Submitted by Jeff Buster@rea... on Wed, 01/11/2006 - 15:44.


Picking away at the carcass – an aerial feat off Woodland @ Broadway.  But all around NEO you’ll see this taking place.  First the low hanging fruit is plucked – off the  houses and garages.  The highest fruit is left ‘til last. Still a little green aluminum left for the next picker here.


Stripping an entire house takes lots of initiative  -  and physical skills.   Stripping aluminum siding off the third floor puts you about 30+ feet in the air.  On top of that, I’ll bet the job proceeded in the dark and without the benefit of a ladder.  Then the long awkward siding strips need to be carted to the junkie – without a pick up truck this would be difficult.   I wonder who would cover the bills if someone fell and was injured?


Painted aluminum siding doesn’t bring the best money.      Clean aluminum extrusions – like street light poles  and aluminum storm window frames – bring in the best money – right now about  $1.00/lb.  And there is poor state regulation of junk yards - so scale tricks and down grading of the  scrap  often abuses the person bringing the scrap in for sale.  It is a tough business. 


Is our society taking itself apart?

Great vision, Jeff

I love the pictures and thoughts you are posting. THis raises an interesting issues of recyling, as we do need to strip away much decayed surface to find what is valuable - removing the aluminum siding exposes the original wood surface, surely covered in lead paint that is decaying and causing a community hazard. Do we continue on and recycle the whole building and leave a vacant lot where the houses are no longer usable, or do we go through the expense (as a society) to repair the deeper damage of passing time, in many cases when there is no longer local need or interest? Shrinking city.

Grey markets, continued

Thanks, Jeff,  for a great follow up to 'Man wth wheel on his head'..  this is yet another problem apparent wherever defunct, abandoned, and foreclosed properties predominate.  Again, we can appreciate one seizing business opportunity.  Yet a foreclosed or abandoned property does not equate to publicly owned or free property- there is a process, where these properties are either condemned for demolition or put up for auction.  Far too many of these properties populate communities like East Cleveland - and as Norm mentioned many perpetuate the lead poisoning problem and become not only eyesores but health hazards as they are picked away by enterprising vandals.  The short term, minimal revenue collected by the vandal is offset by the property depreciation and health risk created.


This is a problem that could be best rectified by expediting the process of property valuation and subsequent determination.  If a property appears to be abandoned it should be quickly assessed and the owner identified.  Any foreclosures or liens should be quickly handled.  If the property is not reconstructable it should be demolished quickly - those pieces of value can be recycled or redeemed at that time to offset demolition costs.


If the property appears to retain sufficient foundation and value to be marketable then it should be land-banked by the city and these properties should be offered at attractive rates to developers willing to reconstruct them.  Preferably the developer would be one who would preserve the aspects of the property (i.e. facades, sculptures, etc) that mark its character and antiquity.  The developer could certainly generate profit by capturing the value gap between refurbished value and (initial investment+reconstruction expense).  Other value-creating ideas would be to employ unemployed laborers local to the community - these workers could pick up valuable construction skills through 'action learning'.


Now it really gets interesting if the reconstruction opportunity would incorporate green building so that the properties reconstructed are more energy efficient than before.  Also, mixed-use design would be preferable- constructions that feature storefronts on lower levels and living accomodations above, for example. 


Further inherent value would be created in incorporating lead abatement  processes so the finished product no longer exacerbates a prevailing and persistent lead poisoning problem. It has been estimated that close to 30 percent of East Cleveland's youth suffer from some degree of lead poisoning.


Let's design models like the one suggested here and work to address these abandoned properties quickly.  The revenue generated, energy efficiencies, and employment outcomes all speak to value greater than projected investments.  Let's not forget the community benefit generated in resulting property-value increases, increased habitation, and safety.


East Cleveland is a great place to employ such a model - let's plan and implement a coherent and sustainable redevelopment plan now! 

Challenges of an aging, shrinking city

Well put, Sudhir. The Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC), which is a community collaboration including departments of health of cities of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Lakewood and others, and Cuyahoga Country, along with area healthcare providers, environmental organizations, foundations and state and federal agencies, is actively pursuing solutions to some of these problems in seeking to eradicate lead poisoning in this region (bring lead poisoning levels below national averages of <2%).

At this stage of the battle, most of the challenges are with old housing stock like in the photo Jeff posted. Such properties with deteriorating lead paint mke toxic both the structure and the soil in the area. Many such properties are abandoned and the court systems are overwhelmed to respond. As such, we are exploring setting up an environmental hazards court in Cleveland - a practice that has brought good results in other communities.

Bottom line, as Sudhir points out as well, Cleveland must address our overbuilt and decaying building stock with a combination of enforcement and legal actions. Sudhir's suggestions of leveraging change to support job growth, training, and community development are correct... to address lead we have created programs to train painters to work safely, and that improves their skills, which are needed to broaden our response to community needs. The answer is not allowing vandals to demolish what they want.


Just an update on this post which I did a year an a half ago:  About a month back I drove by the site and an excavator was in the process of crushing the house into it's basement hole.  The home was right across the street from Sweet Daddy Tim's, but there's only fresh dirt across the lot now.  One more structure out of Cleveland.  Cuyahoga County, and the City of Cleveland by dumb default, now have their eye on demolishing the 29 story Marcel Breuer Building.  Bye, Bye.

We just lost two of my favorites...

I was sad to see that a few weeks ago they tore down one and then another of my favorite historic storefront and apartment buildings on Eddy Road, in East Cleveland, which were subjects of restoration plans by Joe Stanley... never to be realized now... certainly not progress for our region.

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Section 106 Review for Wirth House

I hope that this will not be the fly-by-night fate of Wirth House.  I am listed as a consulting party and we meet this Thursday, June 12th to review Art House's plans to mitigate the adverse effects of their creativity.  If anyone has been through this process and can offer advice, please contact me privately through the RealNEO email.  Ultimately, I want to see the termination of their Memorandum of Agreement with the City.  How can I do it?

Check with Susan Miller and Ed Hauser

I believe both of them were involved in a 106 for Broadway Mills.

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