© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse Common Council considers more demolitions for Land Bank, south side residents want fewer

Tom Magnarelli
Katelyn Wright (left), executive director of the Syracuse Land Bank at a Syracuse Common Council committee meeting in 2015 with Vito Sciscioli (right) who is on the board of directors.

The Syracuse Common Council is debating how it should or should not restrict the $1.5 million in the city’s current budget for the Syracuse Land Bank. The number of buildings the Syracuse Lank Bank should be required to demolish is being called into question.

The Syracuse Land Bank acquires tax-delinquent properties with the goal of getting them back on the tax rolls. They can resell a property as is, renovate it or demolish it if needed. Louise Poindexter lives on the southwest side of Syracuse and she wants to see homes around her rehabilitated rather than torn down.

“I want some neighbors around me; I’m older now, in case I need help,” Poindexter said.

Poindexter is among south side residents concerned that more renovations are happening in other neighborhoods.

“You go down some of our streets, and it will be one house sitting on that whole block," Poindexter said. "That’s ridiculous. Every house on there can’t be in that bad of shape.”

Katelyn Wright, the director of the Land Bank said almost $5 million in funding from the state attorney general’s office had to be used on properties involved in the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

"Those have been targeted in more transitional neighborhoods from a market perspective," Wright said.

More renovations happened in other neighborhoods because there were more mortgage foreclosures.  

“But regardless of where those 40 homes have been done, we’ve sold 300 so far, and those renovations have been happening all over the city,” Wright said.

The Syracuse mayor’s administration wants half of the city’s funding restricted to demolitions. With some Land Bank properties not selling but instead deteriorating, Syracuse Common Councilor Nader Maroun questioned if all of the funding this year should be restricted to demolitions. Wright said that would prevent them from doing more renovations and maintenance. Plus, she said she already wants to do more than the 60 demolitions that would be required.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.