Land Bank Program

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that Mayor Tucker is looking to create a land bank system in the city.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Friday he has directed the city’s attorney to investigate the feasibility of starting a land bank program in Lockport as a means of combating housing decay.

A law passed last week in the State Legislature allows cities and counties to create land banks to acquire run-down properties and either demolish them or fix them up .
After that, Tucker said, the city wouldn’t have to sell the land to the highest bidder but to the “best bidder.”...
Demolition does not fight housing decay. It moves the problem to adjoining areas of the city creating a perpetual wave of disinvestment. This program could be successful but it must focus on saving structures and getting money into the area. After over 30 years of the empty south block and other parcels we should have learned that empty fields do nothing to turn things around.

Money and investment coming in shows hope. Structures coming down shows defeat.


Anonymous said...

So if my name is not Ulrich i have no chance to bid?

Anonymous said...

no you can bid if you're one of the "best" bidders.

The perks and favoritism will continue under Mike Tucker...

John Adams said...

Land Banks are Complicated..but it's about time Mr. Tucker admitted his current initiative has not worked.

Suddenly we can use our abatement power to take over property for demo or repair...why? Because Jack Smith is starting to shed light on the history of the cities housing management failures of the past?

I'd rather see the city attorney pursue civil or criminal charges against violators of the state's Uniform Code. We have the power and the current law (s) working in our favor. Why hasn't he applied the law as written?

A Land Bank could be extremely controversial given the cities history. Give property to the most worthy bidder? According to who?

This sounds like another gimmick.

Anonymous said...

The City already has a best use policy in place to circumvent the highest bidder scenario.

John Adams said...

The city government has the authority to circumvent just about anything if they find it's in the City's best interest. I'm sure it happens all of the time. The way they do it' however is supposed to be ethical. If they have exercised that power in the past I'd be interested in obtaining information about who benefited from the action.

Giving the Tucker administration the power to give away property at their discretion is like allowing a child to play with a loaded gun.

G.I.Joe said...

I want see if the "Anonimi" start yelling about more "low income housing"..or is that only when the idea belongs to Jack Smith?

The main purpose of a Land Bank that Mayor Tucker is proposing is to do pretty much what HV is doing. Buy distressed inventory usually in bulk, rehabilitate it, and make it affordable to low and moderate income families to purchase.

Do I hear crickets?

MJ said...

Cleaned up for personal infighting.

The city does have a policy in place for auctions. You can fill it full of conspiracy theories or look to see what the positives could be.

1) Stop the house from rotting to the ground. Every calls for the city to do something. Not much can be done for out of town owners while the structure decays.

2) Make sure those buying have the wherewithal to maintain the structure once it's sold. The small money grabs at the auctions would probably pail in comparison to what could be gained buy selling the properties for a $1 with a contract to spend a certain amount of money on the structure. I'd rather see that than the city pay for the repairs and then try to resell. Let a new owner invest some sweat equity if they prefer.

3) As the article notes, state legislation was just passed last week allowing this avenue to be taken.

Anonymous said...

MJ - great idea's, especially the selling for a dollar with a contract to improve it. They would also need some sort of assessed value (taxes) agreed to beforehand. I remember in the town on Old Beattie Rd that their were some gov't houses people got deals on, then were mad they had to pay taxes on the true value and not the discount rate they bought them for.
I don't necessarily agree with your demolition stance as I think sometimes thats the best way, some houses just can't be rebuilt. I also think it can help out a neighborhood to have some nice landscaped double lots, though I know you prefer 'denser' housing.
This sounds like a winner to me, IMHO just the opposite of the HV project. With this you will get private owners fixing up areas, which I believe will then spread to their neighbors. My thought on HV is that if they put up a $1,000,000 public financed house next to my $30,000 house I am not going to try and keep up with them. But if my neighbor fixes up their $40,000 house then maybe I will try to.
But before someone goes nuts on these thoughts, no - I don't own property on Genessee, these are hypothetical thoughts.

Anonymous said...

GIJOe, no please listen and understand. This would not facilitate people coming in and spending $1,000,000 per house and taking a $100,000 profit on the taxpayers dime. It would encourage private ownership and rehab, it's a good idea.
And as I stated before, the HV problem is not political as both Smith and Tucker support it. Tucker can't say anything bad about it so it's a stalemate for them.

G.I Joe said...

which Anonimi are you...?

Land Banks are not new...they are present in most major urban areas. New York is a little behind. ( sometime). This is Lockport remember? Not Utopia!

You're going to use tax money, bring in more lower income owners and tenants..yes tenants..because other city have gone to renting as an alternative when they can't move the inventory fast enough. All the issues you and you buddies have objected to.

I'm in favor of any plan to improve housing. But it's funny to see all of you salivating at the thought of houses being available for $1.00.

That isn't going to happen..at least not for you and I. The "selected" investors will get the $1.00 deals like they always do.

Jimbo said...

I must agree with you GI Joe. I've seen it happen many times. If you're a "friend", we'll let you have it for peanuts. One house in particular comes to mind on Lindhurst which went for $1. The man spent $40K renovating it and sold it for $104K. (Also took 2 years to do it too.) I'm sure most of us would have loved to be privy to that one and make a $60K profit.

MJ said...

Yes a lot of cities of the years have done this (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo, etc)to try to turn around bad neighborhoods. And they do involve normal people not selected investors.

Buffalo does just that (houses for $1 to individuals). The biggest problem there is either no one in city hall knows the proper process or someone who thinks they are doing some good tries to say no and offers a ridiculous "market" price. This even though there is obviously no market. I've seen this happen to multiple houses on the east side.

The best thing here would be a concise set of requirements etc that anyone could easily find, understand and meet. No contractors needed allowing an individual to do the work themselves as long as it passes permit inspections.

I would have been a perfect candidate and I am not low income. Make it easy to invest and have a decent shot at a return on the investment and you will not have to beg for investment. Long term gain over short term treading water.

Lockport is small. The momentum can be changed a lot easier than say the east side of Buffalo.

hitler said...

first positive news i've heard about the housing issue in lockport in some time

let's just make sure that lots will not be going to building managers / professional landlords

G I. Joe said...

OMG..I agree with Hitler...!

G.I.Joe said...

The biggest challenges are the logistics and Management. It would take more than a "friend" of the administration that is in the Real Estate business. That's why HV is getting paid..can you imagine trying to rehab and sell 50 houses or more? Abatement costs alone would be enormous. I ask you sir..where is the funding coming from..the city has to buy the properties first, so it would be your tax dollars directly...or if they used an organization like the National Community Stabilization Trust it would be federal money.

Choose your poison...

MJ said...

When people discuss ideas there will always be things they agree and disagree on. It's when you make things personal or get into a mob mentality that things go irrational and unproductive.

Patti said...

I'm a bit nonplussed as well, GIJoe - I agree with him, too.

G.I Joe said...

MJ..the current city auction rules must be revised.If a Land Bank becomes a reality we need to play by a totally different set of rules and standards.

Here are some suggestions I've heard Jack Smith mention at some of his meetings over the last year.. He may not be the only one thinking this way, but he's the first I've heard with a plan.

1.Buyer should be pre-qualified. The city claims people have been qualified and then sales fall through and the house sits there for another year.
2.Rehab must start within 12 months and be completed within 24 months.
3. we need to encourage buyers (incentive) NOT to subdivide. A possible moratorium of subdividing might be necessary,
4. reward buyers who will rehab property back to single family status with a lower sale price.
5. No property may remain boarded up for more than 12 months without a follow-up inspection by the Building Department.

The last thing I want under any plan is to have landlord's from other communities purchase cheap property in Lockport and have additional $350 units for rent under a subdivision frenzy.

WE DON'T NEED THAT TYPE OF REHAB. We don't need to subdivide our housing stock any further.

hitler said...

so joe, how come you are so gung-ho for the hv project? you seem like you are playing two sides of the coin

GeorgeW said...

Yes, how can we tell someone they can't add more housing units or even enforce parking space restrictions when we just allowed HV to do the same?
Sounds like more lawsuits if we discriminate against others wanting to do the same.

MJ said...

Because you can. It's a case by case basis. That's why there is a Zoning Appeals Board. If everything was that cut and dry there would be no need for the zoning appeals board.

You quote of "wanting to do the same" is correct. Now if someone came with the same exact master plan or one very close and was denied they may have a grievance. Wanting the same is not just saying "I want to make more apartments in my structure".

G.I Joe said...

Well Hitler...I watched the HV project develop from a distance when not a single person gave a damn about what was happening vs. housing in Lockport.In spite of the fact that it's not perfect I like what it represents.

I've said it before if you or anyone else has a good idea on how to improve the housing stock I'll support it. There is room for more and better ideas. I just think Jack Smith deserves some credit for moving the ball forward. So I get a little offended when people that have done absolutely nothing trash the idea.

To answer George W..it's apples and oranges. If someone wants to build brand new multi unit housing, I see nothing wrong with that. I object to subdividing a vintage Victorian home into multi units, destroying the integrity of the structure and the original architecture, and creating UNCONTROLLED ultra small units for the sole purpose of enhancing their investment at our expense.

Anonymous said...

"To answer George W..it's apples and oranges. If someone wants to build brand new multi unit housing, I see nothing wrong with that. I object to subdividing a vintage Victorian home into multi units, destroying the integrity of the structure and the original architecture, and creating UNCONTROLLED ultra small units for the sole purpose of enhancing their investment at our expense."
Which is just what HV is doing in adding MORE units to existing houses!!!!! They are adding so many units there isn't enough room for proper parking.
You just made my point.
But I also can surmise from your other comments that you are in favor of making Lockport a total low income housing community, just like your buddy Jack.

GeorgeW said...

Good one 10:21!! That was my problem too, why are they adding more low income apartments to the houses on a street that has too many. Why are they squeezing more apartments in to those old houses.

MJ said...

We're venturing off topic here with old rehashed "news". But...

Where did you get them adding more to existing homes?

These are mostly 2-3 bedroom apartments not studios. If you followed along I think only 2 rehabs are currently planned. The rest are new builds including 2 large 4 unit structures on the Scrito Trophy site. Those units are for the YWCA portion of the project for domestic abuse victims. Only need one car for each of those units. Every apartment meets the city minimum of 650 sqft.

Looked at the plans
and sqft Data

and explain the "crammed".

A 3000-4000 sqft Victorian is unrealistic as a single family use. Some of those are huge. Maybe on Bidwell Pkwy in Buffalo but not on Genessee in Lockport. Prime use would pry be a 2000 sqft main residence with a 1000sqft income/in-law suite. or similar.

The two existing units that needed the parking variance because SHPO will not let them cut down a tree on the property. There are multiple items in play for each variance.

This the end of HV in this post. Move it back to HV will I will also place this comment. Anything not Land Bank relevant will be removed from this comment on.


Anonymous said...

"A law passed last week in the State Legislature allows cities and counties to create land banks to acquire run-down properties and either demolish them or fix them up."

It appears this new State Law will simply encourage the insidious spread of "DEAD ZONES" within cities, between the city centers and the outskirts, just like they now have in Niagara Falls, New York (just beyond the casino zone/downtown area.)

MJ said...

It could and that would be the easy mistake to make. Many people see the easiest route of knocking a place down as progress when all it does is rob us of existing infrastructure to build off of. When public comment comes up we must all push that demolition is the 1 in 100 solution.

Patti said...

I'm quite sick and tired of seeing the $1,000,000 plus $100,000 commission per home/apartment scenario thrown in our faces. Try a new schtick, will you please?
This land bank thing is relatively new to the State of New York. There are already all manner of vehicles through which homes can be rehabilitated and eventually owned and lived in by good people. Maybe they don't have a lot of money - maybe they've been laid off - any number of things. BUT they're GOOD PEOPLE!
What's wrong with selling them an abandoned house for $1.00 under contract to make it habitable within 12 - 18 months? Make them pay the taxes. Have Building Inspections check in at least once a week to make sure they're making progress. No preferential treatment to those who, apparently, don't have the money to buy a house outright but DO have the money to make significant campaign contributions, etc. I'd suggest the ONLY favoritism be shown to those who already live in the City - & are renting. This would require constant checks by the appropriate City Departments to ensure things are really being fixed up properly.
MJ - the "Church Lady" has finished most of the electrical and is waiting on the plumber per her worker guy who's here at least 3-4 times per week. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Thats too bad that you don't want to hear about it. People should be kept aware that they are spending $1,000,000 of public money per house and pocketing $100,000 of it, and no;t paying taxes for 20 years! And if anybody thinks that a smart investment I feel bad for them. You brought it up, not me!

G.I Joe said...

To Anonini..

Talking Points 101...you're information is incorrect.

You don't like anybody's ideas

You don't have any ideas of your own

You're insulting 99% of the time

Keep it up ..people are laughing at you

and....... you're extremely boring

What's your solution?

Patti said...

Thank you, G.I.Joe. If only this person would get the facts he/she might realize how idiotic their position is. I've said, and it's true, that I was initially against Housing Visions - then I did some research. Now I'm totally FOR it. I just think the architecture could be a lot better.
It doesn't take a lot of time nor do you have to have a graduate degree. All you need is a computer and spelling skills - which most everyone has. Stick Housing Visions into the search bar and you're off to the races. Perhaps they're just a troll who gives inaccurate information deliberately? That's what I think.

Anonymous said...

You two twins are such jerks, what information is inaccurate? $9,000,000 project, $940,000 PROFIT (it's labeled profit in their budget), 9 buildings, 20 years of tax abatements.. what do I have wrong?
Simple question, if you had $9,000,000 in your pocket to spend, would you think it was a good business decision to renovate 9 houses on genessee St? Then why should it be done using tax dollars?

G.I Joe said...

Wrong, wrong, wrong,
1 million
9 houses
20 years
no parking
bad deal
you need to eat some Anonimi Humble Pie..

What are you ..like 16? nana nana na na

You're numbers or bogus.....let's digress

where's the Land Bank money coming from? The Housing Fairy?

Shemp said...

Sorry Joe, I agree with anomi. You are STUPID! His numbers are totally correct, $9M, 9 houses, no taxes 20 years, and we pay the rents through soc services. You are so stupid you can't even argue against facts.
I agree, who in their right mind would agree to this?

G.I.Joe said...

I'm sorry Shemp...you guys reduce these conversations to sophmoronic name calling every time. Grow up...

It's appears that a lot of people agree with it including the current Mayor. So. stop whining.

G.I Joe said...

Shemp ..the name of a Stooge...how appropriate.

Anonymous said...

... but you have not been able to dispute one fact that I have presented, right?

G.I Joe said...

Why? have you presented any FACTS?

I'm too busy to waste my time on you.

I don't think anyone's paying attention to your foolish ranting and raving.

Anonymous said...

The project has a pilot agreement according to the US&J which is at least equal to the current amount of taxes being collected on those properties now. And I thought I heard or read somewhere that there were scheduled increases of 5% each year.

Patti said...

I'd rather be Joe's twin than a Schicklgruber.
"Jerk?" "Stupid?"
Give us some FACTS instead of calling us names. If you don't, you'll prove, even to your ignorant buddies, that you fit those descriptors perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I think you two are to stupid to understand facts, but here they are AGAIN.
Check out this link, this will show you the project cost is $8,800,000 (yes I lied and said $9,000,000). it also show the PROFIT of $940,000 thery are going to steal from us. It is for 9 houses, 33 apartments.
Those are facts, do you still think this is such a great deal????

Anonymous said...

Sorry, here's the link.

G.I.Joe said...

hey..name caller...you conveniently omit the facts you don't like...

I'm trying so hard not to call you a name...

hitler said...

thanks patti for bringing my name up in a discussion that i was not involved in

classy again

G.I Joe said...

Posted by Anonymous 8:05PM

"The project has a pilot agreement according to the US&J which is at least equal to the current amount of taxes being collected on those properties now. And I thought I heard or read somewhere that there were scheduled increases of 5% each year."

Fact..or Fiction

MJ said...

And I'll say it again $9,000,000 - $900,000 - 10%...not all that eye popping.

I don't have time to clean up the above. But be forewarned..any more HV here and it gets deleted. Stop hijacking this post.

MJ said...

Oh, and the tax agreement is in the post with the other documents.

G.I.Joe said...

OK..but isn't part of this post a comparison between a Land Bank and what HV is doing...?

It's like excluding comments about Jack Smith from the "Tucker running for Third term" post.

MJ said...

I mentioned no comparison in the main post.

As for comments, I'm open if the comment actually compares the too and just does spout of something like $9M,900k blah blah. Look above. No one is comparing. They are just also debating HV here. It is not needed as there are posts for that.

MJ said...

cleaned up per statement 3 posts up.

Anonymous said...

What did the mayor tell you to shut down people putting the facts about HV down if you want to keep your job?
Why aren't Joe's misleading posts (i.e. they will pay 5% more taxes each year) deleted?
$9,000,000 of housing, $13,000 a year in taxes. 33 apartments, probably at least 66 kids in school, $7,000 a year total school taxes????

MJ said...

And as I said above I don't have the time to clean up all these posts and that any off topic would be hereto removed. Read and understand please. Debate it in the HV posts.

Cleaned up again for bickering.

MJ said...

Because posters here apparently cannot read. Maybe caps will help the hard of sight or understanding:


This is my blog and has nothing to do with the Mayor or anyone else you may dream up to be against you. I posted all the figures/documents (a.k.a. FACTS) for HV. Nothing is "hidden". For the love of god just put it in the proper post people.

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