A mix of grants and low-interest bank loans will pay to relocate the houses.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Greater New Castle Community Development Corporation estimates it can move and save four historical homes from demolition for about $600,000.
The nonprofit agency plans to submit bids Monday to the New Castle School District for 318 and 322 East St. and 214 and 220 Lincoln Ave.
The homes are among 14 that city school officials had planned to raze to make way for a new high school.
Randall Hake, a Howland, Ohio, contractor, and Angelo Papa, a New Castle attorney, approached school board members last spring and asked if they could buy and move the homes to new locations before demolition.
They planned to create a cul-de-sac business district on Grant Street with six of the larger homes owned by the school. School board members agreed, but later rejected the bids when Hake and Papa could not prove they had enough financing.
Taking over: However, the Greater New Castle Development Corporation liked the cul-de-sac business district idea and does have enough financing, said John DiMuccio, city business administrator and member of the CDC board of directors.
The new nonprofit agency hired Hake to study which homes should be moved and how to pay for it.
Hake estimates it will cost $590,000 to move four of the larger homes, dig new basements and hook up water and sewage lines.
The CDC will pay for the work with $250,000 from the city's Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund and a low-interest, tax-free loan from an area bank, DiMuccio said.
Money from the city's Renaissance Grant Program will be used to buy property on Grant Street and Community Development Block Grant money will pay for demolition of the Grant Street buildings and resurfacing streets, he said.
DiMuccio noted that the CDC is still negotiating with the 10 Grant Street property owners and none have signed sales agreements.
The CDC will recoup some of its expenses by selling the historical houses once they are moved and applying for tax credits that the state gives to people who restore historical buildings.
Those tax credits would then be sold to an area bank, since the CDC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, DiMuccio said.
Development money: Any money the CDC makes from selling the homes will go back to the organization for other projects intended to spur economic development in the city, DiMuccio said.
DiMuccio noted that if the CDC sells a home to another nonprofit agency with tax-exempt status, it would require that agency to pay a yearly fee in lieu of taxes.
DiMuccio said the plans to move and restore the four historical homes to Grant Street would accent downtown revitalization work, which started earlier this month.
The city is resurfacing streets and sidewalks, adding decorative street lights and more parking as part of a private/public partnership with developers who are restoring the first theater opened by the Warner brothers, Youngstown residents turned Hollywood movie moguls, and an accompanying Hollywood theme mall.
"We want to entice professionals to downtown. This is an opportunity to improve an area and save what we believe are commercially valuable properties," DiMuccio said of the CDC plans.