Buying a house for $500 would be an indisputable bargain in most places, but not necessarily in Cleveland.
So when the owner of the vacant house in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood made the offer to developer and landlord Charles Scaravelli, he paused.
A traditional rehab would cost at least $30,000, more than he could recoup by renting or selling the house.
That didn’t stop him. “Wow, it’s got a slate roof,” Scaravelli said. “I’ll buy it.”
Scaravelli’s decision, not knowing whether it would be an albatross or an opportunity, is turning out to be more than a risk that paid off for him. It also could affect the vast inventory of vacant and abandoned housing in the city and increasingly the suburbs.
Scaravelli converted the dwelling into a loft house, a rehab that cost only $10,000. He has had no problem renting the home on Schaefer Avenue for $500 a month and another on East 47th Street that he bought from the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and converted.
Now the Cuyahoga land bank and the St. Clair Superior nonprofit are engaged in a pilot project to see whether the loft home conversions can be a way of bringing vacant houses, often the wreckage of the foreclosure crisis, back online. Demolition is the typical solution, but if an affordable model can be found to create a viable market for these houses, bulldozing doesn’t have to be their only fate.
There are homes all over Saskatoon that could benefit drastically from this treatment.