NEW CASTLE Council seeks funds to move four houses

State officials also must OK the project before it starts.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City council will look at how to finance the move of four historical homes to create a new commercial district.
Council is expected to discuss paying for the project at 7:30 tonight during its regular caucus meeting.
The homes were slated for demolition by the New Castle Area School District to make room for a new city high school. School officials ultimately agreed to sell them to anyone who could move the houses to new locations.
The Greater New Castle Community Development Corp., a nonprofit city agency dedicated to economic development, bid $1 each for 318 and 322 East St. and 214 and 220 Lincoln Ave.
The plan: Under the city's plan, the four historical homes from East Street and Lincoln Avenue will be moved to Grant Street to become a cul-de-sac business district.
City officials say they can move the homes, dig new basements and hook up water and sewage lines for $590,000. After the homes are moved, CDC officials plan to sell them to businesses.
The money to move the houses will come from a mix of grants and loans, including a $250,000 loan-grant from the city's Enterprise Zone fund and up to $150,000 in city renaissance grant money.
However, city council must first approve the funding by passing a resolution.
John DiMuccio, city administrator, said the city is also working on getting permission from the state to use Community Development Block Grant money to demolish the existing Grant Street homes that are in the city's North Hill Historic District.
DiMuccio noted that any time state or federal money is used to demolish buildings in a historic district, the state's historic preservation office must be notified.
Received a letter: He said the city received a letter from the preservation office stating that the demolition of the existing Grant Street buildings would have an adverse effect on the historic district.
He noted that all requests for demolition in historic districts get this initial response. City officials must go back a second time and explain why they buildings should be razed, he said.
"Now we must show we are taking steps to improve that area by demolishing those buildings," he said.
DiMuccio didn't know how long it would take state officials to make a decision on the plan.

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