Port Chester Officials Look To Tackle Village Blight

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Port Chester officials are looking to address neighborhoods in the village that may be in need of renovation. Photo Credit: File photo

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Port Chester officials are hoping to address neighborhoods that have fallen into disrepair and encourage redevelopment, possibly by conducting a blight study.

The issues of code enforcement and overcrowding have been major topics of discussion at public meetings over the past year. There have been house fires that have revealed code violations and multiple families living in two- or three-family homes, prompting concern from residents about safety. The schools have also expressed concern about rising student enrollment and overcrowding in the classroom.

Village Trustees Dan Brakewood and Sam Terenzi have recommended that the village undertake a blight study and team up with developers who might be willing to invest and renovate some of the village's more distressed neighborhoods. Brakewood said that there are several neighborhoods of two- and three-family housing that are in disrepair .

"Individuals can't, with our current zones and with our current configuration, really invest in those neighborhoods with confidence," Brakewood said. "So what you're getting is predominantly absentee landlords who are investing and making money off of slumlord conditions."

Brakewood said that by conducting a blight strategy, the village could identify the areas most in need of fixing up. Officials could then put out a request for information from developers for strategies on how these neighborhoods can be turned around.

"This area of town is generating a lot of kids in the schools, and a lot of other adverse affects, but the assessments are so low, they're not generating the income taxes in order to pay for it and to offset it. So we have to change that equation."

Village Manager Christ Steers said that a blight study might cost around $60,000. "I think a blight study probably puts us in a better position to have some real data to move forward on whatever direction we choose to go. The RFI is probably something that would come a little later, based on that data perhaps, or maybe it's something that we could do at the same time."

Terenzi has also suggested exploring tax increment financing to bring in developers. Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a method where, if a developer comes in and rebuilds a property and raises its assessed value, the taxes on that property would increase incrementally over a period of several years. 

The Board of Trustees will discuss the issue further at their January 28 meeting.

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