The housing crisis left Ohio’s Cuyahoga County with numerous vacant and distressed properties, but a builder is now working alongside the region’s land bank to revive the area.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank recently partnered with the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Loft Home Builders Inc. to renovate vacant homes in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood in Cleveland via a creative housing rehabilitation program.

Owned by local developer Charles Scaravelli, Loft Home Builders Inc. developed an innovative home renovation model that recreates old space layouts to make older homes more attractive to buyers and more practical for living purposes.

Scaravelli also established a renovation process that barely costs more than what it would cost to demolish a vacant property — roughly between $10,000 and $15,000.

The approach by Loft Home Builders Inc. involves gutting an outdated single-family home in order to create an open floor plan, which means less electrical, heating and duct work in addition to fewer materials used for flooring, walls and other interior needs than a typical renovation.

“The Loft Homes we are working on already have a waiting list,” said SCSDC Executive Director Michael Fleming. “This contradicts the belief that there’s no demand for housing in the neighborhoods of Cleveland’s near east side — we just need to offer the right product.”

Scaravelli came to SCSDC with his Loft Home concept, asking to pilot the idea in St. Clair Superior’s service area. The Cuyahoga Land Bank worked with SCSDC to locate and transfer four homes to SCSDC that were structurally sound and approved.

“The floor plans in Cleveland’s older housing stock often do not reflect what someone today wants out of their living quarters. That adds one more challenge to finding new purpose for some of our older vacant and abandoned housing stock,” said Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos, who notes that the Loft Homes model addresses the issue by creating a completely new space at a low cost that has great appeal.

The construction of the homes is partially financed by The Cuyahoga Land Bank, who places a small mortgage on the property payable once the property has been finished and rented or resold. Loft Home Builders Inc., who has up to two years to make a payment once the mortgage is repaid, will take ownership of the properties.

“Part of the reason I find the Loft Homes project so exciting is because it shows the versatility of the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the creative outcomes that are possible for addressing Cleveland’s vacancy issues,” said Fleming.

Recently, the second Loft Home was completed and is currently being rented by tenants.

The author of this article is: Megan Hopkins

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