Demolition

New GOPC Study Finds Strong Potential in Innovative Neighborhood Revitalization Pilot

Greater Ohio Policy Center today releases an independent analysis of an innovative model for neighborhood recovery being piloted in a Cleveland neighborhood, finding promising results for this block-by-block holistic approach to revitalization that combines demolition and rehabilitation. SVR-cover

Slavic Village, a neighborhood located 6 miles south of downtown Cleveland, represents many of the strengths and challenges that characterize our historic urban communities. An intact neighborhood with a rich cultural history and strong community institutions, it also experienced the highest foreclosure rate in the country in 2008, and increasing rates of poverty and unemployment.

Based on 2014 analysis, the GOPC study, Documenting the Slavic Village Recovery Project: An Early Review of a Model for Neighborhood Revitalization in Cleveland, Ohio, released in conjunction with the Slavic Village Recovery, LLC, (SVR) finds preliminary results for the SVR Project, including:

  • Sales prices of the initial homes reached the targeted amount necessary to cover rehab costs and make a small $5,000-$10,000 profit; received an appraisal value above the listed $60,000 sale price; and sold quickly.
  • Neighborhood morale is high and neighbors are positive about the project.
  • Investment is taking place in the neighborhood apart from direct involvement with SVR, suggesting, perhaps, that SVR’s private sector partners created market confidence for new businesses and city and regional governments.

The Study also noted several keys to SVR’s early successes:

  • A holistic approach to community development and a clear comprehensive plan, strategically linking demolition and rehabilitation.
  • A focus on properties with value and the strong relationships needed to acquire properties from REO lists and banks
  • A philanthropic mission paired with a for-profit approach in executing the mission

Based on the data available to date, GOPC finds aspects of this Project potentially adaptable to other neighborhoods in other cities, although the context for replication is important. Several key factors, such as a pipeline of available properties, must be present for replication and those interested in duplicating the model may need to take the time to get these factors in place first in order to be successful.

Recognizing the opportunity to stabilize and revitalize this still vital area, four partners—two non-profit and two for-profit organizations—came together in 2013 to create Slavic Village Recovery, LLC. SVR aims to eradicate blight entirely from a targeted area in the neighborhood and thus reach a positive tipping point one block at a time.  SVR combines strategic demolition with housing rehabilitation, as well as resident support services, with the goal of achieving comprehensive redevelopment.

For more information on the progress and impact of Slavic Village Recovery, please click here to see our full assessment.

The Need for Targeted Demolition

Written by Jacob Wolf, GOPC Researcher

Two recent news articles discuss Ohio legacy cities’ use of demolition programs when faced with large numbers of vacant and abandoned properties. However, the articles also point out that demolition alone is not a complete solution for these problems.

Blighted Cities Prefer Razing to Rebuilding,” which appeared in The New York Times on Nov. 12th, provides an overview of demolition activities in Cleveland, Youngstown, and various other legacy cities nationwide. With city populations declining to fractions of what they once were, some demolition becomes necessary. For example, the average vacant house in Cleveland costs $10,000 to demolish, but it would cost $27,000 per year to maintain in hopes of a future rehabilitation.

However, with resources for demolition limited, cities must prioritize and target their demolition activities to make the maximum impact. Case in point, a recent report by BCT Partners—a firm that works with HUD—recommended a better focus for Youngstown’s demolition. The report’s findings are explained in “Firm urges Youngstown to focus on healthier neighborhoods,” published in the Youngstown Vindicator on Nov. 25th. “If Youngstown is to survive as a residential location,” states the report, “it must shift focus from prioritizing those areas with severe blight to stabilizing healthier neighborhoods and retaining the existing population.”

Youngstown officials say the city had been prioritizing demolition in the most blighted neighborhoods, because those houses cost the least to demolish. They also said EPA regulations and the requirements of the Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2) program, which funded the demolitions, necessitated this more “scattershot” approach. While Youngstown has demolished more than 2,600 structures since 2006, more than 4,000 remain in the city. The focus of Youngstown going forward should shift to prioritizing the “quality” of demolitions over the “quantity,” and other cities should follow this lead.

How Demolition Helps to Stabilize Communities

Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute recently released a new study that analyzes the economic impact of residential demolition in the Cleveland area between 2009 and 2013. The report’s findings estimate a net benefit of $1.40 for every dollar invested in demolition activity, with larger benefits in high and moderately functioning markets and little to no benefit in weak markets. It also shows that mortgage foreclosure rates decreased in neighborhoods—across all income levels—where demolition activity took place. This study demonstrates the value of demolition as part of a comprehensive strategy to stabilize our communities that struggle with property vacancy. It provides information that can help guide demolition activity to make the most efficient use of limited resources. This study is very timely in light of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s release last week of an additional $3.8 million in demolition funding awards under the Moving Ohio Forward program.

The study was written by Nigel Griswold, Benjamin Calnin, Michael Schramm, Luc Anselin, and Paul Boehnlein, with support from Thriving Communities Institute, the Cleveland City Council, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, and land banks throughout Ohio.

EPA Releases New Toolkit for Greener Residential Demolition

EPA Region 5—serving Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin—just released a new toolkit for cities, counties and land banks undertaking large-scale residential demolitions. The report, “On the Road to Reuse: Residential Demolition Bid Specification Development Tool,” includes valuable information on:

  • Environmental issues associated with residential demolitions, from pre-planning to demolition to site rehabilitation (e.g., hazardous materials abatement, fill material selection and placement, material recycling or deconstruction).
  • Specific practices that can be incorporated into the demolition contracting process to achieve better environmental outcomes.
  • Existing regulations and best management practices concerning residential demolitions.
  • Bid specification language that instructs contractors on the technical requirements of greener demolition projects.

The purpose of this toolkit is to assist cities, counties, land banks and other entities with the inclusion of greener practices in the demolition bid specification used during the contracting process. The use of environmentally beneficial demolition will result in better site conditions and will better prepare vacant lots for future reuse.

 

For more details on reclaiming vacant properties, make sure to check out our upcoming conference:

"Revitalizing Ohio's Vacant Properties: Tools & Policies to Transform Communities"

October 22-23, 2013 The Westin Columbus 310 S. High Street Columbus, Ohio, 43215