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Safe Routes To School Program Kicks Off Demolition

A demolition excavator begins tearing down an industrial building on Woodland Avenue [Justin Glanville / ideastream]
A demolition excavator begins tearing down an industrial building in Cleveland.

The City of Cleveland started tearing down a century-old industrial building Thursday.

The four-story, 100,000-square-foot brick building is on Woodland Avenue and East 110th Street in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, about a mile south of University Circle. It's the latest building to be demolished as part of the Safe Routes to School program launched in 2016 and made more urgent by the 2017 murder of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze.

It sits across the street from the home of Linda Moody, who said she last remembers the building being used for manufacturing in the late 1980s or early 1990s. She grew up feeling afraid of people hiding inside.

"When we were kids, because the building was abandoned, my mom would always instruct us to walk on this side of the street because she was afraid that someone could snatch us," Moody said.

Linda Moody, who lives across the street from the building, has long viewed it as a safety hazard [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

Moody stood watching with her son, Chris Jones, and city officials as a demolition excavator took the first few bites out of the building. Cheers went up as the machine smashed into the building's bricks.

Ayonna Blue Donald, Cleveland's director of building and housing, said the building was the latest example of the city's increased efforts to demolish large, empty industrial buildings located along children's walking or biking routes to school.

"Having the ability for children and everybody else that takes this route to walk past the buliding and they're not afraid of what may come out or what just lingers in the night is very important for the stability of neighborhoods and for the security of neighborhoods," Donald said.

A sign on the building names its last known manufacturing tenant, Victoreen Instrument Co. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

The building's last known use was by manufacturer Victoreen Instrument Co., which made X-ray monitoring equipment. Another recent demolition completed as part of the Safe Routes to School program was a former meatpacking building on West 65th Street in the Stockyards neighborhood.

The demolition is expected to be complete within several weeks, at a cost of about $800,000.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.