updated 10/2/2007 10:16:03 PM ET 2007-10-03T02:16:03

A house that had recently undergone more than $19,000 in repairs was torn down last month as part of a city campaign against urban blight. All that's left is a vacant lot.

The house had been painted and repairs had been made to the roof, gutters and foundation. But city officials said they had no idea it was being fixed up because the owner, Wells Fargo Bank of Minnesota, had not filed permits for the renovation.

"My client bears some blame too," said James Sassano, the bank's lawyer. "But a little common sense would have gone a long way. Why would they tear down a house after seeing it was in good condition?"

As part of an effort to end blight, Cleveland has adopted an aggressive demolition strategy, said Ed Rybka, the city's building and housing director. Rybka did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking further detail on the house's demolition.

Wells Fargo had foreclosed on the property, and in August Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka threatened a $20,000 fine if the bank didn't fix the code violations. The bank hired contractors, and a neighborhood group hoped to buy the house and finish the renovation, Pianka said.

Now, Wells Fargo will probably give the lot to the city, Sassano said.

A crew last May knocked down a house even though a councilman asked that it be taken off the wrecking list and a prospective buyer had done some repairs. Rybka said he was not aware of the councilman's request.

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