Three properties in Jamestown are being eyed by the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, which held its first organizational meeting on Wednesday.
The land bank was certified on Sept. 6 by the New York State Department of State, giving the corporation the ability to seize foreclosed and abandoned properties to sell to respected buyers.
"We are official, and we have some business to take care of," said Mark Geise, county Planning and Economic Development deputy director.
Mark Geise, county Planning and Economic Development deputy director, discusses a vacant lot in Westfield during the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation’s first organizational meeting.
P-J photo by Eric Tichy
"There is a little bit of an unknown at the moment," added Steve Abdella, county attorney. "At the moment we are just getting into this."
Geise and approximately a dozen land bank board members met in the county Industrial Development Agency building in Jamestown for the inaugural meeting. Proposed bylaws, goals and board leaders were discussed, although nothing will be finalized until at least the corporation's Nov. 14 meeting.
"There is a lot to go through," Geise said. "We will just start working on it and go from there. At this point it's just important for everyone to be on the same page."
Since learning of its approval in May, the county land bank has obtained, although not officially at the moment, three properties considered to be in good condition. Those properties are: 84 Risley St., Fredonia; 768 Eagle St., Dunkirk; and 412 Dove St., Dunkirk.
One property identified for acquisition, 648 E. Sixth St., Jamestown, was conveyed to the Citizen's Opportunity for Development and Equality Inc. - a Jamestown-based not-for-profit revitalization group. CODE obtained the distressed property for demolition.
The board on Wednesday turned its sights to three additional properties in the city of Jamestown. They include: 123 Water St.; 111 Hazzard St.; and 35 Tower St.
All three properties, according to a resolution before the legislature's Administrative Services Committee, are distressed structures that sold at a recent county auction but were not completed by its purchasers. The legislature must approve the transfer for the county land bank to take ownership.
For vacant lots, the board discussed having the land bank pay closing costs, with surrounding properties owners the power to buy for $1.
"We went around asking people, 'What would it take for you to take this property?'" said board member Michael Bradshaw. "Many said they were interested, but they didn't want to pay the closing costs."
Geise said if approved by the board, the land bank would pay the $305 in closing costs to the county, which in turn would transfer the property to a near-by owner for $1.
Vacant lots being looked at include: 217 Allen St., Jamestown; 225 Tower St., Jamestown; 24 Richmond Place, Jamestown; 100 Barrows St., Jamestown; Union Street, Westfield; and Route 20, town of Sheridan.
"The county gets to remove these vacant lots from their books and they go back on the tax rolls," Geise said.