Auction Update

Late last week four heritage properties that appeared on the City's list for the annual tax foreclosure sale were profiled - links to four posts - and by 1pm today the auction results were known.
  • St. Matthew's on East Ferry was redeemed at the eleventh hour and never made it to the auction block.
  • Sacred Heart on Emslie opened at $15k, no one bid and was adjourned.
  • Ahavath Sholem Temple on Jefferson opened at $15.5K with one bidder who later defaulted for not paying a deposit. It was later reopened and after no one bid it was adjourned.
When an auction item is adjourned the property remains in the possession of the same individual or entity as it was prior to the auction. A number of veteran auction observers, seasoned local investors and neighborhood activists mentioned that they'd never seen so many properties on the City's in rem list. When asked if they'd thought it was a good idea that so many properties were 'adjourned' - when the City had the opportunity to take possession of the properties - answers were mixed. In the past the City would typically take possession of a property and either demolish or sell it.

This year it appears as though the City is simply postponing the inevitable; the demolition of 1000's of additional structures. While there were a number of residential properties, real gems, ready for renovation - an overwhelming number of these houses were actually demo candidates. The message is clear. If you own a property - run it into the ground - and default on your taxes, there's no consequence. For large parts of the City's East Side, the promise of a bulldozer coming down the street was just postponed, indefinitely.

The future of these four heritage properties - absent a responsible level of interest and investment - remains uncertain.

There were two related Buffalo News articles that appeared this morning. Church Sales spur Debate - already has a growing comment stream and mentions Transfiguration Church on Sycamore Street as the poster child of Diocesan neglect. Here's the Transfiguration Archive - a frequent subject of posting here at fixBuffalo - for additional information and amazing pictures. Brian Meyer has this story about the City's foreclosure auction.

The auction continues tomorrow.
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STEEL said...

I am really surprised that the power house did not sell. That building has a lot of potential

Hank Bromley said...

While these churches deteriorate here in Buffalo, the San Francisco-based non-profit Internet Archive (my employer, for whom I work remotely from Buffalo) has purchased a former Christian Science church that the congregation could no longer afford to maintain, and will soon be moving its offices and some other operations into the structure:

Google streetview

Lots of photos and videos at:


Becky said...

The City hasn't automatically struck to the City those without bids for many years.

There are many that hope to get an inheritance or other unwanted responsibility off their hands by not paying taxes. It comes as a rude awakening when after the auction the property, along with housing code violations, is still theirs. Even those with an apparent sale can go into default and the sale voided.

It stinks to be a neighbor to some of these properties, but many times the new owner isn't any improvement over the old owner.

And why the City has decided to only demolish those it has struck to itself is also worrisome. A bad absentee owner can just keep paying the bills on a lowered assessment (and get their income tax break somehow) and a sad wreck stands seemingly forever.

Charger said...

Wouldn't leaving the property in the hands of the current owner be a step toward holding them responsible? Our system may be too dysfunctional to actually force someone to pay for the demolition or repair of their properties, but that's our fault not the slum-owners.

The downside to an adjournment is that the taxes remain on the property and the cleansing effect of the foreclosure is lost. But on the other hand, the City is so inept at selling the property it owns that maybe there'd be no net loss