Wednesday, August 31, 2011
NPR does a little story on how land banks in Cuyahoga county have gotten big banks to pay for the demolition of crumbling houses across the Cleveland area:
Lenders stuck with crumbling houses found themselves on the hook in the Cleveland Housing Court for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of code violations.
The Cuyahoga County Land Bank, a quasi-government corporation, offered lenders a deal: We'll take your worst houses, if you pay to knock them down. This year, Fannie Mae and some of the country's biggest lenders — including Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo — will help pay for half of the land bank's 700 scheduled demolitions.
Lenders pay $3,500 to $7,500 per house. Wells Fargo's Russ Cross says it's a sensible and responsible business plan.
The real difficulty, as the story points out, is that nobody knows what to do with the vacant lots after the buildings have been destroyed. There's only so much demand for yet another urban garden.