Flipping (off) Jesus...Part II

Just back from St. Matthew's...with this pic!

Here's all the background.
Take a moment and kindly let Scott Weinstein know what you think. He's owned St. Matthew's for less than 30 days - entered into an agreement to buy it from the City of Buffalo last October - and is now selling the Church on Ebay.

His e-mail address is - widgetfactory@msn.com

ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities


Anonymous said...

I sent this question through eBay

"These are serious questions, and any bidders should have the right to know:

Can you please list some of the improvements you have made since successfully bidding on this property at the City of Buffalo Tax Foreclosure Auction last October to justify a price higher than the $3,500 (three thousand five hundred) you paid for it? Or any other actions on your part which you may feel justify it.

Are there any outstanding housing court decisions or scheduled court dates for this property that any bidder should be made aware of?

Thank you in advance for your honesty in regards to the sale of this property."

shall see if it gets answered

Anonymous said...

When I purchased a property during the last In Rem auction in Oct, all purchasers had to sign a contract prohibiting resale at more than 120% of purchase price for 6 months from the time of the sale AND the time of the deed. (which supposedly was just filed).
Hence, yes, it's illegal according to the mayor's anti flipping group.
I can fax you a copy of my contract if you're interested. These jerks can still sell it 6 months from now, but at that point they may be responsible for fixing all the building violations - which is another part of the agreement...

Mark Williams said...

So, I emailed...

Dear Scott Weinstein,

Though, it is not my habit to interfere with a businessman's ventures
within the City of Buffalo, or elsewhere for that matter, I am
distressed at the fact that you have taken it upon yourself to purchase
the former Saint Matthews' parish without any form of renovation,
stabilization or securing of the structure.

This is one of many architecturally significant buildings throughout our
fair, albeit faltering city, that has become the victim of urban blight
and though, I applaud individuals such as yourself for stepping-up to
the proverbial plate and purchasing these forgotten gems; I would have
expected some form of owner obligation instead of flipping.

I suspect a price tag of $3500.00 is pocket change to a businessman of
your stature and I would like to suggest that you please embrace the
inner city and become a proactive landlord and consider adaptive reuse
of this building that, as you well know, could not be built for less
than a million anywhere else in this country.

Please don't compound the urban blight that has already manifested in
this region and reconsider your current course of action.



Mark Williams
Department of the Army
Public Works
O&M Division
85 First Street West
Fort Drum, NY 13602-5097

So, he responded...

Dear Mark:

It was always our intention to rehab St. Matthew's, but due to problems with the city, break-ins, theft and other economical strife, we have not been able to follow through with our original plans. Mr. Torke has chosen to ignore our conversations regarding that subject and seems to have his own agenda. We thought by bringing in an outside buyer that church would have a better chance of being redeveloped.

I moved back to Buffalo in 2000 with the hopes of making a difference here. I have since made my home and had a family here. I wish we could have done more with this property. "Flipping" was the last thing we wanted to do. We did address the former owner's neglect by cleaning up the outside of the building, cutting the lawn and bushes, etc.. It was a mess. Additionally, we spent a decent sum of money on other issues associated with the property.

We had big plans, but none were able to materialize. Rather than just let it sit there, we thought another investor would have more luck.

Buffalo is my city and I made sacrifices to move back here. My intentions were never to capitalize on the city's scars, it was to heal them.

Although, we weren't successful with this property. Hopefully, we will be on the next one.


Scott Weinstein

So, it sounds like bullshit to me...

Anonymous said...

Does sound like fluff....

That concerned for the property and area? Then resell it for your $3500, legal fees, lawn mowing time, two pieces of used plywood, etc. Even 30% on that for your "profit". Especially if you want to be part of their "luck" in making it succeed. Use a reputable realty firm or private sale. Throwing it up on eBay reeks of the worst intentions.

A volunteer group could have mowed the lawn and picked up the litter. How about patching/tarping the holes in the roof to prevent further damage? Boarding the broken windows and access points? I have outside pics from last summer showing the windows broken, missing slate tiles/roof holes, etc. All from before they won the bid. Its not new damage that they all of a sudden have to deal with.

I fail to see the intent here for something better. Especially with how they are flipping it now. If they are true buisnessman, their due process before purchasing would have revealed the dedication that would have been needed to find ANY use for/preservation of the property.

To see some suckers bidding $35K for it now on eBay. I don't know who to be more frustrated with. The city better make an example of this or at the very least make sure it is all being done by the book.

Can we write to an e-mail address for the anti-flipping task force, the council rep for this area, etc? Imagine if David didn't come across this? It would have been just another rip off flying under the radar.

Anonymous said...

The reply to my E-bay question:

"Prior to our purchase of the property, there were violations against the former owner with regards to some exterior issues. We took care of those issues when the deed went into our name. They included, lawn cutting, bushes trimming and trash removal. The $3,500 was an auction price although we felt that the value was higher and we had planned to renovate the property for use as a community center or half-way house. Those plans fell through, however. We hope to find a buyer on ebay who plans to renovate and repair this beautiful building. We, unfortunately no longer have the funds to do so. Hopefully I've answered all or your questions."

How could the place have been written up for grass but not the holes in the roof or broken windows, which are visible from Street Level? Were the violations that old?

He does have nice politician sounding replies. My question and answer do not appear on eBay, which appearently is a great place to find a developer to turn around a distressed building in a distressed neighborhood in a population bleeding city and can make that decision in the 7 day bidding window....


Anonymous said...

The Mayors AFTF is well aware of this Ebay listing..

Chicago Observer said...

With all due respect to the sad story of this lovely old church, I don't see why this buyer is being so vilified. If the city (and/or others) cared so much for the building, why did they let it go at tax auction for $3,500? The buyer took a risk, albeit with a small bid. It was more than anyone else did.

Anonymous said...

Hello, for everyone that doesn't like that this is being "flipped", why didn't you buy it? Go fuck yourselves for telling others how to spend thier money.
Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Mark Williams said...

To Chicago Observer & Anonymous,

This is not only a sad story but an all too common one that needs to be stopped. Certainly, all of us on this blog could afford the initial $3500.00 back taxes to become the “owners” of this building. However, the renovation cost would be, generally speaking, beyond the average Joes financial means.

This building was purchased for the proverbial quick-buck and the current owners had no intentions of any form of renovation.

As to you “anonymous” what a colorful and over-used adjective and how bold to sit on your fatass and proclaim that we can all go fuck ourselves…my name and address are on my blog…feel free to look me up since I stand behind my statements…asshole.

Anonymous said...

I blame the city for the mess. They let these old buildings rot unsecure and open to elements. Buffalo people accept that the mayor is a moron and his fellow city hall coworkers are assholes that are paid to do nothing. Buffalonians elected some of the schmucks. The city has far more issues than this one church that no one does anything about. This one building is the LEAST of the issues in the city that needs to be addressed. I am MORE outraged at city owned buildings across from schools are not secured ,vacant eyesores that our children see each day.. Buffalo people and their elected band of dickheads have their priorites all screwed up.Why have entire neighborhoods fled the hellhole? What can you all do to keep people in the city? wake up u bozos.

Mark Williams said...

This is not just about Saint Matthews Parish but a representation of all neglected, forgotten, downtrodden buildings that are currently going through, or have gone through, demolition by neglect.

Perhaps, just perhaps this one, singular, former church will become the catalyst for all that is wrong with the City of Buffalo’s total lack of vision or any formal plan as to how architecturally significant buildings should be secured after their initial use comes to an end.

I would like to address the Catholic Diocese on this matter but the usual response would be some carefully worded snobbery response, if any….

Anonymous said...

Entire streets abandoned vacant burned down, flight out of city, for sale signs all over, gangs,drugs, murder, a mayor without a clue or plan and everybody going beserk over a church being flipped? Its like a twilight zone episode.

Anonymous said...

The response in the community is far from "beserk", it is a cogent questioning of the terms under which the building was bought and is now being offered for sale.

It is my understanding that the buyer agreed that the building can be sold for up to $4200 within 6 months of the deed transfer from the City. After that period of time the sale price is open for the seller and buyer to decide.

As to the other issues raised by "Anonymous" (Weinstein?) vacant, delapidating buildings such as the Church in question exacerbate and sometimes harbor the problems.

Mr. Weinstein & Mr. Serotta, please secure and insure the building, and sell it to a reputable owner under the conditions you agreed to. The other business you have [ O RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE - 3047 Sheridan Drive Amherst NY 14226 716-332-4656 ] and your reputation depend on the transparent resolution of this debacle.

aaronf said...

Hey - it's no longer available for sale on ebay. The seller ended the auction early!
Anyone know what happened?

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump bought it and will be doing condos.

momoneydancents said...

WOW, what a response from the masses, no pun intended, on this old church. I was actually IN the church TODAY, 5/10/07 with the current owners. They're REAL people, not some big corporation, and not some political party. They're a couple of nice guys that thought they were doing the right thing buying the property. I'd guess it was an emotional purchase, not part of a sound business plan. Thanks to the listing on eBay, I was made aware of the church, and I actually flew in from Califonia to look at it, and SEVERAL properties that the people of Buffalo have long given up on. The church is great, but it needs work, a LOT of work, and professional work. A few helpers with paint brushes might make a difference, but it's not what this church needs. It needs real help, and most importantly, it needs a PURPOSE. What would YOU do with it? I have the money to buy it, maybe the money to fix it, but then what? What do you do with a church, if you're not in the church business? I'd love to convert it to a residence, but do I want to live in that kind of an area??? Would YOU? If so, lets ALL get together, form a group of some type, and buy the church, fix it up, buy the houses around it, fix them up, move responsible people back into the neighborhood and live happily ever after....See, complaining about the church, the city, the guys that bought it is easy. Coming up with a real solution is NOT. If you have one, please share, as I'm willing to be the first one to step forward and DO something, not just sit back and complain. I realize that talk must take place before action, but I hope you're all getting close to the end of the talking phase of this. Let's see some action Buffalo, it shouldn't take outside investers to save YOUR city.....

fixBuffalo said...


I routinely - 2x/week - tour out-side investors through parts of the City's East side...looking for responsible matches between the incredible growing number of abandoned/vacant structures and people - like yourself willing and ready to step to the plate with an action plan.

If you are still in Buffalo and have time, please get in touch - davidtorke at gmail dot com - provide me a contact number and I'll meet you tomorrow and begin the planning process...

There are many decent people who live in the neighborhood surrounding St. Matthew's. I live a short ways away, also on the City's East side - as you may already know. A very large part of the critique here is to find real solutions.

In retrospect the City should have perhaps moth-balled St. Matthew's and waited - 1) for a special auction and/or 2) do an RFP...as the market for a building like St. Matthew's may require additional time and planning to properly develop. That didn't happen.

I trust that Scott & David - after getting some last minute religion here - have properly secured the building. I'll be checking that partially boarded basement window on the Moselle Street side sometime tomorrow.

Waiting to hear from you...


Anonymous said...


Of coarse they are real people. Real people are making a real muck of things, albeit sometimes with the best of intentions.

If it was that emotional to begin with, all they had to do was sell it for thier total aquisition costs to a responsible buyer, further ensuring something good came of it. Not throw it up on Ebay to the highest bidder after mowing the lawn and the half ass boarding of one window while violating their contract with the city.

I could jump in to any of these properties for the same price and the best of intentions. If I then did nothing I would expect to be called out too, and deservingly so. Anyone looking at the church could see the monumental task of not only securing the site, but finding a new viable use for it. I know it would continue to crumble under my care no matter how much I love it and the east side as a whole. Did they made such an error in their assement that they can't even properly seal one window? Hard to believe.

An open process with the neighborhood and citizens at large would have gone a long way to gain support. David tried to open a dialogue from the start. Any effort to properly, even minimally, seal the building, especially the most critical holes in the roof would have done the same.

But to throw it up on e-bay for 10X the purchase price minimum bid or 22X "by it now" under the radar with no effort to properly seal the building does just the opposite. It creates distrust and ill will. I think it can easily be seen why.

Muslims are already doing something smiliar on the east side in trying to turn something around. Rescuing a church and trying to stabilize a neighborhood. It's sad the largest religion around here can't try to do the same with their churches and neighborhoods. Especially when they preach service to the poor. I guess a far away missionary envelope satisfies that requirement.

We know it needs a purpose. Almost all of the east side does. But allowing a property to get flipped over and over with no improvments just leaves us with the demolition costs down the road while others have profited off of us tax payers.

"...not just sit back and complain." Many of us here are proactive. Hence combating this attempted illegal flip. I bought my house with an open vacant house two doors down and one behind me. David bought and fixed one plus has enough around him to make 99% of other people run. Yet week in and week out he is on these streets doing a thankless job that the city itself should be doing.

To try to make it look like we a bunch of do nothing whiners is a gross act of misjudgement on your part. To act like we are the bad guys because someone else with no dialogue seemingly tried to turn a quick profit is wrong. Have the propery properly sealed from further decay and we would change our opinions in a hearbeat.

momoneydancents said...

Sorry MJ, maybe my words about inaction were a little too strong. Not my intention at all. I have returned to California, where I currently live, and I'm working very hard, talking to my wife, to convince her I'm not completly insane. I'm actually working on a viable busniess plan for a use of the church. One that would benefit, not just the east side, but perhaps the entire City and Nation. I don't want to get into details here, but I've been putting something together, mostly in my mind, for about 3 years, and this church may be just the begining my idea needs. I can assure all of you, that if I aquire the church I will NOT be flipping it, or for that matter even looking to sell or make ANY money off it. I'm looking at putting a ton of my personal money into it and using it as both a personal home, and a headquarters for my future endeavor. My name is Paul Feeney, my e-mail is pafeeney@yahoo.com, and my phone is (951)719-6334. How's that for being up front? I'll be contacting the current owners again shortly to see if we can work something out. They need to recoup what they have into it, and I'm sure they'd like a little something extra for the trouble they went through, and the bashing they're taking here. I pass no judgement, this is America, and I'm a real big advocate of Live & let Live, so we will either work it out, or not...If I do purchase the church I wouold love to invite ALL of you over for a tour, and round-table discussion. I would invite local community leaders in, get involved with local politicians, and most of all, get the property sucured. So if you see a 39' Travel trailer with California license plates parked next to, just knock on the door and say "hello". Wish me luck, and I'll do everything in my power to return the favor.....