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Troubled Towne Gardens housing-retail complex getting new owner

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen says he hopes the next owner of the Towne Gardens housing complex and shopping plaza, located on Clinton Street and bordered by William Street and Jefferson Avenue, will be a better landlord than the individual being forced out in a foreclosure.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The large housing complex with its 360 units has been a problem for years, as has been the attached plaza. Living conditions in the apartments have been fought in Housing Court.

Most recently, the owner apparently has not been paying his mortgage. Fannie Mae, the federal-based mortgage agency, says it is owed somewhere north of $10 million. Owner Moshe Florans has not been turning over rents since the beginning of this year.

Pridgen says he does not object to the mortgage holder siezing the property and then selling it to a new private owner.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"As long as the rents remain affordable, as HUD would make them have to maintain those subsidized units," Pridgen says. "So, at the end of the day, I think that almost anything would be better for the residents and for the neighborhood than the present owners, that still are not taking care of this facility nor the mall or plaza behind it."

Pridgen says Towne Gardens is an essential housing opportunity for the working poor and for those who are unemployed but scraping by, although there are some market-rate rents there, too. He says there are some truly awful units there, despite a federal inspection that found otherwise.

"A lot of people there did not let inspectors into some of the worst apartments, so they actually passed inspection in these horrible housing units," Pridgen says. "So at this point, I would hope that the federal government would have not only a birdseye view, but be right there on the ground to ensure that whoever becomes the new owners of Towne Gardens, that they are maintained to a better standard."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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