Cleveland gets noticed for bringing new life to abandoned homes, lots (Crain’s Cleveland Business)

Cleveland is doing a better job than most cities at figuring out new, more productive uses for abandoned lots and homes, according to this story from CNNMoney.com.

“In and around Cleveland, nearly 6,000 foreclosed and abandoned homes are being destroyed in an effort to save neighborhoods from blight, crime and sinking home prices,” the website says. “Instead of trying to rebuild on these properties, however, the city has been turning the empty lots into parks, greenhouses, even vineyards.”

Frank Ford, a policy adviser for the nonprofit Thriving Communities Institute of Cleveland, tells CNNMoney.com, “”For the larger body — the neighborhood — to survive, you have to remove those cancer cells.”

The story notes that during the housing bust, “Ford worked at a community redevelopment group that renovated 50 foreclosed homes in Cleveland for $180,000 each. They sold the rehabbed homes for about $90,000 apiece, taking a $90,000 hit on each. If they had spent that money to demolish nine or 10 foreclosed homes instead and turned the land into green space, it would have had an immediate beneficial impact, said Ford.”

Jim Rokakis, a director at Thriving Communities, tells CNNMoney.com, “There’s a direct relationship. If there are two bad houses on a block, people will move away and their houses go vacant. Take them down and people will stay.”

The website story tells to a national audience the story of entrepreneur Mansfield Frazier, whose Chateau Hough vineyard is at East 66th Street and Hough Avenue, on a three-quarter acre lot where a 30-unit apartment building once stood.

In 2010, the story notes, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank said it would give Frazier the land if he could make a go of the vineyard within five years. He was able to claim it in three.

Excavating and planting the land was tough, though. “Digging down, I found everything but dead bodies,” Frazier tells CNNMoney.com. “I even found a kitchen sink.”

Chateau Hough “produced its first wines last year and Frazier expects to produce about 1,000 bottles of the 2014 vintage and double that when the vines fully mature in a few more years,” the story notes.

Read it from the source.

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