A Nassau attorney is begging Town of Smithtown officials to hold off calls to demolish two abandoned Kings Parks homes, so he can resell and make up his family's investment.
Attorney Jeffery K. Brown asked Smithtown town board to hold off putting out bids for a contractor to demolish Hightower homes as he has made improvements to the property to increase its safety and has developers interested in purchasing the land.
"The feedback I am getting is that the houses are a project that can be salvaged and do no need to be demolished," Brown said.
He staked ownership to the Hightower Homes in January. Brown said his family invested $50,000 with developer Fredric Powell in the property, but were unaware the homes were uncompleted and taxes unpaid.
Since gaining a controlling share on the property on Dec. 11, Brown said he's fixed the porches of the homes to prevent collapse, brought the rodent problem under control and removed all mold visible to the eye. Security fences with locks have been installed around both premises to keep out trespassers.
"I am committed to doing the right thing to work with a developer with a good reputation or sell to a developer to get families in these houses," Brown said.
He said more than 20 prospective purchasers toured the properties during the third week of January, and there are more appointments to show the property this week. Yet, Brown fears Hightower homes' reputation could scare off potential buyers.
"I hope I'm not going through an exercise in futility as the impression I'm getting from contractors in the area is this is going to be a big undertaking in light of the stigma of Hightowers and Powell," he said.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio expressed concern what the town's liability might be if someone is injured during these tours.
"If the town has said this building is unsafe and something occurs in the next 2-3 weeks, what liability do we have?," Vecchio asked.
John Zollo, Smithtown's town attorney, said the town has taken appropriate actions under law and can't be held responsible.
The town board has requested Building Director John Bongino to conduct an on-site inspection of both homes to assess their condition and make a report before their next meeting on Feb. 28.