When is mass demolition the best option?

In case you missed it, the NY Times magazine of March 8 profiled the foreclosure problem in Cleveland, OH. I’m certainly not a cheerleader for Paul McKee, at least until his plans are made public (hopefully much more on that soon), but all things being equal I do believe that St. Louis is better for having someone like McKee in North St. Louis than the situation that exists in Cleveland.

Property owners living in other states are flipping homes on Craigslist and eBay to buyers as far away as California. Buyers are purchasing homes for almost nothing only to travel to Cleveland, witness the devastation and walk away, leaving the property in limbo. “Developers” without the resources to rehab or build are buying homes for almost nothing. The situation all but guarantees that redevelopment efforts will be stifled: the owners sit on the land hoping for a big return, waiting for property values to increase; large developers cannot put together enough land for a larger project; neither the city nor anyone else wants to reward the flippers.

All Boarded Up: How Cleveland is Dealing With Mass Forclosures