Sheldon House Sale Is Key Event For Neighborhood

To The Reader’s Forum:

I have been asked if I intend to bid on the Sheldon House again and for my general thoughts on the drawn-out sale of this house. I am most certainly going to bid again! I see that house as a key to making or breaking the neighborhood where I grew up. We are regularly seeing these incredible landmarks fade into the past. I’m going to save it before it goes to pot.

Jamestown Community College (JCC) is sure I am still on the hook since I showed up at their board of directors meeting trying to buy it. I would wager they are thinking, might as well list it and hope the news coverage would attract someone from a different part of the country to grossly overpay for the house. And that may happen, but anyone interested is in for a rollercoaster ride.

They have already listed their intentions with the last offer to sell: auditing the buyer’s renovations and holding them accountable to meet the timeline at the threat of a contractual allowance to repossess the house without returning any money. And if the work is not done to their standard, the buyer agrees to essentially write a blank check to have the work redone to JCC’s standard. At least that’s how I understood the fourth and fifth point on Appendix A — if you miss a deadline they get the house, keep the purchase price, keep the investment in renovations and have funding and legal allowance to finish the renovations at your expense.

The college is a public institution, and required to do their diligence on sales of properties. They are known to spend significant funds on 360 degree studies for uses of residential properties. They have more accurate projections on renovation costs for residential use than I do. You can request a list of all the conditions they will require from you and ask them for their appraised value based on properties in Jamestown, but make sure it’s not an appraisal based on properties in Buffalo, or Pittsburgh, or Corning. Given the shootings, murders, general lack of reinvestment in properties and the overwhelming level of property taxation, there’s no comparable place for an appraisal. That’s just my opinion. It’s just too bad that property values in town are below the cost to build these days. It takes a lot of funding to restore a house like this.

Off my recollection, the numbers that Lynn Group estimated at their PR presentation estimated needed reinvestment between $600,000 and $800,000 to revitalize the property for various uses. I have taken tradesmen through the property and now estimate it would take at least $150,000 to 200,000 to restore it for residential use. By my estimations, it would probably sell for $300,000 in mint condition in our neighborhood.

I have invested $5,000 and 60 hours of time into proposals and planning. I realize I will lose significant money on this investment, but I still believe this house is key to making or breaking our neighborhood. I plan to do right by the house and restore it as an icon of the grandeur of Jamestown. I am still trying to buy this house for fair market value a year and a half later. Hopefully JCC does not continue to show my hand of cards by publishing future bids — that is obviously an invasion of privacy and a rude way of trying to increase the bidding at my expense. I guess we will see how things play out in the next few months.

John W. Lampard