2/13/2007

There is no plan...

Just finished watching this. I know - hope is not a plan. It's a mantra I've been reciting for the longest time. I repeat it daily.

Chris Byrd's video from BroadwayFillmoreAlive. He photo documented the abandonment and vacancy on Person Street [google map]. Here's Chris's post. I compiled a complete list of who owns what on Person Street. There are 97 parcels. 29 houses that look, well...you decide.

A recent post about Shrinking Cities with links and suggestions about what to do. And have you heard what Mayor Jay Williams in doing in Youngstown, OH with the exact same set of problems - listen in.

Situation is getting worse by the week. Really.
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11 comments:

bill said...

it's like a scene from a sci-fi film. is this area totally depopulated? is it a high-crime area, or simply a no-crime area due to the lack of people?

Mike Miller said...

If you look around the Broadway area, Wilson St., Playter, Person, you name it, it's so bad that I'm not sure if they can ever be saved.

Michele's long been a proponent of landbanking. That maybe be our only workable plan for these streets.

b said...

bill,
Crime is a sensitive topic. No doubt some people who have emotional attachment to that neighborhood would object to it being called "high-crime". But let's put it this way: unless I'm imagining things, there seems to be a relatively high number of Buffalo News small articles about crimes in that general area quite frequently - muggings, break-ins, drive-bys, etc. Would be great if Buffalo had a chicagocrimes-dot-org type of online tool to look at such data.

Mike,
Just out of curiousity, what's the concept behind landbanking in that context? I've heard the term but never knew what it would really entail.
i.e.,
Would it mean to demoslish all houses on certain blocks? Who would make final decisions to do this and then who would own the land thereafter - maybe the city govt?
If a few people still lived on such a block, how would they legally be forced away? Have U.S. cities similar to Buffalo done this sort of landbanking yet for these sorts of declining residential areas, or is this more of a hypothetical concept at this point?

Wikipedia entry for "land banking" includes the following... wonder how much of that is relevant? Guessing reference to Trump is about something pretty different than how it would be for Buffalo, at least in terms of time horizon.

Land Banking is the practice of purchasing land with the intent to hold on to it until such a time as it is highly profitable to sell it on to others for substantially more than was initially paid. Land is becoming increasingly popular as an investment due to the benefit of it being a tangible asset as opposed to Shares or Bonds. This type of investment has gained such popularity it is now possible to land bank worldwide and there are several firms set up to offer opportunities to do so.
Land banking in the US
The idea of using land as an investment came to the forefront in the US. Several self made millionaires started by purchasing large tracts in California where the development opportunities had not yet arisen. People such as Bob Hope and Donald Trump are infamous for purchasing large areas that made them a considerable return when sold.

fix buffalo said...

b,

crime, I would argue, goes under reported in many neighborhoods. Buffalo's EV, is considered a "green zone" of sorts and crimes that happen there never make the newspaper.

Click into the interview with Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams. He discusses resource allocation issues and cutting city services to certain areas of the city.

It's all politically very sensitive . Yet doing nothing as the BB admin is doing, is making the situation worse.

Mike Miller said...

B, on the streets that I mentioned, the houses are going vacant, being stripped and set afire faster than you'd ever believe possible. They're going on the demo list at an alarming rate.

Landbanking would reserve the land for redevelopment, not necessarily requiring forced demolitions. That's not necessary right now, unfortunately.

bill said...

thanks for the link to the BFA site. that poor area seems like a war zone. has this happened lately, or has it been building for the last twenty-five years?

Mike Miller said...

It really started about 15 years ago, with the continual vandalism of the Central Terminal. Then it went on to Transfiguration Church. The terminal, being the largest, most visible building on the east side, was a horrible testament to the decline of the area. It demoralized the neighborhood, crimes and gangs moved in and housing values dropped to below $10K. The remaining houses were flipped on the internet for $4-5K (even if they were already burned out). People were taking losses and getting out as soon as they could. Vacant houses were immediately vandalized, stripped and some, burned.

Jefferson said...

These houses and buildings aren't simply dying a slow death by the forces of nature. They are being murdered.

gabe said...

Land-banking should be carried out through attrition and targeted demolitions. But people should never be forced from their homes, rather they could offered incentives to relocate to a more intact neighborhood.

David is right, this is a hugely sensitive issue within these neighborhoods, but something had to budge. The CDCs shouldn't be allowed to keep randomly plopping newbuild crap with no rhyme or reason. We're a much smaller city now and, logically we should have a smaller area to provide services too.

I think removing the most hopeless areas would help concentrate rebirth efforts within smaller target areas of the East Side. We certainly can't save everything, but we can rebuilt a few parts. I think "Triage" would be the right word to describe this process of selective repair.

Michele J said...

In my opinion..nothing has been done too strategically in the past in regards to the East Side so we have to realize the mistakes made ( the 33 thru Humboldt,the redlining of the East Side etc...)and now force the cities hand to work in a strategic manner..Some areas can not be saved and some are teetering on the brink..We need to act now so we can stop the spread of this cancer.

MJ said...

When Bill says "this area" it kind of makes me want to chuckle over how insane it all is. This is at least indicative of a 1/4->1/3 of the city (east of Main St). The whole east side has either gone through this, is in the process, or on the extreme verge of looking like this as it works its way into Cheektowaga.

Right now the city needs to make it ridiculuous for somebody not to want to invest there, instead of the current state of somebody being ridiculuos to invest there. $1 transfers, 10yr tax abatements, etc regardless of income levels.

I'm just always amazed how this has been "ok" in every administration. We'll throw up some cheap uninspired vinyl new builds which will be forclosed on in 5 years and worth half thier construction costs after and act like we've accomplished something while we pose with our gold shovels.

Right now this land is worth zero on the tax roles. Soon the whole east side will be worth zero on the tax roles. Might as well have it be worth zero on the tax roles doe a decade with people living and reinvesting there. Hell, I'd even grant lifetime tax abatement for single family home owners who purchase and rehab the first year up to a certain number as long as they continue to live there.

Something big needs to be done. The worst that can happen is that we end up with nothing, which is where we are going now while ignoring it.

Who are the legislators here? What bills are they introducing to curb this? What has the mayor proposed?