Posted at: 06/14/2013 5:35 PM
Updated at: 06/14/2013 5:52 PM
By: Ray Levato
The city of Rochester is not only losing population, it's losing many of its old buildings as well. City Hall says the demolitions are part of an effort to rejuvenate neighborhoods. But at what cost to taxpayers?
News10NBC found out that tearing old buildings down is costing taxpayers plenty. City Council approved an accelerated capital improvement program mainly to take advantage of today's low interest rates. The city is borrowing $29 million for eleven projects. That's money the taxpayers will have to pay back with interest and $9 million of that is dedicated just for vacant house demolition.
The city demolished three commercial buildings on Portland Avenue in just the last month at a cost of $64,000. The vacant lots now add to the inventory of hundreds of vacant lots scattered around the city.
Other structures, mostly single and multi-family houses, await the wrecking ball. The city plans to demolish 250 of these vacant buildings just in 2013 alone.
News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “Is there no other way other than to tear these buildings down and leave vacant lots all over the city?”
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards said, “Well, the only buildings that are coming down are the ones that can't be saved. We are rehabbing a lot of buildings, so it's not everyone that comes down. But we need to be realistic that we have more housing than we have demand for in the city. So rehabbing a building that isn't in good shape is probably a waste of money.”
News10NBC asked people on Portland Avenue whether the city should leave the vacant buildings up or tear them down?
Dorethea Holloway said, “I think it's better to tear them down because it makes the city look better when you tear them down and put up some new things.”
Latoyia James said, “I'd rather see them torn down into vacant lots. It would make the city look better because when you go past and you see all the buildings with the broken windows, that makes our community look a mess sometimes.”
Mayor Richards says, in order to redevelop the Portland Avenue corridor, the city has to remove some of the blight and he says it shows the city is active and engaged in rehabilitating these areas.
Now if you have a property you think is dilapidated and should be demolished, the city takes property code complaints at 585-428-6520.