BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Homeowners on West Northrup Place in Buffalo’s University Heights got so fed up with a “zombie home” in the middle of their block, they invited Call 4 Action to take a look on Tuesday, and the same day a City of Buffalo “cut and clean” crew mowed down the 3’ tall weeds, ripped out the overgrown shrubs, and removed a truckload of garbage from the yard.
Mickey Vertino, president of the University Heights Collaborative was impressed, “It’s amazing, it looks great, I really appreciate the work the City of Buffalo did in cleaning this up. In fact our University Heights Collaborative board had sent a letter of thank you.”
Surrounded by neatly trimmed yards and well maintained homes the house at 31 West Northrup Place had stood out like a sore thumb: neighbors said the house hasn’t been lived in for at least three years, the owner went to prison, and is now living elsewhere.
But when the city crew finished up, they also left a note for the missing owner, stapled to the outside of the house–remove your valuable items in 5 days, due to “imminent demolition”.
Vertino was surprised and shocked by that sharp turn of events, especially since the house seems to be in very good shape “It looks worse on the outside than it is on the inside. I checked the foundation, I got in there, it is sound, it is level–it is structurally sound.”
While a number of passersby have shown an interest in buying the property, the biggest stumbling block may be the back taxes and fines owed by the previous owner. Officials have indicated there are about $200,000 in liens attached to the property that would have to be paid off before a new owner could get a clean title.
Vertino still believes the house can be saved, and should be saved, “We do have private people that are interested in this property. Houses are selling for $150,000 in this neighborhood. Why knock it down? Fix it up.”
On the bright side, city officials said the 5-day notice was more to make sure the previous owner has removed all of his belongings, than it was a demolition notice.
They also pointed out, the property has a date in City Housing Court next month, and believe there could be ways of cutting into the massive back taxes, so someone can buy the property.