Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 13, 2013

Proposals sought for site of failed condo project

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The City of Lockport is seeking proposals for the development of seven-plus acres at the city’s east edge where a condominium project was abandoned several years ago.

A Request For Proposals was issued Friday for development of 501, 503, 505 and 507 Park Lane Circle, where the Victorian Village condominium project was started in 2006 and abandoned a year or so later after the developer ran out of money.

The city is hoping to sell the “R3” or multi-family zoned property to a developer for residential development.

According to the Request For Proposals, the site consists of four separate lots, consisting of 7.37 acres, with a combined assessed value of $199,400. Water, sewer, electric and gas hookups are in place.

Lot 501 contains a four-unit apartment house that’s presently uninhabitable because of water in the basement and mold throughout the structure.

The structure is the first and only one of 20 proposed condo buildings that Lockport Condominium Development LLC was able to raise. Once it was built, the developer couldn’t pay his contractors and the project collapsed.

Termination of electric service to the building may have caused a sump pump failure and the resulting basement flooding and mold infestation, according to the proposal. Prospective developers will have to plan on having the building remediated or demolished.

The city took possession of the four lots in 2012, after tax-foreclosure proceedings that spanned several years. Also last year, a federal magistrate dismissed Lockport Condominium Development’s lawsuit against the city claiming its agents, including Mayor Michael Tucker and two retired building inspectors, had violated the company’s civil rights and caused the condo project to fail.

The Request For Proposals shows the section of city zoning code that spells out the purpose and permitted uses of R3-zoned land. In addition to two- and three-family dwellings and apartment houses, permitted uses are: planned unit developments, private clubs, nursing homes, churches, rooming houses, bed-and-breakfast residences, hospitals and sanitariums and day care centers.

It’s possible, but improbable, that RFP responders will propose anything other than housing developments, according to Chuck Bell, the city’s director of planning and development.

Given the surrounding neighborhood, he said, “I think we’re all expecting if it’s not exclusively housing, it will be predominantly housing.”

Proposals are due to the city by Nov. 12. The city’s property maintenance committee, staffed by Bell, the chief building inspector, the director of engineering and public works, the city treasurer and the mayor, will review and recommend proposals to the Common Council, which is to select one or reject all of them by Dec. 12.