Blight removal and Land Bank

There were five Erie County Land Bank projects recently reviewed at a Corry City Council planning session and four were approved for demolition, while one was voted for re-evaluation after a local property owner presented a request for a special exception.

Jeff Myers, of Erie, is a concert pianist who purchased property on South Second Street and was intending to purchase nearby property on Second Street, 503 S. Second St., when the Erie County Land Bank stepped in before a tax sale could occur. 

The properties approved for demolition are 425 E. Pleasant St., 29 and 31 W. Smith St., which is a duplex, and 22 E. Irving St.

The exception given was for 503 S. Second St. to be re-evaluated for potential rehabilitation projects. 

The solitary vote against a re-evaluation was Councilman Bill Roche, who said he believes the land bank should be used to shape the region. 

The vote does not ensure that Myers would acquire the property, but does give the land bank  the instruction that the city would rather have the property considered for rehabilitation rather than demolition, which is the recommendation of the land bank. 

The land bank made that recommendation due to evaluations showing it would take about $30,550 to bring it up to code. Myers said he is prepared to spend that amount over the next two years.

Myers said he owns the property adjacent to 503 and is interested in the parcel to join with his property to create something akin to a small Chautauqua Institution.

"I'm a concert pianist, I'm currently with the Chautauqua Institution,” Myers said. "I don't know if you're familiar with Chautauqua, but they have practice studios."

Myers went on to describe how he would like to model his current property of 2.3 acres off of the practice studios by putting sheds on the property and make something similar to a practice village with a piano in each shed.

The house he would like to make into a secondary home for him and his family and use it as a performance space. 

The vote for re-evaluation does not ensure that Myers would be the one to ultimately get the property, but it does give him a chance to work with the land bank and the city toward that end.

In order to achieve his plan once the property is acquired, Myers would have to apply for a variance and the design would need to be reviewed for zoning, as it is currently residential.

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