish farm building built, and the rest of the property lies dormant, Shorey said that’s not his plan.

“I’m not going to let that happen,” he said. “That’s the short answer. The long answer is we’ve built what we think is a pretty robust business plan that we think will get us there.”

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Artists will transform vacant Slavic Village houses in second-annual ‘Rooms to Let’ exhibition (

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Following its success in 2014, the “Rooms to Let: Cleveland” exhibition is returning to the Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood Saturday and Sunday.

Organized by Slavic Village Development, the show aims to promote public debate over vacancy and the struggles of city neighborhoods in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and the 2008-09 recession.

Some 40 visual and performance artists have been invited by a team of curators to use vacant houses scheduled for demolition as a palette for temporary installations.

The event, free and open to the public, will also feature hands-on art activities sponsored by the Broadway School of Music and the Arts and Zygote Press Mobile Press, plus live music performed by ensembles including the Cleveland Orchestra.

Hours for the event are 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Event maps will be available at 7019 Fullerton Ave., at the corner of East 71st Street and Fullerton.

Curators for the event include Sai Sinbondit, a designer at Bialosky+Partner Architects and a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art; Amy Krusinski Sinbondit, a ceramics/sculpture artist and adjunct faculty member at the art institute; artists Dana Depew and Scott Pickering; Rian Brown, a filmmaker, video artist and associate professor at Oberlin College; and Rebecca Cross, a textile artist and adjunct professor at Kent State University.

Commenting on the show in a news release, Depew said: “Participating artists and curators enact their vision in order to give these spaces a proper eulogy.”

Participating artists include Mona Gazala, Megan Louise Pitcher, Tina Ripley, Meg Matko, Kelsey Moulton, Megan Elk, Mallorie Freeman, Lauren Sammon, Loren Naji, Jeffry Chiplis, Paul Sydorenko and Jose Carlos Texiera.

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Rep. Kaptur Celebrates $4.9 Million State Housing Initiative Support for Northern Ohio (RealEstateRama)

Ohio Housing Finance Agency will address blighted, vacant properties in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lucas counties Toledo, OH – May 6, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Today Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur celebrated the allocation of $4,968,105.61 by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) to assist Northern Ohio land banks through its Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP). Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation will receive $2,699,071.83, Lorain County Land Reutilization Corporation will receive $269,033.78 and Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation will receive $2,000,000.00. “This initiative will go a long way to reducing blighted properties and stabilizing home values in communities across Northern Ohio,” said Rep. Kaptur. “This is an important step to begin the healing process in neighborhoods that were impacted by the recent economic downturn. Partnering with these three successful county land banks helps put these properties back into circulation, giving them a fresh start and getting the surrounding neighborhoods back on track. Thank you to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Treasury Department for supporting these important initiatives.” The maximum amount of assistance per property is $25,000 with an estimated average amount of assistance of $12,000. Awardees are responsible for all aspects of the property acquisition and removal as well as plans for greening and ongoing maintenance of the property. Nearly 800 blighted structures have been removed with more than 100 units pending approval as a result of the first and second rounds of funding; and more than 60 lots have been transferred and greened. Thus far, NIP has disbursed and reserved $10 million. At the current funding levels, OHFA expects to eliminate 5,500 vacant and blighted units by October 2016. “Through blight elimination we have increased our impact to not only stem the tide of foreclosures in critical neighborhoods, but to proactively preserve homeowner equity and enable our communities to wholly recover from the effects of the foreclosure crisis,” said Doug Garver, executive director of OHFA. “NIP is not a deviation from, but rather an expansion of, our foreclosure prevention investment.”

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Cuyahoga Land Bank Homeowner Feature

Willie Bethune recently participated in the Deed-In-Escrow Program and purchased a three bedroom home in the BroadLand Bank Staff way-Slavic Village neighborhood. Willie shared about his successful purchase and says “It was a really good experience and a great learning experience to be able to see all phases of the renovation project to completion.  Everything was very straight forward in working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and I am happy to be a first time homeowner.” The Cuyahoga Land Bank wishes Willie best of luck with his new home!


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Fun Fact!

Every year the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood hosts their annual Neighborhood Summit that brings togetherLand Bank Staff dedicated community stakeholders, and awards residents and organizations for their hard work.  This year the Cuyahoga Land Bank was acknowledged at the event and awarded Outstanding Service and Commitment to Slavic Village. There were numerous residents, organizations, and city partners that attended who made an impact on improving Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood focused on “Historic Foundation: Buildings Blocks for the Future”.

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Did You Know?

Spring is here and the Cuyahoga Land Bank NIP Greening Program is now in full force!  The program is made possible by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP).  The program works along with the Cuyahoga LanLand Bank Staff d Bank Side Yard Program to beautify the vacant lots adjacent to residents’ homes. The lots eligible for the program will be improved through additional landscaping, trees and fencing. The program will not only beautify vacant lots but also add to the aesthetics of the street, stabilize surrounding properties, and offer neighbors healthy green space for passive and active recreation.  The Cuyahoga Land Bank is excited that the NIP Greening Program is underway.  The program is a great opportunity to transform vacant lots into vibrant places! For any questions on the program please reach out to Lilah Zautner, Manager of Special Projects and Land Reuse, at 216-698-8853 or

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Dogs Need a Nice Home, Too

Just hearing the name of Frank Kuhar’s housing development firm—“Revived Housing Inc.”—tells you his philosophy about run-down properties. He knows some have to be demolished, but he would much rather give them new life if he can, letting them “age in place,” he says.
So when he heard of an abandoned building in an industrial section of South Euclid, he staLand Bank Staffrted thinking of how it could be reborn.
“This building had been vacant for at least ten years,” says Michael Love, Economic Development Director for the City of South Euclid. “It was tax delinquent, the owner wasn’t maintaining it and it was in foreclosure.”  That’s when the Cuyahoga Land Bank stepped in to help acquire the building.
Kuhar looked at the building and saw its potential but, he says, “It was in pretty bad shape. It had been neglected, squatters had been inside—it could have been a demo—but I had a notion it could be a good home for DogTropolis.” He knew DogTropolis very well; he’d been taking his Yellow Lab, Haley, to DogTropolis Doggy Daycare (formerly DogTopia) for years. Kuhar mentioned the space to the DogTropolis owner Connie Karlowicz (a.k.a. “Top Dog”) and they visited the building that same afternoon.Land Bank Staff
“It’s double the size of our old location in Cleveland Heights a total of, 8,000 square feet,” she says. “I went home and sketched a layout that night in my kitchen. Frank let me design the whole thing so that it fit my businesses needs” said Connie.  Her doggy guests are thrilled with their new digs; they have a 3,500-square-foot playroom, a huge fenced outdoor play area and oversized kennels for overnight stays.
It’s been an exciting project for Kuhar as well. “It has a vaulted ceiling, steel roof trusses, 14-foot-high walls—kind of retro, a cool industrial look,” he says. The work, he adds, was “pretty much an overhaul” which included new heating and cooling systems, windows, garage doors, flooring and plumbing. He laid a concrete pad behind the building for the play area and built offices and a reception space. Soon he will install energy-efficient lighting because, he says, “I try to be responsible about conserving energy.”
“The new space is convenient,” he adds, chuckling: “There’s a veterinarian right next door.”
For Karlowicz, even the location is a huge bonus.  “It’s just 1.3 miles down the road,” she says.  “I lost no clients, and gained some new ones!”

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One South Euclid names new executive board, renews agreement with city: Council meeting recap (

The city’s community development corporation One South Euclid has appointed a new board president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, and wants to triple the size of its board of directors.

Council renewed the city’s three-year agreement with One South Euclid at its meeting Monday. The organization plans to roll out additional programs this year under its new strategic plan, community services director and ex-officio One South Euclid board member Keith Benjamin said.

Here’s a look at council’s actions Monday.

One South Euclid: Karen Poelking, vice-president for board and community relations at Notre Dame College, is the new president of One South Euclid.

The organization’s new vice-president is Yvonne Sanderson, former executive director of the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce and owner of Focal Plane Photography, an aerial photography business in South Euclid.

Longtime resident and Argonne-Avondale Neighborhood Group founder Pam O’Toole is the new secretary and Austen Welter, a pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, is treasurer.

The non-profit, founded in 2007, receives homes from the city and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and works to sell them to buyers who pledge to occupy the homes or sell them to owner-occupants. One South Euclid has also opened multiple community gardens and hosts neighborhood festivals and events.

Benjamin, who cannot vote on the board, said this year is the first One South Euclid has money to spend. He said the group will seek the community’s input on new programs, which could include: offering grants to help seniors or low-income resident repair their homes or loans for businesses planning to upgrade or expand.

Environmental assessment: Developer DFS Management LLC is seeking a brownfield redevelopment grant from Cuyahoga County to build a new medical office building at 14141 Cedar Road. The company is considering investing $905,000 in the site and renting the space to University Heights Dental and other businesses.

Council unanimously approved the company’s application with the county Monday.

Road tax: Council is considering asking voters to renew a road repair property tax.

Engineer Andy Blackley urged residents and council to support the 2.5-mill, five-year levy Monday and said the city would not be able to resurface roads without the money.

The tax has been on the books since the 1980s and costs owners of $100,000 homes $250 each year.

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Clearing Away Asbestos-Not As Easy As You Think!

When Kenneth Tyson left his job as Property Specialist at the Cuyahoga Land
Bank, he wasn’t leaving demolition work—in fact, he’s now working with demolitions more than ever.
This past fall the Cuyahoga Land Bank founded CLB Services, an environmental services company. Kenneth Tyson became Co-Founder and Executive Director of CLB Services. And for both Tyson and the Cuyahoga Land Bank, this new enterprise is a win-win situation.Land Bank Staff
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” he says.  Tyson was a business entrepreneur before coming to work at the Cuyahoga Land Bank.  The decision to start a new company was twofold – one part cost savings, one part problem solving.
Prior to creating CLB Services, the Cuyahoga Land Bank contracted with a dozen or so environmental services companies for asbestos survey work.  “They all did business a little differently, each having a different reporting format and varying turnaround times for completing surveys,” says Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel. “It raised the question: what if we (Cuyahoga Land Bank) worked with less companies? It would boost production and efficiency, and reduce costs for the Cuyahoga Land Bank. And that thought process led to conversations about creating CLB Services.” According to Frangos, the brain-child of CLB Services, this was a way to professionally do survey work and permit a residual profit from these services to flow back to the Cuyahoga Land Bank mission.
But starting a new company doesn’t happen overnight. Tyson had to undergo several weeks of field training, 40 hours of in-class training, and then pass an exam to obtain state certification, before he could complete his first asbestos survey.  Mr. Tyson first hired another former Cuyahoga Land Bank staff member, Matt Bobel, an asbestos analyst, who “spendLand Bank Staffs the majority of his time in the field,” Tyson says.
“Matt surveys each property by identifying all homogenous materials at the site.  He then collects samples of each material based on its condition and quantity.  Once all samples have been collected, they are sent to a lab for analysis.” says Tyson.
If the lab finds more than a one percent asbestos, he adds, “asbestos containing material must be removed prior to demolition.”
Later this year, CLB will begin offering asbestos removal services, streamlining the demolition process further.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank is CLB’s biggest client, and Tyson sees only room for growth. The City of Cleveland is also a CLB Services client. “The Cuyahoga Land Bank will partner with municipalities all over Cuyahoga County,” he says. “CLB Services would like to provide abatement services to all Cuyahoga Land Bank partner communities—and we know that cities in neighboring counties have similar challenges.”
“For now, our focus is on completing surveys and getting them to the City of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga Land Bank in a timely manner. That’s why this is a good marriage,” says Tyson.
If your organization or community is in need of asbestos surveys, please reach out to Kenneth Tyson, Executive Director, at 216-307-6001 or for more details.

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Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward Program Supports 3,500 Demolitions

Land Bank Staff On February 27th, Ohio General Attorney Mike DeWine held a press conference in Columbus to announce the results of his Moving Ohio Forward (MOF) demolition program. From 2012 through 2014, this important statewide program resulted in 3,500 demolitions in Cuyahoga County. The Cuyahoga Land Bank received $12.8 million in MOF grant funds and this $12.8 million was matched with an additional $11.3 million provided through the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s normal operating budget and a $5 million grant from then County Prosecutor Bill Mason. The Cuyahoga Land Bank, in turn, granted $8.4 million of these funds to the City of Cleveland to support their demolition efforts.
Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Chairman Tony Brancatelli participated in the press conference, praising this much needed effort. “This program, coming when it did, was extremely vital to our communities,” said Brancatelli. The funds used for the MOF program were secured by the Attorney General from
legal settlements with five major national lenders. Through the strong advocacy of the
Thriving Communities Institute’s Director, Jim Rokakis, the Attorney General earmarked $75 million of the settlement dollars for demolition. The Thriving Communities Institute is an effort spearheaded by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.
It is estimated that 12,000 abandoned structures not including larger multi-family and commercial properties in Cuyahoga County are still in need of demolition. While all the MOF dollars have been expended, much needed demolition activity continues, made possible through the continued strong  advocacy of Mr. Rokakis, along with the professional, efficient demolition work undertaken by both the CLand Bank Staff uyahoga Land Bank and the City of Cleveland.
In the words of Cuyahoga Land Bank President and General Counsel, Gus Frangos, “To rebuild our healthy communities, we first need to perform some painful root canal work. This important work helped increase housing values and the growth of strong communities throughout Cuyahoga County.”

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Moving Ohio Forward | CLB Services | Dogtropolis – 2015.4.1

NL 4.1.15

Posted in 2015.4.1, Newsletter

Former Executive Club building in Rocky River slated for demolition (

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.

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More homes in county may be razed (Mansfield News Journal)

The Richland County Land Reutilization Corporation hopes to know in about a month if it will receive more funds from the federal Neighborhood Initiative Program that can be used to demolish abandoned homes in the county.

Amy Hamrick, who administers the county land bank for the non-profit corporation, told the corporation board at its meeting Tuesday the county has met a requirement that at least half of money from a $773,750 grant be committed to specific projects by March 31.

Hamrick said the land bank has obtained 43 properties and obligated some $516,000 for demolition under the program, although there are no demolition contracts yet for any of the structures.

The amount obligated is based on NIP’s estimated cost of $12,000 to demolish a home.

Hamrick said the Ohio Housing Financing Agency, which administers NIP, is reviewing reports to determine which counties did not meet the spending guideline. “After that, they’ll be pulling money from counties that did not meet the requirement and reallocating it,” she said.

Hamrick also submitted the final report on the Moving Ohio Forward program, which provided additional funds to demolish blighted properties. Money for the state program came from settlements against mortgage companies.

Hamrick said officials spent just over $1 million to demolish 121 structures at an average cost of $8,667 before the program ended Dec. 31, 2014. The money included $797,150 from the state and $251,568 in matching funds that came mostly from Mansfield’s Community Development Block Grant program.

Statewide, counties removed 14,600 problem units at a cost of $118 million.

In other business, the RCLRC reviewed a letter from Robin Thomas, director of the land bank program for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Cleveland, asking if the group is interested in joining a group effort to get a letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on the tax exempt status for the land bank. Land banks currently have been relying on an opinion from a nationally known law firm provided to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank.

Thomas said the private letter ruling from the IRS would provide assurance of the tax exempt status and assure donors their contributions are tax deductible. Estimated cost to the local land bank could be as much as $3,700. The board put off a decision pending a review of the information.

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Ohio county executive recommends $14 million in demolition grants (Construction and Demolition Recycling)

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish had recommended 20 communities for approval in the first round of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Property Demolition Program, which is used to fund the demolition of unsalvageable residential and commercial properties throughout the county. The goal of the program is to strengthen existing communities, accelerate property value growth and restore neighborhoods.
“Addressing vacant and distressed properties is an urgent issue throughout Cuyahoga County,” says Budish. “We are committed to working with communities and housing advocates, side-by-side, to eliminate blight, promote redevelopment and ultimately create stronger neighborhoods.”
The Budish administration identified $14 million, previously allocated for an upgraded data center, to fund the first round of awards. In 2014, the county’s Department of Information Technology planned to pay about $30 million over 25 years for an upgraded data center in the county’s medical examiner’s office. In early 2015, the state of Ohio announced the availability of their data center at a lower estimate of $9.5 million over 25 years. If council approves the new data center, the county will establish a contract with Ohio, saving money on an upgraded data center, as well as freeing up around $14 million in capital funds that can be reallocated to the Property Demolition Program.
“This first round of demolition will remove over 600 blighted, vacant and abandoned structures across the county, providing needed relief to our communities,” says County Council President Dan Brady. “I’d like to thank the County Executive and the County Land Bank for their support in making this program a reality, and I look forward to continuing the momentum that has already begun.”
Budish and Brady say the county is committed to seeing the entire program through, and announced that applications for the next round of funding will be accepted beginning on May 1, 2015.
Twenty-two communities applied to receive funding from the Property Demolition Program. More than $10 million will be awarded to 20 communities to demolish 619 structures. The first round of recommended awards will address about 10 percent of the vacant properties throughout the communities.
The Property Demolition Program, as well as other housing related matters for the county, will be overseen by Ken Surratt. As deputy director of housing, Surratt will be responsible for creating an overarching, comprehensive housing plan for the county and coordinating all housing and foreclosure initiatives.
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Budish Assists Parma Fight Blight: Community Voices (

On Friday, April 10, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish made good on his promise to assist the inner-ring suburbs of Cleveland, including Parma, in demolishing properties that are vacant and distressed.  Recently, he, along with County Council, approved the first round of what is to be a $50 million dollar commitment to suburban communities.  “We are committed to working with communities and housing advocates, side-by-side, to eliminate blight, promote redevelopment and ultimately, create stronger neighborhoods,” Budish stated at a press conference held at the headquarters of the Cuyahoga County Land Bank in Cleveland.

            Cities were required to complete grant applications in hopes of being awarded part of the initial $10 million package.  Most of the communities that applied were awarded funding.  Parma’s successful grant application translates into a $116,400 award, which will be used to eliminate 8 residential homes.  In fact, the grant will provide the funds to demolish the unsafe and unkempt properties located at 1522 Grantwood Drive, 2824 Maplecrest Avenue, 3110 Ingleside Drive, 3425 Brookview Boulevard, 4208 Snow Road, 5735 Bavaria Avenue, 6710 Theota Avenue, and 911 Dawnwood Drive.  Ward Four Councilman Brian Day, who, as City Council’s Safety Committee Chairman, has been a constant advocate of eliminating unsightly and unsafe structures in Parma’s neighborhoods, stated that he is “very pleased that Parma will be a recipient of these demolition funds, as they will help us eliminate some blighted properties that have been an eyesore in our neighborhoods.”

            As President of Parma City Council and an attendee of Budish’s press conference, I was very happy with the announcement on several fronts.  First and foremost, it provides our city with another tool to fight blight in an effort to bolster property values and quality of life in our otherwise stabilizing neighborhoods.  Further, it shows the commitment of Mayor Tim DeGeeter and Parma City Council to seek creative ways of financing local government, given our budget challenges due to state cuts over the years.  It also reveals that Budish is making good on his campaign pledge to assist cities like Parma that are still experiencing the effects of the economic downturn on our housing stock.  At the conclusion of the conference Budish announced that the next round of grants will begin on May 1.

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New money will help fight blight in Cuyahoga County (WOIO)

Millions of our tax dollars are about to be funneled into cleaning up neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County. County Executive Armond Budish wants to remove 619 structures in 20 communities countywide. 

Just take a right or left turn in Cuyahoga County and you will run into a vacant or abandoned property. There are thousands of them. So Cuyahoga County has decided to toss in $10 million to remove a small slice of the vacant property pie. 

“I think the first round alone will clean out something like 10 percent of the blighted houses in our region, which is a big step forward,” said Budish.

“This first round of demolition will remove over 600 blighted, vacant and abandoned structures across the county, providing needed relief to our communities,” added Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady. “I’d like to thank the county executive and the county land bank for their support in making this program a reality, and I look forward to continuing the momentum that has already begun.”

Community Award Recommendation Total Structures
Bedford $425,000 8
Bedford Heights $405,000 10
Berea $300,000 3
Brook Park $380,000 38
Cleveland $992,240 73
Cleveland Heights $556,000 49
East Cleveland $1,000,000 107
Euclid $1,000,000 23
Garfield Heights $930,000 92
Lakewood $200,000 2
Maple Heights $908,000 89
Newburgh Heights $525,000 16
Oakwood $204,000 12
Olmsted Falls $25,000 1
Parma $116,400 8
Richmond Heights $100,000 3
Rocky River $304,250 4
Shaker Heights $885,000 20
South Euclid $400,000 40
Warrensville Heights $389,500 21

Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers, who attended the announcement in downtown Cleveland, believes the money is a valuable assist from the county.

“After the housing crisis, there was a lot of blight left around the neighborhoods that brought down property values, which has had a direct financial impact of just about everyone in the community,” said Sellers.

Additional money to tear down more properties is coming soon, but each city must meet a May 1 deadline to apply. 

The county hopes after the removal of the blight, developers will move in to help create stronger neighborhoods. 

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Euclid could get $1 million from Cuyahoga County Property Demolition Program (The News-Herald)

Euclid is being recommended to receive $1 million in the first round of Cuyahoga County Property Demolition Program, one of only two communities recommended for the maximum allotted funding.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced his recommendations for the first round of funding April 10.

Euclid is looking to demolish 23 structures with the recommended funding, 12 residential and 11 commercial. Euclid Planning & Development Director Jonathan Holody said a larger portion of the funding will go toward commercial demolitions.

For commercial demolitions, Holody said the city will start with properties that they already own or control. Those include a former city pool on E. 279th Street and the former Lakeshore Chevy site on E. 185th Street.

Holody said there is a community garden next to the pool site that he thinks the gardeners will be able to expand on and will “remove an eyesore from the neighborhood.”

During a December 2014 council meeting, Councilman Kristian Jarosz referred to the Lakeshore Chevrolet site as an eyesore and said Euclid Hospitals tells people to enter its campus from E. 200th Street and not E. 185th Street.

“They don’t want that vision to be what (the patients) perceive our community to be,” he said.

Some of the commercial demolitions, Holody added, will help make the sites ready more quickly for new development.

Last year, Cuyahoga County Council approved a plan to make $50 million available to its communities to remove blighted structures. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank has been allocated $9 million of the $50 million.

Funds for the program are equally available to all the municipalities in the county, despite previous attempts from representatives from Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs to receive a larger percentage of that funding.

To qualify for demolition, structures must be certified as vacant, abandoned and nuisance properties.

More than $10 million was awarded in the first round of funding to 20 communities to demolish 619 properties according to a news release. In total, 22 communities applied for funding. Applications for the first round of funding were due in late February.

Communities could apply for up to $1 million in funding and no more than $100,000 can be awarded to demolish any individual structure.

East Cleveland is the only other community to receive the full $1 million in funding.

Richmond Heights is receiving $100,000 to demolish three structures in the city.

According to the news release, Budish’s administration has identified $14 million to fund the first round of demolition that was previously allocated for an upgraded data center. The Department of Information Technology planned to pay $30 million over 25 years for an upgraded data center in the Medical Examiner’s Office, but in early 2015, Ohio announced the availability of their data center for $9.5 million over 25 years. County Council still needs to vote on whether to approve a contract with the state for the data center.

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20 cities get Cuyahoga County demolition money (WKYC)

Call it addition by subtraction.

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced the county is awarding $10 million-plus spread over 20 communities to demolish 615 decrepit homes and commercial buildings.

It’s the first phase of the county’s $50 million demolition plan to knock down blighted buildings.

Budish acknowledged the energy and new development occurring downtown.

“Now it’s time make sure our neighborhoods share in this renaissance, ” he said.

Bedford, Bedford Heights, Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Maple Heights, Newburgh Heights, Oakwood, Olmsted Falls, Parma Richmond Heights, Rocky River, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and Warrensville Heights are the communities that will benefit.

The County Land Bank is playing a key role.

Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik says eight commercial buildings and about 30 abandoned homes will come down in his city.

Some are on East 185th Street, the main entrance way to Euclid Hospital, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School and the Hospice of the Western Reserve,

Cervenik said the demolitions will help revitalize the neighborhood and increase property values by clearing the way for investment.

Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers said, “It’s a huge deal” for his city and called the program a “big step” for the whole region.

Money for this first round of awards was accomplished by some re-budgeting.

The county was planning to spend $30 million on upgraded data center for the Medical Examiner’s Office with $14 million of that funding became available for the demolition program because the county plans to save money by using the state’s data center , saving money for the next 25 years.

Budish pledges to find funds for the entire $50 million program. Applications for the second round of funding will be accepted starting May 1.

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Fun Fact

The Cuyahoga Land Bank property inventory recently transacted over five thousand properties! Here are the Cuyahoga Land Bank Production numbers that stand so far in 2015:

Production Type Through 2015
Total Property Acquisitions 5027
Total Disposed Properties 3681
Total Demolitions 3246
Total Facilitated Renovations 1046
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Posted in 2015.3.2, Fun Fact!, Newsletter

Did You Know

At the end of February, 2015, the Cuyahoga Land Bank executed a second licensing agreement for its Property Profile System (PPS) to the Mahoning County Land Bank. PPS is a property management software system that performs a variety of functions for daily Land Bank operations, analysis, program development and planning. In the Fall of 2014, the Cuyahoga Land Bank licensed PPS to the Hamilton County Land Bank. For more information on PPS, you can contact Michael Schramm, Director of Information Technology, at or 216-698-8777.

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Posted in 2015.3.2, Didja Know?, Newsletter

Vacant Land becomes community asset in the Village of Glenwillow

Through the collaborative work between the Village of Glenwillow and the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and the persistence efforts of Mayor Mark Cegelka and the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s attorney, Doug Sawyer, a key piece of property was acquired by the Village for future use.Land Bank Staff
The ten acre parcel is located at the cul-de-sac end of Bond Street which is an industrial corridor on the west side of the Village.   Bond Street is currently home to over twenty businesses and was recently improved with curbs, gutters and landscaping. The vacant land parcel had been in foreclosure since early 2013 and the opportunity for productive development was uncertain.
The Village decided to acquire the parcel for a public trail head and proposed multi-purpose trail that runs along Tinkers Creek on the east side of the parcel.  Another potential use is for a future service department building.
Mayor Mark Cegelka stated that “even though both projects are still in the planning stages, the acquisition of this property gave us the incentive to move forward on these improvements for our community.”  The Mayor added that “he and the Village Council are grateful for the assistance and cooperation of the professional staff at the Cuyahoga Land Bank in seeing this project to fruition.”

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Posted in 2015.3.2, Newsletter

A gateway to nature for the Village of Glenwillow

Runners, bikers, dog walkers and hikers can now enjoy a seventeen acre nature preserve park in the Village of Glenwillow, thanks to the Village’s recent acquisition of a property that lies on the bank of Tinkers Creek.  The land will connect the Village of Glenwillow to the Bedford Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks Emerald Necklace.Land Bank Staff
Residents of Glenwillow wanted to connect their community to the Bedford Reservation and protect the green space. This was made a reality when an abandoned house on the east side of Richmond Road was demolished by the Cuyahoga Land Bank, so that the property could be returned to its natural state. Glenwillow set out to make the vision a reality by working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC), who acquired the property and obtained a Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant for the project.
The Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Award from Natural Resources Assistant Council required matching funds. Thats when Jeff Schiffman, Conservation Project Manager of the WRLC, reached out to the Cuyahoga Land Bank to ask if they would demolish the abandoned house as part of the demolition match.
“The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s assistance allowed the Village to transform this property from an eyesore into its doorway to connect the 2,290 acre Bedford Reservation to the Emerald Necklace,” Schiffman said.
The Village wanted to protect this beautiful gateway to nature for generations toLand Bank Staff come, and so they asked the WRLC for help.  The park will be owned and maintained by the Village of Glenwillow. The land is now permanently protected under a conservation easement held by WRLC that allows the property to only be used for passive recreation, such as bird-watching or hiking.
“It’s exciting when taking down a single house has such a tremendous impact,” said Cuyahoga Land Bank, Manager of Special Projects and Land Reuse, Lilah Zautner.  “Knowing that people will be able to enjoy the beauty of Tinkers Creek because of this project – is a fantastic feeling!”

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Posted in 2015.3.2, Newsletter

Village of Glenwillow | St. Stanislaus – 2015.3.2

3.2.15 NL


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Mapping out how Detroit is tackling a mountain of blight (mlive)

No one who has driven through Detroit is surprised by what confronts city residents: More than 84,600 properties are blighted by one estimate, a staggering number that means more than one in five parcels citywide is tainted by a dilapidated structure.

With decay running across almost every neighborhood, perhaps the most daunting task was deciding where to start. Thus this dilemma: Detroit could spend tens of millions of dollars across every neighborhood and make no visible dent in many places.

See which Detroit neighborhoods get blight relief first in this interactive map

So city leaders have made hard choices since Mike Duggan became mayor in January of last year, picking a handful of targeted areas in which to spend the first wave of $50 million in federal money. This includes, for instance, parts of the west side but not all of Brightmoor, an area that’s been rocked by foreclosure and abandonment. It also includes East English Village and Jefferson-Chalmers on the east side, but not all of the area in between, much of it a pockmarked landscape of urban prairie.

In the past eight months, more than 3,700 structures have been demolished or are in the process of getting knocked down, according to the city. Duggan spokesman John Roach said that before the mayor took office the city was demolishing 50 structures a week. Roach said the goal is 200 a week (about double the city’s current pace), which would take care of 10,000 structures a year. Even at that hoped-for rate, it could take up to 10 years to clear all properties currently marring the city.

Detroit is burning through $100 million in federal funding for demolitions, but it needs hundreds of millions more. The Detroit Blight Task Force, which oversaw the mapping of the entire city to get a handle on the blight problem, estimated the total bill could hit $850 million.

When he was Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr initially outlined a plan to take some of money Detroit would save through bankruptcy and spend $520 million on blight removal over the next decade. But Roach, the city spokesman, and city Chief Financial Officer John Hill are less specific.

If the city cannot find additional savings or new revenues, there is no additional city money slated for blight removal, Duggan warned told local leaders in February. He told the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference the city is looking for more federal money. The mayor is “hopeful they’ll be able to find additional funding by the summer,” Roach said.

Better neighborhoods get priority

The city has drawn hard lines surrounding which neighborhoods get help first. More densely populated areas that are just beginning to fray with abandoned homes will get the bulldozers first. Areas that are already largely abandoned will have to wait. That means dozens of demolitions and clean-ups can take place on one street, while a block away homes are left to wither, their windows broken out, foundations cracked and garbage strewn around.

“It became pretty simple: Where are you going to do the most good with the money you’re spending,” said Craig Fahle, director of public affairs for the Detroit Land Bank Authority. “Where is the money going to have the biggest impact on the most people?”

Working with the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, the land bank has flooded the chosen areas with money to knock down houses, taken owners of vacant homes to court and sold the abandoned home in the best condition at auction.

The city based those decisions on where they felt a dollar invested could bring the greatest return, trying to identify “tipping point” neighborhoods that could be saved.

A review of census data shows the areas getting immediate attention are indeed those with the most people. These priority neighborhoods also have the highest rates of owner-occupancy, with higher household income and lower vacancy rates.

While the administration of former Mayor Dave Bing stumbled in its initial call for a sweeping renovation of city neighborhoods (Bing met fierce resistance when he urged residents to move to the city’s “population centers,” warning that those in abandoned neighborhoods would receive fewer services if they stayed put), Duggan has been careful to avoid any rhetoric that suggests forced relocations.

Still, there are lines, and they divide.

Asked what the city’s message is to residents outside the targeted demolition neighborhoods, Fahle said, “We’re not in your neighborhood – yet,” and adding, “But we want to get there. It may take a while but we want to get there.”

‘Winners and Losers’

Jim Rokakis is well aware of the problem Detroit leaders face. As a one-time Cleveland city council member and later treasurer of Cuyahoga County, Rokakis saw what blight was doing to Cleveland and he became an instrumental leader in creating the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. He knows what triage means for a city.

“It means there’s winners and losers,” he said bluntly.

But like battlefield triage is designed to treat those most in need, Detroit’s efforts have their own logic. By pouring finite resources into finite areas of the city, Detroit can show visible, momentum-building results. Detroit’s scattershot approach of the past left the city looking pretty much the same.

“You can nibble away at the edges but you will always be nibbling at the edges,” Rokakis said, who supports Detroit’s efforts to target specific areas.

In 2013, the Detroit Blight Authority, a private nonprofit group, targeted 14 blocks in the northwest neighborhood of Brightmoor for blight removal and added 21 more last year, creating a template now on display across the city.

A number of blight removal advocates traveled to New Orleans and Baltimore to witness efforts in those cities. Though the scale of the problem there is dwarfed by Detroit’s, the lesson was the same from both.

“It became very clear,” said Chris Uhl, vice president of social innovation for the Skillman Foundation, who was on the blight removal task force. “You absolutely had to target.”

Attacking vacancies

In addition to the more than 3,700 demolitions or planned demolitions since last year, the Detroit Land Bank has taken action on another 2,852 vacant properties, citing the owners for vacancy and demanding they remedy the problem or lose the building, the city reports. Of those, 1,762 went to court, leading to 440 consent agreements and 362 default judgments. Hundreds of other owners have simply donated their property to the city.

The city has not lost any of its nuisance abatement cases in county court, Fahle said.

The goal is to use the court’s authority to force owners to turn a vacant structure into an occupied one. And for those well-kept properties the city already controls through donation or tax foreclosure, the city is turning to the auction block. Although just 79 have been sold, 182 have been closed upon and another 1,464 are in the auction pipeline, according to the city.

Combined, the auctions, demolitions and citations are part of the three-pronged effort in the targeted neighborhoods. “If you want to do this comprehensively, you had to do it all,” Uhl said. “You have to have a lot of different solutions.”

Out in the neighborhoods, those efforts may be difficult to see at first glance.

On Runyon on the east side, one block of 30 parcels in the Osborn targeted area had just 21 homes. Only seven appeared occupied. Several blocks east, outside the targeted area, more homes were occupied though some would benefit if others nearby were knocked down. Yet two blocks west, most homes were occupied, the lawns managed.

On one of those blocks of Barlow, James Pureifoi, 43, was changing a tire recently. He’s glad he’s moved from the Harper and Gratiot area to Barolow, where most of the homes still stand and are occupied. But he lives just outside the Osborn area that is being targeted for home demolitions and he chafes when he learns he’s on the wrong side of the line. He can see three boarded up homes from his porch and he said he deals with the crime that pervades the area.

“I don’t like that (one area is) being picked because everywhere needs help,” he said.
From ‘apathy to excitement’

Uhl, Fahle and others hope the targeted approach will invigorate residents. In the neighborhoods receiving help now, neighbors will be more prone to pick up a shovel or rake and tend to their own corner of the world. “It turns (people) from apathy to excitement,” Uhl said.

With time in short supply – the city got just 18 months to spend the first $50 million – the city is focused on leveraging that excitement. And, according to Fahle, the mayor is leading the charge, peppering housing officials with questions during weekly sessions about specific blocks and lots.

Research has shown that demolishing blighted homes in troubled neighborhoods can raise the property values for those still occupied. Research funded by Cleveland area nonprofits showed that demolitions add value, depending on the overall quality of the neighborhood and the proximity of the affected homes to the demolition.

That same study, though, also showed that some neighborhoods are too far gone to see values rise. Not that those residents don’t deserve attention, Rokakis said. It’ll make the neighborhoods safer and points to the value of tackling the issues earlier. “We should have staunched the bleeding earlier,” he said of Cleveland. “We’re in mop-up mode.”

Detroit’s leaders say they are anticipating a day in which the city’s strongest neighborhoods, scattered across Midtown, the northwest side, and east near the border with the Grosse Pointe communities are thriving again; when the appearance of a “for sale” sign indicates a future resident is coming, not a backhoe.

“We can envision a day in East English Village, when the only time a home is empty is when the owner has moved and it’s waiting for the new owner to move in,” Fahle said.

Until then, the demolitions will continue, court cases will be filed and the auction block will be full of Detroit properties, a couple neighborhoods at a time.

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Fun Fact

The new downtown Heinen’s in the historic Cleveland Trust Building is now open! HeiLand Bank Staff nen’s grocery story chain, based in Warrensville Heights, invested ten million dollars in the renovation of 900 Euclid Avenue. Meanwhile, at the Heinen’s food production facility in Warrensville Heights, the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s demolition crews have been working to clear blight for the expansion of the facility.


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Posted in 2015.3.1, Fun Fact!, Newsletter

Helping Keep School Kids Safe

Every once in a while, the Cuyahoga Land Bank gets to partner in a project that not only enhances a neighborhood, but keeps its residents safe as well.
Joseph Giuliano had just started his job as program manager with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) when a particularly troublesome property

Land Bank Staff landed on his desk. The property was an abandoned home on West 69th Street, owned by an absentee landlord.  Such cases are routine for the Cuyahoga Land Bank, but another factor complicated this project. The property sat across the street from a neighborhood elementary school.

It was a tempting, dangerous space for school kids to explore.  The vacant property was attractive to draw drug dealers and other criminal activity, besides being a safety and health hazard for the community.
“We felt an urgency to move forward,” Giuliano says. The owner was willing to donate his property so that it could be demolished—but first, multiple outstanding liens had to be removed for clean title.”
“Red tape stalled the project for three years and built up the accumulating of delinquent taxes,” he explained.  But finally, all of the liens were released and the Cuyahoga Land Bank was able to accept the property and create clean and marketable title for the property.
It didn’t take long for DSCDO to find an owner-occupant to buy the property. “The buyer had a background in home construction,” Giuliano says. The property will put the buyer’s skills to work considering the large renovation specification list that he has to tackle to bring the property back to code.
But the project has a happy ending. The new owner is working with DSCDO to ensure his restoration is done correctly. His sister already has purchased the house next door, and he’s looking to invest and rehabilitate more homes in the neighborhood.
“We were fortunate to find this buyer,” Giuliano says. “And it feels real good to wrap this project up, knowing the property is now in good hands!”
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Posted in 2015.3.1, Newsletter

Did You Know

This past fall the Cuyahoga Land Bank founded CLB Services, an environmental services company. Kenneth Tyson became the first Executive Director of CLB Services after leaving his position at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. The company currently offers Hazard Evaluation Surveys (asbestos surveys) and has plans to roll out additional services later this year. With the increasing demand for demolition throughout Ohio, there is a growing opportunity in the environmental services industry. Kenneth ran several businesses before his work at the Cuyahoga Land Bank and becoming the Executive Director of CLB Services. The company sees a great deal of potential for growth by increasing its services and expanding its client base to include more organizations and municipalities in Cuyahoga and surrounding Counties. CLB Services works in collaboration with the Cuyahoga Land Bank, to create higher production and better efficiency with every asbestos survey job that they complete. If your organization or community is in need of asbestos surveys, please reach out to Kenneth Tyson, Executive Director, at 216-307-6001 or for more details.

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Posted in 2015.3.1, Didja Know?, Newsletter

Randall Park Mall Demolition Clears Way for New Investment

In 1976, the newly built Randall Park Mall was bustling and busy, teeming with shoppers. The new mall featured 200 retail shops and at that time, was the country’s largest mall, known for its high-end stores. Land Bank Staff
Today shopping in the Village of North Randall is a distant memory. The once glamorous mall is being demolished to make way for a new industrial park which will house manufacturing and potentially a distribution center.
“The Village of North Randall, Mayor David Smith, saw this as a challenge to re-energize the community.  For several years, he doggedly met with development officials, County Development offices and staff at the Cuyahoga Land Bank in order to assemble the site and now Mayor Smith has finally succeeded,” said Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel, Cuyahoga Land Bank. “We must be about turning these situations into opportunities. This will now become the venue for jobs and renewed retail activity in our Village. Redeveloping the land will help North Randall meet a growing demand for industrial space, while benefiting the community both aesthetically and economically,” Land Bank Staffsaid Mayor Smith.
The Industrial Realty Group (IRG) is taking on the new development.  With the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s help, IRG acquired the former Dillard’s department store land parcel while IRG acquired the remaining mall parcels.
On December 29, 2014, IRG crews began demolishing the abandoned Dillard’s department store and its attached buildings. The demolition provided an instant face-lift to the area. According to reports, the full development site could involve more than seven hundred thousand square feet of construction and the approximate addition of one thousand new jobs.Land Bank Staff
“The redevelopment of this land is a new beginning for the Village of North Randall,” said Charles Horvath, Building Commissioner for the Village. “I am looking forward to the area’s transformation into a vibrant area of growth.” Demolition of the site will take several weeks.
Watch video footage of the demo on YouTube.
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.

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Posted in 2015.3.1, Newsletter

Randall Park Mall Demolition | Keeping School Kids Safe- Cuyahoga Land Bank News – 2015.3.1


Posted in 2015.3.1, Newsletter

More than 14,600 abandoned homes in Ohio razed with mortgage settlement cash (

More than 14,600 blighted homes around Ohio have been demolished during the past three years, thanks to $75 million from a national mortgage settlement, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday.

DeWine said his “Moving Ohio Forward” demolition grant program, which wrapped up last year, has helped to increase property values and eliminate houses used to deal drugs and commit other crimes. The cleared land is often transformed into parks or scooped up by neighbors to expand their yards.

“This program was vital, vital to our communities,” said Cleveland City Councilman Anthony Brancatelli, chairman of the Cuyahoga Land Bank board, at a news conference with DeWine Friday morning.

Cuyahoga County received nearly $13 million — the most of any Ohio county — in the program and combined the cash with $11.3 million in local funding to tear down 3,449 structures, according to DeWine’s office. Many were near schools, churches, and social centers.

Ohio received about $330 million from the 2012 national mortgage settlement, which ended disputes with mortgage servicers accused of acting illegally in foreclosure proceedings. Most of Ohio’s share went straight to borrowers, in the form of loan alterations or cash payments.

DeWine’s office received $94 million of Ohio’s share. Besides demolition grants, the attorney general spent most of the rest on children services and public safety.

About 15,000 abandoned structures in Cuyahoga County are still being considered for demolition in the wake of the national foreclosure crisis, Brancatelli said.

While all of the $75 million from DeWine’s program has been used up, he said, Northeast Ohio officials have $50 million in bond money, as well as other revenue, to continue the teardowns.

Forty-eight states also shared in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement.

Ohio was one of five states to use part of their settlement money on demolitions, said Matt Lampke, DeWine’s mortgage foreclosure counsel. The four other states — Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and Wisconsin — spent far less than Ohio did.

In Ohio, every organization that applied for a piece of the money had to specify how it might assist those affected or at risk because of the foreclosure crisis.

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Fun Fact

Cleveland was ranked as one of the nations top travel destination in 2015!  Cleveland has been mentioned by New York Times, 52 Places to Go in 2015, Travel & Leisure, Best Places to Travel in 2015, Fodor’s Travel, Fodor’s Go List 2015, and Los Angeles Times, 15 Destinations for Travelers to Set Their Sights on in 2015. Check out these features that are spreading the word that Cleveland is the place to visit!


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Posted in 2015.2.1, Fun Fact!, Newsletter

There’s Safety In Numbers (Of Parking Spaces)

West-siders who have driven to Cleveland’s Second District Police Station to report a burglary or other crime can tell you: getting out of their cars hasn’t always been the most comfortable experience, especially after dark.
That’s because the parking lot usually is full to capacity and they have to find street parking, often some distance from the stLand Bank Staff ation. “There are barely enough spaces for staff’s cars,” says
Jamie DeRosa, Cleveland Commissioner of Real Estate. “Officers generally park in the driveway and residents have to park on the street. It’s definitely become a safety issue.”
That tense situation is about to change, thanks to quick action by Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins, the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the City of Cleveland.   A property at 3918 Daisy Avenue, adjacent to the station (which fronts on Fulton Road), went into tax foreclosure and “we saw an opportunity,” Cummins says. “We had been tracking that property for several years, because it was an eyesore and the need for additional parking had been identified.”
The Cuyahoga Land Bank acquired the property through tax foreclosure; because it’s located in a Historic District, it had to undergo the city design review process before the house could be demolished. Once the demo was approved, the property was transferred to the City of Cleveland and the land was cleared.
Soon, 11 new parking spaces will be created. “We’d like to add more, but for the short term, this will meet the need,” De Rosa says. But the improvements to the property won’t stop there. “We’re going to add a landscape buffer in front of the station as part of the Fulton Road enhancement,” Cummins says, “and they’ll be removing weeds and overgrowth around the station. It’s a win-win-win for the police, the community and the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
“Council and the local development organizations rely on the Cuyahoga Land Bank as an important partner in dealing with distressed properties,” Cummins adds. “We always take into consideration what the best use of those properties might be, and working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank is an important tool in site control for vacant and abandoned properties in our neighborhoods.”

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Posted in 2015.2.1, Newsletter

Gorgeous New Digs For The Children’s Musuem

The tycoons who built their mansions along Millionaire’s Row couldn’t have foreseen a day when one of their lavish residences would welcome more than 100,000 laughing kids a year—but that’s exactly what’s lined up for that famous stretch of once-stately homes.Land Bank Staff
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland acquired one of the last remaining manors available for repurposing, and no one is happier than Maria Campanelli, Executive Director of the museum.
“We’re going to take this gorgeous building and make it fun,” she says of the former Stager-Beckwith House, located on Euclid Avenue between East 36th and 40th Street. “It will be filled with rich memories.” Museum staff spent two years reviewing other properties and researching trends in children’s exhibits, and chose the Italianate and Second French Empire-style home for its spacious rooms and central location.
Originally a 10,000-square-foot dwelling, the Stager-Beckwith was built in 1866 by Anson Stager, General Superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Co., one of 40 such mansions along Millionaire’s Row.  Stager sold it three years later to interior designer T. Sterling Beckwith.  Over the next century it expanded to a 66,000-square-foot estate with an annex, carriage house and sports center, which housed the University Club.  Most recently, the house served as the main campus of Myers University.
“The old girl has a few wrinkles now.  The property had been vacant for five years,” Campanelli says.  “A pipe had burst, causing significant water damage.”  But, she adds, it’s an ideal new home for The Children’s Museum. “We will double our exhibit space and just brought in a new exhibit designer. We’re not eliminating the favorites that children have always loved, but those ideas will be presented in a new, fresh way.” A bank of north-facing windows brings plenty of sunshine into the sprawling ballroom, and both the green space in front and a huge patio behind the mansion will be used for additional programming.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank played a key role in the museum’s move. “We acquired the property, forfeited to the State of Ohio in a tax foreclosure,” says the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s,  Doug Sawyer, Special Projects and Policy Counsel. “The Children’s Museum was then able to purchase it from us for a fraction of the amount of taxes that had been owed.”
The Children’s Museum will be fully active in its current University Circle location until the home is renovated.  Once the new location is completed it will be, The Children’s Museum’s first permanent home after 37 years. “Within a 1-mile radius, you have seven organizations devoted to early-childhood learning,” Campanelli says. “That’s how much Northeast Ohio values its kids. We’re thrilled to be moving closer to our natural partners.”

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Posted in 2015.2.1, Newsletter

Plans for Greater Cleveland Fisher House rounding third (

The more than four-year effort to create a place where veterans and their families could stay for free while a vet is receiving medical treatment here, is rounding third and heading for home.

At least, “I hope so,” said Tom Sweeney, president of the Greater Cleveland Fisher House campaign.

The goal is to build a $6 million, 18-suite facility near the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in University Circle.

The house would become part of a national and international network of 64 such facilities partially funded and built by the 25-year-old, nonprofit Fisher House Foundation, of Rockville, Maryland.

Thus far the local campaign has raised $2.3 million of its $3 million goal. The Fisher House Foundation would match that $3 million amount.

Financial support for the local campaign has ranged from gifts from such corporate donors as Lincoln Electric, KeyBank and the Eaton Corp., to small fund-raisers held by veterans service organizations throughout the area.

Sweeney said the need for a Fisher House here is well established. He noted that, “people from all over America are sent to Cleveland” because of the services offered by the VA’s medical center here – the third largest in the nation — and through its partnerships with other local hospital systems.

Susan Fuehrer, director of the Cleveland VA Medical Center, said about 520 veterans are referred here each year from outside the area to take advantage of treatment in such areas as open heart surgery, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury and long-term care.

The VA has about 15-20 veterans or family members per day staying in a local hotel while a vet receives medical care.

“There is a demonstrated strong need for a Fisher House here, based on the number of vets and families who are here on any given day,” she said. “We have enough volume to satisfy two Fisher Houses.

“A Fisher House could be a huge benefit to veterans and their families, and a great thing for the city of Cleveland,” she added.

Rick DeChant, treasurer of the local campaign, remarked, “We have this great mosaic of care for veterans in Northeast Ohio. All it’s missing is one tile – a Fisher House.”

Putting that last tile in place has come down to site selection and a primary contender is a 2.5-acre mostly vacant lot on East 105th Street, between Lee and Orville avenues. The site is within walking distance of the VA medical center’s Wade Park campus.

The site is made up of several parcels owned by the city of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and the Famicos Foundation (a nonprofit community development corporation).

All of those lots would have to be brought together in a single parcel and donated to the VA before a Fisher House could be constructed on the site.

“It’s all in friendly hands. All of us are working together to see that this happens,” said Gus Frangos, president of the Land Bank.

Frangos said there are no tax liabilities attached to the parcels, no zoning problems and no need for action by Cleveland City Council to combine and donate the parcels.

“The next step is for somebody from Washington (the VA), as well as a national Fisher House representative, to take a look at it one more time to make sure it’s a desirable site,” he added.

He noted that the facility would not only be a good addition to the neighborhood, but the area is good for a Fisher House, offering a variety of nearby University Circle attractions for Fisher House residents to visit.

Once the site is selected and donated, project permits and architectural renderings will go before the city’s planning commission, according to Frangos.

“Generally speaking those things should not be impediments,” he said. “Everybody is just very excited about this.”

Ward 9 City Councilman Kevin Conwell is also a big fan of the project, and said it could spark economic and commercial development in the neighborhood.

“Once I know the project is moving forward, I’ll sit down and talk to other developers,” he said. “This could be a great shot in the arm to stimulate the economy in that area.”

Derek Donovan, Fisher House Foundation vice president of programs and community relations, said the ball is now in the VA’s court.

“We’re working with the VA to make sure everything is acceptable to the VA,” he said. “At this point in time the VA has a bigger say than we do.”

Donovan noted that a Fisher House in Cleveland would meet a pressing need.

“The Secretary of Veterans Affairs gives us a list of locations with the greatest need for family lodging at (VA) medical centers, and Cleveland is on his list,” he said. “It’s the VA’s choice.”

Currently there are 26 Fisher Houses on VA properties nationwide. There are three Fisher Houses in Ohio, one at the VA medical center in Cincinnati, and two at Wright Patterson Air Force base near Dayton.

Donovan said that as soon as a final site here is selected and donated, work can start on site preparation including environmental inspections and plans for utility connections.

Construction would take about 12 to 15 months, so even if the site was finalized this year, the Greater Cleveland Fisher House would not open until 2016, according to Donovan.

The $6 million price tag is on a par with the cost of similar Fisher House facilities.

Building the facility is not contingent on the local campaign meeting its $3 million goal. “When a site is ready for us to start building, we’ll start building,” Donovan said.

He praised the efforts of the local campaign. “They’re doing great. It’s a very passionate group, doing a great job not only just raising money, but raising awareness about Fisher House,” he said.

Once the Greater Cleveland Fisher House is built, it will be run and staffed by the VA. Donovan said operating costs can typically range from $150,000-$200,000 a year.

The foundation stays involved with its facilities in terms of providing possible assistance for repairs, or costs associated with rehabilitation.

A Fisher House also heavily relies on volunteers to help make residents comfortable, Donovan said.

The local campaign will continue to collect funds to provide money for resident family outings and “just to make these people feel comfortable in Cleveland,” Sweeney said.

According to Donovan, the benefits of a Fisher House here also go beyond the projection that it will provide nearly 6,000 nights of lodging per year, saving veterans’ families in excess of $500,000 annually that would have been spent on hotels, meals and other costs.

“One thing a Fisher House always shows these families is that somebody cares about their sacrifice, not just of a veteran but the sacrifice of a veteran’s family as well,” he said.

“That, in and of itself, does some pretty remarkable things for these families.”

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Children’s Museum | Cleveland Police – Cuyahoga Land Bank News – 2015.2.1

2.1.15 NL

Posted in 2015.2.1, Newsletter

For Cuyahoga County demos, a strategic plan and code enforcement both needed: editorial (

Remember that $50 million demolition bond former Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald promised in his “State of the County” last February?

Well, thanks to some laudable examples of both bipartisanship and continuity, the administration of new County Executive Armond Budish – in cooperation with county council and the county Land Bank — has begun to roll out one of the most ambitious and comprehensive efforts to eradicate zombie properties in recent history.

Now the challenge must be to yoke those dollars to a carefully planned, strategic effort focused on neighborhoods where demolitions can make an immediate difference to property values and where properties can be bundled, either as mixed-use development, green space, urban farms or for another beneficial economic opportunity.

This program is also a time to take stock of deficiencies in local housing enforcement efforts to ensure that absentee owners keep their properties up to code and, if they don’t, that they are held accountable in Housing Court.

Last October, county council approved the Cuyahoga County Property Demolition Program. In December, council President Dan Brady created a Community Development Committee to oversee its implementation.

And on Monday — barely a month after Budish and many on county council took office — the first applications for demo dollars are expected to land at the county’s Board of Control, according to Gus Frangos, president of the Land Bank.

The Land Bank will be one of those applicants. The ordinance that describes the demolition initiative — underwritten by a county bond — provides three, one-time allocations of $3 million for the Land Bank. That money will be used to raze blighted properties the Land Bank received from Fannie Mae and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as from local tax foreclosures and tax forfeitures, Frangos said.

Frangos added that 16 municipalities already have contracted with the Land Bank to handle their demolitions — from Moreland Hills, Lakewood and Shaker Heights to East Cleveland. “Everybody has a little need,” Frangos said.

And some communities’ needs are bigger than others’.

Frank Ford, senior policy adviser at the nonprofit Thriving Communities Institute, broke down those needs for county council:

• Approximately 8,000 properties ready for demolition in Cleveland;

• An additional 1,013 properties in East Cleveland; and

• An estimated 1,000 properties in the rest of Cuyahoga County.

“We’re talking roughly 10,000 properties total,” Ford said.

The $50 million is not enough to tear down all of them. That would require $100 million — each demo costs about $10,000. But it will go a long way, as long as the money is spent wisely.

Even though Cleveland is home to 80 percent of the targeted blight, the money must also be aimed at achieving change on blocks or in neighborhoods where city and community leaders have documented both overriding need and urgency — and provided redevelopment plans that are funded and make sense.

How the demo money is going to be dispersed is still under review, said Budish for this editorial.

Obviously, cities should have to provide an economic development plan for the vacant land. But, Budish said, he wants to hire a deputy director of housing and community revitalization to oversee the process and work with communities to frame these projects in consistent and practical ways.

“If the county acts quickly and strategically some of these properties may be viable for renovation,” Ford said. “The issue isn’t that some of the properties can’t be rehabbed. It’s that the housing market is so distressed it’s not financially feasible to renovate them.”

Frangos agrees. “Once we start tearing down the worst of the worst, that’ll promote more rehabs.”

Cleveland city councilman Mike Polensek takes it a step further. “Why aren’t these slumlords in Housing Court for code violations? Hold them accountable. Enforce the code. Not everything needs to come down.”

That would be a good conversation for the new county deputy director of housing and community revitalization to have with municipal housing-enforcement officials.

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Cuyahoga County Council expected to give final approval to $10 million for lakefront bridge tonight (

Cuyahoga County Council tonight is expected to approve spending $10 million to help build a $25 million pedestrian bridge connecting the Cleveland convention center to the lakefront.

Council, which is meeting at 5 p.m., also is expected to approve a two-week extension to the county’s dog license application deadline, as well as a measure requiring  County Executive Armond Budish to disclose salaries in paperwork seeking council confirmation of candidates for high-ranking jobs or board appointments.

Northeast Ohio Media Group reporter Andrew J. Tobias will attend the meeting, and provide lives updates in the comments section of this post. You can also watch the meeting live on the county’s website.

Council also likely will approve giving $3 million to the Cuyahoga Land Bank to demolish vacant properties. The funding is part of a $50 million demolition program council approved last October.

Finally, council is expected to approve a new community development committee which will be chaired by councilman Anthony Hairston, who was appointed last year to fill a council vacancy. And, Budish will formally introduce a pair of nominations — Nailah Byrd for clerk of courts, and Eddy Kraus for director of regional collaboration. Both appointments are subject to council confirmation.

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2014 Year End Review-2015.1.1

Year End Review 2014

Posted in 2015.1.1, Newsletter

Fun Fact

The Cuyahoga Land Bank has a total of 27 municipal agency agreements out of the 59 municipalities in Cuyahoga County. The agency agreements allow the Cuyahoga Land Bank to act as the agent for each Municipality to take action on property requests for demolition, rehabilitation, and acquisition.



Posted in 2014.12.2, Fun Fact!, Newsletter

Cuyahoga Land Bank

The mission of the Cuyahoga Land Bank is to strategically acquire properties, return them to productive use, reduce blight, increase property values, support community goals and improve the quality of life for county residents.

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