EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Mayor Gary Norton Jr. seemed almost giddy Wednesday about the destruction in his city.
And for good reason, he said.
Dozens of decaying apartment buildings and homes – long abandoned and boarded-up – were about to be razed in a $900,000 demolition project paid for with federal funds but overseen by the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
Norton said that the city hopes to replace the properties — 32 apartment buildings and 31 single family homes – with new businesses and homes. He and others believe the location will be attractive to developers because it’s about a mile from University Circle and the thousands of people who work there. Most of the demolition work will be completed in the next couple of months, officials said.
“This is an example of what needs to be fixed,” Norton said standing in the street amid the vacant two- and three-story apartment buildings on Hartshorn Road just off Euclid Avenue.
“This will bring relief for residents,” the mayor added. “These have been havens for criminals. They have been havens for the storage of illegal materials.”
Norton said some of the buildings were turning 100 years old. “Happy birthday!” he shouted. “We’re tearing you down.”
As the mayor and other officials spoke, East Cleveland residents Beverly Crim and Ruth Perry watched from inside a fenced-in, neatly-kept front yard of a four-unit apartment building, one of just two on the street that appeared to be inhabited. Crim, 77, has owned and lived in the building since 1966.