Land Bank Brings Kenmore Zombie Property To New Life

Modified: March 14, 2017 4:47pm

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Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz joined Erie County Legislators, Mayor of the Village of Kenmore Patrick Mang and local officials, staff from the Buffalo Erie Niagara County Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC – “The Land Bank”), representatives of JPMorgan Chase, and community members at 22 Allegany Avenue in Kenmore to unveil the Land Bank’s latest renovation project. The “zombie” property had been of great concern to neighbors as it sat vacant and deteriorating and was donated to the Land Bank by JPMorgan Chase in 2015, along with financial remuneration to insure that Village taxes on the property were current through 2015.

“The Land Bank continues to be a vital tool as we address vacant and dilapidated housing across our area, and today we are seeing Allegany Avenue in the Village of Kenmore enjoying new life as this former eyesore at 22 Allegany is rehabilitated and ready to go on the market,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “In the past, surrounding homeowners had no recourse as properties slid into ‘zombie’ status, and were forced to watch as their own property values dipped due to the zombie next door or down the street. The Land Bank is working to reverse that process and strengthen our neighborhoods one home at a time, weeding out the zombies and adding new life to communities as properties return to respectability and to the tax rolls.”

Erie County Legislator Peter Savage (3rd District) added, "The Land Bank offers creative opportunities to rehabilitate and return properties in limbo into new ownership, and to preserve vibrant and stable neighborhoods like this one in the Village of Kenmore. We will continue to work together to replicate this model throughout our community."

“You don’t need to look far to find government nightmares. This, however, is government like it oughta be,” said Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick (4th District). The state, the county and the village have cooperated to restore a house and by so doing, a beautiful neighborhood.”

Trapped in foreclosure limbo, “zombie properties” are a neighborhood nuisance and a tremendous economic drain upon the surrounding community. These properties steadily deteriorate over time while interested buyers are held at bay until the often-lengthy foreclosure process is complete. Once vacant and abandoned, 22 Allegany Avenue has undergone over $110,000.00 in improvements since it was donated to BENLIC in 2015. The property was cleverly converted from a three-bedroom/one bathroom home to a four-bedroom/two bathroom home with design assistance from local architecture firm Conway & Company. Other improvements include complete kitchen remodel, all new flooring and trim, new front porch, new electrical service, insulation and drywall.

“Donating this property to the Land Bank was an easy decision,” said Fred Vosburgh, executive director of Government banking at J.P. Morgan. “We’re proud to have the ability to provide a vacant property at no cost and see it transformed into a beautiful home for our community.”

Village Mayor Patrick Mang added, “BENLIC’s presence in Kenmore has uplifted both government officials and our residents who are frustrated and concerned about the blight of these properties and the limitations on our abilities to address them."

BENLIC’s rehabilitation of the home was made possible with funds from New York State’s Office of the Attorney General’s Community Revitalization Initiative (“CRI”). As part of the CRI, the home will be sold to a qualified moderate-income homebuyer. BENLIC has invested more than $2 million in CRI funding to rehabilitate homes throughout Erie County since 2015 and anticipates $2.25 million in sales returns by mid-2017.

“Our mission includes returning property we acquire to productive use and leaving property in better shape than we found it”, said Jocelyn Gordon, Executive Director of BENLIC. “This fine home languished in one of Erie County’s most marketable neighborhoods for years. People love to buy property in Kenmore! Our Land Bank enables municipalities to get these properties back on the tax rolls and in the hands of a responsible buyer.”

Much to the delight of surrounding neighbors, 22 Allegany will be listed for sale within days of today’s unveiling.