It's OH-IO in North Toledo

October 16, 2021 Projects

If you're huge fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, then of course you have a side lot on Buckeye Street.

For years, Steve and Lupe Ayala watched the abandoned house behind them get worse and worse. Then, one summer night around Fourth of July, stray fireworks in the neighborhood caught the house on fire. Shortly after, the City of Toledo tore it down.

Not a great set of circumstances, but it opened the door for the Ayalas to make their Polish Village neighborhood better.

They filled out a Vacant Lot Application with the Land Bank to purchase this new open space as a side lot. Happily, the Land Bank had already identified the property as a priority and was close to becoming the new owner through tax foreclosure.

When the Land Bank did become the owner, it took just a few more months to sell the lot to the Ayalas so they could combine it with their home.

Then, they got to work.

Steve and Lupe built a new garage and added a driveway and fencing off the side street to make access even easier. They also installed a gathering space complete with a fire pit and beautified the whole lot with an impressive array of decorative plantings.

"Steve has the green thumb and he does all the landscaping," said Lupe Ayala in a recent interview at their home. "People walk by and they are always complimenting the yard. We hear a lot of 'keep it up!'"

The lot is a perfect space for them and others to relax at when visiting.

"We have a blended family, so our kids and grandkids are here a lot, and they love it! We have so much more space and can entertain at our home," said Steve Ayala.

Although the Ayalas make the whole thing look so easy, they say that the hardest part was moving dirt and setting up the plantings. And of course, they didn't love to see their bank account drop in the process.

But for $150, purchasing the side lot from the Land Bank was the easiest part. "The whole process was so simple. Your communication was on point, and we're so grateful to have more space," they said.

After making such an amazing improvement, they encourage all of their neighbors to consider doing the same. In their words, where else can you go to make such a tremendous improvement to your property for such little cost?

At the Land Bank, we couldn't agree more. We think Brutus Buckeye is quite proud too!