The city again will receive help from the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to remove houses that have been vacant.
The Planning Commission approved the demolition of three homes that the land bank, officially the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, will give to the city.
The vacant houses are 156 Prospect Road, 747 Longfellow Drive and 751 Shelley Parkway.
Rebecca Corrigan, Berea Community Development Corporation’s executive director, told commission members last week the homes are vacant and have been involved in one or more foreclosures or sheriff sales.
The land bank will demolish each of them. The Prospect Road structure will be razed, filled in and sold as a vacant lot. Corrigan said the land bank received this property through a sheriff’s sale and offered it to the city. The 10,000-square-foot lot has a house, with a basement, that has mold and has been invaded by raccoons. The city has not condemned the building.
“We are trying to eliminate blight in our area. It was abandoned. We consider this also a safety issue,” Corrigan said. “We will redevelop it for a new home or use it as green space.”
Commission member Daniel Smith said there was a lot of sandstone at that property and asked whether some of it could be salvaged. Corrigan said she would ask the land bank, which is razing all the structures at no cost to the city, about salvaging that and possibly other items that may be reused.
The city is receiving a $200,000 grant to redevelop the Longfellow Drive house, since it is in the city’s sole census tract where this type of Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant may be used. The house will be demolished, with the property given to the city. Berea has sought a developer to build a new home that will be sold. The owner must live in the structure. The city will reuse the money generated from that sale to raze or rehab another home and sell it, and that process will continue.
“I received a call from a previous tenant. Her concern was that she believes the house is a health issue. She said it flooded all the time and there may be some black mold,” Corrigan said. “With this program, it is encouraging neighborhood redevelopment.”
The Shelley Parkway home sits on a 7,500-square-foot lot and has been vacant for three years. Corrigan said the land bank considered rehabbing it, but the cost was greater than its value, so it asked the city if it wanted the property after the house was demolished.
“Again, it is an eyesore. We want to eliminate that and help with the storm water issues in that area,” Corrigan said. “We would like to do a rain garden, if possible, at that site.”
The state is not offering grants for that type of project this year, but Corrigan planned to seek funds for a rain garden later.
City Engineer Tony Armagno said there is much inflow and infiltration into the sanitary sewer from the storm sewer system in that area. A rain garden would help some of the nearby homes.
Crystal Evans of Riveredge Drive asked if a rain garden, which has a depressed area, would be safe for youngsters. Armagno said such depressions are not steep and there would be no pooling of water.
The city has received other properties from the land bank, one of which became a community garden on Runn Street last year and raised food for area churches.