Last August I wrote about the fate of The Fairmount apartment building in Allentown (see story). At the time, The City had stepped in to clear the inhabitants out in order to shutter it up – a move that brought a joint sigh of relief to the neighborhood. With no Certificate of Occupancy, the building has been sitting empty, quietly awaiting a broker and a sale. In the past, word of a sale might have caused neighbors to squirm… you never know who is going to buy a former crack house and why. Without the proper funding, an apartment complex like this could end up right back from where it came – a problem property.
Fortunately for Allentown, The Fairmount now has a caring listing broker who wants to see the place turned around. Mike Hananel of Horizon Realty (see recent success story) took me through the building last week to show me the condition of the units. I must say that, though I’ve seen worse, the rooms are a mess. But that issue is cosmetic for the most part. The building looks to be in excellent condition, and once the interior is fixed up, this could be an incredible asset for Allen Street and the nearby businesses. After all, it is located a block from the Medical Campus. “One way or another, something good is going to come of this,” Mike told me. “Already there has been a lot of interest generated. Hopefully, we’ll have some good news soon. We’re talking about bringing back to life 30 units (22 studios, 6 one bedrooms and two retail stores) – that would be significant if done the right way. I think that this would be a great building for grad students or anyone working in the Medical Campus. It won’t be sold to anyone who does not have the means to do the right thing.”
The building is currently listed at $325,000, though Mike tells me that there’s most likely some flexibility since it’s owned by a bank in California. I asked Mike why he was the listing agent to begin with (since that’s not really his bag) and he told me that his track record in Buffalo (with his own buildings) has shown that he’s here to make a difference. And that’s what the banks want to see. He cares about Buffalo and isn’t here to make a quick buck. He’s attracted more and more out-of-state investors by adhering to his methods and policies. So naturally a bank feels safe knowing that a building is in his hands.
As for me? I’m glad that Mike’s in town for a number of reasons. Every time he’s here (away from his family in LA), he finds himself looking at more and more properties – not just for himself, but for others. He’s getting a real good feel for the Buffalo market and knows what to do to protect the rest of his investments. “The stronger Buffalo gets,” he told me. “The safer my portfolio is. That’s why I like to go into a building, fix it up, and get it back on the market. And if I can’t do it myself for some reason, then I’ll find someone who can.”
257 Elmwood Ave # 100
Buffalo, NY 14222