Party politics wasn’t on anyone’s agenda on December 7th, when Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine visited a Slavic Village demolition site with elected officials from both sides of the political aisle. They came to put the spotlight on Cleveland’s impressive progress in recovering from the foreclosure crisis, thanks in part to the Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program, which brought more than $11.8 million in grants to Cuyahoga County-our share of $75 million granted across the State.
DeWine was joined by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Ward 12 Councilman and Cuyahoga Land Bank Board Chair Tony Brancatelli, and officials from State, county and local municipalities, including Cuyahoga Land Bank and Neighborhood Progress, Inc. (NPI) staff.
“The event was not to focus on that day’s demolition,” DeWine said. “It’s about carving the cancers out of our neighborhoods, which are not going to be what we want them to be as long as houses like this one [at 6179 Morton Avenue] are left standing.”
Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, agreed. “What you see here today is the way government is supposed to work,” he said. “It’s the sort of thing that government at all levels has to execute, in ways that help people-but it’s not just about demolition. The Land Bank, because of the way we’re set up and the cooperation between everyone here, also has been able to rehab more than 500 homes throughout the county-and demolitions bring value on a strategic level to those homes that are renovated.”
The Slavic Village demo site wasn’t the group’s only stop. But according to Councilman Tony Brancatelli, “it was significant because of where it stands. During the crisis, this neighborhood saw more foreclosures than any place in the country. This is not about celebrating demolition-it’s about the blight elimination that set the table for development that is going on. We are doing strategic demos in all of our neighborhoods.”
Officials also visited Rid-All Green Partnership in the Kinsman neighborhood, a street in Shaker Heights, the Buckeye area, and a section along the East Cleveland/Cleveland Heights border that’s targeted for future demolitions. Staff from the Attorney General’s office plan to visit several more times over the coming year to observe and monitor how the grant is utilized.