CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and several city officials are held a news conference Thursday outside a building slated for demolition to discuss the progress on the city’s "Safe Routes to School" program. Jackson said the program has made progress on demolishing many abandoned residential homes, and resources are now free to begin taking down larger commercial structures.
The Victoreen Building at 10101 Woodland Avenue is one of the abandoned properties set to be torn down as part of the program that aims to make walks home safer for Cleveland schoolchildren. Demolition on the blighted property began just after the news conference.
During the 11 a.m. news conference, Jackson said that so far, about $27 million has been invested in the Safe Routes program, with a focus on abandoned residential properties along routes home for students from school. Now that hundreds of residential properties have been demolished, the city is taking funds appropriated for Safe Routes and investing in the razing of larger commercial buildings that the city normally wouldn't invest in, Jackson said.
Late last year, Jackson said he had added millions of dollars to the city demolition program. That announcement came after a News 5 investigation uncovered the city demolished vacant homes near public schools, but not near private schools since the Safe Routes to School program began in May of 2017, leaving thousands of children at risk.
During his State of the City address in October 2018, Jackson said he doubled the program’s budget from $5 million to $10 million, citing the income tax increase, Issue 32.
The Victoreen Building property is also near the Opportunity Corridor, which will make it a desirable property once the demolition in complete, Jackson said.
"This building represents our past," Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin said during the news conference. "It also represents out future because in this neighborhood, in order for us to move forward, we need to get rid of blighted structures like this."
A city news release said the demolition of the Victoreen Building represents a milestone in the Safe Routes to School Program.
The building was vacated in 1994 and acquired by Harper Industries in 2009, which was granted a demolition contact to raze the complex. The buildings caught fire during the demolition process in September 2014, and the project was abandoned, leaving the structure still standing.