Mayor Byron Brown called a small conference with select members of the press this morning to announce a new city wide initiative for how vacant properties are handled. Citing historic preservation and the repurposing of Buffalo’s historic assets, Mayor Brown has declared that each proposed demolition in the City of Buffalo will require additional oversight to ensure nothing of value is being sent to the landfill.
“We started off this administration with an aggressive campaign of demolishing 5000 blighted homes in five years,” began Mayor Brown, “I’ve come to realize as things have progressed that we need a better approach to how we are treating our neighborhoods. Today I am announcing a new system to deal with vacant homes and buildings that are not only owned by the city, but also those that are privately owned.”
The new program called, “Strategic Demolition for the 21st Century” is the city’s first attempt at moving from scattershot demolitions across the city to a more appropriate approach. Each property will be rated on an overall condition scale that investigates the interior, exterior, structure, and systems to determine what really needs to come down and what should be targeted for mothballing and/or sale.
“The land bank program we now have available to us will give Buffalo the necessary tools to identify properties that have the potential to be rehabilitated rather than continue to fill our landfills,” said Brown. “There will certainly be buildings that are too far gone that will have to come down, but this way we can get some eyesores in our neighborhoods into the hands of qualified owners and beautify Buffalo.”
As a play on his previous demolition plan, Brown is also calling this, “25 to Survive” with a goal of identifying 2500 properties that can be reasonably rehabilitated rather than demolished. Citing the recent news that the region is actually increasing in population for the first time in decades, Brown seems to have changed his tune on wholesale demolition.
When each property that has been identified as a good rehab candidate the city will dispatch a team to ensure it is sealed properly so that further deterioration does not continue. They will also document the current conditions with a written report and photos, which will all be accessible online for those interested in taking on a project.
Safeguards will be implemented to ensure that those who are trying to buy these homes have the means and wherewithal to accomplish their goals. People that currently own property in the city with unresolved or continued housing court problems will not be eligible. Potential buyers will also have to show proof of income and funding to prove they have the means to complete the project. Several new staff members will be hired in the real estate and legal department with the specific task of getting these homes from the city or negligent owners into the hands of the qualified buyers as quickly as possible.
“We have a lot of young and older people alike who have expressed interest in reinvesting in Buffalo by taking these vacant homes and turning them into something that will make the community proud,” continued the Mayor. “I couldn’t think of a better day to announce this new initiative than this fantastic holiday and look forward to seeing homes reborn rather than thrown away.”