Schenectady County

Collection agency getting results

A man who was once one of the city’s most prominent landlords has been forced to give up many of his
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A man who was once one of the city’s most prominent landlords has been forced to give up many of his houses to pay off years of back taxes.

It turns out that Craig Alsdorf, who led the Schenectady Rental Property Owners Association from 1999 to 2004, was not paying taxes on some of his properties even as he lobbied the City Council to make laws favorable to landlords and criticized the city for regulating landlords too harshly.

The city was never able to make him pay up. But after it handed the responsibility to American Tax Funding, a private tax collections company, Alsdorf sold three of his rental properties to pay off tax bills and last week lost three others to foreclosure. The proceedings were one of ATF’s first major actions in Schenectady, where it has rarely had to foreclose because so many owners have been willing to pay when the private tax-collection company comes knocking.

Alsdorf tried ATF’s much-lauded payment plans, but he owed significant mortgages and more than $84,000 in back taxes on seven properties alone, according to ATF. He wound up selling many properties to pay off the debts.

“He has been fairly active in selling,” ATF Vice President Neil Harreveld said. “He sold 866 Central Parkway and paid us off in full after we started a foreclosure to get it going.”

Alsdorf had owed $25,000 on that property, Harreveld said.

He also sold 19 Close St. and 9 Sheldon St. Last week, three other properties were taken in foreclosure: 101 Prospect St., 1015-1017 2nd Ave. and 658-660 Crane St.

After the sales and the foreclosures, Alsdorf owes just $84 in back taxes on one of his rental properties. He is also now paying taxes on his remaining rental property on time, according to city tax records.

Mayor Brian U. Stratton said he was pleased that ATF had managed to turn a longtime tax-delinquent landlord into a taxpayer, something the city had never managed to do.

“The reason why working with ATF continues to be an effective tool for us is they’re somehow able to get these people to pay,” Stratton said. “They’ve got the power of a true collection company to go after the big offenders, the people who could pay their taxes and don’t.”

He said the liquidation of Alsdorf’s holdings made perfect sense, suggesting that Alsdorf simply took on more than he could afford.

Alsdorf could not be reached for comment. His many companies’ phones have been disconnected.

MANY DELINQUENCIES

But he’s not the only landlord facing ATF. The agency is about to take on many other big landlords who have not been paying their taxes for years.

City landlord Frank Popolizio has 12 properties on ATF’s most recent tax delinquency list, created at the end of the year. Robert J. Zimmer has eight properties on the list, while Andrew Wisoff has nine and Susan Garahan has eight.

City officials have been hesitant to encourage ATF to foreclose on any buildings, out of fear that a struggling homeowner would be forced out, but they’ve urged the agency to take one of Alsdorf’s last properties.

Harreveld has just one more of Alsdorf’s properties on his tax-delinquency list. That’s the historic Foster Building at 508 State St., the only building on the two-block stretch of State Street that is not open or in renovations.

Alsdorf and partner Dennis Todd haven’t paid taxes on that property in years. They now owe $23,000 to ATF and haven’t paid the first installment of this year’s city taxes, bringing their total delinquency to $24,090.

Harreveld said city officials have asked him to push forward quickly with a foreclosure on the building, which is considered prime real estate in the revitalized downtown.

“We have a lot of people who are interested in this property,” Harreveld said.

City officials and Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen have tried for years to persuade Alsdorf and Todd to sell the property or develop it, to no avail. But Harreveld’s foreclosure proceedings appear to have had an effect.

The asking price has dropped and the partners are letting Metroplex show the building to prospective buyers regularly, Gillen said. The agency has shown the property nearly every week, he said.

“I think they both are motivated to sell,” he added. “For a while they were asking for pricing that was out of the park. Now we’ve had strong interest in the property.”

He would not disclose the new asking price.

In 1999, Alsdorf has said it would cost $250,000 to renovate the building. But a water pipe burst that winter, and he said the cost of repairs and renovations would be $1.5 million. The building has been empty since.

Categories: Schenectady County

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