The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Several blighted homes in the Birmingham neighborhood in East Toledo will be demolished thanks to a $2.3 million award to the Lucas County Land Bank’s Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP) from the Ohio Finance Agency.

Wade Kapszukiewicz, chairman of the land bank’s board of directors, told The Press last week that the funds will go towards razing 230 blighted properties in Toledo, 30 of which are in the Birmingham neighborhood.

“Our experience, over the last five years, is that demolishing a home costs about $10,000. We can stretch $2.3 million into 230 homes,” he said.

Since last year, the land bank has conducted demolition and greening work under NIP. With the addition of the $2.3 million award, the land bank has now received a total of $11.25 million, the highest award per capita of any county in the state, according to Kapszukiewicz. Those funds have helped the land bank demolish a total of 200 deteriorated houses in East Toledo alone.

The land bank recently conducted a survey of 122,000 parcels in Toledo and assessed each property’s condition. Based on the results of the survey, blighted housing in specific neighborhoods are being targeted for demolition with the $2.3 million, said Kapszukiewicz.

“Last summer, we did something that never before happened in Toledo. We sent volunteers and staff to each property. I’m not talking about driving by at 35 mph. I’m talking about walking on the sidewalk in front of the house, with either a phone or laptop that has an app attached to it. Photos were taken of each house. Notes were made about the condition of the house - maybe it needed a new roof, the foundation was crumbling, or it was boarded up and appeared to be vacant. Then it was given a letter grade. So for the first time in the history of Toledo, we have a sense of the quality of our housing stock. Most people would be pleased to know that over 80 percent of the houses in Toledo got a pretty good grade – an A or B. However, we found about 4,000 homes received a letter grade of D or F. And under our ranking system, a D or an F is a house that is too far gone to be saved. Those are the properties that we’re targeting for demolition.”

East Toledo residents, he said, were “excellent in surveying their neighborhoods for us.”

“We worked with them to target which homes needed to be demolished. We welcome all the feedback from the neighbors that we can get,” he said.

Online results
The results of the Toledo survey are on the land bank’s website www.lucascountylandbank.org.

“You can look at any house in Toledo, click on it, see the photo we took, and the letter grade we gave it,” he said.

Besides demolition, the land bank provides a number of services to help strengthen neighborhoods and increase property values, he said.

“We do an awful lot of rehab and give out loans for new roofs and things like that,” he said.

Since its inception in 2010, the land bank has returned almost 1,000 vacant lots, residential homes, and commercial properties to productive use and demolished over 1,200 properties that were nuisances to the community.

What happens to the properties after the buildings are demolished?

“It varies case to case,” said Kapszukiewicz. “In the overwhelming majority of cases, they are acquired by the adjoining property owner. If the land bank demolishes a burned out, blighted home, the neighbor will be able to purchase the lot for $100. Over 95 percent of our demolitions end up owned by the adjacent property owner, which is part of our mission. The neighbor then has a larger lot, a bigger yard for green space or a garden - whatever they want. It improves the quality of that person’s house, and also the neighborhood at large. It increases property values and keeps that neighborhood strong.”

The only properties acquired by the land bank are those that are vacant, abandoned and tax foreclosed. If the house is occupied, “we do not involve ourselves with it.”

“If it’s a nuisance house and they’re not taking care of it, Toledo City Council and the mayor have tools to try and attack the problem,” said Kapszukiewicz.

Besides Birmingham, other neighborhoods with blighted houses slated for demolition include the Junction neighborhood in central Toledo; in North Toledo, surrounding Central Catholic High School and the future St. Hedwig’s Senior Housing Project; and in the residential neighborhoods near Jermain and Ottawa Parks in West Toledo.

 

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