BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Mayor of Buffalo says he’s going after delinquent building owners whose properties have become unsafe or dangerous. He announced new steps Saturday that he says will expedite the process of either getting owners to fix up structures or allowing the city to take matters into its own hands.
“We cannot allow absentee or apathetic landlords to let their commercial properties fall into a state of disrepair,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
The City of Buffalo unveiled its plan Saturday to better ensure that commercial properties are structurally sound. Brown says his administration will identify unstable structures sooner, expand the authority the city needs to intervene quickly when landlords are not cooperating, and more aggressively compel compliance.
“Owners who are negligent, or in some cases, owners who believe their problem properties are like fool’s gold.”
Brown says not anymore.
He says a list is already made of 250 “Worst of the worst” properties and that inspection blitzes will begin immediately. Inspectors hit 30 of them Saturday, including a building on Guildford Street. It’s already had a partial demolition, and aerial photos revealed even worse defects inspectors can’t see from the ground.
“It’s part of what we find in many buildings across the city. Old commercial buildings who had a former use that have fallen on hard times where the owner has either fallen on harder times or doesn’t have the desire,” said Lou Petrucci, City of Buffalo Permit and Inspection Services Deputy Commissioner.
Brown will introduce new legislation to fine landlords of vacant buildings $500 day for every day they haven’t filed a statement of intent for the future of their building.
He’s also asking for an increase in the fines that housing courts can levy when owners don’t maintain their properties or honor agreements to do so. Owners will be given 27 days to comply before the city takes them to court.
“What has changed though is that the economy in buffalo is very different these days that now many of these buildings have become viable as properties that are increasing in value, and there seems to be a general interest among community members not to demolish any more old buildings, people want to save our heritage, ” Petrucci said.