City, Chautauqua County Land Bank Team Up For $3M Grant Application

City Council gave their support to the Department of Development and Chautauqua County with regard to their application for a state grant for $3 million.

The grant, which came about after New York, along with 48 other state attorney generals and the federal government obtained the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement, will fund activities including a countywide demolition program to remove dilapidated structures; the establishment of a repository and funding for bank foreclosed properties; the creation of financial assistance for developers; a side lot disposition program; marketing and website development; and administration of those programs.

“This would give us the opportunity to put about $1.5 million towards demolition for properties not only in the cities of Jamestown and Dunkirk, but in the rural areas as well,” said Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2. “This would cover not just residences, but also businesses and larger properties that we just haven’t been able to demolish. The other part of (the grant) would be money set aside for developers, money set aside to help with foreclosure, just to kind of help in the overall scheme of things for landbanking and development in Chautauqua County, specifically in Jamestown.”

On the average home in Jamestown, demolition costs could reach anywhere from $10,000-$15,000 depending on the size of the property and whether or not there is asbestos, according to Dolce. Larger buildings, including factories that are no longer utilized, could cost far more than the average home to be demolished, though, possibly reaching into six figures.

“There’s a good chance that a lot of the homes do (have asbestos),” Dolce said. “That’s where probably a good 50 percent of the cost is. If you do the math, we budget so much money a year, and it really only takes down maybe a dozen houses each year. This could double or even triple the amount of homes that we’re able to clean up. Then those sites could be remediated and a portion of that grant would go toward developers reutilizing those properties.”

The lead agency listed on the grant is the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation. The city’s approval is needed because Jamestown will be acting as an agency that will be partnering with the CCLBC. The CCLBC was created in 2012 as a means to intervene when properties are trapped in a cycle that undermines the county’s tax base.

“We’ll be partnering with them, so even though we won’t get all (of the funds), we should get a fair chunk of it,” Dolce said. “The funds will go through the county and then trickle down to the cities and towns.”

In total, the grant will have $1.5 million available for demolitions, as well as roughly $600,000 for development and $500,000 to be put towards foreclosed properties.

“As far as what we understand, we’re one of the few areas that has a land bank set up,” Dolce said. “I think we have a pretty good shot at getting this grant, and hopefully we’ll be successful. It will certainly aid in communities that have dilapidated or condemned properties and buildings. There’s no specific targeting yet of properties or buildings, though. Right now it’s just seeing if we can get the grant and then we’ll go from there.”

For more information on the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, visit www.planningchautauqua.com.