Still, Stark acknowledged that in some cases the demolition advocated by stakeholders like Ford, the senior policy advisor with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, are necessary. “It’s unfortunate that not every structure can or should be saved. There are some homes that are in such disrepair and in neighborhoods with such little economic viability that the best solution is to raze a number of them and repurpose them,” he said. “We don’t have to save everything.” Ford is cautiously optimistic that the funding available for demolition is just enough to clear out the blight still lingering in Cleveland. “What we have coming in is just about the amount we would need to demo the 7,500 properties in these blighted neighborhoods,” he said, adding that We’ve got an opportunity to remove the existing blight without a lot of new blight taking its place. That means that in five years we could have a recovery even in the most distressed areas.”
some are arguing for a balanced approach that involves rehabbing some of those properties instead of demolition. “About 2,000 of 7,500 structures would be left standing if they did a balanced approach involving 1,000 rehabs.” Although he acknowledges that “nobody wants to do demolition,” Ford believes demolishing the worst of the blighted properties will be best for the neighborhoods those properties are in and the Cleveland market overall. “I think that in five years if we are able to remove that existing blight that we have combined with the fact that foreclosures are so low, we’ve got an opportunity to remove the existing blight without a lot of new blight taking its place,” he said. “That means that in five years we could have a recovery even in the most distressed areas.”
Ford does see more interest from real estate investors at the public foreclosure auctions — called sheriff’s sales — in Cuyahoga County, which he attends to observe periodically. “Now you go to a sheriff’s sale, and the room is packed. And I noticed that increase started a couple of years ago,” he said, adding that although there were some “reckless” out-of-state investors prevalent in the Cleveland housing market about 10 years ago, those type of investors are no longer as prevalent because the local municipalities have cracked down on property code violations thanks in large part to one strict housing court judge. “That activity has slowed. What has taken its place is local mom-and-pop investors trying to do the same thing”.
Frank Ford | Senior policy advisor, Western Reserve Land Convervancy
Cleveland Ohio City Skyline
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