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HOUSING AGENCY LOOKS INTO INVESTING

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is looking for investment opportunities in the housing market.

Purchases would be strictly an investment and would not be operated as public housing, Sharon West, authority executive director, said Friday.

"We believe taxpayers would benefit with the Housing Authority taking a more entrepreneurial position and becoming less dependent on public funds," she said.

The Housing Authority does not own any investment property but it is not unusual for housing authorities elsewhere to do so, she said.

She confirmed there were discussions with the prior owner of Hertel Homes, a 158-unit apartment complex on Hertel Avenue, but said those talks have broken off in the wake of opposition from the community.

West said the authority has "decided not to conduct any further negotiations for the sale of the property at this time."

That leaves the door open for talks in the future and that concerns North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr.

He said the Housing Authority already operates three public housing complexes in the district and he is leery of it purchasing any additional property, even if it would not be for public housing.

He has called a community meeting for 7 p.m. today in the St. Florian's Parish Center, 567 Hertel, "to make sure it doesn't happen."

The city administration also would oppose the purchase, according to Vincent J. LoVallo, chief of staff to Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.

"It is the feeling of this community and this administration that we don't need any more government housing units," LoVallo said.

West said the last talks about purchasing Hertel Homes involved Tower Apartments, which has since sold the complex to Kissling Interests.

Daniel Kissling, president of the family-owned firm, said it purchased Hertel Homes several months ago and he was not aware of any discussions with the authority. "We buy property to keep it. We have no intention of selling," he said.

Golombek and LoVallo both said they think the authority would do better to concentrate its efforts on improving the condition of its Jasper Parrish Homes, across the street from Hertel Homes.

West said the authority is proposing a community planning study in consultation with Golombek that would include Jasper Parrish and the surrounding community.

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