Developer Claims Racketeering, Corruption in Buffalo City Hall

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 1, 2010 at 6:59 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

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September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 1, 2010 at 6:59 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) --- NRP GROUP claims that the city gave the approval to build 50 rental homes on Buffalo's East Side. But when NRP refused to contract work through the organization that city officials requested it work with, the city illegally blocked the project, according to the Claim of Notice.

Laura Gray: "Is there corruption? Is there a pay for play system in the City of Buffalo?"
Mayor Byron Brown: "Absolutely not. It's total nonsense. Absolutely ridiculous."

That's exactly what Cleveland based NRP Group is alleging in a Notice of Claim against the City of Buffalo. In the Notice of Claim, NRP names Mayor Byron Brown, the City of Buffalo, and Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency among others.

In 2007, NRP was planning to build 50 new rental homes in the Cold Springs and Masten Park areas at a cost of 12 million dollars. NRP alleges that in March of 2009, the City of Buffalo demanded that the development team find a role for Reverend Richard Stenhouse and the Jeremiah Partnership and make him "happy" in order for the project to proceed. When NRP chose another proposal over Stenhouse's, NRP claims the city blocked the project. "I didn't specify anyone. I indicated we wanted community involvement. There was no specification of any individual." Mayor Brown tells Eyewitness News.

They mayor claims the project didn't happen because he did not agree with the terms. "I didn't think it made sense to put people in houses they'd have to rent for 30 years before they could become homeowners. I don't think that's the way to build the City of Buffalo."

Mayor Brown and the City of Buffalo have until mid-July to find a resolution with NRP. NRP's attorney tells me today that he has not yet been contacted by the city. "We might very well challenge it. I know certainly our concern is protecting people of Buffalo, and doing projects that build the city of Buffalo." Mayor Brown says.

We did speak over the phone with Reverend Stenhouse. He declined to go on camera, but tells us that he did submit a proposal to NRP to provide minority contractors. He tells me the project was flawed and he agrees with the mayor that the project did not benefit the community.