On July 1, 2022, $42.1 million in grant funding was announced to help communities in nearly every Ohio county turn blighted properties into community revitalization opportunities, attracting investment, business, and jobs. This is on top of the $192 million announced just a month ago by Ohio’s Brownfield Remediation Program, which often targets the same sorts of properties.
Eighty-seven counties will receive up to $500,000 in grants as part of the first phase of the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program, which funds the demolition of dilapidated commercial and residential buildings and the revitalization of surrounding properties.
“These investments lead to revitalization at its finest,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “It takes blighted properties that are a scar on the landscape of a community and turns them into parks, housing or thriving businesses.”
In total, approximately $150 million in grants will be awarded for demolition and revitalization projects across the state in coming months. As part of the program’s initial round of funding, $500,000 was set aside for all of Ohio’s 88 counties through June 30, 2022. The new awards represent the total amount requested by each county up to its $500,000 set-aside. The program’s remaining funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to counties that applied for funding in excess of $500,000.
“There are vacant, decaying buildings all over the state that are nothing but eyesores, and it’s time for these structures to go,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “By investing to tear down these dangerous properties, we’re not only helping to transform the landscape of our communities, but we’re also clearing the way for redevelopment, more jobs, and new opportunities for Ohio residents.”
The Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program was created with the support of the Ohio General Assembly, which funded the program as part of the state biennium budget bill, House Bill 110. The program, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Development, is also part of the DeWine-Husted Administration’s strategic efforts to invest in Ohio’s future.
“With access to this funding communities can start on their projects and begin making room for future growth,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “Clearing blight and dilapidated structures helps pave the way for future economic development.”
The Ohio 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.
This new grant program was launched on December 21, 2021, with the claim that “the new Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program will provide nearly $150 million in grants to raze dilapidated commercial and residential buildings and revitalize surrounding properties.” The first part of that claim is accurate enough, but—as with most “blight removal” programs, the revitalization part of the promise seems to be based on hope and faith.
The program information page doesn’t say anything about what—if any—actions the program will fund or otherwise encourage after the demolition. As with the “urban renewal” debacle of the 20th century, the assumption seems to be that removing a derelict building will automatically lead to redevelopment and revitalization.
There’s no mention of any kind of ongoing renewal program or process, and no mention of a revitalization strategy. There’s also no mention of any kind of evaluation process to determine whether a structure is reusable and worth renovating.
“There are dangerous, blighted buildings all over Ohio that are nothing more than eyesores that restrict new development,” said Governor DeWine. “We want our local communities to thrive, and through this new grant program, we will help all 88 counties tear down dilapidated structures to make room for future growth.”
The Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program was created with the support of the Ohio General Assembly, which funded the program as part of the 2021 state biennium budget bill, House Bill 110. The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Development.
“We’re attracting companies to Ohio because of our low taxes and excellent business climate, but they need sites to set up shop,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “Remediating these properties turns the blight into new opportunities to attract investment, business, and jobs.”
It’s good that Husted mentioned remediation, but there’s nothing in the program information about how the remediation of contaminated properties will happen.
“Abandoned and blighted buildings are often hazards in our communities,” added Mihalik. “By removing them, we make way for new growth and economic development throughout Ohio,” she added.
Again, it seems to be the old urban renewal mentality of “destroy it and they will come” that left hundreds of American cities with a plague of surface parking lots and a dearth of renewable assets, such as historic buildings.
As required by House Bill 110, funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To ensure that all of Ohio’s 88 counties benefit from the program, each county will be eligible to receive a minimum of $500,000.
Commercial and residential buildings on sites that are not brownfields are eligible for funding. Counties must designate one lead entity to apply for grant funds on behalf of the county. In counties where a county land reutilization corporation has been established, it shall be the lead entity for that county. Other application details are available in the program guidelines.
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.
Let’s hope that there’s more to the program than simple demolition, which is just a tactic. Revitalization demands a strategy, and a proven process to implement it. Ohio deserves it.
Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Development.
See the Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program website.