GLOVERSVILLE – The Common Council Tuesday night unanimously approved purchasing 10 foreclosed properties for a total of $145,404 from Fulton County in what Mayor Vince DeSantis called a “watershed” moment in the city’s battle against blighted properties.
“These are properties that were foreclosed on in 2020,” DeSantis said. “Out of all of the properties that were foreclosed on [in Gloversville] there were only 22 of them, and only 13 of them were houses, the others were vacant lots or commercial properties. So, we offered to make the county whole for all of the taxes and penalties on these properties over the past three years. The city will now benefit from having control over these properties.”
The city will now seek to sell the 10 properties through a process controlled by the city’s newly formed Property Dispensation Committee chaired by Councilman-at-Large William Rowback Jr. The other members of the committee are 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, city Building Inspector David Fox, City Assessor Joni Dennie and city grant writer Nick Zabowski.
DeSantis said a minimum bid price will be established for each of the 10 properties, “probably the amount that we paid for the property,” and the sale of the properties will include deeds with restrictive covenants that require the new owners to bring the properties up to code within a certain amount of time. If the new owners don’t meet the conditions, the property will revert to the city’s ownership.
“They won’t be just looking at the high bidder, the committee will be looking to sell to who would do the best for the city,” he said.
These are the properties and purchase prices approved by the council Tuesday night, which were also approved by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday:
• 202 South Kingsboro Ave. — $12,748
• 86 East State St. — $20,865
• 18 Pearl St. — $24,950
• 18 Franklin St. — $8,001
• 7 Grandoe Lane — $16,542
• 5-7 Nassau St. — $10,160
• 88 Wells St. — $7,558
• 37 East Eighth Ave. — $24,324
• 66 East State St. — $21,252
• 48 Spring St. — $0
DeSantis said part of the city’s deal with the county includes that the city will turn over any money it can get for selling 48 Spring St. to the county because that property contains a brick building that probably needs to be demolished at substantial cost to whoever purchases it.
“This is something that we’ve never done before, and I think it will be successful this year, and if it is successful and carries on over a few years we will see a marked change in the value and the quality of our neighborhoods,” DeSantis said. “This is an enormous step forward for us.”
Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski praised the plan to rehabilitate the properties under the city’s control.
“I think this is a huge leap forward for our neighborhoods, and I’d also like to thank you mayor for instigating this plan,” Siarkowski said. “I think this is going to be very, very beneficial to the city.”
DeSantis for years has advocated for the city and county to find a way to keep salvageable residential properties in Gloversville from being bought by real estate speculators at the county’s foreclosure auctions.
Gloversville gave up its foreclosure power to the county around the turn of the century, which DeSantis said has been a pretty good deal for the city, because the county makes both the city and the Gloversville Enlarged School District whole for any unpaid taxes, but the downside has been the city has had no control over the fate of its foreclosed properties.
“After the county takes title, historically, they’ve been auctioned off to the highest bidder no matter who that bidder is,” DeSantis said. “The highest bidder could live far away, has never seen Gloversville, and can get those properties sometimes for a little as $2,000. A lot of times the properties are disinvested and the owner lets them go for another three years, and during that time properties deteriorate and they devalue whole neighborhoods, and it only takes one or two in a neighborhood to begin that process.”
Gloversville’s decision to create a Property Dispensation Committee closely mirrors the city of Amsterdam’s decision to do the same thing under Mayor Michael Cinquanti. Grant writer Nick Zabowski serves on both cities’ committees. Both cities also share the same city attorney, Anthony “Tony” Casale.
Amsterdam recently adopted a vacant property law that also closely mirrors Gloversville’s vacant property law passed in 2016. DeSantis Tuesday night said the city’s vacant property law, which requires fines to be paid for properties that are left vacant, has resulted in a 60 percent reduction in vacant properties in Gloversville since 2016.