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.
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.
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.
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.