Receivership

I recently learned that one of the city’s truly fantastic Lower West Side mansions had been transferred into receivership by the City Housing Court.  It is a building that I have been following for years because it is a magnificent and literally unique building showing signs of inept or delinquent ownership.  The shingle style house, located at 306 Hudson in the Fargo neighborhood is unique because instead of the typical cedar shingles covering its walls it is clad in slate shingles.  I am not sure if the slate is original but it its quite interesting and I have never seen another house clad like this anywhere.  Hearing that this building was in receivership and that its tenants had been evicted sent a shiver down my spine.  The city cannot afford to lose this wonderful and irreplaceable treasure.  
I was not sure what receivership actually was but the prospect of this house sitting vacant cannot be good so I did a  little asking around about. The City Court did not respond to my queries.  City Hall would not comment directly but suggested I talk to one of the receivers.  I did end up getting  a lot of great information form several neighbors and the Matt Urban Center.  Matt is one of the non profit corporations that is often appointed as a receiver in these cases.  Their web site states that they currently have 80 housing units under management. 
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Here is how it works.  Receivership is a court action which is directed against repeat housing court offenders.  These building owners typically have several court orders for repair of code violations over a long period of time issued against their properties.  They often own multiple properties which receive constant complaints from neighbors for the condition of the buildings and for the disruptions caused by the bad tenants that they tend to attract.  The court issues a directive that the buildings be placed in the hands of a temporary manager (receiver).  The receiver will be given the right to collect rent and the responsibility to make the court ordered repairs.  They are not given ownership so they cannot sell the property.  The property owner is still responsible for paying taxes, utilities, mortgages and other bills.  They cannot collect rent to do this.  The receiver can also evict and search for new tenants. They receive a 5% commission for their work.  The receivership ends when repairs are completed and all other warrants and penalties are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the court. 
In a perfect world the repairs are completed, the building is filled with good rent paying tenants, and the owner learns a lesson and operates the buildings in a competent productive manner. The houses are in court, however, because the world of the inner city is far from perfect.  Bad tenants, bad owners, and old buildings are a perfect storm of destruction waged against Buffalo’s architectural heritage. In many of these cases the buildings have become un-rentable for any multitude of reasons. Without rent repairs cannot be made and management fees cannot be paid.  Often, the owners will walk away or stop paying utilities and the buildings eventually become abandoned property to ultimately be taken over by the city.  Vacant buildings are in danger of being stripped of their pipes, fixtures, and wiring making them uninhabitable and expensive to repair. These situations are important to neighborhoods because one bad building can seed the destruction of an entire block in poor neighborhoods.
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Receivership is often the last stop on a slippery slope to demolition.  That is what makes me very worried about 306 Hudson.  This house does have a thread of a chance for a pretty good future, however.  It is in a neighborhood with a core of dedicated neighborhood groups in a part of the city seeing steady and even dramatic increases in real estate value. The slate house and several others recently placed in receivership are owned by an alegedly notorious west side slum lord.  These other properties may not have much of a chance at a bright future. Many of them are typical west side properties of the type that have been abused and remodeled to death over the decades.  They all could be great assets to the community with competent ownership and some sympathetic improvements. But that is a lot to hope for in a poor inner city neighborhood. 
The blue building pictured here at 288 Bird Avenue is a stand out example from this group of properties in receivership.   Unlike many west side properties it still has much of its wonderful detailing. Look at those great third floor windows! It is only a few blocks from Buffalo State College in a neighborhood with great potential that is still suffering from decline and poverty. It could be an anchor of improvement on this corner in the right hands. 
Unfortunately receivership is often no more than a stop gap.  If the city had a comprehensive plan it would have a next step in place for these properties.  The two corners pictured here could be the productive building blocks in an amazing city if used properly to rebuild these neighborhoods.  The thought of more plastic houses instead of these two makes me feel sick to my stomach.
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About the author  ⁄ david steele

67 comments
PixandRo
PixandRo

I'm new to this site but I just wanted to put in my two cents about Gail Pirincci. She owns a property next to mine under her LLC - Beaville West. I have seen her once or twice since she bought the property in 2009. She hasn't done a single thing with it and it sits vacant right now falling apart with a former worker of her's squatting in it with no gas, water or electric going around telling people he paid her $20,000 for it. She has been in housing court multiple times for this property and still it sits that way. I'm beyond frustrated with her at this point and it's nice to see that others can understand my frustration. She is a SLUMLORD to the highest degree. And yes she does live in a large house outside of Rochester because her husband is a physician. I've done my research...

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Just drove by tonight, on a beautiful snowy February night to take a peek at the house. On the lots to the left of the Hudson St. side of the house, two new townhouses are under construction.

I'm more concerned about the two boarded up houses with two empty lots between them at the NW corner of Hudson and Prospect.

That corner is about to have four empty lots on it. Such a shame on a street with some of the most beautiful 19th century residential architecture in the city. Prospect St. I'm referring to.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Couldn't be happier to hear of this. I've heard about the problems with this house and landlord since before moving to Buffalo. It's disturbing that it takes so long and so much superhuman effort on the part of solid neighbors and neighborhood organizations to get these steps taken. If this became a more streamlined and dependable process, there are many other situations where it could be used -- everyone and every neighborhood has a story. It's high time for slumlords to clean up their acts, or get out of the business -- voluntarily, or through court action.

Sam
Sam

What the hell is Bing Street View?

LouisTully
LouisTully

That's fair. Time will tell. Like I said, I wouldn't think the neighbors around this house would allow it. But, I don't know them personally so who knows.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I can tell you that the bad reputation of the tenants and owner of this place has spread all the way to the West Village. I looked at a house to buy on Hudson this summer and I was told by a few people that this place was bringing the whole neighborhood down.

I agree the order to vacate is a positive thing if the tenants are that bad. However it also leaves some concern to the ultimate fate of the property. It sounds as if the owner has a reputation of renting to scumbags so will she find new decent tenants or new scumbags?

charger
charger

I checked this claim with someone at Heart of City and they report that whoever talked to Louis Tully was misinformed. HoC has no interest in acquiring and knocking down the building.

STEEL
STEEL

I don't recommend doing that

LouisTully
LouisTully

Can you add some exclamation points, too? Seinfeld? Anybody?

STEEL
STEEL

Humbly accepted. I added 3 for you to bring it up to 7.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Your comment may be right. There are currently still occupants, though. Like someone pointed out previously, according to the City Order some occupants were allowed to remain. A nearby resident told me today that a couple tenants received permission from the City to remain.

TIBUFF
TIBUFF

Reading this made me think of back to the future 2 where Marty thinks he lives in a great neighborhood in the future but it actually was a wealthy neighborhood thay has become a ghetto. I always imagine what the original owners of these old manchines would think if they jumped in a time machine and saw how their house today.

grad94
grad94

just a humble suggestion to steel: consider the occasional paragraph break. it reads like you're trying to tell the whole story -really fast!- in one breath.

Tom
Tom

Only a few of the units were occupied, many of them were vacant.

STEEL
STEEL

Is there a reason you are picking a fight? Who said the house was going to be demolished?

The Woo
The Woo

Clearly this is not journalism with all the typos and all... The "blogger" writes that evictions sent shivers down his/her spine. The community responds that the owner only rents to criminals/ druggies/ prostitutes. Thus I look at this eviction action as a solution- not part of the problem. I commend this Judge for thinking outside of the box. You are right Old First Ward- I bet it's some uppity neighbors just moved in nearby and want to push out the renters so their property values can go up. Also, if you look closely at the eviction order, only a few units are on the list. That leads me to believe the house is still occupied, so why then is the house on its way to demolition? What is the problem? All I see are solutions. And now if this owner/ slumlord looses her job over this blog, the repairs definitely won't get done! Great thinking people. Genius.

LouisTully
LouisTully

"I wouldn't worry of an ill fate - demolition, further neglect"

Guess I could be wrong on that. Person I just spoke to said Heart of the City - NFP doing Cynthia Gardens next door - would like to acquire this house and knock it down.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Yeah, what you said. If the neighbors had anything to do with this then it's because it's their right to be concerned about their neighborhood and their neighbors. Like I said above, tenants or squatters or whoever it was residing there have been caught breaking in to nearby houses, selling drugs, creating disturbances, etc.

brownteeth
brownteeth

Like I said before, the order to vacate may be due to the tenants themselves and the lack of proper management and screening process in place. Is this a multi-unit apartment or a rooming house? If the neighbors do have a grudge and brought this to the attention of housing court then I imagine there are some serious violations because in our neighborhood it's nearly impossible to get rid of slum-lord rooming house owners even with police reports, witnesses, etc. of criminal activity. Those rooming houses in my 'hood look decent outside too but they're brick like this one, and the problems really lie within both code wise and tenant wise.

16thStreet
16thStreet

Keep that useless "G" word out of this.

The reason behind this is that house has been a place of drugs/prostitution/crime for many years. Local residents got fed up with it and are doing something about it.

Keep an eye out for 123 Chenango and 97 Chenango as well. Very similar slum lord, Gail Pirincci, who lives in a real nice big house in Clarence; has been renting to drug dealers (Huge meth lab bust in 2010) and a “Barber Shop”.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

From the picture I'm looking at of 306 Hudson, I don't see any serious code violations with that house beyond cosmetic cleaning and minor repair. The roof appears to be in good condition, and interesting note is that the back portion of the house has a flat roof. The chimney looks solid and flashed with a support rod intact, the windows appear intact and window trim looks maintained and recently painted, the porch columns look freshly painted and structurally sound, the iron porch railings are in place, the lower wrap around cornice may need some repair and appears to have been recently painted. New gutters and downspouts would probably improve drainage and appearance. Basement windows need replacing and the foundation looks to be crumbling. However most homes in that area are constructed with layered stone foundations with old sewer connections.

Can I speculate here and wonder if the Plymouth neighborhood group has a grudge against this home, specifically the owner even more specifically that it is renter occupied. How can you call this house neglected, EXCEPT if the tenants are considered to be seedy and undesirable by the other homeowners on the block? That is a legitimate concern for homeowners. Although the gas line shows three meters connected with multiple taps available, the Fall 2011 Google photo show 10 totes on the side indicating the presence of multiple apartments and tenants. I'm sure that with other homes on the block being renovated they want to be sure that gentrification is complete with that corner location.

STEEL
STEEL

Oh, and this is not journalism at all. It is just a blog.

STEEL
STEEL

You may be technically right. Neighborhood boundaries can be tough to pin down. While this building may not be on the grounds of the former Fargo Estate it is much closer to Fargo Ave than it is to Kleinhans Music Hall. The Kleinhans Neighborhood was not even recognized as such until the local block club started calling itself the Kleinhans Community Organization or something like that. This whole area is a mixture of Allentown, Kleinhans, and Fargo and used to just be called the Lower West Side which conjurers fear of bad neighborhood to many.

STEEL
STEEL

I would consider it to be a mansion. It has almost 8000 sf and was clearly built with some money. It currently holds 9 apartments and looks like it may have been expanded at one time. Though it was originally a single family house it probably had full time quarters for servants. It probably has been a multiple unit since at least the 40s maybe earlier. The current owner purchased it in 2005 for $25,000. It pays $2252 in real estate taxes.

I have not thrown the current owner under the bus. I have not even mentioned who the owner is. The house is in receivership because of a court order which means there must be some kind of serious problem. I did say the building looks to be in decent shape but has shown signs of inept or delinquent ownership. This is my opinion based on my observations. The court order seems to bare out my observations. I noted that the owner is an alleged notorious west side slum lord. This allegation is again backed up by the court order as well as comments by multiple neighbors and by comments here. If you have some information to share not covered by this story please pass it along via BRO. We want to be informative and as fare as possible.

STEEL
STEEL

My sources say that all of this owner's properties have been put in receivership. I will double check though. Thanks for the heads up.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Don't worry the guy lives in Chicago, it's not his fault.

Up and coming
Up and coming

A mansion is a very large dwelling house. U.S. realtors define a mansion as a dwelling of over 7,000 square feet. A traditional European mansion was defined as a house which contained a ballroom and tens of bedrooms. Today, however, there is no formal definition beyond being a large and well-appointed house.

LWS Resident
LWS Resident

266 and 306 Hudson are both in housing court, receivership, and have orders to vacate.

LWS Resident
LWS Resident

Cathy George has been a huge blight to Hudson Street. She also owns 266 Hudson. She fills the properties with criminals. She can't maintain these properties in a way that treats her tenants and neighbors with respect. She should sell these properties to someone who can.

brownteeth
brownteeth

The house itself may not be the problem as much as the tenants that are causing greater issues for the whole neighborhood. We've dealt with the exact same issues in the West Village and thankfully my excellent neighbors were able to come together and fight slumlords like her. The house falling apart is a result of renting to scumbags perpetuated by her lack of maintenance.

The Woo
The Woo

Who wrote and researched this article? I live on Bird and this house is not in receivership. I just called the courts and they just confirmed 288 Bird Ave is NOT in receivership. What kind of couch potato cockamamie journalism is this? And what is the point of the article?

Allentwnguy
Allentwnguy

You have my curiosity... what constitutes a mansion? I agree with you but I am curious. My house is large. 3,500 sqft on two floors, 1500 in the attic and 1500 in the basement. Some have called it a mansion but I correct them that it is just a very nice big old house.

Greenca
Greenca

The house and neighborhood deserve much better than what's been allowed to happen to the house.

Buffaloian
Buffaloian

Copy of this article and everyone's responses was just emailed to Buffalo State's president.

Buffaloian
Buffaloian

Copy of this article and everyone's responses was just emailed to Buffalo State's president.

JMc44113
JMc44113

Sorry - but this is NOT a mansion. Nice house yes. Good architectural character yes. Only 10 or 15 years ago though, people were not really investing much in this neighborhood, so considering, it does look decent on the outside. I'd like to see proof of the inside before "throwing her under the bus." Seems like some bad non-investigative reporting by B.R.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I kind of agree but she is a State employee. What if she were a city employee? Would it be a conflict of interest if the city is spending tax dollar money on housing court, legal work, etc. on her properties at the same time she is receiving a paycheck from them? I realize that the state and local governments aren't really connected per se but it is still pretty crappy that she is able to to this while being a government employee.

Up and coming
Up and coming

The store's def a hole, but I was able to buy 4 huggies for a dollar there this summer. Also, if I lived across the street I could def see it as being a big convenience.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I agree, especially on really old slate, it will certainly shatter and break.

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

She's not homeless. I have it on good authority that she's living above what used to be the old RPM on Forest. In fact, she's got Doobie Dave's old room. True story.

LouisTully
LouisTully

"the city finally taking issue"

I'm betting it came about as a result of the work of neighbors, not anything the City would be doing on their own... even it's their job to do it on their own.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Why? Would you want your employer to know about your investments or outside-of-work engagements? If a couple shmoes on Buffalo Rising know what's going on, I'm sure someone at Buff State has a sense.

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Buffalo State should be made aware of Catherine's unsavory practices and record.

burbsarenotbuffalo
burbsarenotbuffalo

Catherine George is scum. Last I knew she worked for Buff State, and drove around harassing her tenants in a Cadillac SUV. Her and her family of deadbeats sit around, collect rent and only repair houses when something SERIOUS happens (for instance when the basement at 266 Hudson flooded with human waste and they pumped it into the street.. for over a week!)

I am so glad to see the city finally taking issue with the way she treats her properties and her tenants. She has been in and out of housing court for years. 288 Bird is (or was) her primary residence and I'm hoping that since that is also in receivership, that she is living in a homeless shelter or in the back seat of her cadillac. such a piece of sh*t she is.

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