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Utica Urban Renewal Agency officials say sales of vacant properties are up

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y.(WKTV) It's been a month since newly elected Utica Mayor Robert Palmieiri appointed a new team to lead the city's Urban Renewal Agency, and it appears the move is already paying dividends.

The team consists of Marketing Director Gene Allen and Sales Coordinator Andy Brindisi. On Sunday, Allen appeared on News Channel Two Weekend's Newstalk segment.

Allen says sales of rundown properties, which the city owns due to foreclosures, are up this past month, "surprisingly enough, we're selling quite a few houses. In the past month, we've sold roughly 20 properties, including the Bossert's site which was a big one."

The city can only take over a property once the property owner gets behind three full years of property taxes, and then the foreclosure process takes an average of 18 months after that, so by the time the city gets the property it's basically been vacant for about four and a half years.

Allen says that usually means the property is in rough shape, "before we get a hold of them, people have gone through, a lot of times, have striped all the copper, things along that nature, broken out windows, it's kind of a sad state of affairs when you get to these properties.

Allen says on average, the cost of renovating such homes, to get them up to codes, and in living condition, is about twenty thousand dollars, and that cost he says, is a big reason why it is so difficult to get these properties sold.

Another property the city has been trying to market for years is the seven acre former Bossert manufacturing site along the North/South Arterial. Allen credits Mayor Palmieri with getting an offer in on the property.

The buyer is Syracuse based United Auto Supply, which Allen says is planning to build an Auto Supply Store on the site, and rent out other sections of the vast land to a construction type store and a convenience store. Allen says closing on the property is expected to take place in the next month and that's good news for the city, "this company has done these in similar locations in the past. They have a good track record of once they're in there, of maintaining the property and I think it is a boon for the city to get them here."

Allen says some of the homes the city now has acquired due to foreclosures are in decent shape, like the one at 1002 Churchill Avenue in West Utica. He says the original price the city set for the property was $8,000, but so many people were interested in it, a bidding war earlier this month brought the price up to $17,500.

Among the 20 or so properties sold in the past month include three adjacent vacant homes on Winner Avenue. Allen says one buyer bought all three, "the owner had a couple of other properties on an adjacent street, and his goal is to stabilize that whole area, so he bought all three properties. In fact he said, it's all three, or none."

If you are interested in seeing what properties the city is currently looking to sell, you can see a list on the city's website just click on the Urban Renewal tab at cityofutica.com.

For pictures of properties, Allen says, you can head to the Urban Renewal Facebook Page.

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