We are often asked about the day-to-day work of the Cuyahoga Land Bank from curious residents and community leaders. In this ongoing Behind the Scenes series, we look at the extensive work that goes into the demolition of blighted abandoned properties in the Cuyahoga Land Bank inventory. Kim Kimlin, Director of Community Stabilization, sat down to answer some frequently asked questions:
What criteria does the Cuyahoga Land Bank use when deciding which blighted properties are demolished?
Once a property is acquired, we have an inspector visit the property and examine and photograph its condition, including the state of repair of all the major building systems. Our internal assessment team determines whether a property has renovation potential or if it is a candidate for demolition based on the inspector’s report and a review of market conditions.
How many structures are demolished on average each month?
We average 95 demolitions every month.
Why so many demolitions?
Most of the houses come into the Cuyahoga Land Bank through the real estate tax foreclosure process and, unfortunately, have been tax delinquent and abandoned for quite some time before they come into our ownership. Not only has exposure to the elements taken its toll, but some have been occupied by squatters, used for dumping, and/or have had elements of the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems stolen for scrap. Many of the houses are in neighborhoods where the real estate markets are quite weak, which considerably limits the sales price were they to be renovated, thus making this option economically unfeasible.
How many crews does it take to do the demolition work?
We have more than 20 partnering companies that we contract with for demolition services.
How much does it cost annually to demolish so many properties?
Our budget for environmental remediation and demolition is about $15.5 million this year.
Are there many more properties in Cuyahoga County that need to be demolished?
Yes, the latest estimate is approximately 5,400. We have demolished more than 7,000 to date.
What types of demolitions are most challenging?
In addition to recent large-scale demolitions such as a seven-story former hotel in Bedford Heights and the former YMCA complex in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, the most challenging demolitions are brownfield properties such as former gas stations, auto repair shops, and dry cleaners. These properties take an extra level of due diligence and, as needed, remediation of hazardous materials before the property can be demolished. While these projects are complex, they provide a double benefit – removal of both environmental contaminants and blight from the community.