By Jeffery Smith jsmith@the-leader.com

CORNING - A pair of ailing, substandard Northside homes have been sold to the Steuben County Land Bank to be rehabilitated and then sold to a homebuyer to promote individual home ownership.

The properties at 161 Kingsbury Ave., and 232 Onondaga St., were initially set to be included in the recent Steuben County tax foreclosure due to two years of delinquent taxes, but were instead sold to the Land Bank.

“We greatly appreciate Steuben County leading the effort to renovate these houses through the Land Bank,” said City Manager Mark Ryckman, a member of the Land Bank Board of Directors.

Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler said when rehabilitation work at the Northside homes will begin or the amount of time residents who recently lost ownership of the homes can stay at the locations is currently unknown.

Corning Mayor Rich Negri said rehabilitating these two properties fits right in with the city’s housing strategy to upgrade housing stock in the city.

“So thank you to Steuben County and the Land Bank,” Negri said.

Councilman Jim Nelson, R-7, who represents the neighborhood of the 161 Kingsbury Ave., home, agrees.

“I think it’s fantastic and something long overdue to bring (these homes) up and keep the neighborhood nice,” Nelson said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

The Land Bank, created by the Steuben County Legislature in 2016, received $500,000 in state funding to rehabilitate or demolish vacant and abandoned properties.

The nonprofit corporation, is geared to reverse the trend of declining property values and further deterioration of Steuben County’s housing and commercial stock by stabilizing neighborhoods, encouraging private investment, and improving the quality of life for Steuben County residents.

Arbor Housing & Development will upgrade the homes acquired by the Land Bank or in some cases demolition the properties.

Wheeler said the Steuben County Legislature will formally approve the sale of the two Corning properties and a home in Bath and Hornell to the Land Bank at 10 a.m. Monday at the Steuben County Office Building.

Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan said the future of the 23 Wells Street home, recently acquired by the Land Bank, is currently unknown.

“We’re not sure at this point what will be done with the Wells Street home,” Hogan said. “It’s a pretty solid property. The only problem is the former owner has a lot of cats in the house and that can cause problems, especially if the cats are not properly taken care of and looked after. So we’ll see if it can be cleaned up and rehabbed and sold to a homebuyer.”

Bath Mayor Bill von Hagn said he is also not sure if the 137 E. Washington St., home, recently purchased by the Land Bank, will be rehabilitated or demolished.

“I can’t say at this point if the cost of the renovations falls within or below the amount to be spent on the property,” von Hagn said. “If it does great. If not we’ll have to reevaluate and be prudent with the money."