from Vinyl Alley - Two Time Loser...

Perhaps one of the egregious examples of - and right here along vinyl alley, Michigan Avenue - vinyl madness is this home at 83 Glenwood Avenue [google map]. Just love the architecturally significant second floor window.
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Here's the past 11 years sales data, from the City's website for this house. Two cycles of foreclosure at this location. Seems like in both cases owners paid about two years, then skipped. First was $81K in 2001 and the second time someone got stung for $97K, in 2005. I've watched the bank's property management company show up with dumpsters twice to clean the place out. 83 is smack in the middle of my view when I look down Michigan Avenue from my office window.

fixBuffalo reader from Tampa, FL got me thinking of this house and sent the 83 Glenwood Avenue sales listing earlier in the week. He, writes -
Usually once a week on a boring night here in Florida I peruse the latest real estate listings in Buffalo. As you know, there is never a shortage of "Vinyl Victorians" back on the market after just a few years, with an asking price substanially below the subsidized cost to build them.

Why politicians and average citizens think any new built home; regardless of cost, design, quality, durability and practicality is good thing I will never understand. I guess that is what I get for utilizing rational thinking. I could go on forever, but I know I am preaching to the choir.

Anyway, I found this one on Glenwood Avenue that could vie for the spokesman for the failure of vinyl victorians. This is the worst one yet. Makes you want to bang your head on the wall or hit the bottle.
And still another fixBuffalo reader and BRo contributer, West Coast Perspective, and moi will be monitoring vinyl forecloure data on a social spreadsheet - searchable like any other website - Vinyl Losers. Contains sales data for about 90% of our City's vinyl collection. Currently tracking 970 of these "vinyl victorians"...

Vinyl victorians are growing like weeds. I'll be ramping up my coverage of issues related to this scourage, in the coming weeks and months.

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. Mcguire: Plastics.
See My Vinyl Collection for additional inspiration.


gabe said...

The construction of these subsidized abominations must stop!

If people seriously want suburban living that bad they should move to the suburbs.

Check BRO tomorrow for a solution i've come up with to this vexing problem...

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, this house should have been aesthetically designed to fit more into the existing street scene with matching curb appeal.

However, don’t you think the real problem is selling subsidized housing to people who are incapable of maintaining a mortgage payment or is this a moot point in this topic of discussion?

As for PVC siding, it is a matter of how much you are willing to spend. I have seen PVC siding that looks like wood shingles and I, literally, had to walk-up to the house and press my finger against it all the while thinking; “that is one hell of a paint job.”

Once upon a time I was a young, single professional and no one offered me a subsidized house in Buffalo so I opted for a former summer cottage (circa 1935) instead and slowly renovated the house.

Perhaps the City of Buffalo needs to focus on the next generation of young professionals or perhaps people as-like my self who make in the 30K-40K salary range but don’t want to choke on a huge mortgage payment or want to spend all of our free time ripping-out walls, re-plumbing, etc.

Better yet, instead of building these retro-abortions, select a house like 16 Harwood Place or the Hamilton Ward House and completely restore it and then auction it off to the highest bidder and then the City of Buffalo will begin to attract people with the means and desire to maintain a piece of property and not just simply walk away from it.

denny said...

One wonders if somebody actually drew plans on paper for this thing, because it sure looks as if they made it up as they went along!

Apollo said...

A perfect example of the failure of vinyl victorians. Not only are these abominations aesthetically apalling, but they make no fiscal sense either.

I used to work in sales for a very large lumber company (until I left Buffalo in March)that specialized in sales to remodelers and home builders.

I can tell you there are very good siding products available, but they are quite expensive. Moreover, the overall construction of these subsidized houses is usually subpar throughout because builders see them as "free money." There is no one watching directly over their shoulder and they are already assured of being paid.

When calculating the costs of these homes keep in mind that a good rule of thumb is $100/square foot for "tract housing." The government always takes the lowest bid, so sometimes you can get the homes built cheaper. But Buffalo gets what the governement pays for.

Older, structurally sound houses can be rehabbed for much less and are obviously a better fit in the neighborhoods.

When will Buffalo learn that vinyl and suburban tract-type housing is not in any way a tool to revitalize the East Side?

fix buffalo said...


Appreciate the insight and understanding.

I'm still missing a couple pieces from the larger equation. I'd like to know what's in it for the organizations doing this development. Specifically, and aside from the apparent prestige associated with "development" what are the financial rewards - directly and indirectly - for organizations such that initiate this sort of construction.

Builders/developers build what clients want. Why do they want these specific things?

Michele said...

it says it needs complete first floor renovation? What the heck happened? Love the window :)

WestCoastPerspective said...

The living room at the front of this house is actually two-stories, but why they chose a fish-eye window for that upper portion is beyond explanation. Who is signing off on these things at City Hall? What does a window cost these days- a couple hundred bucks?

fix buffalo said...


spoke to the contractors this summer that were cleaning the place out and ripping down all the interior dry wall. Said there was a mold problem due to water problems. You know copper was stripped and the place flooded.


Not convinced the problem is located there...think has more to do with various organizations that are having these places built. Way open to additional opinions on these things. Maybe there was a market for houses with 16" fish-eye windows back in 1995...don't know.

Anonymous said...

The very least they could do is to situate the house so that it would fit in to the existing streetscape. Again, wouldn't it be more economical to rehab the current houses than tear down and build new?

Anonymous said...

YOU make it sound as if all the problems here are due to the fact that the house has VINYL SIDING...a very narrowminded opinion! The real fault lies with society feeling guilty that the system has let down the low income families in not allowing them to realize the "AMERICAN DREAM " of home ownership.So.. these subsidized shacks that have, GOD forbid..vinyl siding are shoved down the throat of potential low income buyers who have not the financial means or physical ability to support their new homeownership .They have very little of their own funds invested in these purchases and it is seemingly very easy to walk away from them.LOOK at HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, where sweat equity--500 hours of volunteer work on a rehab or new home is required to qualify to be a candidate for one of these homes. I wonder what the foreclosure rate is on these where owners have COMMITTMENT!! whether it be financial or "sweat equity" into their home. SOME FOLKS were just born to be renters. THEIR level of resposibility to a commitment such as home ownership and MAINTAiNING that home is not within...examples bieng of what this story features.

fix buffalo said...

Anon 6:22,

I'm assuming "YOU" means me. Wrong.

Read on...

I'm using "vinyl" as metaphor for what is wrong. Tried to make it very obvious by linking to famous quotation from The Graduate.

There are many antidotes to this kind of development. Habitat provides one very sane and reasonable alternative the other belongs to Roger over at Bryant & Ashland and his Small Red House...that I wrote about last month.

Culturally, too we lack patience and perhaps we share that as part of our critique. These examples would be a welcome first step towards ownership for many. Both examples obviate the problem you - me elsewhere - describe.

Anonymous said...

it's no coincidence that when these homes go it's usually right beyond the two year mark. until earlier this year the city did not have interest regulations on new homes receiving government money. builders eager to sell these houses and get their commissions (not naming names, but BRO may consider one of them "key" to downtown revitalization) set these first time buyers up with non-conventional lenders that give pretty decent rates for the first 24 months, then huge increases hit for year three (going from say, 7% up to 14%) which make these mortgages untenable - a practice I doubt, for instance, Habitat would endorse. There are loan products out there that make these homes accessible, but it takes a little more time and effort to get the right fit. Hopefully now that the city has new policies, they will be watching their developers' relationships more closely.

fix buffalo said...

Anon 11:07,

I'm working with one recent home-buyer and reviewing the mortgage docs and underlying note. Hope to have more, soon...after my attorney looks at it, too.

If you have specific knowledge of City practices, please let me know here or via e-mail. Like to know more about this area and how things maybe (are they really, and how) changing.

WestCoastPerspective said...

Zero money down and an adjustable rate or interest-only mortgage...recipe for disaster. Especially in an area of decreasing property values. Good luck trying to refi your $90,000 mortgage on a home worth 50k.

fix buffalo said...


I believe one strategy here is to use these "vinyl victorians" to build comps in the neighborhood...

Michele said...

Although Im not a fan of vinyl siding But.... That is not the major issue here in my opinion,What the problem really is We do not need these houses, Many were poorly built and will not last 40 years..