Lawsuits cast a cloud over tax-foreclosure process that targets vacant and abandoned properties

Jim Rokakis, a former Cuyahoga County treasurer who helped write the expedited foreclosure law and create the Cuyahoga Land Bank, said county appraisals rarely reflect reality when it comes to forsaken buildings, which tend to deteriorate quickly once they go dark.

Dueling appraisals filed in court for the former fast food restaurant in Union-Miles don’t provide much clarity. An outside appraiser hired by the county arrived at a value of $19,000. An out-of-state appraiser working for Dann came up with a $100,000 figure.

“Nobody sits and watches their property go up in smoke when they have tons of equity to protect,” said Gus Frangos, the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s president, in a March deposition in the Union-Miles case. “They won’t wait for the auditor or the treasurer. They’ll sell their property or list it, or do whatever a responsible citizen would do.”

Citing the litigation, Frangos declined an interview request. Dann

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