The City of Lakewood has entered into agreements to purchase three troublesome rooming houses from private landowners.
At a special meeting of Lakewood City Council on March 28, lawmakers approved the purchase of two rooming houses located at 1436 Grace Ave. and 1446 Mars Ave. In the past 10 years, safety forces were called to the two properties more than 200 times, placing a heavy burden on the one- and two-family residential neighborhoods surrounding them.
On Friday, April 19, the city acquired the city’s largest rooming house at 11900 Madison Ave., which was vacant and dilapidated after years in and out of foreclosure.
By purchasing the properties, Lakewood can halt their use as rooming houses and bring them into harmony with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Rooming houses are an outmoded style of housing,” said Ward 2 councilman Tom Bullock. “A much better fit for these neighborhoods is to restore these homes to single or two-family homes.”
“That investment and restoration work will strengthen property values,” he said.
As with all rooming houses, the three properties feature shared sanitary facilities but no kitchens and are among the last of their type still existing in the city. The city’s zoning code grandfathers any rooming houses that existed prior to the 1980s but places significant restrictions on any newer rooming houses, making them difficult to open.
“The city saw an opportunity with the purchase of these properties to rectify a problem and create a better use which will promote and protect the neighborhoods,” said Mayor Mike Summers.
The purchase of the Mars and Grace properties allows the city reclassify them into single- or two-family homes. The sellers have been encouraged to put any tenants in touch with external housing placement services.
“Grace Avenue is one of Lakewood’s most historic streets and the boarding house was out of place and often out of line with the family atmosphere most neighbors work hard to maintain,” said Ward 4 councilwoman Mary Louise Madigan. “Our goal is that everyone — tenants and neighbors — will be better off.”
The city is set to purchase the Mars and Grace Avenue homes by the end of May for a total of $207,500, with $150,000 coming from the land acquisition fund and the remainder from the economic development fund. The city intends to sell these properties with deed restrictions as single- or two-family homes.
The Madison Avenue property was purchased for $35,000 from the city’s economic development fund. The city’s plans for this property are not finalized, but it will not remain a rooming house.
The sellers of the Mars and Grace Avenue rooming houses are the trustees of the Auzenbergs Family Trust in Avon, Ohio. The Madison Avenue rooming house was purchased from Apex Mortgage Co. of Fort Washington, Pa.