With a wish of “good luck” to the new owners, the board of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank sold its first house Tuesday. The buyers of the vacant home on the 200 block of South Collingwood Ave. are Shaqir and Zahidi Halimi.
The Eastwood neighborhood home was delinquent on property taxes and seized by the land bank, one of the 88 it's taken control of so far. There are more than 3,000 vacant and delinquent properties in the city.
The Halimi's came to Syracuse from Kosovo a decade ago. They plan to renovate the home - for which they paid $46,000 - for Zahidi’s parents to move closer to them.
"I think this gift for Christmas," she said. "Because we have 20 years this month for marriage and I think God gave nice gift to me. I was waiting for him [to give] nice gift to me, but God gave me this house."
Shaqir will do most of the work on the house himself, he said, which will take a few months. The house needs a new roof, which will have to wait until spring. He plans to work a lot of weekends until it's finished.
It will be easier to take care of her parents now, Zahidi said, having them just a few blocks away. They'll also be able to see them more often.
"They hear we bought the house close to us; they’re happy," she said. "They want to go see inside because they see only the outside a little bit, they not see the inside yet."
The land bank, formally known as the Great Syracuse Property Development Corp., was formed in 2012 under a new state law. It’s tasked with getting tax delinquent properties in the city back on the tax rolls.
The agency sold four other properties Tuesday. Three went to real estate firm DynaMax and one to Kevin Mahoney, brother of the Onondaga County executive.
Here are where the first five properties sold by the land bank are: