Berea goes green in replacing vacant Longfellow Drive house (Sun News)

BEREA — A new house provided by a federal grant to replace a vacant one on Longfellow Drive will adhere to the city’s new “green” zoning code.

The structure will feature Energy Star lighting and rain barrels, items that are in the city’s zoning code sustainability chapter.

The city selected Colony Home Builders to construct the 1,700-square-foot home to replace a house in the city’s north end. Other contractors who sought the project were Riley Builders and James Martin Contractor Services. Mayor Cyril M. Kleem said Colony was selected based on its “extensive home construction experience” and “overall” proposal.

This project is the latest phase in the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which awarded the city a $200,000 grant. That program enables the city to buy the land, build a new home and sell it to an eligible homeowner. Berea used that grant to buy the home at 747 Longfellow Drive for $53,000 from PNC Bank. The house has been vacant since August 2012.

This area of the north end is the city’s sole census tract where this type of Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant may be used.

The Cuyahoga County Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, will raze the structure and its adjacent two-car garage.

Construction of the new house is slated to begin in June. It will be available for sale in the fall. Eligible home buyers must meet income guidelines and live in it. The grant allows some help with a down payment.

The new house includes four bedrooms, 2½ baths, a full basement and attached garage. The cost of the house is about $174,000. Kleem said the cost of construction is about $7,000-$10,000 higher than last year due to the high demand for lumber to rebuild the east coast after Hurricane Sandy.

Kleem said the city will actually see a $207,000 project with grants since the demolition will cost about $7,000. He said the cost of the project includes $53,000 for the land and $174,000 for the construction, which equals $227,000. He said the city’s investment is about $20,000, which will be split with the Berea Community Development Corporation – the city’s economic development branch.

“This is a great opportunity to help revitalize a neighborhood that has experienced significant stress from the decline in the housing market and the foreclosure crisis,” Kleem said. “Whatever the house is sold for, even if it is less than the construction cost, the city will recoup its $20,000 and the remaining money will be used to address housing issues in the same neighborhood.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Margarette S. Key agreed with Kleem in the structure’s helping to revitalize that neighborhood, which she represents.

“The house will be a good fit for the family who will move into it, a good fit for the neighborhood and good fit for this community,” Key said. “We hope this project cascades to others and help eliminate some of the blight. This is a very good idea.”

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