Crews are to begin tearing down targeted homes in late August—but
only have just over 16 months to complete an aggressive
demolition schedule in six sections of the city. The Broadway
Corridor Coalition recommended the homes that will be demolished
in the Old South End.
“In terms of a sense of scope, the city of Toledo demolished in one
year 268 properties, which was great—it was a record,” said
Lucas County Treasurer Wade
Kapszukiewicz, who serves
as a land bank board member. “What we are going to do is three
times that amount.”
The county treasurer made his comments at a press conference last
week in front of 551 and 559 Colburn, two of the Old South
End properties to be demolished. Lourdes lives next-door to
the weed-infested, boarded-up homes in a well-maintained,
purple-sided house that even has a fruit-bearing peach tree in
the front yard.
“If we are able to eliminate the blight from abandoned structures
like this, it benefits Lourdes, the homeowner and people like
her, who care and work hard and put money into their
property—but unfortunately, have seen their values go down,”
Kapsukiewicz said. “This isn’t about the vacant, blighted
structures as it is about the beautiful structures next to it.”
The funds are a combination of a mortgage court case settlement
from the Ohio Attorney General’s office and delinquent tax
penalties paid by Lucas County property owners, a portion of
which funds land bank operations under a recent change in state
“These are vacant, long-term chronic abandoned homes that do
nothing other than drag down property values in our
neighborhoods,” said Kapsukiewicz, emphasizing that no one would
be displaced by the demolition effort. “Hopefully, folks like
Lourdes and her neighbors can start to get equity back in their
But demolishing delinquent properties is only half the battle.
Putting the properties in the proper hands to return them to the
tax rolls is the other 50 percent of the equation.
All of the homes to be torn down were forfeited in tax foreclosure
cases. Almost all have fallen into disrepair. The hope is to
take those empty lots and let neighborhood groups rebuild homes
on the sites—or sell them at a reduced cost to homeowners who
want to create green space, a garden, or a larger yard.
“Our mission is to preserve home values and strengthen
neighborhoods, like in this instance where we work with a
neighbor to restore a vacant or abandoned structure to
productive use by allowing her to expand her garden and beautify
her side yard,” said Cindy Geronimo, a Latina appointed
as land bank director in June.
Some homeowners have been left “upside down” or “under water” in
their mortgages because of the foreclosure crisis. That simply
means their loan is for a larger amount than the home is now
“What has made this economic downturn so terrible in our country is
that this one, for the first time, took value out of the
home—and the home is what the middle-class has used for two
generations to get equity out of their home to send their kids
to college, to open a small business, whatever the case may be,”
said the county treasurer.
“The beauty of this is it’s not a bunch of bureaucrats from on high
telling neighbors what should happen,” emphasized Kapsukiewicz.
“It’s the neighborhoods from the ground up telling the land bank
what they would like to see happen in their neighborhood. I
think that’s part of the reason why this has been so
“We’ve had some churches and neighborhood groups approach us and
inquire about looking for space for picnic areas, soccer fields,
things like that,” said Ms. Geronimo.
But there’s good reason the land bank is starting in the Old South
End, which has nothing to do with the fact it is where Ms.
Geronimo, ironically, grew up and still lives.
“There’s a lot of energy going into the Old South End with the
Broadway Corridor Coalition,” said Josh Murnen, general
counsel for the land bank. “The city’s department of
neighborhoods is looking at it as a possible reinvestment area.
It’s a corridor that sort of leads right up to the Warehouse
District of downtown which lately has seen a lot of
reinvestment. It made sense to start here.”
“We’re going to build two new, affordable houses in the 300-block
of Chapin,” said Bill Farnsell, director of Neighborhood
Housing Services. “These will be affordable, for-sale houses.
Why is this important? Because we can’t build unless the land is
The community development corporation also plans to build 40
single-family homes near the Old West End starting in January.
Toledo has not seen major residential construction in a number
of years because of the foreclosure crisis. The neighborhood
being targeted for those new homes is located near Mercy St.
Vincent Medical Center, which also has a large Latino