Cleveland councilman fights blight, step by step

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - There are more than 4,500 vacant or abandoned buildings in the city of Cleveland.

Looking up and down Ansel Road on the city's east side, building after building could use a lot of love, or a wrecking ball.

"They are going to tear that down?" asked resident Eugune Harshaw.

Harshaw has lived in the east side neighborhood on Ansel Road for 13 years.

He's ready for improvements.

"What impact does it have for children to walk past a structure like this?" asked newly elected Cleveland City Council Member Basheer Jones.

Jones has invited several business and property owners to walk the streets with him.

"You have this history that is here that we want to maintain. You also have buildings that have been here for a long time, that did what it was supposed to do, and now it is time for change. We have to get it knocked down," Jones said.

Some of these buildings are on the city's list to demolish.

Councilman Jones is trying to work with owners to either improve or demolish the buildings.

"We bought them for defensive reasons. They were vacant at the time when we purchased them," said developer Arthur Greenblatt.

Greenblatt's company owns most of the buildings on the block and is working with the city and Jones on what to build once they demolish two vacant buildings.

"We would build additional apartments and also try to build into those plans a learning center and ancillary space so we can run social service programs, GED programs," Greenblatt said.

The possibility of community space, and an opportunity to help kids in the neighborhood is what Harshaw has been waiting for.

"I could go down there and teach the kids something.  I could volunteer. It will make it better, a whole lot better," Harshaw said.

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