12/19/2009

HV Zoning Appeal List

Posted by MJ

Housing Visions LLC will be before the zoning board next Tuesday (22nd) in a special session addressing some aspects of their plans for the Genesee St area.

LUSJ reporting the list:

ousing Visions wants the city’s OK to construct new multi-family residences on old lots that are smaller than modern zoning code allows. Also, in most cases, Housing Visions would create parking space at the rate of one per living unit, while the code requires two per unit.

Housing Visions is seeking permission to:


• Demolish and rebuild a four-unit house with four parking spaces at 163 Genesee St., where a three-unit house currently stands.

• Demolish and rebuild a four-unit house with four parking spaces at 182 Genesee St., where the existing apartment house changed hands three times since 2004, according to assessment records.

• Construct a new, four-unit apartment house with four parking spaces at 84 Locust St., a vacant commercial lot at Locust and South streets.

• Construct a new, six-unit house and community center with an accessory garage and eight parking spaces at 95 Locust St. The property is zoned for commercial use.

• Construct two new, four-unit houses with four parking spaces each at 261 and 267 Genesee St., both vacant lots.

• Rehabilitate the existing apartment house at 271 Genesee St. and provide one parking space per living unit.

• Rehabilitate the existing two-family house at 281 Genesee St. and provide one parking space per unit.

The targeted lots on Genesee are between Washburn and Pine streets.
 A comment on another post addressed the parking issue:

that project for Genessee st sounds great except the parking situation. As a rental owner the biggest thing to getting good tenants is to provide parking. If you don't have enough parking you don't get the good tenants, you get the ones that can't afford cars usually without jobs. Couldn't they reduce the amount of units in each building, or even take one of the lots and make it parking? This would be a tough decision for me to make, do you bend the laws on required spaces to get new houses, which will help for the short term but end up a long term problem or risk not getting the improvements by forcing it to be done the right way?
 The parking requirement is sure to be a polarizing issue. I was actually surprised to see the desire for only one spot per residence and I was happy to see it. For the new builds I was worrying that we would get non-descript buildings on oversized lots covered with excessive dirty parking. It was nice to see site plans that actually respect the urban nature of area and that will add long term value to it instead of short term gains.

HV has developed enough housing to know that this requirement will work in gaining good tenants. I believe that there will be a market for one car people/families in brand new quality residences. Less parking would also avoid long-term crashers at the properties. I'd also have some concern about large dedicated lots. For reference the lot on Harvey is a big dirty lot mid-block that adds nothing to the appeal of the street, except a place to add more cars while they sit idle and sitting there looking ugly.

Anybody else have any thoughts? DT and the surrounding area will grow again by increasing density and having a large quantity of people interacting 24/7. Paving and thinning it out will only continue to hollow it out and lower values.

Update 12/21 Buffalo News article. The article mentions a community parking lot. Also anyone know of the "one man urban renewal" mentioned in the comments?

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can see not planning enough parking for the houses that are being rehabbed, thats one issue, but most of these are new builds. Two car's are a norm for working families and I think it would be a dis-service to the future good of the proposed housing and the neighborhood to not consider it. Perhaps even a compromise of 1.5 spots per unit could be worked out. Or as stated before do they all have to be 4 family houses? Economically maybe they do, but the neighborhood would be a LOT better off if they were nice two family houses. And if the city approves this can they stop anyone from building four family houses without enough parking anywhere in the city? If I wanted to convert a house next to Alderman Smith's house (and truthfully I don't even know where he lives) into a four family and squeeze four parking spots in will that be a problem?

I do speak from experience. I am not being disrespectful, but the idea of nice urban housing without parking does not work in our city. I had one apartment house without great parking, and I paid for it dearly with either empty apartments or the lousy tenants I sometimes ended up with until I was able to dump that house.

Maybe this works for HV in other cities but the demographics and laws should be compared to ours. Was there on street parking other places? Was it in big cities where working people didn't need two cars, the jobs were all in walking distance or a bus ride away?
I'd love to see this happen, but it should be done the right way. The city has to think what they are doing, and be transparent doing it. Not like the very ugly homeless shelter that they allowed to just open (they have to have broken some zoning laws on that, be it greenspace, setbacks, parking, etc) without public review. Or when they allowed one of the highest taxed houses in Lockport (across from the country club) to be taken off the tax roles as a home for disabled kids.
All three (HV properties, homeless and disabled house) of these projects are tremendous projects doing a lot of good for some people, but do they fit in with where the city wants to go?

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Smith said...

To all those who have concerns regarding this project, please attend the Zoning Board meeting this coming Tuesday and voice your concerns. If you are unable to make it to the meeting, I would gladly air any concerns to the Zoning Board on your behalf. Please note that this project now has a name, it is Lockport Canal Homes. As President of Lockport Neighborhood Revitalization, I can assure you that many hours were spent researching Housing Visions and several tours of their various projects in Syracuse. I can also tell you that I had many reservations when we first entertained the idea of inviting HV to Lockport, I am not the type of person who shoots from the hip. I want to hear everyone's opinion, positve or negative, I want the best project possible for the City, my Ward, and my neighborhood, as the Alderman-Elect and as a resident and taxpayer.
BTW-I live at 77 Waterman St and can be reached at aldermanjacksmith@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Jack - you should bring up the information from the previous posts - I think the difference in urban living in Syracuse and Lockport is the difference between parking not being needed in Syracuse but essential here.
If you want to 'integrate' the neighborhood and get it away from being the 'war zone' you need working people who want to move there - working people need parking for cars to go to work!

Jack Smith said...

Anon-How long did you live in Syracuse? The projects I saw in Syracuse and most of the housing is very similar to Lockport, just a bigger city. Please keep in mind, that these units are for low to moderate incomes, not dinks and yuppies, so maybe 1 parking spot per unit may not be a problem. If we want to change any neighborhood from being a war zone, we need neighbors to take an interest in their community! Will you come out Tuesday and express your concerns?

Anonymous said...

Jack - I didn't live in Syracuse but my point was in a city like that there are jobs within walking or bus route distances, not like our community where it is basically essential to have a car if you want to work.
OK, I guess I misunderstood the purpose of this housing. If it is just to replace low income housing with more low income housing, whats the net gain? You should be trying to get "dinks and yuppies" to move in the neighborhood, you should be trying to get people with money moving in to the city.
Sorry, I thought you wanted to improve the neighborhood, not just create more low income housing - even thiough at least initially it will look good.
I am not 'against' low income people, but when they all live in one area then that area does become a slum, it's like a contagious virus that spreads. I thought this project might integrate Genessee St with working people who will keep their houses up, which will become a 'good' virus and hopefully spread also!
If this project is just putting paint on a pig and propagating what already exists, forget it.
Empty lots would be better than the alternative.

Jack Smith said...

Anon-Be careful not to judge the project too harshly or paint it with such broad strokes. Tuesday is the Zoning Board Meeting, Jan.4 is the Planning Board Meeting, and at a to be determined date in January there will be an informational meeting open to the community. In the mean time, please feel to contact me if you would like to meet in person and discuss the project further.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Smith said...

I understand the issue with parking being a concern and will address it with HV, and if needed, the Zoning Board on Tuesday. Low to middle income does not mean undesirable, it means low to middle income. When I first moved to Lockport, almost 19 years ago, I would have qualified to rent one of these units. Was I an undesirable when I moved to Lockport? You are right, we don't need more rental. Is it bad to take existing rundown and vacant rental because of absentee landlords, rehab them with quality longlasting products, and provide them to people just starting out or with limited income who will be intensely screened with criminal background checks and home visits where they currently live and more! The management and caretakers of this properrty will be from Lockport, not Syracuse. Please come to the meetings and speak up. Or contact me-aldermanjacksmith@yahoo.com

MJ said...

As said above, the net gain is rehabbed/new housing in an area that needs it to be ran by an organization whose goal is to stabilize the neighborhood and not to make a quick buck off of a sliding neighborhood’s cheap housing. Low income does not necessarily mean bad neighbors and the onus is on the group to find quality renters.

There is incentive to invest in housing (rental or not) when the neighborhood can attain some type of positive ROI. I believe this project will provide part of the foundation: Lower income housing that does not stick out as low income housing. Is then up to the city and neighborhood to promote the other affordable housing in the area to people looking to spend some sweat equity (I am one of those). I doubt the city has it but a sensible housing plan and marketing system would go along way to moving things forward: especially one that financially rewards rehabs, down sizing of units etc. (Your DINKs and Yuppies)

Looking at the site plans there may be a couple properties where the 2-spot requirement could fit without being overbearing on the property to allow 2-car families to rent. For single renters one spot is enough for a portion of them. This is especially so if it comes with a nice new place. These will be unique properties and not one of the many “normal” apartments to choose from (along with their bigger parking supply). I do appreciate the one annon’s experiences and those of my own and RB’s as a past renters. Another thought is it may also help to avoid a single person getting the low-income unit and then having “long-term” visitors who would otherwise move them out of the cap, etc.

As for the number of units, maybe they are required to make each structure financially viable. We’ll have to find out. The denser you build the neighborhood the easier streets like Locust will have a chance building up as a small business gateway into DT with something other than a paved over Wilson Farms. It also betters the chance of in-filling DT attaining higher income brackets etc. Combining lots and paving over half of them will not create a desirable streetscape or neighborhood to attract other investment. The city’s no over-night street parking also plays a large role here.

We need to hear their presentation. They should have the data from past projects and they have a record of success in several other upstate cities with the same disinvestment/urban renewal/etc problems as Lockport. Blindly providing over zealous parking regardless of market forces have given us the asphalt mess we live in today. We should remain open to new ideas regarding it, especially if there is data showing that it works.

FYI – for those who do not know: I am on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Hope to see those who are concerned at the meeting on Tuesday.

Post is updated with Buffalo News link.

MJ said...

The Buffalo News article mentions a community parking lot which can also come into the decision.

Anonymous said...

"The breakdown of the construction is: seven one-bedroom apartments, nine with two bedrooms, 15 with three bedrooms and two with four bedrooms."
Sorry, but 15 - 3 bedrooms, 2 four bedrooms, and only one parking sport per unit?
I guess I have a different attitude to what would be best for the city. If you want to change a neighborhoods character you have to change the characters in the neighborhood (wow, that quote just came out of my head, LOL)! What I mean by this is if you just replace low income housing with better low income housing you will just end up with the same tenants as you had before.
Let's be honest, 99% of the responsible parents in Lockport would not allow/assist their kids in moving on to Genessee St. Now if some higher income apartments were built there and we start getting a mix of tenants...who knows? nd then maybe the other owners would start improving their property.
But if you are going to build 4 bedroom apartments with one parking spot...

And I'm sorry, but I don't see where Lockport has much of an asphalt mess, I think we are actually short of parking. Downtown Buffalo is moving ahead not by building more low income housing but by building high end housing. Say someone wanted to convert one of our old banks into apartments/condo's, where would the tenants park?

MJ said...

This is a stab at restructuring the low-income end of the housing. And with the strict screening, follow-ups etc I believe it has a great chance. It is then up to sell the neighborhood to others looking to buy and rehab older houses. The ROI is risky and it is a tough sell. There aren't many of us out there. Most people rather play it safe in a subdivision somewhere. Something unique needs to be offered and then it is still a fight to suceed.

Buffalo condo conversions are mostly in old buildings using historic tax credits. A majority of them (Holling Press, Sidway, Pierce Arrow, Old Schools etc) are low to moderate income also to get those tax credits to make the projects viable (people are always complaining about it on Buffalo Rising). There a lot of good working people that qualitfy. Down the road when the income restrictions are up they can move upward. Other's like the new build Avant, etc are going for 300k plus or like the Elk Terminakl Lofts are $1,200 or more a month. Genesse St is not going to be able to command that overnight (if ever?). The Buffalo conversions are not on Jefferson, Delevan etc but right DT. But I do agree and have brought up before that Lockport needs a long housing plan for DT and the surrounding area.

Portions of the Harrison Complex (west building) would make a great loft conversion. Sadly not a lot of older building stock is left in Lockport for conversions (utilizing historic tax credits) and new builds are to expensive for the market to absorb.

DT handles up to 20,000 people on a Friday night summer concert with a lot of pay lots going underused. I'd say there is more than enough parking. The way a lot of single use lots break up the street are one of the drawbacks of DT as a destination.

Uses like the Ulrich City Center where you have a whole block to work with it is possible to design the parking hidden in the block. Infill is not so easy and people may actually have to walk past a couple other business to get to their main destiniation. Or maybe in the case of Genessee walk a half block to a lot if they want to park a second car and live in a nice new income driven residence.

Asphalt mess moslty applies to S. Tranist through the town. But it can also be seen at intersections like High and S. Transit, Washburn and East, etc. The city has history on its side as actually once being designed for use by people instead of their cars. But the more designs like Walgreens, Family Video, etc that come about the less and less of it there will be.

As mentioned above, the neighborhood lot may be the overflow parking. We'll find out tonight.

Anonymous said...

MJ - I guess I just don't think that propagating and encouraging more low income housing in that area is a good idea. Take a look at the condition of the 'fairly new' low income housing areas in Lockport such as the one near Outwater, one off Vine St and Strauss Road. They look like crap now, though they were great when they were built. HV houses will suffer the same fate. It doesn't matter how much tenant screening you do, they will either stay empty or they will have to accept tenants that admittedly stereotypically will not respect or take care of the property, People who are respectable and want nice housing that they would take care of will not move there.
Now if you want to encourage Genessee St to stay as a low income area and not try to get the 'yuppies and dinks' (which I think was a statement Jack should reconsider, he should be courting them)then fine, throw money into HV and allow the street to continue it's downward cycle. If you want to try and get the street and area to come back then you need to upgrade your standards.
And what will the net gain for Lockport be? Will these be taxed at full value? So we add new low income housing, propagate the same attitudes/values on the street, and don't get any increased city revenue for it (if no taxes are paid). We do get the jobs to rehab, that is good.
I am a former city resident who still cares about the city, but I won't be at the meeting as it wouldn't be appropriate for a non-resident to voice their opinion at the meeting.


BTW MJ, what about some high end apartments in the bank at the corner of Locust and Main? I always thought that would be impressive, but again - where would they park? I can imagine the views you could get from that building, but I just can't see it happening due to parking issues. If you really want to spend money you put a ramp or underground parking where the old mall is next to it.

MJ said...

I am two blocks from Genessee so I do have somewhat of a stake. Again, I don't believe the goal is to perpetuate. From their site pictures these are high quality new builds and the correcponding tax credits/breaks etc are needed to obtian that.

I'm not exactly sure the apartment complexes that you speak of but I am going to assume that they are most likely cheap spread out suburban style scattered on a large site with ample parking. The exact type of developments that give no sense of place and end up roughed up and quickly forgotten. That's why these are unique. They are built (or rehabbed) to fit in with the existing urban housing stock and to become part of the larger urban context.

This is just one project. The next needs to be a radical city commitment to financially cultivate home remodeling and homested programs along with the marketing to get the word out. Urban investment in a shrinking area is risky to begin with. The city needs to offset that risk to get the long term turnaround happening. The housing code crack down has made a nice start. I have seen a major uptick in upkeep walking around the past two years than I had seen my first four.

If these had an overall parking plan (with an overflow lot somewhere) and past performance data I say they are worth the try.

The F&M building would be fabulous as lofts/condos. The old cheaply built mall is a canidate to shrink at the rear or jusr remove. Create the parking within that block similar to the UCC with building frontage lining Main and Locust (which could also be accessed from the back of the F&M). Make them mixed use for the 24/7 benefits and to take advantage of the current mixed-use tax breaks being offered.

The city has changed a lot in the past 6 years since I moved in and alot of it has been for the better. I believe this project will help. Many more are needed and we are lucky to have residents willing to work on them.

Michael Manning said...

The City of Lockport continues to be a Mecca for the opinionated. I'm amazed that there are people who think any degree of the status quo around here is acceptable. I continue to drive through the city and see example after example of trash and garbage piled on property and nothing being done about it. Cars parked on lawns, building material left untouched for months on end.Then...we are fortunate enough to have Housing Visions ( after a lot of hard work by Jack, Robin, Dave, Luisa, Andy)pick Lockport as a site for one of their restoration projects and we have complaints about one parking space per unit and not two?????. I think we are blessed to have the opportunity.Just in case some of you haven't noticed... the area in question is a dump.I can't believe some of you are so short-sighted as to resist this type of change. We should be thankful that anyone or any entity is willing to come here and make a change for the better.Anyone thinking this type of change isn't for the better needs to re-evaluate their thinking process.

Anonymous said...

MM, You talk about the city not enforcing housing laws on one hand, then you talk about how they should bend the laws just to add more low income housing to an area already full of it. So instead of changing the status quo for the city and trying to improve the quality of a neighborhood you want to just add newer low income housing without parking that in a few years will look just as bad as the existing, that some people from Syracuse think will work here because then all our low income people will take the city buses to those jobs that are all over our city and then be able to improve their standard of living! Thats really forward thinking, I didn't realize how shortsighted I was thinking we should look at ways to turn the neighborhood around instead of propagating the dump. You are just so smart, your logic makes a lot of sense to me.
And this has been a VERY civilized discussion until you managed to being your superior intellect in to it and voice your opinion in the way only you can, as in the way you got the papers boards shut off!
We all bow to your superior intellect..... yea right.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Rocketboy - I agree that not everyone is undesirable that lives in the 'crime district', but unfortunately like you said many are. I was able to get a few decent tenants, but they never stayed long due to the neighbors and parking. But the parking was a major issue in trying to get decent tenants.
HV does sound like a great company, but I really don't think they understand how critical parking is in a small town like ours. We don't have jobs in walking distance or buses to get people to jobs like Syracuse.
I read about the meeting last night. Don't you think the people who have the most invested in Genessee St (the Rosenberg's) should have been listened to? The problems are these houses are packed full of people, two family houses would have been a great way to start re-habbing and changing the culture of the neighborhood!
My gripe here is this project maintains the status quo, it doesn't have any foresight in trying to 'see' a better future for the neighborhood. Give these nice new re-habbed homes 5-10 years and you won't be able to tell they are any different than the rest of the street.

And why would you welcome someone back someone who doesn't know how to follow the rules? This thread has been a very good civil exchange of ideas.

"Please be be respectful. Diverse opinions are welcome and encouraged. Trolling/baiting/personal attacks/spam will be deleted on sight, as will respnding to one that has yet to be deleted. Do not encourage the behavior."

Luisa Smith said...

Hello Michael! It is wonderful to hear from you and I want to thank you for the kind words of support. I know that you were a great deal of help to us in the past and you have even a bit more insight into Housing Visions than many of the people commenting here.

I just want to say to anyone that is skeptical of this project, please do the research! Housing Visions is one of the very few that gets it right. I've taken many trips to Syracuse and have seen the impact that their homes and tenants have on the neighborhoods. They are extremely strict and will not put up with any misbehavior. They have such a fantastic reputation that there is a waiting list for their units. Tenants feel safe and secure, they take pride in their homes and treat them as though they owned them. If anyone in the neighborhood sees anything questionable, they will be encouraged to let us know and it will be handled quickly.

Believe me,I know the frustrations, I live on Waterman Street and deal with it daily. We deal with the crime & the drug dealing. We've pleaded with landlords- most of the time to deaf ears and unlike the landlords, this will not be about the money, this will truly be about making a better neighborhood. Lockport desperately needs this.

MJ said...

Thank you to every one who showed up last night and voiced your opinions. I'll be posting a follow up shortly.

People get passionate about their neighborhoods and that is always a wonderful thing. Good to hear from Manning as it was from other residents last night. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. But as a reminder: please do keep it civil though MM's post isn't all that bad (no name calling etc.) And yes...we all our opinionated..that's why we are here. ;)

Jack Smith said...

Just wanted to thank everyone who showed up last night and expressed their concerns and did so with passion! Passion for one's City and neighborhood is a good thing, we need more of it! The Rosenbergs' should be commended for all they have done in their neighborhood and I can fully understand their concerns, as well as their neighbors'. I wish I had the means to buy all the property in this area and convert it all to single family homes or even doubles. I don't and so we had to find some way to get rid of the undesirables(#1 priority) and at the same time address the housing blight(#2 priority). Would I rather see working families with higher incomes and all the moral values I have move into this area?, absolutely! I am a realist, this project is a realistic goal and not a pipe dream, this is a project that CAN happen and if it weren't for the screening process and zero tolerance policy, I can assure you that I would not have invited Housing Visions to my neighborhood!

As to the condition of the housing in this project 5-10 years from now, I can tell you from personal experience, the buildings that they did 15 years ago look just as good as the ones they completed this year! They are a proven corporation, and unless you've done any in depth research and personally visited any of their properties, do not male inaccurate statements as to the quality of the housing in this project.

I encourage EVERYONE to attend the planning board meeting on January 4, 2010 @ 5pm at City Hall. There will also be a Project Presentation on January 8, 2010 @ 6pm at First Baptist Church located at Genesee and Pine, do not miss that one!

michael manning said...

Anonymous..thanks for the kind words and the personal attack.
Were you at any of HV meetings either here, or in Syracuse? Have you looked at their portfolio of accomplishments? Have you met any of the principals? Do you have any first hand knowledge of what you are talking about? I prefer to have all single family housing in the city...period. I'd prefer not to add any low income housing to the already over loaded section 8 population..period. I would also choose HV's proposed project over what we have now even if there is only one parking space per unit...is that so hard to understand? Some people wonder why I don't blog anymore, or go to housing court, or continue my advocacy for a better cleaner city. It's because I refuse to spend my time and energy on any project that would benefit people like you. I don't know whom you are although I have a pretty good idea.I'm not looking for a fight but it looks like you are, and I'm not interested. So this will be my last post. Everyone can feel safe once again. Peace and Happy New Year to all!

Anonymous said...

Good. But re-read yours, you must not realize what a personal attack is obviously.
My entire thought process was the city shouldn't bend their own laws just to get this project in IF it wasn't going to change the character of the neighborhood, which this won't. Someone should have thought out of the box and figured out a way to make this economically viable for HV with lower density housing. Everything I read about them is positive, they sound like a great company. I just feel, and I am sure many others also, that we will still end up with a neighborhood that most people will not want to move in to, except now it will have (only for a short time I still firmly believe) nicer looking places.
"I'm amazed that there are people who think any degree of the status quo around here is acceptable." - this is what this project will do, continue the status quo, which is why I am against it. What changes???
"...a site for one of their restoration projects and we have complaints about one parking space per unit and not two?????" read and think better, the complaint is the housing in it will be too crowded or there would be better parking.
"... the area in question is a dump.I can't believe some of you are so short-sighted as to resist this type of change. " What exactly is the change? You will still have an area overcrowded with low income housing. A change would have been to try and change the character of the housing. Four bedroom apartments with one parkng spot???? Thats really thinking out of the box.

And again, has the city opened themselves up that if I find a house to rehab but it won't meet all the zoning codes are they going to have to approve me? I thought these codes were designed to improve the city - not to be this flexible.

Jack Smith said...

Anon-To be perfectly honest, and not politically correct, I'm tiring of your rhetoric. You talk about thinking outside of the box, this is outside of the box, this is 8.5 million dollar investment in low income housing with zero tolerance, this is not a HUD project where anything goes, this not absentee landlord rental, this is full time management and maintenance staffing keeping an eye on the properties and the tenants. If you can't come up with any solid, realistic, financially viable, do-able ideas instead of complaints, then you are not adding any value to this discussion. I, for one, am always looking and listening for better ideas and suggestions, I'm still waiting to hear your's. I accept that this may not be the perfect solution to what ails my area, but it will at the very least improve the neighborhood. When we formed our block club, we decided to make an effort to stand out from the others, we decided to take a different approach, we decided to ask what we as a group could for our neighborhood, not complain to officials why they weren't taking care of us. Too often people only want to complain that nothing is being done for them, yet they are unwilling to get involved to help themselves. I guess what I'm saying is if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem. Put up or shut up!

Anonymous said...

I did state what I thought, but you are obviously so enamored with this one idea you didn't see it. I said in many previous posts that the city should come up with a way through tax breaks or community development to make it financially viable for HV to do this with less apartments. I have also said many times that I don't think the city should drop their standards and allow this project to not follow the existing codes. I don't think you as an alderman should be leading a charge to allow this either, but I have never even mentioned that. I did think you derisive comment about not doing this project to attract 'yuppies and dinks' was extremely stupid, as it appears you want to attract low income people.
And now you bring up two other extremely dumb things. Are you saying they are going to invest $8.5 Million in 7 houses??? And of this $8.5 Million, how much of it will be their own money and how much of it is tax credits, i.e. public money???
Wow, someone is going to invest an average of over $1 million dollars for houses on Gennesse Street?? How much is this going to cost me as a taxpayer?????
And by the way, if they want to spend that much money I have a bridge they can buy.....

Anonymous said...

I just thought of this one as I fumed over wasting $8.5 Million there. Take that money, buy all the slum houses on the street, tear them down, give the lots to people along with a small downpayment for people who want to build one or two family houses.
Now that would improve the neighborhood!!
$8.5 Million for 7 houses????????

Jack Smith said...

Dear Anon,
I'm sorry if I've touched upon a nerve. I just wanted to make the point that constructive criticism is always welcomed by me, in fact I look forward to it. I don't know everything, not even close, I do know I want what is best for this community. The current state of Genesee is not best, this project may not be best either. But, sometimes, on the way to best we have to stop off at better. I do believe this project is better than what currently exists. Again I say, come to the meetings listed in the previous posts, listen, learn, digest and then offer your criticisms and ideas. Please do not just suggest the 'what', but come prepared with the 'how' also. One is no good without the other! Again, I offer myself to anyone who would like to discuss this project in person! Contact me a aldermanjacksmith@yahoo.com or call me @ 434-8003.

Anonymous said...

Jack - I have offered constructive criticism, it sounds like a great company, it's great to rebuild things, but it's to high of density of housing and the city should find a way to make it viable with less units. I believe me saying that the city should not ignore their own building codes to get this is also constructive criticism.
At this point it's up to our city leaders (including you) if they agree it's to many units to see if they can come up with a fiscal plan to lower the number of units but keep the project, I can't do that for them.
I also took a closer look at HV's numbers from their web site. If you take away the bottom two projects from their list which were large projects (1 building 14 units, 13 bldgs 50 units) their projects average 2.8 units per building. Why in Lockport are they shooting for 6 new building with 26 units, for an average of 4.3 units per building? Why are they tearing down a 3 family and making it a 4?

I do think it's great if they want to do something here. It's just too many units for that area. And, $8.5 Million dollars does sound like way too much money for Genesee St, you truly could buy and rehab the whole street for that!

MJ said...

The $8.5 million may seem like a lot but when you are building structures that meet state preservation rules they are going to cost some money. Last I knew it was tax credits and maybe a PILOT with no grants mentioned.

Yes we could build some cheap single owner vinyl homes in empty lots. But, take a drive through Buffalo to see the failure of that system. They stick out like a sore thumb and a majority end up in foreclosure since the low income people that move into them default while the properties around them continue to decline and become vacant.

This is only a foundation: superior quality structures with top notch management. Will surrounding owners be more likely to invest with higher quantity cheaper housing around them or lower quantity higher quality housing with strict tenant rules?

The street is on the periphery of DT. Some density is not a bad thing. It's time for the city to create a pilot residential invested plan for this area to attempt to build on this project. It should have been in place even if this project never came to be.

As a grass root effort, this should be commended. Even if poorly thought out zoning rules required a variance.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope you are right. I did thank you for studying it so hard in your other posting as to why you voted as you did.
I guess we have to agree to disagree, I understand that you want to maintain the 'urban' look and feel (i.e. (and I am not criticizing)tight houses and parking), where I feel the only way out of the current mess that street/area is is to go for major changes in character. I feel this is just continuing the status quo, but with better managers. I would have loved to see nice 'urban looking' 2 family homes there with parking and yards.

Jack Smith said...

Anon, Here is the question then. Is it okay if we increase taxes on the whole community to benefit a few? The density is necessary to make the project financially viable, otherwise the City would have to contribute a great deal more than just a pilot and perhaps some infrastructure improvements, bottom line is your taxes would have to be raised. I did not want to burden the taxpayer any more than they already are. There are actually 14 properties involved, 33 units on 14 properties is actually under 2.4 units per lot. Otherwise it is 10 buildings and 33 units, which my calculator says is 3.3 units per building. Yes, a private investor could do so much more with that money, and that private investor wouldn't be held to the high standards that Housing Visions will.

Rocketboy said...
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Anonymous said...

Jack - when I did my figures of 4.3 units per house I did it using only the new builds. As I said before I don't have any problems with them rehabbing the old houses without making changes.

The tax issue is tricky, but yes I do think the city might have to spend something to clean up the area. I do think the $8.5 Million is ridiculous for that area. I also think it is a ridiculous estimate of costs to rehab that number of buildings even if you wanted to spend it there. I am positive any builder could build some awful nice palaces there for over $1 MILLION PER HOUSE! And one last thing about the $8.5 million, how many jobs could be created with that money in the business world.

Will HV be paying taxes on $8.5 million dollars worth of real estate? Then I whole heartily support this, even though I don't think they will be able to rent them out using tough standards.

Jack Smith said...

all right, all right, you win! I have decided to go with your ideas! Please let me know how I can be of help. My contact information is listed above.

Rocketboy said...
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Anonymous said...

Yes that would be nice. I am not trying to just cause trouble, I am just trying to say - "hey, here's my educated opinion of this project, has anyone really done a reality check on it?".
Honestly, I don't have any agenda's - like I said I even moved from the city a few years ago but really want it to succeed.
I just really feel that this is the wrong way to go, but I also thought it was great that MJ stated why he voted yes and I am happy he at least thought about it. Though imho it is the wrong way to go, I am happy that someone is throwing $8.5 million in to the city. As someone with experience renting, and priding myself as being a good, fair but tough landlord, I always had a choice of an empty apartment or letting questionable people in - I don't see how HV won't be in the same bind. I wasn't even on Genessee (I was smarter than that at least) but on a neighboring street that always got associated with genessee. And since I was within two blocks of genessee, no 'super' tenants wanted to rent...
I just wish we wouldn't accept the status quo and actually figure out a way to turn the neighborhood around, not continue to pack people in to it like this project will, and as you know I think spending over $1,000,000 per house on Genessee is really nuts!
But I am glad someone is trying to do something!

Anonymous said...

I guess the proof will be in the pudding. If the project goes through and the neighborhood is all the better for it, then we can all be thrilled and thank HV and Jack and company for a job well done! I personally think garbage-filled empty lots, houses that have stayed vacant for years that are all boarded up, and homes that continue to look like a dump have not improved the neighborhood whatsoever. Lets face it, no one has been willing to fix that. Sometimes you have to take a chance...

Jack Smith said...

Thank you everyone for your participation in this discussion. There were several valid concerns and opinions tossed about, I will take all into consideration as the proposed project moves along. I will admit to you that I do enjoy playing devil's advocate myself, and I always try to defend my positions as intelligently as I can. I really enjoyed the back and forth bantering and thank you for spicing up what may have otherwise been an intellectually boring weekend. MJ, thank you for providing this forum for sharing thoughts and opinions! Anyone out there interested in taking a step forward and forming a think tank of sorts to pursue "out of the box" ideas to help better the City of Lockport? Let me know.

MJ said...

Yes, thank you to everyone for a spirited thread. We all know where we stand and it will be exciting to see how things progess over the next few years. Not just in this project alone but also anything thing else the city will do to further along a turn around for the area.

The planning board session for the Community Center/6 unit structure on Locust will be next Monday the 4th at 5:00 pm.

Anonymous said...

I see it passed. My comment in response to the the mayor for better ideas is to give me $8,000,000 to spend and (1) I would have Genessee St totally remodeled and all the unfixable houses torn down, plus (2)I would have money left to give grants to encourage more businesses and jobs in Lockport so people would have money to take care of their own places. Could even help out his flight of five folly!
Sorry, spending over $1,000,000 per house for 7 places on Genessee St appears to me is a huge waste of tax dollars. And now I see they will get long term tax breaks on the million dollar houses too. I also suppose they won't pay any sales tax on the supply purchases. They probably will be exempt from paying mandated wages and will bring in their own workforce. The corporation planning it is non-profit, but am I correct the company owning it will be a for profit? And I do not see how this company could even physically spend over $1,000,0000 per house on these 3-6 unit apartment buildings unless we are talking granite counters, etc. Where is all this money really going?
I guess I am one of the few that are concerned that though this project will spruce up Genessee (but I firmly believe it won't correct the problem), something just doesn't make sense that we wil be committing $8,000,000 tax dollars plus 20 years of property tax breaks to this project. Would any reasonable person reading this spend $8,000,000 of their own money on these buildings? If not, why would you agree to spend your tax dollars on it? I did a rough calculation, an $8M 30 year mortgage would require $62,000 monthly payments. So an average rent for these 33 units would have to be $1900 per month to cover this cost, but yet rents will be $3-500, so will they get even more government subsidies? Oh those monthly costs don't include property taxes, but of course it doesn't matter they won't be paying much. If this project had a realistic cost estimate I would not have any problems with it even though I disagree with the premise that they can get respectable tenants without proper parking.
I almost forgot, did I also see they wanted some of our community development money for these SEVEN houses? So forget any other projects, probably forget our first time home buyer grants for in the city.
So I will now shut up and just watch my tax dollars go to these Syracuse companies, but am I the only one that thinks $8,000,000 of my tax dollars could be spent in better ways????
I won't comment again, no one else has jumped up to agree with me so maybe I am wrong - but sorry - this is a total waste of my taxes.

Jack Smith said...

Anon-I understand your concerns, I really do, they were my concerns also when we first started to investigate Housing Visions. Some of your facts are a little skewed, which can sometimes happen when relying totally on the news media for your facts. You are only getting bits and pieces of the total scope of the project. I encourage you and everyone else with concerns to attend a community presentation that Housing Visions will be putting on this Friday (Jan 8,2010) at First Baptist Church, corner of Genesee and Pine, starting at 6pm. BTW-often people don't agree with me, doesn't mean I'm wrong. I hope you can attend.

Anonymous said...

Jack - I know you just answered respectfully so I am just joking here - but yes I do see I have some facts skewed I just noticed now it's being reported as a $9,000,000 project for 33 apartments! And you are right, my info is ust from papers so it might not be 100% accurate.

Does Tucker realize for this $9M he could have hs flight of fve completed?

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