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2023 Ohio Demolition Grants: Removing Blight To Revitalize Communities

As the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program enters its 30th year in 2023, cities across the state are lining up projects to utilize this funding source. By providing grants to tear down vacant structures, the program enables local governments to remove hazards and catalyze economic growth. Let’s look at how key cities plan to combat unsightly and unsafe structures with demolition this year:

Cincinnati Focuses on Historic Brewery Site

A notable project in Cincinnati’s pipeline is the demolition of the vacant Jackson Brewery building in Over-The-Rhine. Built in the 19th century, the brewery has been abandoned since the 1990s. Considered an imminent danger, the building is plagued by a collapsing roof and crumbling facade.

Cincinnati received a $200,000 grant for demolition costs. This project aligns with the city’s plans to redevelop the surrounding site into affordable senior housing, helping revitalize a key historic neighborhood.

Columbus Addresses Shopping Center Blight

Columbus will utilize 2023 demolition funds to remove the abandoned Westland Mall. Once a thriving shopping center, the mall has been vacant for over 10 years, falling into disrepair and attracting crime. The sprawling site poses safety risks and deteriorates nearby property values.

The city plans to demolish the main mall structure and remediate environmental hazards with a $500,000 state grant. The long-term vision is to foster new commercial or mixed-use development. Removing this deteriorated anchor property unlocks economic potential in the Westside community.

Cleveland Renews Vacant Residential Sites

Cleveland continues to apply demolition grants toward residential properties, with over $1 million secured for 2023 projects. The highest priority sites are vacant homes posing immediate threats to public safety due to deterioration.

One focus area is the St. Clair neighborhood, where over 100 vacant and condemned houses are slated for demolition. Removing these hazards will improve safety and quality of life. Demolition also provides land for community gardens, green infrastructure, infill housing and other neighborhood investments.

Youngstown Addresses Steel Plant Blight

Beyond the major cities, smaller Ohio communities also have big revitalization plans using demolition grants. In Youngstown, the 2023 funds will clear structural remnants of the old Acme steel processing plant downtown.

Left abandoned since the 1990s, the rusting steel ruins have impeded riverfront development. Their eyesore nature and environmental issues have stalled growth. The $500,000 grant will finally clear the site for potential commercial reuse.

Zanesville Unlocks Downtown Potential

Similarly, the City of Zanesville will utilize $150,000 this year to demolish a vacant commercial building downtown. Consistent with its revitalization strategy, the city has already secured a private developer for a hotel project on the cleared site. This project will catalyze the city’s downtown redevelopment goals.

Success Stories Show Long-Term Impacts

While 2023 demolitions are still upcoming, many past projects are now fully realized, showing the long-term potential. For example, Cincinnati demolished the Mergard steel plant in 2006 with grant funding. This paved the way for a $500 million, 125-acre riverfront development including office, residential, entertainment, and recreation space.

Other former demolition sites are now home to projects like the Toledo Downtown Arena, Akron’s Main Street Corridor, and a Cleveland Sustainable Mixed-use Development. These examples showcase how blight removal unlocks economic growth.

Program Prioritizes Development Potential

The Ohio demolition program strategically invests in projects poised for redevelopment. Applicants must demonstrate site control and submit a reuse plan. Priorities include vacant properties in low-income areas with strong market potential.

Alongside blight removal, the program’s goal is to create shovel-ready sites for private investment. For example, Grove City secured 2023 funds to demolish motels along a key highway corridor primed for new development. Removing these ugly sights opens opportunities.

Boosting Safety and Property Values

In addition to enabling investment, demolitions provide immediate relief for neighborhoods. Eliminating vacant, hazardous buildings reduces criminal activity, fire risks, and health hazards.

It also removes messes that drag down property values. For example, Lorain County will use 2023 grants to demolish and green vacant residential lots. Enhancing aesthetics and public spaces lifts the values and morale of remaining residents.

State and Federal Funds Expand Impact

In 2023, the demolition program had over $5 million available that combined state and federal resources. The Ohio legislature designated $2 million in capital funds for demolitions. Federal pandemic relief dollars also continue supporting blight removal.

This expanded pool boosts reach to more communities. For its 30th year, the program continues maximizing investments to uplift neighborhoods statewide.

Looking Ahead to More Revitalization

Since its inception in 1993, the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program has awarded over $55 million across hundreds of projects, removing thousands of blighted structures. As Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and many smaller cities launch new projects in 2023, the program’s revitalization impact will continue growing.

Removing Dilapidated buildings is just the first step in the process. But it is often the most critical and cost-prohibitive one. By providing strategic demolition grants, this program allows Ohio communities to take charge of challenging properties and pave the way for future opportunities.

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Ben Raabe

Over the past two decades, I've been building a team of experts at Bella Contracting Services, LLC that is fully equipped to handle any construction and demolition project. As the CEO and founder, I'm passionate about delivering quality general contracting, structural demolition, renovations, additions, and construction management services to our clients throughout the United States.

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