In July Scene magazine featured an article about the houses that needed to be demolished in Cleveland. As of July 2015 159,000 parcels of land in Cleveland have been evaluated from the street level. That was about 25% of the properties. The survey currently shows that about 8,000 structures in Cleveland will require demolition. It is estimated that this is a $100 million problem. Of course, the number could go much higher when the survey is finished.
Rehabbing houses costs more than building new but either way, there is not a lot of interest from private investors to build or restore buildings in many blighted neighborhoods. Often the houses are torn down and what is left is a vacant lot. To partly solve the problem the city has stepped in.
When I drive from our place to University Circle I pass a lot of new housing on both Cedar and Carnegie and some on Euclid as well. I also see that the Opportunity Corridor is coming through to the Cleveland Clinic. The Forgotten Triangle will be getting new life and, for those of us who travel from University Circle to points south, the new boulevard will be a welcome addition. Most of this building is paid for through taxes and grants.
Some of those empty and abandoned houses in the triangle will be replaced with new housing and, hopefully, small businesses to support the neighborhoods.
Although the campus district, where we live, is not the same as those areas from 55th to 105 St, we live and work in an area that was long forgotten and neglected. Now our empty buildings are attracting interest from investors who want to convert these old factories and light commercial buildings to housing for students and others. Many people, including myself, have written about this resurgence before. Now people outside Ohio and outside the country are taking notice. We talked with a building inspector who was busy inspecting part of 500 houses in a neglected part of Cleveland. Why? Middle Easterners have bought up the houses and are going to resell them.
So while more than 8,000+ houses in our city need to be removed, many are being saved and rehabbed and whole neighborhoods are coming back.
In another observation about the growth, Dave and I recently went on a water taxi ride on the Cuyahoga River from Merwin’s Wharf south to the last stationery bridge where the river is no longer dredged. I was heartened to see all the working factories and river traffic. The taxi is owned and operated by Cleveland Metroparks. Someday, after I90 is completed the water taxi will travel north and ferry people from one side of the river to the other. (I’m not sure why this is a Metropark enterprise and not a private enterprise).
Like many Clevelanders, I had no idea that there was much heavy industry left in our city along the river. Somehow I thought most of our steel and cement was manufactured in Southeast Asia and shipped here. Maybe it still is. But, by gosh, there were huge cranes moving ore, and piles of sand, gravel, and salt piled up along the banks, and even boat houses for sculls and their crews. It’s not just restaurants, clubs, and bars along our river.
When the Republican debate was here the before debate TV coverage showed Cleveland as a “Tale of Two Cities.” If you look hard enough, that is true of every city. There is always a “wrong side of the tracks.” But I guess I’m a glass half full kind of gal. I see Cleveland as a city of young hopeful people with lots of ideas and ability to take some risk. But there are generations of people who have lived here forever who are also supporting these changes even through controversy. Hooray for their vision.