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My House and Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood

6 September 2009 12 Comments

Those of you who know me in person know I just bought a house in the city of Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

I know other young people who are buying or considering buying houses in Rust Belt cities, so I wanted to share my story. There’s a lot of second guessing that goes along with this; questions about crime and schools. But I just really felt compelled to buy in the city and in this neighborhood.

Here is a cool video about the Detroit Shoreway, The Bus Stops Here from Qian Li on Vimeo:

For those of you that are familiar with Cleveland, the Detroit Shoreway is just west of Ohio City near 65th and Detroit Avenue, just a few blocks from Lake Erie. In recent years, it has seen a relatively good deal of new investment, fueled by two independent local theater companies, a new condominium complex and a major city-funded streetscape project.

The about 15 block stretch between 58th and 73st streets is known as The Gordon Square Arts District and it is home to a small hand-full of boutiques, about a half dozen sit-down restaurants and bars, The Cleveland Public Theater and The Near West Theater.

Matt Zone, the neighborhood’s city councilman was right when he said there were a lot of individual residents that were uniquely committed to seeing the neighborhood revitalized, including Cleveland’s housing court Judge Ray Pianka, my new neighbor on Franklin Blvd and many other prominent members of Cleveland’s community development community. (My next-door neighbor, for example, is a Harvard graduate.)

About six months ago, working with the (fabulous) Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, I purchased this house for $43,000 at sheriff’s sale.

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The community development organization (a nonprofit developer) had already invested $40,000 in rehabbing the property. They had used the legal tactic called receivership to wrestle the house away from a negligent owner.

The house needs work.

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About $20,000 worth, and the only reason it is that low is because my dad is a licensed housing contractor who is willing to work for hot meals, in this case. By the time we’re done, it will be like new,or as close as an 1890 house with an original slate roof can come.

They don’t build homes like this one anymore.

This fall, about the time the house is done, just a few blocks away they will be finishing the streetscape project and opening The Capitol Theater, a historic, 1921-movie theater, which was renovated by the Detroit Shoreway CDO and will be managed by a local theater company.

My mortgage payment will be $355 per month (and the reason I share that is simply to demonstrate how far your money will go in Cleveland and I’d be lying if I said this didn’t factor pretty heavily into my decision).

There is a pretty active block club in my neighborhood and their slogan goes like this: “Every time you spend a dollar, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

I guess that’s part of what’s driving me, but also there are truly a lot of nice amenities in this neighborhood: the lake, the movie theater, the short bike ride to downtown …

So, I guess it’s not for everyone, but it seemed like the right place for me.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s homebuying/restoration stories, as well.

-AS

  • Special K

    Thanks for sharing your story Angie. I’m glad you are buying a home in the Cleve.

  • http://totalfurmanation.blogspot.com/ HHF

    Holy crap, your mortgage is less than my rent…

    I know I see you all the time, but I hope you keep posting more updates here about your house. It’s really inspiring.

  • http://www.stl-style.com Jeff

    That’s a beautiful house, Angie! Congrats! You really got a steal, and you are certainly doing your part to revitalize the city. When’s the housewarming party? ;)

  • schmange

    There’s going to be a huge housewarming party and you are definitely invited, Jeff. I’ll do another post once the house is finished.

  • Sarah Hartley

    Awesome, Angie! Housing with a purpose. Congratuations!

  • Paul

    Congrats and welcome to the neighborhood! We bought about 7 years ago (white picket fence a few blocks west of you) and have been tremendously pleased with the neighborhood which has gotten continuously better every year.

    Where else can you live walking distance from live theatre, a movie theater, coffeeshop, restaurants, bars, art galleries, public transit, etc. – and just minutes from both a lakefront park and downtown with so much living space for so little money?

  • schmange

    Yay! I can’t wait to meet you and all the other neighbors. You should stop by sometime.

  • Amy

    Congrats Angie I am so happy for you!!! I think its more like he will work and cook the hot meals for you! I’m so jealous I miss his cooken! :)

  • Melissa

    Congratulations Roomie! This is amazing and I love the house already! Please let me know if I can do anything to help. Love and miss you!!

  • Andrew

    I visted Cleveland this past Labor Day weekend (from Pittsburgh), and happened to stay with friends in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The homes were beautiful and the business coordiors were exactly as you described them. I found Cleveland to be a great place. We biked to Ohio City and into downtown, and along the lake. The park there was really nice.

    I got a kick out of the way a few of the neighborhoods are named after the two streets that they’re sandwiched between.

  • Damian

    Angie – lots of people talk the talk, but you put your money where your mouth is and for that, much respect. Just make sure you cut the grass a little more frequently (j/k!)…DGG.

  • Bobbi ReIchtell

    Hi Angie-
    Welcome to the neighborhood! Looking forward to meeting you. My husband, Mark McDermott, and I are at 6810 Franklin and have been here for 20 years (it went fast) and raised our two kids here. We have a great block club that you will love and our Orchard Committee is really cool. We will be planting this fall and next spring. You are going to love living here. It’s not paradise – because nothing is perfect in life and we have our share of crime – but it is the closest thing I have found in Cleveland.

    Bobbi