Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 18, 2012

Properties going to city tax auction

By Joyce M. Miles
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Forty properties are up for grabs at the City of Lockport’s annual tax foreclosure auction next week.

On the block at the 6 p.m. Tuesday auction at City Hall are 20 single-family homes, 10 multi-family homes and 10 vacant lots, including a commercial lot on Davison Road.

The 2011 city auction grossed $304,000, from the sale of 21 properties. City Treasurer Michael White declined to guess whether this year’s gross will be under, over or on par with that, but he did identify six “lookers” on the sale list, residential properties that are most likely to generate bidding interest. They are:

• 107  Trowbridge St., a single-family ranch home with an attached garage, a shed and a pool, on a half-acre lot. Its assessed value is $70,700.

• 349 North Adam St., an old-style single-family home with a covered porch, detached garage, shed and above-ground pool. Its assessed value is $51,400.

• 37 Center St., an old-style, two-family home on a half-acre lot, assessed for $32,400.

• 131 Olcott St., a single-family Cape Cod assessed for $53,700.

• 244 Caledonia St., an old-style single-family home with covered porch and two-car carport, assessed for $53,300.

• 263 Locust St., a three-family home built in 1840, with a covered porch and a detached garage, assessed for $112,800.

At the auction, the city will announce a new housing improvement “incentive” aimed at auction property buyers who commit to converting a multi-family home back to single-family use, or owner-occupying and improving a multi-family home.

The incentive consists of a low-interest loan and a “deferred” loan, which would become a grant if the owner fulfills terms of a property improvement “work plan” hashed out between the owner and city Community Development staff, R. Charles Bell, director of planning and development, said.

The loan money originates from a federal Community Development Block Grant and can only be spent certain ways, on housing rehabilitation in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods, Bell said.

The number of properties up for sale at the city auction, 40, is tentative. Prior owners still have a few days to get court orders blocking the city from selling certain properties, according to Treasurer Michael White.

The treasurer’s office is encouraging potential bidders to inspect properties before the auction. To that end, city building inspectors have been assigned to “staff” each property for a half-hour today, Friday or Monday, so people can look over property and talk with an inspector about building code and occupancy issues.

Fourteen properties are open for inspection today. A property inspection schedule is posted in the city auction catalog, which is available in the treasurer’s office at City Hall or online at www.auctionsinternational.com/liveauctions.

The rules of bidding on and purchasing tax-foreclosed property are unchanged this year, according to White. The city reserves the right to refuse sale to anyone who owes city property tax, lost property to tax foreclosure since 1990, or owns property with outstanding code violations. Winning bidders must pay 20 percent down the night of the auction, plus a 10 percent premium to Auctions International, and must pay the balance of the bid and 2012-13 school tax on the property within 30 days.

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After several years of holding it back from auction, the city is putting 170 Genesee St. up for sale Tuesday.

The two-family house at Genesee and Waterman streets was seized from its former owner by the federal government in 2009, under drug forfeiture law, and was later turned over to the city.

The Community Development department long eyed the house as “land bank” starter — a property it could get rehabilitated, sell and use the proceeds to acquire and improve another dilapidated property — but did not win one of 10 land bank authorizations that were awarded by New York State earlier this year, Bell said.

The property is a potential candidate for Community Development’s new single-family conversion/owner-occupied rental house improvement incentive program, Bell said.

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A city-held property that’s not going to auction next week is 501 Park Lane Circle, where only one, 4-unit residential building was ever erected as part of the failed Victorian Village condominium development in 2006-07.

The seven-acre property is finally fully in the city’s possession, after tax-foreclosure proceedings that took several years to complete, because the property was subdivided into four lots.

Subdivision by the prior owner is being reversed now and the property may be advertised for sale later this year, Treasurer White said.

The combined assessed value of the lots is $199,400, according to city records.