Revisiting Ohio’s Slavic Village, aka ‘foreclosure central’

Years after the financial crisis drove foreclosures to all-time highs, many neighborhoods across the U.S. are still working to find something resembling normal.

Perhaps no neighborhood, however, came to symbolize the problems during surging foreclosures than did Slavic Village, a loose collection of neighborhoods surrounding Cleveland, Ohio — reporters descended on the area en masse during the crisis, to gain first-person color for their news coverage.

The national financial press has long since moved on to the next headlining crisis — Syria! The debt limit! Student loans! Local governments! Italy! — yet the local press in the Cleveland area hasn't forgotten their original beat. Nor have local companies and community banks abandoned the neighborhoods they serve.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer provides a great look at the local recovery in Slavic Village:

The neighborhood that gained infamy as the epicenter of the national foreclosure crisis has had five years to catch its collective breath. Residents are daring to hope again.

Power saws whir and hammers clang on streets where innovative recovery projects are breathing new life into haunted houses.

Robert Klein, founder of field services firm Safeguard Properties, has been part of the effort to help restore the area, as the story notes:

On a recent afternoon, a crew of carpenters worked putting the finishing touches on a freshly-painted bungalow on East 54th Street off Fleet Avenue. They had knocked out a bedroom wall to expand the living room, straightened a crooked staircase and hung new cabinets in a gleaming kitchen.

The empty lot next door was now part of a newly-seeded lawn.

Contractors believe they can sell the house, once abandoned, for about $60,000. That would cover the cost of the renovation and leave a small profit to sink into the next house.

That's the strategy of Slavic Village Recovery, a novel program that aims to restore and sell 200 empty houses. Its bright blue-and-red posters festoon doorways and windows in the neighborhood like splashes of hope.

The $1 million-plus project is the idea of Forest City Enterprises and Robert Klein, the founder and chairman of Safeguard Properties, a Valley View company that maintains foreclosed properties for banks. 

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3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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