Other fish in this sea – 247 Rhode Island

This house is a heartbreaker.  We tried to buy it before getting too mired in the bureaucracy involved in negotiating a half-completed foreclosure and deciding to go for a property with a clearer legal status.  If someone had more time to spend acquiring the property and the wherewithal to do a little house fixin’, they’d have one gorgeous home and the satisfaction of having saved it from senseless demolition.

image shamelessly yanked from Google Maps

It’s located in a neighborhood on the West Side where we’ve spent a considerable amount of time – several friends have fixed up houses on a nearby block.  It’s not in bad shape, considering over two years of vacancy.  There are gorgeous wood floors, original doors and trim, and it’s a big house (three unit, could be two.)  And!  There is a four car garage behind it.  It’s not in great shape, but think of all that useful space.

Anyway, if anyone’s interest is piqued, get in touch and we can give you all the help and useful information we picked up along the way.  I made the mistake of getting attached to this guy before the deal was ever close to certain, and would hate to see it consigned to memory, another empty hole in a thriving neighborhood…

p.s. more news on the Green Monster could be coming as early as next week, when the Common Council returns from recess.  Cross your fingers and toes!


Tax Auction in October

As per tradition, tax auction information always seems very hard to find through the City web site, or any other City source for that matter.  But I did find a listing for the auction at the Buffalo Convention Center web site.  October 29th to October 31st, folks. 

The auction is your once-a-year, every-man-for-himself, no-holds-barred, lock-up-your-pets-and-scrap-metal chance to pick up a fixer-upper with some degree of expediency.  Eventually a list will be be put out by the City, perhaps by leaving a paper copy on a park bench somewhere (or an Excel file on the City web site), and you will have a chance to do whatever research you deem wise and mostly legal.  Some properties will drop off the list at auction time by last-hour tax and utility payments; it’s all part of the game.

I am fairly sure that properties unsold at the auction are taken possession of by the City, which is a dim fate. 

So there you go, two months to go.  Association game: having the tax auction on the days leading up to Halloween makes me think of the movie The Crow.  Hmm.



Other Fish in This Sea – 557 East Utica

While we while away the days until Common Council comes back from vacation, here is an example of the many other Buffalo rehab opportunities waiting for any bold and ready folks out there.

557 East Utica

Time is tight on this one, as the house was only saved from a planned demolition by a thirty-day stay.  And that was in late July.  So an interested person should waste no time in checking out the house in person (from the outside, you would need a City approval and a  maintenance employee escort to get inside legally).  If you are interested and ready to jump in, contact David Torke of fixBuffalo blog.

The house is a lovely late nineteenth century home with plenty of interior woodwork still intact and piles of potential.  It has had a bit of a rough time at the hands of the asbestos abatement crew, but the bones are good and there is plenty to preserve and restore.  Also, two vacant lots next door if you are into gardening or just like a big yard.

Even better, there are several great neighbors on this street, including the house next door.  It is hard to overstate how important that can be when getting into a deep rehab.  Neighbors are the ones who will watch over the house while you are working on it, and good neighbors can offer you a support network during the process.  They will cheer you on your dirtiest, toughest days of hauling out debris and tearing out heinous mid-century “downdates”.  And they will be who you see on the porches next to you in the years of happy living that follow your rehab.

It has been an exciting few years for Buffalo in the old houses, fixed up department.  Here’s to hoping that this one makes it, and that one less beautiful old home goes toward filling a hole.

Good News, but More Waiting

Our purchase proposal was approved at last week’s Community Development Committee meeting, which is good news, of course.  I attended the meeting myself to make sure we did not get tabled or pushed back again, something I wonder if one of us should have done at that Common Council meeting when we were sent to this committee.  At the time there did not seem to be a reason to take a day off from work to  attend, as it seemed like a perfunctory stamp of approval was all we needed.  We had already been through so many checks and sign-offs at that point, we figured the Council would motion a quick yes and be done with it.  My best guess as to why we were not approved is because none of the Council members were personally familiar with our proposal, especially the councilmember for the house’s district.  We had made several attempts throughout this process to make our faces known to the higher powers, but it seems the front door is no door at all.

As I saw at the Community Development Committee meeting, it is standard practice for the Council to put off as many as half of the items on their agenda, and they do so very quickly.  The meeting itself was not long at all.  But by being there and making sure to talk to the committee president and the Councilman of the district our house is in, a face was attached to a name and the vote was quick and easy.  A few handshakes, a few brief conversations, a quick vote and thumbs up.

I stayed for the rest of the meeting just to observe.  The meeting was sparsely attended; the folks in the audience are usually there about an item on the agenda for that meeting.  Five or six parishioners from St. Ann’s (beautiful RC church on the East Side that has had major structural problems as well as differences with the diocese), an couple of architects presenting a final plan for a sports complex, and a handful more.  There were many items on the agenda relating to the Peace Bridge and surrounding neighborhood, particularly Busti Ave and the proposed demolitions there and ongoing concerns about air quality and health in that area.  All of those were tabled.

Anyhow, the pickle we are in is that the Common Council goes on vacation (“recess”) during August. All of August.  And even though we were approved at the Committee (composed of Council members) that the Council sent us to, we still need a procedural approval at a full Council meeting to get a closing date from the Real Estate department.  So we are stuck waiting until September to even start on closing, which will take at least a few weeks itself. When we began this process back in February, we thought we were being smart and giving ourselves the entire summer to prepare for the winter.  Turns out we would only have the fall.