Demolition alone doesn’t revitalize: This “Building Demolition & Site Revitalization Program” will raze 2277 blighted structures

On December 6, 2022, the government of Ohio announced a statewide effort to revitalize economies and build affordable housing via the demolition of 2277 blighted and vacant structures in 42 counties.

It’s hoped that the newly-available properties will pave the way for economic growth and housing opportunities. Success, of course, will largely depend on avoiding the mistake made by most states and cities: not having a follow-up program to help ensure that the properties don’t sit idle.

As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, leaders often forget that demolition is only a tactic. Revitalization usually requires a strategy.

It seems like Governor Mike DeWine‘s administration might well have learned that lesson, since the name of the initiative behind the demolitions is Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program.

The administration created the program to help local communities demolish dilapidated commercial and residential buildings and revitalize surrounding properties to attract investments, businesses, and jobs.

We’re not just tearing down dilapidated buildings, we’re helping to make communities across the state better places to start a business, raise a family, and build a bright future,” said Governor DeWine. “This isn’t just a win for 42 counties, it’s a win for all of Ohio.

These new projects are in addition to the 825 demolition projects announced in October of 2022.

This funding is helping our communities transform forgotten properties into productive spaces that can once again play an important role in growing our economy,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted.

The new projects announced will be funded with the Ohio Demolition and Site Revitalization Program set-aside grants announced for each county in July. Thirteen counties will also receive additional program funding totaling $35.3 million to cover expenses in excess of the initial set-aside grants.

In total, the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program will award nearly $150 million in grants for projects across the state. Details on demolition projects in additional counties will be provided in the coming weeks.

Examples of new projects funded in this round of awards include:

  • Athens County Land Reutilization Corporation: Glouster will demolish a dilapidated building that poses a potential danger to surrounding buildings, cars, and passersby. Formerly a mill and flower shop, the current owner purchased the property to harvest wood from the inside but found the structure to be unstable. Once demolished, surrounding parcel owners including the village and school district have expressed interest in building on the property.
  • Auglaize County Board of Commissioners: St. Marys will demolish blighted structures on the property of the wastewater treatment plant. Removal of these buildings will allow for expansion of the plant to continue meeting ongoing requirements of the Ohio EPA and to meet demand caused by population growth.
    Belmont County Land Reutilization Corporation: The Colerain Township Trustees will demolish an old post office that has been deemed uninhabitable and unsafe. Once demolished, the property will be utilized by a local nonprofit fire department to expand parking and training capabilities.
  • Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation: The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority will demolish two former hotels – The Drake and The Carrousel – as part of a collaborative effort with multiple jurisdictions to reinvigorate the Reading Road Corridor. Following the demolition of the blighted properties, The Port plans to construct an industrial spec building with the goal of finding an advanced manufacturing company to bring high-paying jobs to the community.
  • Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation: Lucas County will demolish the former Rosemary Apartment building in Toledo. The blighted, seven-story structure has been vacant for at least 15 years and serves as an eyesore and danger to residents and visitors. The site is adjacent to the Ottawa River and all parcels are within a floodplain designation. While there is limited future use for this property once demolished, ownership may be transferred to the City of Toledo for stormwater management.
  • Mahoning County Land Reutilization Corporation: Youngstown will demolish 473 vacant, badly blighted residential properties throughout the city to stabilize the housing market and revitalize neighborhoods. Once demolished, these lots will transition to greenspaces with plans to potentially develop the properties for housing, commercial, and industrial use.
  • Medina County Port Authority: Medina County will demolish a former shoe repair building in downtown Medina. Once demolished, the Medina City Development Corporation will execute a ground lease with the Rose Company, which has proposed a $9.3 million mixed-use, four-story, 47,000-square-foot capital investment. This project fits within the strategic plan goals to incorporate more housing to support small businesses downtown. In addition to housing, this project will add some commercial retail spaces.

The Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program is administered by the Ohio Department of Development and was created with the support from the Ohio General Assembly. The grants are funded as part of the 2021 state biennium budget bill, House Bill 110, which requires grants to be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Looking at the plans that some of our communities have for these sites, it’s clear there are numerous opportunities for growth,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Removing this blight has the potential to increase property values and revitalize local housing markets in addition to removing safety hazards and opening doors for more businesses to set up shop throughout the state,” she concluded.

The Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program is part of Governor DeWine’s Ohio BUILDS Initiative, which focuses on supporting targeted solutions that impact quality of life, such as water infrastructure improvements, broadband expansion, brownfield redevelopment, the demolition of blighted buildings, and more.

Photos courtesy of the Port of Greater Cincinnati.

Learn more about Ohio’s Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program.

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