OGDENSBURG — Derelict homes throughout the city are being torn down and their lots graded, seeded and prepared for possible sale.

The homes, which the city took ownership of through tax foreclosures, were sold to the Ogdensburg Land Bank for $1 plus attorney and filing fees.

In February, the Land Bank was awarded $600,000 from Enterprise Community Partners under the Community Revitalization Initiative.

Now, that money is being used to clear the lots of their buildings.

“Historically, demolition funds have been a challenge to secure for municipalities,” Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith wrote in a news release. “This is one of the reasons seeking designation as a New York State Land Bank was appealing to the local government.”

Ms. Smith also serves as the executive director of the Ogdensburg Land Bank.

Step one is to clear the lots, Ms. Smith said. Step two is to make sure the city has clear deeds on the property so they can be sold more easily.

“Step three is that the board of directors will be doing an overall assessment of all the properties to determine what properties, if any, are suitable for resale as developable lots,” Ms. Smith said.

Many of the lots are non-conforming in size, Ms. Smith said. They do not meet the minimal dimensional standards required for a parcel in most zoning districts.

“In some instances it would be to the neighborhood benefit to see the vacant lots acquired by adjacent property owners,” she said.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to help the city accomplish their redevelopment goals through this partnership.” Phil Cosmo, chairman of the Ogdensburg Land Bank said. “Land banks have proven beneficial in communities struggling with a strategy to demolish expensive and blighted properties.”

The Ogdensburg Land Bank is on track to complete the initial 10 demolitions by the end of September, Ms. Smith said.

“The intent, obviously, is to continue acquiring properties through working with the city,” Ms. Smith said. “That’s the primary means of acquiring property. It is not the only means.”

The Land Bank can accept properties through donation or purchase properties, although the Ogdensburg Land Bank will likely not be purchasing, Ms. Smith said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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