vacant properties

Gino Geruntino/WRVO file photo

Over the years, as businesses in Utica left or closed, the city has faced a problem of what to do with the empty buildings. In recent years, Utica has ramped up its efforts to sell these vacant commercial properties in an attempt to generate sales and property tax revenues for the city.

Since 2012, the city has sold at least eight vacant commercial properties to private developers, including a former Superfund site that was dormant for more than a decade. The buildings, which must be empty for at least three years before the city can foreclose on them, are scattered throughout Utica. Fourteen properties are currently being marketed by the city's Urban Renewal Agency.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

After a year on the job, the Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank has issued its first progress report, which notes that several steps have been taken to start reclaiming Syracuse neighborhoods from dilapidated and decaying homes.

First the numbers. The Syracuse Land Bank has acquired 165 properties across Syracuse over the past year. Twelve have been sold or have sales pending; 21 are currently for sale; 26 are slated for demolition;  and 57 are vacant lots.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank has torn down its first house. Crews demolished a vacant home just off South Salina Street on Syracuse’s Southside Monday, after the land bank determined it was deteriorated beyond repair.

It’s the first of 25 properties slated for demolition this year, by the organization that buys dilapidated properties and either rehabs them or tears them down.  The idea is to deal with properties that are a drag on neighborhoods and magnets for crime.

Jinjian Liang / via Flickr

  New York's attorney general wants to reduce the number of vacant properties in the state's cities by creating more land banks and a registry to track foreclosed on homes.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has proposed legislation that will double the number of land banks in the state to 20. The first ten land banks, including one in Syracuse, began working over the past two years. Their mission is to seize vacant and severely tax delinquent properties and put them back on the tax rolls.

Vacant properties are a drain on municipalities to maintain, Schneiderman said.

The Syracuse land bank became a landlord this week as part of its work to put more city land on the tax rolls.

The land bank, known formally as the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, closed on the sale of 17 properties that are vacant or owners were significantly behind on their property taxes.

A new state law amends New York's land bank legislation introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration in 2011. Land banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties that are delinquent on their taxes. The bill removes previous barriers that restricted counties and municipalities from purchasing properties without judicial authorization, allowing them to bid at public sales. Republican state Sen. Mark Grisanti sponsored the legislation.

The city of Syracuse is cracking down on property owners who don't pay taxes. But, as lawmakers prepare to vote on whether the city should seize over 100 tax delinquent properties, there are some concerns about those properties that aren't vacant.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Declining populations and shuttered factories have left rustbelt cities - like Buffalo or Rochester - with numerous vacant and abandoned properties. They can be old homes, former warehouses, or out-of-favor shopping centers.

Municipalities face the challenge of how to get those properties back into productive use.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse officials are accusing the ownership of three vacant gas stations at a southern entrance to the city of blocking the properties' sale in the name of competition.

On Monday, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner brought in Sen. Charles Schumer to call on Sunoco to allow the sale and redevelopment of the stations near the intersection of Seneca Turnpike and East Brighton Ave.

One of the properties has been vacant more than 15 years.

Entering the city and driving past the rundown properties sets "a bad tone" for the area, Schumer said.