Having failed to find a suitable buyer for the former rooming house it owns on Grace Avenue, the city is now giving serious consideration to demolishing the property.
The city’s top housing official on Monday briefed members of the City Council’s housing committee about ongoing efforts to unload two boarding houses the city purchased last year for $270,000 from an absentee landlord in order to shut them down.
Dru Siley told committee members the city is close to selling the Mars Avenue property for $25,000 to a man associated with Final Destination Restoration. The man and his finance, who are not current Lakewood residents, will convert the property to a single family home and make it their primary residence.
Siley estimated the couple will invest approximately $140,000 to make necessary modifications and repairs. The sales contract, which is set to close around June 4, will have a “claw back” clause penalizing the owners if certain deadlines are unmet. They have 30 days to pull the necessary repair permits and 180 days to fix all exterior building code violations. They must have all other repairs made within 12 months.
While the new owners will have a lot of work to do, Siley noted that many of the house’s original interior features — like built-in wood cabinets — were left intact. In addition, many of the floor-plan modifications made by the prior owner were done using drywall and can be removed without too much difficulty.
He said Mars Ave. properties in the vicinity of the Lakewood Public Library on Detroit Avenue “tend to hold their value,” and observed the average sales price is around $170,000.
A representative from the city checked out a couple of Shaker Heights houses that were rehabbed by Final Destination Restoration and found them to be well done, according to Siley.
Grace Ave. property ‘more challenging’
The situation on Grace Avenue will not likely have as happy an ending.
Siley told the committee that the “economics of the property are more challenging” compared to the Mars Ave. house. He explained that it was “pretty significantly altered” over the years and all of the original features were stripped out. In addition, it must have all of its mechanicals replaced and suffered severe water damage.
Siley felt the high cost of rehabbing the property makes it very unattractive to potential investors. He doubted the city would even be able to give it away. The city lowered their asking price to $43,000, and marketed it through the Cleveland Restoration Society, but hasn’t attracted any serious interest.
One potential suitor approached the city last year with a proposal to turn it into a half-way house or keep it as a rooming house, and was rejected.
Siley said some Grace Ave. residents have been informed of the possible demolition of the house and offered no opposition. He said they were happy to be done with it — it had become a neighborhood nuisance as a rooming house. The homeowner to the south of the property expressed interest to Siley in buying the vacant lot.
Siley described one scenario in which the house could be demolished within 60 days to coincide with the grand opening of the new Discount Drug Mart on the corner of Detroit and Grace Avenues. Plans have not yet been finalized.
In other news…historic property in need of repair
On your next walk around town, be sure to check out the condition of the First Church of Christ, Scientist church building on Detroit Ave across from the library.
It’s not a pretty sight. A decent-sized section of the stone to the west of the front steps has failed.
It was designated as a historic property by the Planning Commission over the objection of its out-of-town owner.
As a historic property, the owner is mandated by law to fix the situation. It will be a good challenge for the city’s Division of Housing and Building.