St. Francis School, a vibrant educational institution on Cleveland’s near east side, serves as a beacon of hope and a source of quality education for neighborhood families and children. In 2016, St. Francis’s Principal Scott Embacher contacted the Cuyahoga Land Bank for help in assembling four abandoned and blighted houses directly across the street from its campus. These houses were eyesores and a haven for criminal activity. School leadership aspired to create a permanent school garden and recreational space for the school’s urban campus and even had a generous benefactor to make it a reality.
Cuyahoga Land Bank staff worked for nearly a year to unravel the complicated legal and title issues that made it impossible up to that point for the school to acquire and demolish the properties. Researching chain of title, tax records and court rulings, Cuyahoga Land Bank staff developed and implemented a plan of acquisition and demolition for each property.
Nearly a year later, all four blighted properties were demolished, making way for a working garden and safe play space. The Cuyahoga Land Bank continues to work with the school to bring abandoned neighborhood properties into productive use and stabilize the school’s surroundings.