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Published: Saturday, 9/20/2008

Sylvania residents feel squeeze to vacate

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Maria Duran plays with Cougar in the front yard of her home, an apartment building she and her family share with four other low-income families. The pressure is on for them to move before their 30-day time frame is up because the city of Sylvania says the site is important for its gateway corridor project. The purchase agreement requires the buildings be empty at the time of the sale. Maria Duran plays with Cougar in the front yard of her home, an apartment building she and her family share with four other low-income families. The pressure is on for them to move before their 30-day time frame is up because the city of Sylvania says the site is important for its gateway corridor project. The purchase agreement requires the buildings be empty at the time of the sale.
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Jackie Duran received notice during the Labor Day weekend that she had 30 days to find a new home.

The city of Sylvania is negotiating to buy the three apartment buildings Ms. Duran, 41, a single mother of two, shares with five other families, behind Monroe Street on the banks of Ten Mile Creek.

The purchase agreement requires that the buildings be empty at the time of the sale. The city has other plans for the property.

Sylvania officials have identified the area, in the 6400-block of Monroe Street, where Ms. Duran lives as important to their "gateway corridor" plan to revitalize Main and Monroe.

For years, the city has been buying older businesses and holding the properties until it attracts a developer with a plan that complements city officials' vision for a walkable, shopper-friendly downtown. Using public funds, it has overseen the conversion of derelict car dealerships into office buildings and a hotel. It turned an old gas station into park space.

Most recently, the city bought a 104-year-old home-turned-business called the Scripture Supply Shop near Ms. Duran's apartment.

Mayor Craig Stough said the apartments may be demolished to provide public access to Ten Mile Creek. Or the buildings may become a site of commercial development.

Duran Duran
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But it's not the plan that offends Ms. Duran and her neighbors, it's the time frame.

Less than two weeks remain for the families to find new apartments, move, and arrange for school changes for their children.

Ms. Duran said if she doesn't find an apartment soon, she and her 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter may have to stay in a hotel, an expense she scarcely can afford as a full-time student at Lourdes College.

"They could have given us a lot more notice," she said. "I don't have a place to go now."

Her neighbors, Reed and Kimberly Wendel, were fortunate to find new quarters close enough that their two children won't have to change schools.

But the woman occupying their new apartment is having health problems that could delay the move. If the apartment isn't available by Oct. 1, Mr. Wendel said he'll have to pay for storage.

That would be big financial setback for the family of four, which is scrimping by on Mrs. Wendel's salary as a maid.

"Why can't they allow us that 60 to 90 days to vacate?" Mrs. Wendel asked. "If we were told a few months back, we would already be out of here."

Mayor Stough said the city is in no hurry to assume control of the property. The city is waiting for the results of an environmental study before finalizing the purchase. That is expected to take 60 days.

But city officials hesitate to intervene in a transaction between a landlord and his tenants, Mr. Stough said. Representatives of the property owner, Neuman Family Trust, refused to comment. "The city is not trying to create a hardship for the families," Mr. Stough said. "The city doesn't need them out in 30 days, that's for sure."

Douglas Roy, another tenant, said he will almost certainly end up on his mother's couch for a time. He's upset with his landlord. More than that, he feels snubbed by the city.

"The issue is, again, putting enough funds together for first and last months' rent," he said. "You've used our tax dollars to buy this. Give us more time."

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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