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EXCLUSIVE: News10NBC investigation changes city foreclosure auction

November 15, 2018 07:26 PM

After News10NBC exposed the practice by the city and county of selling homes that were slated to be demolished, they both promised to change.

On Thursday, News10NBC was there to see it happen. 

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"I've got 12 here. Do I have 12.5?" asked the auctioneer. 

More than a thousand people showed up at the Riverside Convention Center looking for a deal. They bid to pay the back taxes on foreclosed homes in the city and if they win, they get the whole property. 

Last year at the city and county auction, homes that were marked for demolition were getting sold. 

It happened to Jimmy Briggs.

He bought a tax foreclosed home on Hudson Avenue at the city auction but had no idea it was on the demolition list.

When Briggs got the deed and started to work on the house, he says he was told to stop by a city inspector because the house was going to be torn down. 

This is what News10NBC exposed. 

"I really want to thank you for your reporting on this," Mayor Lovely Warren told News10NBC after a series of our reports aired. 

And because of our reporting, the mayor ordered a change. 

This year, the list of homes marked for demolition said "yes." And the instruction was clear and repeated. We saw that happen when 54 Clairmount Street came up for auction. 

"This is a single-family but are being advised the city intends to demolish the structure," said Paul Scuderi, director of real estate for the City of Rochester. "There is fire damage. " 

News10NBC went to 54 Clairmount Street.

It's $9,325.26 behind on taxes. Neighbors say it's caught on fire three times. 

The auctioneer, Paul Scuderi, repeated the demolition order. 

"Be advised, if you bid on the structure you are effectively bidding on a vacant lot," he said. "The city intends to demolish the structure. City makes the opening bid of $9,325.26. [Inaudible] bid $9,400? No bids. Sold to the city." 

"Telling people this is fire damage and the city is pursuing demolition may have been enough to discourage people from bidding," said Gary Kirkmire, director of building and zoning for the city.  

Our investigation started when we were contacted last year by Will Turner.

He bought a tax foreclosed home on Watkin Terrace at the Monroe County's tax foreclosure auction. He had no idea it was marked for demolition. 

Turner was in the crowd of bidders on Thursday. 

"I'm very glad to see that the city is willing to give full disclosure to the properties they're selling," Turner said. "And there's no deception and that makes me feel good."

The city demolished the home Turner purchased in the spring. He's still battling the county to get his money back.  

News10NBC can tell you that five of the homes marked for demolition were bought by the city's Land Bank. It's funded by the New York State Attorney General's Office. The city will tear those homes down. 

It now owns 54 Clairmount Street and it's going to demolish that home too. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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