How one new home can revitalize a neighborhood

Mar 15, 2017

For nearly seven years, a block on Allegany Avenue in Kenmore has been centered on a burned-out shell of a house. However, on Tuesday, the Buffalo Erie Niagara County Land Improvement Corporation cut the ribbon on a complete re-build of the house and prepares to put it on the market.

Visitors to a high school graduation party remember watching helplessly as a neighbor's house was gutted in the blaze. The damage was still visible at the ribbon-cutting, as each restored room displayed a giant before and after photographs.

Neighbor Hope Harle-Mould attended and gave her sign of approval on the $111,000 rehab to 22 Allegany Avenue. Money from the sale will go into a land bank fund for more rehabs.

"This is a really stable neighborhood and right next to all the stores here, really easy on the bus line or restaurants and everything," Harle-Mould said. "But people who wanted to move for different reasons couldn't usually sell, especially when you are right next to or across the street from this zombie house. I feel very bad for them."

Mayor Patrick Mang said it was one of three houses in the densely populated village that caused problems. He said people are anxious to move into a walkable community with nearby stores, but also are not anxious to deal with zombie houses.

"Nobody wants to live next door to a vacant, burned out house," Mang said.

Kenmore is working with the land bank on the other two zombie houses. BENLIC Executive Director Jocelyn Gordon said it was a long time coming, but the neighborhood is much better now.

"It does make a huge difference, every block we work on because we tend to pick those properties such as this block," Gordon said. "Look at the houses on this block. It's a wonderful street. This property has been a problem for 7 years. We had neighbors across the street come over just prior to the press conference and she said, 'I've had to open my blinds and look at this property every day for 7 years.'"