To Demo or Not to Demo

Anyone who has ever lived near an abandoned home knows what kind of neighborhood trouble it can invite (drugs, crime activity) and what it can do to your home’s property value (hint: it’s not good).  Abandoned and distressed properties continue to play a big role in the deterioration of our neighborhoods and our job at the Cuyahoga Land Bank is to eliminate housing blight, increase property values and eventually stabilize and improve neighborhoods through revitalization efforts.

In our work, though, we are asked all the time why we can’t save a house that is slated for demolition.  People often remember the house in better days, before neglect took its toll.  A majority of the more than 100 properties the Cuyahoga Land Bank acquires on a monthly basis have, over time, developed major system issues and are often in need of significant repairs to the electrical, plumbing, roof, HVAC, or even the foundation of the home.  The cost of needed repairs often exceeds the value of the house in the private market. In a distressed community, it is rare that the traditional sale of these homes will lead to reinvestment of the property.

When the Cuyahoga Land Bank acquires a property, our team of experts conducts a comprehensive evaluation of each property and makes a determination on what to do with the property based on physical condition, local input and other criteria.  Properties are scheduled for demolition only when they are beyond the point of rehabilitation or the cost to renovate is too high.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank demolishes 80 properties a month on average, clearing a path for new development.  Post-demolition, vacant lots can be transformed into community gardens, purchased by a neighboring homeowner through our Side Yard program, or held until a new purpose can be determined. We have developed strategic partnerships with community organizations, other non-profits, lenders, and governments within the county to stop the blight and transform these properties into something useful.

This strong demolition strategy is essential in promoting economic and housing development across the county’s most in-need neighborhoods.  When so many of these properties are beyond repair and resale, tearing them down is the only option.

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