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A way to improve housing stock in older neighborhoods

Here is a cheaper way to rehabilitate homes in older neighbourhoods

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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.

One Comment

  1. modorney says:

    When Seattle expanded their airport, 20 years ago, they offered a bunch of houses for free, if you took it off the land. These were the basic post WW II rectangular ranch houses, about 24 feet by 50 feet. One enterprising person took one of the houses and sliced it every eight feet. Only he alternated the slices, so that he had three slices with a 2×4 on both ends. And the remaining pieces were scrap. He towed each piece to a lot 50 miles east. Then he took another house and did the slices from the opposite direction, creating another set of slices. The six slices formed a new house. They bolted together at the 2×4’s.

    Granted, this framed, but largely unfinished house was ‘worth” only 25k, but he could live in it instantly and work on it himself. If the Cleveland houses could be easily transported 40 miles away, they would have some real value.

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