Lakewood OH

Lakewood searching for families to renovate historic homes

By Nicole Hennessy


On Grace Avenue sits a historic boarding house built in 1898.

Its floors and walls are chipped. Large original windows and fireplaces in need of repair crumble a bit, and small rooms off of tight hallways beg to be opened up and turned into much larger spaces.

The quickest way to sell this home, which will require at least $200,000 in renovations?

List it for $1.

And that’s exactly what the city of Lakewood did.

LakewoodAlive, in partnership with the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO), First Federal of Lakewood and the Cleveland Restoration Society, have been holding open houses for over a week now, attracting hundreds of potential homeowners.

Standing in the entranceway, Ian Andrews, executive director of LakewoodAlive, explained what the city is looking for in a buyer.

Not interested in alternative uses for the property, Andrews explained that a hypothetical renovation plan for the current 10-bedroom setup shows what the home could be as a single-family property.

Another property on Mars Avenue, also a former boarding house, is included in this initiative, which aims to find buyers interested in maintaining as many historic homes as possible.

Priced a little higher at $25,000, this home will also need significant rebuilding, but much less than the Grace Avenue property.

In addition to the assistance of the partners involved in this project and access to the city’s architect for planning purposes, the buyers will also receive a five-year tax abatement on any improvements made to the property over $25,000, as well as no charge for any building permits that will need to be obtained.

Allison Urbanek, LakewoodAlive’s housing outreach director, added, “I think that this is a very unique opportunity.” Standing beside Andrews in a hat and coat, the unheated home held her frozen breath in the air as she spoke.

“A homeowner has the opportunity to have modern on the inside … and make it really what they want, but still have the historic aspect of being in this great neighborhood,” she continued.

Andrews suggested those interested in viewing the properties contact either him or Urbanek to schedule a viewing.

Climbing the first of two flights of stairs, Urbanek pointed out walls that could be removed and other details, such as original tilework and woodwork that could be either preserved or incorporated into the home’s design.

On the third floor, an original claw-foot tub sits in a room. Past that, down another narrow hallway, are various rooms, originally used as servant quarters, and a turret lined with windows.

The third floor is not included in the proposed redesign. It, Urbanek said, is “a bonus” – a part of the home that will likely stay the way it is for quite some time, closed off or stripped of its historic elements, to be used in the first two floors’ new design.

Through the windows, the property next door, similar in size and age, shows what could be possible for this home.

The city’s website explains its involvement with both properties.

“In 2012,” it reads, “the City of Lakewood purchased two boarding houses that had become burdensome to the community.”

Also, on the partnership with DSCDO, which works to restore vacant historic homes in the Shoreway area of Cleveland, it explains, “The organization has engaged its partners to redevelop 130 vacant, foreclosed properties resulting in over $7 million in rehabilitated housing. Developers are vetted on both their finances and construction skills in order to insure a quality end product.”

On each floor at the Grace Avenue home, more and more rooms appear around each corner and off of each hallway.

Standing again in the entranceway, Andrews imagined the possibilities for this home. After the renovations, he said, “It would really shine.”


SIDE BAR: Those interested in viewing either historic property for sale can reach LakewoodAlive at 216-521-0655.



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