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Lakewood Buys Two ‘Burdensome’ Boarding Houses

Plans are in the works to sell them as single-family homes.

Looking to get rid of some rooming houses — as well as the uptick in crime that goes with them — the city approved the purchase of two of them on Wednesday night.

The homes, at 1436 Grace Avenue and 1446 Mars Avenue, are among the last of the city’s boarding houses left in the city. 

There are only 11 remaining. 

At a special meeting, approved the purchase of both homes in a packaged deal, from Aivars and Anita S. Auzenbergs, for $207,000.

The city used $150,000 from its land acquisition fund, and another approximately $67,000 from the general fund, to pay for the properties. 

The city will sell the homes — with new deed restrictions — as single-family homes.

Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers said the city might even turn a profit. 

“We’d like to make them great Lakewood houses,” he said. “I’d like to see less rental properties in Lakewood — not more. These are fantastic streets. It’s thrilling when government actually use its authority to rectify what is clearly a problem.”

In the past 10 years, there were more than 200 police calls at both properties, city officials said.

“That’s certainly burdensome on the neighborhoods,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler. “The use of rooming house is outlawed in the zoning code for a reason. “It’s a use that creates disproportionate heartache and headache in our neighborhoods.”

The home on Mars Avenue was permitted to house eight people at a time. The Grace Avenue boarding house was only allowed six people.

However, Linda McDonough, who’s lived two houses away from the boarding house on Grace Avenue for the past 16 years, said there’s been as many as 20 people at a time.

“The problem is that people are in and out,” she said. “Our issue isn’t with those people at all — we have friends in that building. The issue is that there are some people in that building who cause a lot of problems. There are people who need homes. They deserve the right to live there  — but not if they don’t obey the rules.”

McDonough said that without a lease agreement, boarding houses can attract trouble.

“When (boarding houses) were built, they were needed,” she said. “We don’t need them anymore.”

Pat Ballasch March 29, 2012 at 02:54 PM
A fair number of large homes are almost too expensive to operate as single family residences. A good example of an effective alternate use has been done in University Circle for years. They rezoned areas for institutional use. One example is a large home being used by the Gestalt institute. This types of group can afford the high costs of renovation and maintenance. We are fortunate in Lakewood that most homes are (generally) of a size that allows affordable renovation and maintenance. Some of the larger homes may need alternative uses.
Rev. Paula Maeder Connor March 29, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Many of our Community Meal guests live in boarding houses here in Lakewood. I see these folks weekly and know they need such an arrangement and are glad for the easy access to transportation, library, groceries and so forth. With the economy as it is, simple, communal living may be the future. Why not upgrade, clean up, restore and offer such? Simple living can be modeled by our friends with low incomes and little family nearby. Let's talk together about where the current residents will go when their home is gone.
Alexandra March 29, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Thankful. Lakewood has plenty of apartments. As a home owner, absolutely we need less rentals. It isn't always the tenants, it the landlords who do NOTHING to keep up or the bare minimum. Part of why I need to move.
Carl Roloff March 30, 2012 at 12:40 AM
As someone who has had to endure the annoying, disgusting, and sometimes dangerous spillover from one of these properties for a number of years, all I can say is "thank you" to Mayor Summers and the City Council for taking this action. From firsthand experience, I can say that the problem has always been the landlord, the tenants, AND the rooming house business model, which just doesn't work today.

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