Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio



My colleague, Korbi Roberts, put together this video, The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It illustrates that the issues concerning the demolition of homes in historic neighborhoods are not limited to the inner city.

Rather than reading my continued ramblings (I could go on and on, you know) please take a look at the video.

27 comments:

  1. At this point some would consider this area of Shaker Heights the inner city :)

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  2. Houses are disappearing in South Euclid and Cleveland Hts. also!

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  3. Ok, you've made a point. Have you gone to city hall to find out who owns the properties? Contacted them to find out their plans? Any other research on who demolished them? It seems that it wouldn't take much to find out.

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    1. As I understand it, Shaker Heights pulls down any vacant house on which back taxes are owed.

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  4. This is very sad, and unnecessary. What does the city say?

    The music, though well meaning, is distracting.

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  5. This is a major story that needs more investigation. My understanding is that the city feels demolishing these houses will "save" the neighborhood from abandoned buildings, crime etc. Maybe there is some truth to this--evening out supply and demand, etc. Someone needs to dig deeper into this story to get the facts.

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  6. this area is filled with two family homes...i recently toured at a number of them while looking for a rental and was dismayed at the lack of upkeep many of these two family dwellings have suffered. slumlords, apparently, are not limited to the slums. i used to have a running joke with my friends that i grew up on the wrong side of shaker heights. it was a joke because shaker had such panache...how could there BE a wrong side of town??!! well, the joke is more like irony now.... so sad. wish the land owners had the pride and/or the resources to maintain these lovely homes instead of signing them off to a demo company

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  7. Great points, Karen. I too grew up near there. However, I don't think the owners sign them over to demo companies. My understanding is that the city pushes to get them demolished because they are concerned that, due to legal entanglements, they will otherwise remain abandoned and potential sites for crime, arson, etc.

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  8. Look into The Thriving Communities Institute. It is a part of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. You might find some answers.

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  9. It is the bank's way of cutting their losses. I work in the industry. Instead of going through the trouble of finding a buyer which costs time and money they tear it down because they've already lost money on it. Let's face it, that area was beautiful in its day but in the demands of today its just not practical for raising a family. If life weren't about making a profit...

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  10. All -- I am investing in properties in and around Cleveland. I wrote an early posting on this, but it did not publish. Anyway, it's a tax issue. The taxes in Shaker and Cleve Hgts are enormous and these foreclosures have huge taxes unpaid. As these homes go to auction nobody wants to pay the owned amounts (tens of thousands). Even when these properties are put up for tax lien auction the amounts are too great to interest buyers or fix/flip pros. Hence, City of Shaker figures just rip them down to save them from becoming meth lab and hurting neighborhood. So, one solution is to get community to "crowd source" funds to pay off these taxes and then recoup that money by selling to real families interested in community -- at good interest rates and maybe with city/gov help. I am happy to work with anyone interested in doing this. If something does not happen you will see this everywhere. You have no idea how many homes are in this situation. Let me know and love to hear comments. Bob Chew bchew.boldpointnow@gmail.com

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    1. Exactly. When taxes are so high the properties decline in value. Plus Shaker Heights requires buyers to escrow 150% of the estimated costs of repairs at the time of purchase. As a result, the properties aren't attractive to buy even at bargain basement prices.

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  11. An answer to the question in the video about why a seemingly decent house is demolished has a few answers, but a large reason is scrappers. When a house is vacant and the systems are ripped from a house of marginal economic value ($30k, in this instance), it usually moves the house down to being of absolutely no value. The cost and effort to restore it exceeds simply purchasing the house two blocks down that is also $30,000. Worse than that, many of them are ruthless in removing plumbing and wiring - they will destroy hardwood floors and plaster walls to get it out and what you wind up with is a de facto gutted house. I can't say that is the case here but that is a huge reason for demos of outwardly decent houses. I firmly believe that the negative economic impact of scrappers is exponentially larger than the base value of the items they steal. The foreclosure "crisis" has exacerbated this issue in a massive way by leaving properties unoccupied for extended periods allowing for decent houses to be totally decimated, which then impacts the rest of the neighborhood, on and on and on.

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  12. 3691 Avalon was a bank foreclosure in 2011. The bank gave it to HUD in Feb 2012 who gave it to the County Land Bank in Sept 2012. The County Land Bank had it for ABOUT SIX MONTHS before tearing it down. They are now selling it as a vacant lot. Ask the Land Bank why they gave up on this house so fast. Source: NEO CANDO and Cuyahoga County Auditor websites.

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  13. I hate to be grinch here but I am not impressed with much of the architecture of Shaker, my hometown. I grew up on the "wrong" side of the Shaker tracks and was thus spared those ostentatious copies of European castles on the "right" side of the tracks. In the slide show only the Fox, Duthie Foose home on Daleford, the product of significant architectural effort, was interesting to me, and it had been remodeled beyond recognition. My old Shaker home in Lomond is now next to a foreclosure demolition. The empty lot looks a bit weird as do the ones around the corner. These demolitions do enhance safety by opening up the view. I notice that all the druggies (fortunately a minority) that in the past burglarized my folks or badgered them for money lived in foreclosed and/ or torn-down homes. Of the four foreclosures I knew of by my old family home (and I'm sure there were more), only one is down. At least one sports some significant exterior improvements.

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  14. This is sad. My reality is, I grew up in Shaker and lived on Van Aken Blvd. I would have loved to have stayed there. I bought a home on Shelburne and stayed there 15 years until my children graduated. The taxes were so high, $10,000.00 a year on top of a mortgage that was underwater, on top of a very high monthly payment to begin with, I was forced to leave my beloved city. I love the "old" Shaker and the architecture of the homes. It is just too expensive to live there now. The city has changed, but there is still something very special and unique about our city. I miss living there daily and hate seeing what has happened to our homes and some parts of the community. Change happens everywhere and Shaker, as much as we wish it would remain the same, is changing with the times as well.

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  15. Such a waste. I suspect the school district has a role in this too. These smaller houses tend to attract families as owners or renters. It costs about $9,000 per year to educate a child in the Shaker school system. If a family with one or two children move into one of these houses, the taxes aren't enough to cover the cost of educating the kids. Erasing some of the city's more affordable houses helps the school district's bottom line. Sad but true, cities like Shaker are interested in attracting affluent, empty-nesters rather than middle- and lower-income families with kids.

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    1. I grew up in Shaker, in the Lomond district and I didn't know that this was happening! I must admit that I am very surprised that the city was in this kind of trouble. I think many people have misconceptions regarding Shaker schools. It is true that the schoolls are not what they used to be. Most things are not what they used to be. These changes have effected all of the suburban schools, including those in Beachwood, Orange and others. What many ignorant and unsophisticated (euphemisum) people do not understand is that many renters and short tem residents are moving into Shaker so that their children will have a better education. Those of us who still attend reunions have had a chance to go back and see the schools, and although Shaker has changed, it is still a system where a student can get a 1st class education. Many Shaker students still participate in regional speech and debate tournaments and are very successful, many grads attend ivy league schools and percentage wise the school has a very large number on National Merit. Scholars. Please do not speak negatively about our schools when you are not aware of all of the facts. It demeans our alma mater and it demeans our neighborhoods, when that happens, our childhood homes lose their value and the results are evident.

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  16. This is so sad and I place a large part of the blame on taxes and now retiring Supt. Mark Freeman and school board members who never met a levy they didn't like. While other districts made the tough fiscal calls, Shaker plowed ahead with teacher raises and hiring like they have always done. Not only has it squashed home values encouraging a lower income buyer but has driven out the middle class buyer because the district's strengths lie in affluent foreigners with the IB program and the minority students addressing the achievement gap. Not only are taxes high but there is no expectation that the district/city are doing anything to keep from raising taxes in the future. What they need to do is cut taxes by cutting the dead wood at the schools and the library so that people can purchase a stable investment. It may be too late to save these houses but you can still make Shaker a desirable place to live by stabilizing taxes.

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  17. as soon as you pass lomond school on lomond blvd, the novelty that is quaint shaker heights is over, u enter the world where Cleveland is starting to spread its trash and filth and residents in affordable two family homes, its a crying shame to see what they have done to this neighborhood in such a short amount of time, tear the rest of the houses down, and bulldoze the land.

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  18. Historical houses that are abandoned are being sold in actions to developers for a cost of the land ($20K-30K), with an agreement that the house will be restored. The city might even provide some credit to interested developers for restorations. The newly rebuilt (and recently sold) beautiful house on 17300 Lomond Blvd is one of the examples. http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/17300-Lomond-Blvd-Shaker-Heights-OH-44120/33689880_zpid/

    If an abandoned house is not historical, structurally not safe and no one bid on it – this house will be demolished. These houses were not updated for 20-30 years. Also, majority of them were not to build to last that long.
    I live in the neighborhood and I would rather have nice lots with pretty landscape (done by the city) than crumbling abandoned old houses.

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  19. I lived on palmerston and my house is gone. it is so sad.

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  20. I currently live in this neighborhood. We moved here from the Dayton/Cinci area in 2011. We fell in love with Cleveland and especially Shaker when we came to look. These two family homes are so unique, and they are tearing them down. It does seem as though Shaker is quick to demolish. For instance, 3519 Normandy is a vacant two family. The Owner is up to date on taxes, but for some reason lets it sit vacant? I spoke with a housing inspector when I saw him there checking on the property. He told me that the city wanted to tear it down because it is vacant. He explained that Shaker does not bored homes, so this basically leaves them open for vandalism. I have witnessed activity in the house, but it was high school kids. Usually the violations list on a foreclosed vacant home is quite extensive. Shaker does require 150% of the cost of repairs be put into escrow. This coupled with the high taxes is a major road block. We are currently renters, but we are hoping to change that soon.

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  21. The city of Shaker refused to accept an asphalt contractor's estimate for a driveway repair prior title transfer. Instead, they insisted that the 150% escrow be based on what their prefered list of contractors typically charge. This has a bad "smell." I would like to state that the new driveway in this for sale home initially passed inspection by the city..but a secondary inspection said no.

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