County Land Bank Selling Three Properties For Rehabilitation

Three more properties can be added to the several the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation has sold to be rehabilitated.

On Wednesday, the county Land Bank board approved the disposition of properties on Fairfield Avenue in Jamestown, Eagle Street in Dunkirk and Water Street in Fredonia. Gina Paradis, land bank executive director, said the property in Jamestown was sold to a family the land bank has dealt with in the past through their Rehabs 4 Sale program. She said the son of a couple who has purchased and renovated a property from the land bank in the past will now be turning around a two-unit rental.

“It is the first one with him, but the family has a good reputation with work done previously,” she said. “It will be a two-unit rental and he will maintain it as a rental. He lives a couple houses away from this one.”

The Dunkirk property is being done by an uncle and nephew who live in Dunkirk for a part of the year, Paradis said. She said once the renovations are completed, they plan to live in the house when they are staying in Western New York.

Paradis said a trio of partners who work in construction and have a public works background are purchasing the Fredonia property to renovate. She said the property is now a small one bed, with a bathroom structure that they plan to renovate into a small house for resale.

In other land bank business, the board continued to talk about future funding for the land bank. The organization has enough funding from the most recent grant they received from the state Attorney General’s Office to continue their activities through 2019. Beyond that, however, it is unknown how the land bank will continue to fund its programs, which improve the look of neighborhoods throughout the county by renovating rundown houses and demolishing blight.

Paradis said the county Land Bank, and other land bank corporations in the state, are advocating that Gov. Andrew Cuomo place line item funding in his 2018-19 budget for state land banks.

Through the first three rounds of funding from state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the state has made a total investment of $57 million in land banks throughout the state since 2013. The funding for state land banks has been secured through settlements from the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis.

Last year, the county Land Bank received $1.1 million during the third round of funding for land banks from the state Attorney General’s Office. During the first round of funding in 2013, the county received $1.5 million. During the second round of funding in 2014, the county received $1.3 million.

Paradis said if the county Land Bank doesn’t receive any more funding from the state, they could continue to acquire and dispose of rundown houses because of the revenues they generate through its Rehabs 4 Sale program.

The Rehabs 4 Sale program is used to acquire abandoned, foreclosed houses that are structurally sound that are sold at below market value to community members and organizations who will commit to renovating the property.

Paradis said, however, if there is no additional state funding in the future, the County Land Bank probably wouldn’t be able to fund the demolition of houses throughout the county, with an emphasis on tearing down condemned structures in the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown. For 2018, the land bank has budgeted using $550,000 of the $1.1 million they received from the latest state grant toward demolishing blight.