Syracuse land bank to send first foreclosure notices

Nov 14, 2012

An urban development project is taking its first steps to address more than 3,900 tax delinquent properties in the city of Syracuse, as part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of neglected properties and to add to the property tax rolls.

On Monday, Nov. 19, the city will send foreclosure notices to the property owners of 200 vacant homes, empty lots, and residences in selected areas of the city.

"The city of Syracuse has not engaged in a formal foreclosure process for collecting delinquent property taxes in over a decade, so this is going to come as somewhat of a surprise and a shock to some people," said Dan Barnaba, treasurer of the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, the newly formed non-profit land bank.

But, he added, the city has tried to warn homeowners ahead of time. Letters about the new policy were mailed to the owners of all the nearly 4,000 seizable properties at the beginning of the month.

The land bank is organized by Syracuse's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which has yet to determine how the 200 properties that will receive notices will be chosen. Land use planner Katelyn Wright said the office expects to have a list of addresses by the end of the week, after meeting with community groups.

During Tuesday's meeting with board members of the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, Wright explained that after receiving notice of foreclosure, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability predicts that a fewer than half of property owners will pay up.

For the remaining properties, the foreclosure process will likely take six months. In May, the Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote on whether to transfer the foreclosed properties to the land bank, to act as an interim landlord as potential buyers are found.

This is the first wave of foreclosure notices that the office will send. A second round is expected to go out in February, and a third in May.

Syracuse is one of five communities in the state of New York that have been approved to form land banks.