Land Bank Helps Neighbors “Green Up” Their Streets

Some homeowners fantasize about having a private little park all their own-a place where they might relax with friends, their kids might host play dates and perhaps where they might start a garden. Thanks to the Cuyahoga Land Bank and other partnering organizations, residents in Cuyahoga County now have a new opportunity to create green space right next door to their homes-and it will only cost them $100 and closing costs.side_yard
The Cuyahoga Land Bank has launched the Side Lot Program to allow residents to take ownership of vacant lots adjacent to their homes.
Cleveland Heights followed the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Side Lot Program model and for several dozen vacant lots, according to published reports. As abandoned and dilapidated homes are demolished as a result of the foreclosure crisis, the number of available lots is expected to grow-and the City doesn’t plan to use them.
Instead, owners of adjacent single- and two-family properties will be notified that the lots are available. If the lots were purchased with funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the buyers will have to meet certain income guidelines before they seal the deal. If two or more property owners want to buy the vacant lot, they can split the space and each own a portion of the lot, or they can bid on the entire space.picnic_table
Some new owners will want to build homes on the inexpensive land, but a few residents already have expressed interest in keeping the lots green. Both choices will make city officials happy: “It’s not about the money,” Vice Mayor Dennis Wilcox told a reporter from The Plain Dealer after City Council voted in January to approve the program. “It’s about making the neighborhoods better.”
This opportunity (and funding availability) for Cleveland Heights residents to purchase vacant lots stems from an agreement between the City and the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Land Bank President Gus Frangos met with Cleveland Heights City Council at the request of former Councilman Ken Montlack to discuss joint participation in home rehabs, acquisitions and demolitions. Officials from the Cuyahoga Land Bank and Cleveland Heights signed an agreement to work together on strategic streets in the city, and the vacant lots program is an outcome of that new partnership.

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