As Seen In Lorain: 3620 Clifton Avenue and the second chance

In yesterday’s Morning Journal, there was an article about the decision made by the Demolition Board of Appeals to add 16 more houses to the demolition list. In that article, it was mentioned that the owners of one of the houses on the demolition list were given a second chance to make repairs. Even though it was noted by Demolition Board member, 5th ward Councilman, and neighborhood resident Eddie Edwards that “Before the sale, the house sat empty for about five years, with its doors and windows open and generally falling apart…” and “The new owners also waited a year before taking action to repair it…” AND the Board went out to see this house for themselves AND took the Fire Chief with them AND talked to the unhappy neighbors – the owners have $17,000 and a plan and that was enough for the Board to grant them a second chance.

If a house ends up on the demolition list, it is there for many many good reasons. The Powers That Be (TPTB) aren’t just riding around the neighborhoods randomly targeting houses for demolition. The reasons for demolition may not always be apparent to us on the outside, but there are plenty out there that are glaringly obvious candidates. As Eddie Edwards also said, “…the city should send a message by not relenting on the ruling that the home is a nuisance that should be torn down.” Especially when we are talking about a house that just last week the same Board had declared “…a nuisance to public health…”! Yet relent on the ruling is EXACTLY what they did for Joseph Barbee and Nathaniel Johnson, the owners of 3620 Clifton Avenue, knowing full well that “…neighbors “were fed up” with condition of the property and wanted city action…”.

Let’s take a look at 3620 Clifton over the years, in the order the pictures appear on the Auditor’s Site (click on any picture to see it larger):
3620 Clifton auditor 1
3620 Clifton auditor 1a
3620 Clifton auditor 1b

Here’s what it looked like yesterday:
3620 Clifton front
3620 Clifton house

I am amazed that this house, which has been inspected and re-inspected by TPTB (and then some), was deemed worthy of a second chance. Sitting exposed to the elements for at least five years, sold for $200 to two guys who let it sit untouched for two more years (sale date January 2011) – it meant nothing to anybody until the city came knocking with the wrecking ball. (screenshots from parcel results search @ Auditor’s Office website)
3620 Clifton auditor transfer history

The Auditor’s Site also reveals that the property taxes haven’t been paid for two years.
3620 Clifton auditor tax infoEdited to add: Mr. Barbee and Mr. Johnson also appear on the delinquent tax list for their property at 240 Brace Street, Elyria.

I had the opportunity to talk to two guys who were working inside this house (without any obvious signs of protection for their lungs or clothing). They had stepped out onto the porch for a break. No introductions were made, however, I believe they were the property owners. I told them that I am a local blogger who had read the article in the paper and wanted to see what the city deemed worthy of a second chance. I questioned the amount of money they said they had to spend in regards to it being enough to make all the repairs, as I think this house on a slab is too far gone and they are in way over their heads. One guy said he expected the work to be completed for less than $17,000. I don’t think they can do it. I told them that I hope I’m wrong and that they are able to prove me and all the other doubters out there wrong. I’d love nothing more than to tell the story of their success.

If I were in their shoes, I would cut my losses, use part of the $17k to pay the tax man and the demolition man, then come up with a new and improved plan. The lots on either side of this house will be empty soon. Take some of that $17k to buy and combine them, then build a new house on a nice big lot in a decent neighborhood.

Although I’m not anybody who knows anything about completely renovating a house, I know it’s not the truth when someone stands there and tells me to my face that the interior is not all nasty and wet and moldy when the roof has looked like this for awhile:
3620 Clifton roof holes closeup
3620 Clifton roof edge closeup

These guys are working inside the house, yet all the windows are boarded up and there was no sign of electric light coming from the interior. I did not ask to see inside, nor did they offer to let me see. There’s a lot of stuff in the dumpster, but they’ve got a long way to go. I told them I would be back. This is definitely one I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Foundation damage and backyard trash
3620 Clifton north side foundation backyard trash

Warped siding on two-story section of the house
3620 Clifton south side siding

Broken front porch slab and foundation
3620 Clifton front porch slab broken

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20 Responses to As Seen In Lorain: 3620 Clifton Avenue and the second chance

  1. Pingback: worth a second chance? « Lorain 365

  2. Pingback: Read all about it- 2nd chance home – see it and don’t believe it « That Woman’s Weblog

  3. Loraine Ritchey says:

    as usual “amazing” they should have taken the 17,000 to cover the demo costs and fines 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      I would like to know if Mr. Edwards stuck to what he said about not granting reprieves or if he voted for the second chance. Anybody out there know? How do I find out when these demolition board meetings are being held?

      • @MJ_JournalRick: Councilman Eddie Edwards is not a voting member of the Demolition Appeals Board. The next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Friday in the first-floor Council chamber at Lorain City Hall, 200 W. Erie Ave.

        • Lisa says:

          Hi Rick – thanks for stopping by The House 🙂
          Thanks for the answers to all my questions! Is there a regular schedule to these meetings? Is there one every Friday at 9? How long do they usually last?

          • @MJ_JournalRick I believe Friday’s meeting may be the last one until the city departments compile another list of homes to get search warrants to search and condemn. The meetings last about 90 minutes to two hours or so. I believe on Friday the board will revisit the ruling on 3620 Clifton Ave.

            • Lisa says:

              Thanks so much, Rick! I’d love to be there for 3620 Clifton – Round 2, but I’m not going to be able to make this meeting. If the city departments need some help compiling another list, they can email me at busters.house[at]gmail.com 😀

  4. ljellis2000 says:

    This brings to mind for me how my old homestead at 208 Arizona Avenue was torn down 10 years ago this coming June. After selling it to Spitzer in 1988, it became a rental home that was just allowed to deteriorate year after year. Finally, it got to the demolition stage. Now, nothing is sitting in its place. It was a solid brick home too and yet got to that point. So, will there be new housing projects coming to replace those houses that were demolished, or will the property just sit as empty land with weeds and new bushes and trees sprouting up? It is so sad to see how Central Lorain, in particular, has deteriorated. I feel the structure that is in this story here has gotten to the point that it’s only second chance is to become empty land so a new structure that hopefully will be better cared for will be built in its place.

    • Lisa says:

      It’s the story of Lorain. Your old yard has become a dumping ground for the neighbor with the excavator. The property owner, Spitzer, allows it to happen and the city looks the other way. If it doesn’t bother Mr. Spitzer, it shouldn’t bother the rest of us, right? {Broadway Building anyone?}

      There are no set plans for the land left after these houses are demolished. There are lots of “maybe”s and “could”s and “might”s, though. I do like the idea of offering the empty lots to the adjacent property owner(s) first, as most of these lots are unbuildable by current standards. The houses were built considerably closer together in these older neighborhoods back in the day. I also like the idea of community gardens springing up in neighborhoods across the city. There have been land bank discussions, too. There will be no shortage of vacant land in Lorain when they are done. The key to successfully making something of that vacant land is how strategically located those parcels are.

      • ljellis2000 says:

        Thanks Lisa. I have driven by it but not in about a month. Spitzer always just neglected anything that wasn’t successful. Yes, like the Broadway Building. The old neighborhood had it faults, but ‘back in the day’ the property owners did at least cut their grass and keep the weeds in check. Before our house was torn down, my father had two big beautiful buckeye trees cut down on the tree lawn right in front of our house. The reason being that he knew neither he nor my mother were able at that point to keep the ground clean of the buckeyes and leaves. I was so sad to see those two old trees go when there was nothing wrong with them. But, the old-timers are gone and the houses they lived in with them. The only blessing is that they weren’t here to see their old homesteads torn down; but since I am here to testify about them, I wanted to set the record straight that these folks were from all walks of life yet kept the little neighborhood going and could talk over the back fence or wall about the events of the day without so much of the worries we have today. They just did’t exist for them.

  5. Loraine Ritchey says:

    You have to wonder who gave the “previous” owner to add on the “extension” and if it was inspected it certainly looks ODD!!!!

    • Lisa says:

      In person it doesn’t look like it goes together well, either. Next time I go by there, I will have to look for some safe opportunities to capture other views of this house.

  6. Loraine Ritchey says:

    I am planning on attending the meeting all being well

  7. Pingback: The Cowboys of Lorain- Part Two -The Demo Men! « That Woman’s Weblog

  8. Pingback: Whatever happened to 3620 Clifton Avenue? | Buster's House

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  12. Pingback: 3620 Clifton Avenue – Part Three | LORAIN 365

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