CLEVELAND — Lamar Hudson of Cleveland reports he can barely sleep and has to keep a close watch on the vacant building located across the street from his Collinwood home, a building that was deliberately set on fire on Oct. 18
The Cleveland Fire Department ruled the fire at the building an arson. The building, which remains wide open and unsecured was last occupied by Ohio Mattress Recycling.
Hudson told News 5 the building and other vacant factories and businesses are a growing issue for many Cleveland Ward 8 homeowners and said complaints to Cleveland City Hall about the building haven't produced any results.
“When they told me that they broke into the building I knew they were going to set it on fire sooner than later," Hudson said. “This was inevitable to happen, someone was breaking into the building, they took all the wiring and plumbing out."
“And if it ain’t that, it’s trash and garbage, not to mention it’s not secure, you’ve got people walking outside the building in the middle of the night. These are young kids coming through this area, I don’t know what they’re going to do about this.”
Ward 8 Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek said he's also reported the vacant building and many others to the city Department of Building and Housing with little result. Polensek believes it could take up to $500 million to take down dozens of vacant former factories and businesses spread across the city, and that state and federal funding is the only way to get the job done.
“It’s the number one complaint into my office, housing and building code enforcement," Polensek said. “We’re not trying to cure world hunger here, enforce the code, go after the owners of these properties, secure them, hold people accountable.”
"We have to have a more aggressive law department to go after the owners of these properties. Year after year it just sits there, why is that? It's unacceptable, in 2021, it's unacceptable in the city. The federal government and the state has to step up on brownfields, we can not do it alone.”
“We’ve seen what has happened with other structures that are wide open, where people get dragged in them. We've seen them, we’ve experienced the heartbreak.”
News 5 made two phone calls and issued two messages on Facebook to the owner of Ohio Mattress Recycling to get its side of the story, but we're still waiting for a response.
The city of Cleveland responded to our story and said it issued a fire damage violation to the owner of the property and said it's now trying to determine if the building should be condemned.
Anyone with information about the arson fire should contact Crimestoppers at 216-252-7463, you could receive a $2,500 reward.