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Buyer of Land Bank home on Franklin St. plans renovations

February 25, 2016
By Nicole Gugino ( , Westfield Republican

The Chautauqua County Land Bank could take its tagline from any renovation TV show: "buying the worst home in the best neighborhood," and "restoring homes to their former glory," but "some are total teardowns."

At a recent meeting, the land bank's board of directors discussed the buying and selling side of its operations.

The property at 45 Franklin St. in Westfield was one property the land bank bought with the intention of selling it to a responsible owner that would renovate the historic home inside and out.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Pictured is the historic home at 45 Franklin Street in Westfield. The Chautauqua County Land Bank recently sold the property to a contractor who will preserve its historic character.

"At our last meeting we received three proposals for 45 Franklin Street. That property is kind of in a historic area in Westfield with shake shingle siding and an older structure. We didn't feel great about the proposals we received, so we decided to keep it on the market," land bank Executive Director Mark Geise explained.

That patience paid off with another proposal coming in that pleased the acquisition/disposition committee.

"Since then, we received another proposal from Frank Paternosh. The acquisition/disposition committee reviewed the proposal - it's going to be owner occupied, he's going to be fixing it up for his daughter. They have done several properties in Westfield. He's done similar things for his children and he's been a contractor for many years. He came very highly recommended and he's going to purchase it at our asking price of $7,200 and he's going to put a little over $17,000 into it in materials only because he's going to be doing all the work himself," Geise said.

He explained Paternosh has asked for 18 to 24 months to complete the project that includes exterior work replacing the shake shingles, painting and cleaning up the landscaping as well as inside work renovating the kitchen and bathroom and replacing the flooring, plumbing and electrical and heat services.

"If you recall, the other contractors were all talking about siding the house and we didn't feel comfortable with that because it is historic and has shake shingles and so he is going to fix the shake shingles, paint it and make it look nice. ... The acquisition/disposition committee met earlier and felt this was a good proposal and we're recommending that we go with Mr. Paternosh," Geise added.

Westfield, which has two historic districts, has benefited from this lank bank program.

"This will be about half a dozen properties in Westfield so far that have gone through the acquisition/disposition process, so there have been some improvements in Westfield," Board Chair Peter Lombardi noted.

The board approved the proposal and moved on to matters of buying other houses for further flipping efforts.

At a previous meeting, the board gave Geise more freedom to bid on bank-owned properties up to $32,000 without prior board approval.

This freedom allowed Geise to scoop up two bank-owned properties at auction in Jamestown - one on Windsor Street and one on Vega Street.

The bank, FannieMae, played hardball with the price of the home at 642 Windsor St., but ended up accepting a bid for $35,000.

"It's in Jamestown's historic Windsor district and it's been on market for a couple years. It's languishing; it's beautiful," Geise commented.

After the purchase price and $2,000 to fix the driveway, the land bank will spend $37,000 on the property, which meant the previous resolution needed to be amended. This was approved.

Geise noted these properties are purchased with grant funds from the Office of the Attorney General, of which it has "a couple hundred thousand dollars left we need to spend before the end of the year."

On Vega Street, Geise was the only bidder and he was able to scoop up the house for $8,700.

"It makes me feel good doing it this way, giving you some freedom because there's an example right off the bat of one we might have missed had we waited for you to come back to the board and ask for permission. I'm glad it's already working out," board member Scott Butler said to Geise.

Geise attended another auction in Dunkirk for a property at 22 St. Hedwigs Ave., but found the property was going to a good owner.

"We went and looked at that and it was a great property and we thought this one would be a good one for the land bank. ... Two other people showed up at the auction, so before we even started we asked them 'Who are you? What are you going to do with it? How much are you going to spend?' And we felt really good about both people and we felt, as a land bank, we shouldn't be competing with the private sector; if there's somebody responsible, going to the auction, going to do the right thing, then we should back off and that's exactly what we did. We found out what they were going to do with it, what they were going to spend and we put in an offer to be the second bidder, so if the first one falls through it would come to us," he explained.

Geise had a list of properties in Fredonia, Silver Creek, Mayville, Gerry, Jamestown, Panama, Busti and Dewittville coming up for auction in February and March that he planned to evaluate and possibly purchase at auction to further the land bank's mission of strategically acquiring properties to help encourage reinvestment as well as to protect and stabilize neighborhoods at risk.

The members also spoke about the uncertainty of funding for the land bank in the coming budget year.

In addition, the land bank currently has offices with the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, which is moving to a different building. Geise was not sure where the office would be located after the CCIDA's move.

The board of directors will meet again on March 9 in Jamestown.



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