I’ve always wanted to visit Buffalo.

Friends say I shouldn’t bother.

I can see why they say that.

From a story in today’s Times:

Vacant Houses, Scourge of a Beaten-Down Buffalo – By Ken Belson, The New York Times

Gangs, squatters and teenagers [in Buffalo] have been burning down hundreds of houses a year, straining the meager resources of the Police and Fire Departments. Some of the properties have been turned into crack dens and places to stash guns and drugs. A few have been booby-trapped or had their floors ripped out by scavengers looking for pipes they can sell to metal dealers.

The burned-out and boarded-up buildings, which are visible on nearly every street in east Buffalo, have deterred even the most pioneering investors from moving in.

So Mayor Byron W. Brown recently unveiled a $100 million five-year plan to rip down 5,000 houses, about half of all the vacant houses in the city, which ranks second only to St. Louis in the percentage of vacant properties per capita nationwide.


ranks second only to St. Louis in the percentage of vacant properties per capita nationwide

That’s terrible.

What’s wrong with Buffalo?

According to census figures released last month, nearly 30 percent of Buffalo’s residents live in poverty, a rate surpassed only by Detroit among the nation’s largest cities. As a result, large numbers of homes continue to be abandoned, and there is not enough money around to build new ones in their place.

That’s really terrible.

Buffalo is not the only city considering such drastic measures.

Philadelphia’s efforts led to a mini-renaissance in recent years; Detroit has had more mixed results. Youngstown, Ohio, is debating whether to bulldoze entire neighborhoods and turn them into parks. (Youngstown being the basis for the Bruce Springsteen song, of course.)

(In a similar way, some people proposed that a “new” New Orleans be rebuilt as a much smaller, safer city, but of course, any calls for reconfiguring that city were shouted down in a chorus of political correctness.)

Of course, tearing buildings down is the “easy” part.

Deciding what to put in their place, is hard.

Getting the new buildings built, is harder still.

Boston has done a pretty good job of tearing down old, abandoned buildings.

It has done a fair job of replacing the empty lots that remain with new housing and community centers.

Yet, too many empty lots remain. You can see what I mean if you ever take a drive through parts of Dorchester and Roxbury.

Still, seeing what Buffalo’s going through, you have to be pretty thankful that we’ve got it this good.

Meanwhile, a local developer has proposed this 23-story residential tower (with a library, community room, wine cellar, multi-media room, and doorman).

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Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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