East Cleveland: City launches fight on blight to spur development

5:45 PM, Sep 21, 2010   |    comments
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The city launched a big demolition campaign, targeting rundown, abandoned houses.

It has $1.2 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds that are being used to tear down about 150 of the city's most blighted and dangerous abandoned homes.

Demolition should be done by the end of the year.

The first properties to come toppling down are on Delmont Avenue near Euclid Avenue.

Fannie B. Hill, 82, smiled as she watched heavy equipment chew and push old buildings into rubble.

She lived on the street 49 years and watched it go from beauty to blight.

"I'm so proud to see this being done today. I thought I would never have seen it done. I know it will get better...It is a day to celebrate," she said.

First-year Mayor Gary Norton's development strategy starts with demolishing ramshackle properties near Euclid Avenue and the Health Line that connect downtown and University Circle.

He claims developers are showing interest in what will be newly vacant land for possible business and residential projects.

"When these houses are vacant and abandoned, people plunder them and break in. They live in them. They squat in them. We want to lessen the danger and improve the city," he said.

The city also has funding to buy and renovate a batch of rundown homes nearby.

Mansell Baker, 26,  is a lifelong resident who vows to remain in the city.

"I'm here to see the change that comes from rehabilitation, renovations and demolition...People need to believe," he said.

Mayor Norton figures there are about a thousand homes in the city that are candidates for demolition.  A shrinking population has left many homes vacant.

The city owns some of the homes being demolished and it's knocking down properties neglected by absentee owners.

The city already has about a million dollars more of committed federal funding to continue more demolitions next year.

The city's decline was a long gradual process. A possible recovery will be too.

WKYC-TV

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