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Neighbors, councilman frustrated after contractor starts but never finishes Cleveland demolition project

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Oct 06, 2021

CLEVELAND — A blighted home targeted as part of a city-funded demolition project remains languishing as a pile of debris after the contractor started but never finished the job. Largely reduced to a pile of splintered wood and broken bricks that measures 10 feet high in some places, the home located in the 1300 block of East 120th Street has been a source of frustration for neighbors and Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell.

A half-dozen neighbors told News 5 on Wednesday that the demolition crew began tearing down the property in early September or late August — more than a month ago. Since then, the contractor has not been seen. The large pile of debris extends well over the sidewalk and nearly encroaches upon the street.

“Every day we come and there’s stuff increasing and increasing from people illegally dumping there,” said neighbor Tracy Johnson. “It’s crazy. You have kids walking back and forth to school right here. You can see the school is a few houses down from this. I just want it cleaned up because it looks horrible.”

Neighbors alerted News 5 to the demolition issues while working in the area on an unrelated story. The size of the debris pile has to be seen to truly be believed. Although a majority of the house has been torn down, a small portion of the rear of the home, including the back porch, remains standing. The home appears as if the demolition crew went on a lunch break and never returned.

“Whoever started this needs to finish it and complete the assignment so the neighbors around you can be at ease,” Johnson said.

News 5 called Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell who was appalled and disappointed by what he saw.

“My first reaction was disappointment. I want to find out what is the problem with it and who was the demolition company,” Conwell said. “This is embarrassing. What we need to do is look and find out if [the contractor] can lose his contract and we need to take the contract away.”

Conwell immediately called the city’s Department of Building and Housing who told him that the contractor had been hired by the city through its usual request-for-proposals process. The contractor has not been paid for the work.

Because the contractor has not yet sought payment from the city, inspectors and compliance officials from Building and Housing had not had the opportunity to ensure the home had been properly demolished. Additionally, Conwell said the contractor had not notified the city of any issues related to the property.

“We’re going to clean it up and monitor it to make sure that it is cleaned up,” Conwell said. “Whoever is the contractor, they’re adding to the issues and concerns and our problems by leaving it like this. That’s why I’m very highly disappointed.”

Conwell said clean up could begin as soon as Thursday. News 5 has reached out to the city for additional information as well as the identity of the contractor.