Author Topic: Jersey City creates list of worst abandoned properties, publishes owners' names  (Read 14398 times)

Offline MÇA

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Jersey City mayor tackles vacant building blight
« Reply #18 on: 01-16-2015, 11:17am »
Jersey City mayor tackles vacant building blight
By Patrick McGovern | The Jersey Journal
on January 15, 2015 at 8:18 PM

For some Jersey City residents living near the corner of Clerk Street and Carteret Avenue, the news couldn’t come soon enough.

Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) announced on Tuesday an “aggressive” program to rehabilitate 23 of the city’s most problematic vacant buildings. One such structure sits at 163 Clerk St.

“It’s nasty,” said one neighborhood resident who declined to be named. “You can hear the rats sometimes when you walk by it. It definitely needs to be torn down.”

The JCRA is seeking builders to rehabilitate abandoned properties throughout the city "to improve public safety, the quality of life for residents and stabilize neighborhoods,'' according to a press release from the city.

The hulking structure on Clerk Street has been vacant for some time, according to residents, and appears to be a sore subject for neighbors.

“It's been there for a while, just sitting there,” said one man. “You can see how ugly it is.”

[...]

The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) being issued by the JCRA seeks qualified entities to rehabilitate the 23 worst vacant buildings initially, with the ability to then address the other approximately 900 vacant buildings that are listed on the city’s Vacant Building Registry, according to the press release.

The RFQ seeks to establish the financial status of the potential redevelopers, as well as what types of rehabilitation projects they have completed in the past. The JCRA hopes to qualify several entities, which would be eligible to rehabilitate multiple properties over the course of two years.

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Offline MÇA

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Vacant buildings remain a blight to Jersey City neighborhoods
« Reply #17 on: 06-27-2014, 11:47am »
Vacant buildings remain a blight to Jersey City neighborhoods
By Ken Thorbourne/The Jersey Journal
on June 27, 2014 at 7:45 AM, updated June 27, 2014 at 9:30 AM

For the past five years, Claremont Avenue resident Yvonne White has endured living next door to what she calls a living hell.

White, who was raised in the Jersey City two-family home she now shares with relatives, has seen it all at the vacant house next door at 111 Claremont Ave. — people doing drugs on the front steps, squatters coming and going, even people having sex in the narrow alley that separates her home from the vacant two-family.

Once, White said, she saw a woman defecating outside the vacant house. White said she fetched a roll of toilet paper from inside her home and politely asked the woman to clean up after herself.

"It's been a nightmare living next door to this," White said. "People do drugs, drinking. I even put lye over there on the steps to get rid of the stench. ... Housing has been very cooperative. They are issuing warrants. But the homeowners said, 'we are foreclosing, we are not doing anything.'"

White added that the owners had previously fixed up the property, but had "the tenants from hell" living there.

GHOSTS LIVE THERE
Jersey City has 849 vacant buildings, "the highest concentration in low-income sections of the city," according to Darice Toon, the city's director of community development.

A slide in a PowerPoint presentation that she made to the City Council last October cuts to the heart of the matter. It reads: "Vacant properties depress values and de-stabilize communities."

Nowhere in the city is the problem of vacant and abandoned buildings more acute than in the Bergen-Lafayette and Greenville communities that hug Martin Luther King Drive.

The city defines vacant properties as buildings in which no one has resided for more than 60 days. The owners of these buildings are supposed to pay a $250 fee to register their empty houses with the city. The properties are then inspected every 30 to 45 days to make sure they are sealed and clean, city officials said.

The city also maintains an abandoned properties list, which currently contains 29 buildings, down from 56 in October 2011.

These buildings meet several criteria, including being in tax arrears. Under the state's Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, the city could take legal action to seize these properties. But the law doesn't come with any money to rehabilitate the properties and the city has mainly used the law to speed up foreclosure proceedings, according to a city official. To date, the city has not gone to court to confiscate any buildings on the APRA list.

Although city officials couldn't provide a breakdown of the vacant building list by neighborhood, it is easy to see that streets near Martin Luther King Drive — Fulton, Grant, Woodlawn, Ocean and Myrtle avenues – dominate the inventory. The Drive itself has 23 vacant properties.

The concentration of vacant houses on some of the streets is extremely high. Forrest Street, which is three blocks long and cuts across the Drive, has 12 vacant properties, according to the list. In contrast, Hutton Street in the Heights, which is twice as long as Forrest Street, has six vacant homes. Jersey Avenue in Downtown, which runs more than 20 blocks, has two properties on the list.

Of the 12 homes on the south side of Claremont Avenue between Rose and Ocean avenues, where White lives, four are vacant. However, after many years, one is currently being rehabbed.

BAD INVESTMENT
Many of Jersey City's vacant buildings are in foreclosure, while others are unsold investment properties, city officials said.

The property at 111 Claremont apparently falls into the category of an investment that went south. The owners of the property are Eileen Scroggins and Lisa Winters, New Yorkers who never lived at the house. The house has been in foreclosure for several years and JPMorgan Chase is expected to take ownership of the property by July or August, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

According to city records, Scroggins paid $340,000 to buy the property in April 2006. A year later, Winters was made co-owner of the property in a $10 transaction.

The pair, who married in 2011 after New York legalized gay marriage, made headlines in the Big Apple last year. Winters, a Bloomberg appointee who was placed in charge of the Bronx's primary lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual community center, was sentenced in April 2013 to at least two years in prison for embezzling $338,000 from the center, leaving the operation broke and forced to close.

She used the money for a variety of personal expenses, including paying $15,953 for a dog walker, $4,681 for a trip to the United Kingdom and Turks & Caicos, and up to $25,000 on a month-long trip to South Africa in 2007 with Scroggins, according to the criminal complaint.

Since January 2011, Jersey City code enforcement inspectors have issued Scroggins and Winters a slew of citations for 111 Claremont. The violations include not securing the front and rear doors, failing to remove rubbish, and leaving the front porch ceiling and front steps half destroyed.

In 2011 and 2012, the city's municipal court even issued arrest warrants for Scroggins for failing to appear in court to answer for violations. Those warrants were still open as of Wednesday, a court official said.

Reached by phone at her New York home last month, Scroggins would only say the "property was relinquished in bankruptcy a long time ago" and any questions about it should be directed to Chase Manhattan Bank.

Scoggins and Winters continue to be identified as the building's owners in city tax records and inspection reports, but a letter in the city's files indicates that responsibility for paying taxes on the property was turned over to a company contracted by JP Morgan Chase in November 2011. The bank was never cited for violations by city inspectors.

The law firm representing JPMorgan Chase did not return phone calls to comment.

Several nonprofit builders in the city, including John Restrepo of the Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corp., believe that given the vast number of vacant buildings around the Drive, the area will never realize its potential until these properties are restored and re-inhabited.

Restrepo blames investors for a number of the empty houses. They snapped up properties when the market was high and then just didn't redevelop when the market bottomed out, he said.

As a case in point, he referenced a multi-story building on Old Bergen Road. The investors purchased the property — which sits next door to a building GSECDC restored — in 2006 with the intention of turning it into a five-unit condo complex. It remains a boarded up shell.

"They (the investors) keep waiting for the market to turn around," Restrepo said. "The city could potentially condemn the site and take it from them."

AGGRESSIVE ENFORCEMENT IS KEY
Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said Mayor Steve Fulop's administration is focused on the issue.

"Living next to a vacant building can be and is a problem for the citizens of Jersey City," she said in a statement.

"Jersey City has a very aggressive Vacant Building Team. Not only does Code Enforcement monitor these properties every 30 days, the Police Department also has the vacant building inventory lists, and do patrols, keeping a watchful eye on the vacant buildings," Morrill added. "The Jersey City Fire Department also uses the vacant building inventory lists, and sends the engine companies to monitor and placard vacant buildings, which is also a very important program to ensure first responders safety."

Since the city established its vacant building registry in January 2012, 1,267 properties have been registered and 367 properties have been renewed, representing a total of half a million dollars in fees, Morrill said. More than 400 cases have closed, "representing demolition, rehab, or actively seeking rentals with building systems in place," she said.

White is eager for 111 Claremont to join the list of houses sold. Her hopes were raised recently when she spotted workers removing debris from the building.

"I just want this nightmare to end," she said.

Editor's Note:
This is the fifth of a six-day, 12-article series about Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City and the neighborhood around it. It is the result of dozens of interviews with community leaders, local residents, clergy, professors, local business owners, nonprofit builders, and city and school officials.


Online Binky

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“Abandoned and vacant buildings are not only unsightly, but they also attract criminal activity that is detrimental to the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Healy. “

Read more.


"I'm assuming this is the same Gluck Walrath who, through New Frontier PAC, was a major donor to Peter Cammarano and a recipient of Hoboken city contracts? Oh yeah, they gave Healy money too."


See?  They're right.  Those vacant buildings are attracting criminal activity already!
nikki: i can't keep up with rab and his George Clooney lifestyle of drinking wine, playing music and philanthropy

Offline fasteddie

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Why does the city need to hire a firm to confiscate tax delinquent properties? Hasn't there always been a procedure in place to do this in house?

Offline MÇA

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From the full press release:

"The administration is recommending a contract with Gluck Walrath LLP for the purpose of having them perform legal services relating to the acquisition of targeted abandoned properties that have been published as part of the City’s abandoned properties list."

I'm assuming this is the same Gluck Walrath who, through New Frontier PAC, was a major donor to Peter Cammarano and a recipient of Hoboken city contracts? Oh yeah, they gave Healy money too. (from the JJ: Burlington County PAC donated campaign funds to Peter Cammarano, Jerramiah Healy and Mike Novak)
« Last Edit: 02-13-2013, 11:35am by MCA™ »

Offline jcgov

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Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and the Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce, who last year announced a comprehensive approach to eradicating vacant and abandoned buildings in Jersey City, announced today that the City is in the process of hiring a firm to acquire the most blighted properties via eminent domain.

“Abandoned and vacant buildings are not only unsightly, but they also attract criminal activity that is detrimental to the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Healy. “We want our children to be safe and families secure, and property values to be protected. My administration and I will continue to put delinquent property owners on notice and will take whatever action necessary to remediate these eyesores and restore them to the tax rolls.”

Read more.
City of Jersey City
Office of Communications
http://www.jerseycitynj.gov/

Offline MÇA

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Jersey City Taking Aim at Vacancies
By HEATHER HADDON

JERSEY CITY, N.J.—A historic Episcopalian church left to be claimed by squatters; an abandoned house where police discovered a dead body on the front porch; a vacant brownstone overrun with weeds after its overseer was arrested on bank fraud.

As this gritty former manufacturing town tries to reinvent itself, officials have been wrestling with a stubborn phenomenon of urban blight: hundreds of abandoned buildings. About 950 of the roughly 40,000 properties in this waterfront city were classified as abandoned in a recent count, a number that city officials attribute to the housing-market collapse.

"Almost every block in this city has a vacant building on it," said Mark Redfield, assistant director for housing code enforcement in Jersey City. "It's really a horrible thing for society."

Jersey City officials fanned out across the city in March to flag vacant buildings and add them to a growing registry—part of an aggressive use of the Garden State's abandoned properties law. One of the toughest in the nation, the law allows local governments to set up abandoned property registries, require owners to join them and compel scofflaw landlords to do something with their buildings and pay their property taxes.

If property owners don't respond, the city can take them to court to acquire the properties to sell them or tear them down for redevelopment.

At least 36 other municipalities have undertaken similar efforts, but few with the zeal of Jersey City, said Diane Sterner, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, a nonprofit. Irvington, Newark, Orange and Paterson have also been assertive practitioners of the law's powers, she said.

The registries have become popular across the country as cities look for tools to clean up after the recession and the housing bust, said Alan Mallach, a Brookings Institution resident who focuses on housing. Hundreds of towns have voluntary registries, he said.

"New Jersey is only part of the picture," he said. "It's certainly a major trend."

In Jersey City, the vacancies are situated throughout the gentrifying city, from lower-income areas in the south and west to the city's tonier neighborhoods around Grove Street. Some of the worst streets have several vacant properties per block.

At least 406 properties have been officially registered and another 200 are going to court. The rest are in the process of being registered or served with warrants, Mr. Redfield said.

At least 150 vacant properties that were deteriorating are now being rehabbed, and 15 others were demolished, he said.

The city inspects the properties at least every 45 days to assess their conditions and publishes a list of them periodically in the legal notices of local newspapers and on the city's website.

New Jersey's law—the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act—was passed in 2004 during the housing boom and wasn't used much until the bubble burst in 2008, Ms. Sterner said.

Beyond Jersey City, city administrators have identified 3,330 abandoned properties in Newark, Paterson, Orange and Irvington, she said.

Under the act, a property is defined as "abandoned" if it is unoccupied for six months before inspection. It also must be a nuisance, uninhabitable or have an owner who is delinquent on property taxes.

The law gives the city the power to seize property through "spot eminent domain." Owners who don't respond to notifications from the city are at risk of having their buildings taken over by the government and the property sold.

The real-estate industry has opposed vacant property registries nationwide, arguing that they are cumbersome. Real-estate developers have also said that local governments already had a powerful tool at their disposal—placing property tax liens on buildings owned by scofflaw landlords.

"That's the best way to do it. Eventually the lien is going to be paid off," said Len Rosenberg, a New Jersey real-estate owner at West Hudson Management.

Jersey City officials argue that its registry has been effective. Mayor Jerramiah Healy said in a statement that the "aggressive approach" has helped improved Jersey City neighborhoods in the wake of the real-estate collapse.

Vacant homes depress property values, and officials said the city loses tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year due to abandoned buildings. Officials also expect to recoup some property taxes from owners who haven't paid them or through redeveloping the lots they obtain in court.

The city spends roughly $100,000 a year to maintain and secure vacant properties, according to city estimates. Further, the registry has generated $101,000 in revenue for Jersey City from owners who paid the $250 fee for being on the list, said Mr. Redfield.

Many of Jersey City's vacant buildings are in foreclosure, while others are unsold investment properties.

The Episcopalian church where homeless people slept, for example, had gone into bankruptcy. Since its appearance on the registry, the owners have cleaned up the property and installed a fence to deter future intruders, Mr. Redfield said.

The downtown brownstone is also being fixed up by its owner, who hadn't realized that her property manager had been arrested, he said.

And as for the building with the dead body, the owner still hasn't responded and the city is maintaining it. If the owner doesn't respond within 60 days of the original notice, the city can force the matter into court.

If the owner does register, city officials can better communicate with a known entity, as owners often hide behind limited liability companies, Mr. Mallach said.

Statewide, there has been no academic study on the effectiveness of the registries, and it takes a dedication of city resources to make them work, Mr. Mallach said. He called Jersey City's approach "creative."

"It's easy to pass an ordinance, but it's work to make it real," he said.

Offline MÇA

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Offline shahaggy

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JC Independent comes through with the list: link to PDF.


:rofl: 14 Fox Pl 1611 25.99 Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306
9 Wallis Ave 1616         D Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306
180 Pearsall Ave 1372    11.A Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306



dude owns 3 properties on the list and lives in 1?? 
[04:53 PM] Soshin: I don't think I've ever had fig spread Darna but I like figs and they make my sphincter sing power ballads

[12:48 PM] Bobblehead: Yo, you know I'm really happy for you and Ima let you finish, but soshin had one of the best meercat shouts of all time

[10:23 PM] skwirrlking: you submitting darna for beards eating cupcakes - mca?

[03:24 PM] Darna: [03:22 PM] jeht'aimeu: skw, you are climbing up my pole as well... 

[02:28 PM] propscene: I DPON"T MEAN I LOVE YOU DEEP INSIDE AS MUCH AS I LOVE HIM DEEP INSIDE OH GOD

[12:58 PM] nikki: i feel like i should like the opposite of whatever jehu says

Offline Soshin

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JC Independent comes through with the list: link to PDF.


:rofl: 14 Fox Pl 1611 25.99 Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306
9 Wallis Ave 1616         D Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306
180 Pearsall Ave 1372    11.A Alphonse Capone 14 Fox Place, JCNJ, 07306
"god hates you. you will all go to yuppie hell. in yuppie hell there is no starbucks or hole foods or sushi bar. in yuppie hell you will work 16 hours a day in a bodega. in yuppie hell your car will not start when the sweeper is coming down the street. in yuppie hell your doorman will terrorize you and have sex with your wife or husband...when you are at work....in the bodega. in yuppie hell you will go to the laundromat and lose your last quarter in a broken washing machine. in yuppie hell you will buy all your food and clothing at the 99 cent store. in yuppie hell there are no cell phones, you will use a pay phone. a filthy pay phone".      -   Cat_Man Dude

Offline MÇA

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JC Independent comes through with the list: link to PDF.

Offline duke_of_earl

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You can't just take someone's property, even when the owner has not been a responsible custodian.  It's called Due Process, people.

Uh oh, some constitution quoting loony escaped from a flyover state.  They aren't "taking the property", they will "use a tool in the toolkit" to address the problem.  See?   :)  That and clarifying what the word abandoned means so that it's clear that it means "properties that have owners".

duke


Offline MÇA

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I get the feeling the list hasn't been published yet, as inferred from the actual press release, dated today. (link to PDF)



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 14, 2011


Mayor Healy Announces City’s Plan to Publish Abandoned Property List

JERSEY CITY – The city’s 40 worst abandoned properties are about to be put on the public record through publication in the local newspaper in an effort by the Healy Administration to place pressure on those owners to improve their properties which are currently a blight to their neighborhood.

“We want these property owners to know that we are serious about holding them accountable,” said Mayor Healy. “And if they continue to allow their properties to be an eyesore for the community, we will utilize the means available to us to acquire and remediate those properties.”

The New Jersey Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act provides municipalities with tools to address the problems of abandoned properties in their communities.

The law defines “abandoned property” as any property that has not been legally occupied for six (6) months, and which also meets any one of the following criteria; (a) the property is in need of rehabilitation, and no rehabilitation has taken place for six (6) months; (b) construction was initiated and then discontinued prior to completion, and no construction has taken place for six (6) months; (c) the property is in property tax arrears by at least one installment; or (d) the property is determined to be a nuisance by the public officer.

“The properties being listed are the most egregious in the City and are the site of numerous complaints and often criminal activity and we will not tolerate this type of neglect in our city,” added Mayor Healy.

Municipal powers that can be utilized per the provisions of the state law include, but are not limited to, Accelerated Foreclosure of Tax Liens and Spot Blight.

The Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce Division of Housing Code Enforcement, in conjunction with the Division of Community Development, has allocated funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other sources to be utilized should the city need to reclaim any of the properties.

All media inquiries should be directed to Jennifer Morrill, Press Secretary to Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy at 201-547-4836 or 201-376-0699.///

Offline CeeDub

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Offline Darna

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You can't just take someone's property, even when the owner has not been a responsible custodian.  It's called Due Process, people.

Offline CeeDub

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Tsk, tsk, Duke - this is just the administration's version of "Double Secret Probation."

I learned growing up never to tell someone I was gonna hit them.  Just hit them.

Enforce the law.

Offline duke_of_earl

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This article does not compute.  If they are abandoned, then they have no owner.  Taking properties under the power of a 2004 law is not being "spurred into action".

Does anyone have the actual list?

duke

Offline MÇA

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Jersey City creates list of city's worst abandoned properties, publishes owners' names in The Jersey Journal
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011, 12:49 PM     Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 12:51 PM
Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City is getting tough with owners of 40 of the city’s worst abandoned properties.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy today announced the city is putting pressure on the property owners by adding their names to a city list of abandoned properties, and by publishing their names in The Jersey Journal. The list ran on Friday.

“We want these property owners to know that we are serious about holding them accountable,” Healy said. “And if they continue to allow their properties to be an eyesore for the community, we will utilize the means available to us to acquire and remediate those properties.”

The city hopes by publishing the names, the property owners will either clean up the properties or sell them, according to a city official.

The city was spurred to action by the New Jersey Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, which provides towns and cities with tools to address the problem of abandoned properties in their communities.

“The properties being listed are the most egregious in the City and are the site of numerous complaints and often criminal activity and we will not tolerate this type of neglect in our city,” Healy said.

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