If Northeast Ohio doesn’t correct course soon, its future will be stained with abandonment.
Analysis provided by Boston firm Sasaki & Associates for the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities show abandoned property in the 12-county region, including Cuyahoga County where it mushrooms from 26,000 today to many multiples of that by 2040.
The costs for abandonment are staggering: 18 homes per day between now and 2040, at a cost of $525 million in demolition alone. With data from CSU professor Tom Bier’s on-going study of regional housing (see recent presentation here), Sasaki predicts a 10% decrease in available housing, even as greenfield suburbs are predicted to add more housing served by hundreds of new miles of roads.
“This is the first such effort where we look at the consequences of a no-growth area in population and the growth of units,” NEOSCC Executive Director Hunter Morrison told his Board representing 130 organizations engaged in a 2-year $4 million regional planning initiative. “What does that look like on the area (it’s land use, financial implications of tax base loss and demolition costs etc.)?”
The group has mapped the locations of a predicted 77,000 acres of more abandonment in Northern Ohio. Cuyahoga County is at the epicenter of what would certainly be a catastrophic loss of property value and quality of life for many of its cities, but in particular Cleveland and the east side.
NEOSCC plans to produce toolkits, policy recommendations and pilot projects if the region deems it important to establish an alternative.
The point of this scenario planning is to draw a clear contrast between ‘business-as-usual’ with an alternate path of development closer in, connected, with land being recycled and existing assets like homes restored.
When Sasaki projects the regional picture in to the future along these two paths, it will provide a cost comparison for more sprawl vs. smart growth.
Sasaki will put a dollar figure to who are the winners and losers in this business-as-usual scenario. How much will it cost the suburbs to continue the pattern they established—requiring more land, driving and energy use? How much would the inner-ring and city save with more walkable urbanism?
NEOSCC will provide figures for how much it will cost each city and the whole region to shuffle tax base around, duplicate big box centers and build hundreds of miles of roads, sewer, water and power lines to subdivisions built over top of farm land. It will answer, can we afford to pay for all of this and for the homes being abandoned on our block?
The projection of abandonment at the region’s core is the inverse of more sprawl development, shown in a growing splotch over green space in rural areas and clustered around highways.
The maps will be on display for comment at NEOSCC’s Business as Usual public meeting in Cleveland this Wednesday, May 1 (other meetings are scheduled throughout the region from April 30-May 2). Share your ideas and examples of where you see trends that can reverse the course of business as usual.