NEW CASTLE Officials to decide fate of homes

The homes were put on sale by the city school district.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City officials should know sometime next week if its feasible to buy and move some of the homes for sale by the city school district.
Randall Hake, a Trumbull County engineer, has been hired by Greater New Castle Community Development Corporation to determine the costs and logistics of moving the homes. He will be paid $5,000.
School officials planned to demolish the 15 homes to make way for a new high school. Hake, of Niles, and Angelo Papa, a New Castle attorney, asked to buy them.
School board members decided to accept bids from people who could move the homes.
Business district: Hake bid on several homes and said he wanted to move them to nearby Grant Street to create a cul-de-sac business district. He said many are historically significant and are large enough to accommodate offices, retail shops and bed and breakfasts.
The school board rejected the bids when it learned Hake didn't have the money to move them by mid-July.
School board members have agreed to accept new bids for the homes, which now must be moved by Nov. 30. Those bids will be opened Aug. 13.
City officials say they liked Hake's idea so much they decided to get the community development corporation involved. That group was formed last year by Mayor Timothy Fulkerson.
"We thought it was a good idea, but we wanted to give the private sector a chance to do it first," said John DiMuccio, city business administrator.
Costs: DiMuccio said preliminary cost estimates are about $800,000 to $1 million for moving the homes and buying land to put them on.
The CDC has access to about $400,000 in grants and low- to no-interest loans.
The city's Enterprise Zone fund, a revolving loan fund used to attract new jobs, has about $250,000 available and the city's Renaissance Grant program, a fund used to improve building facades, has $150,000 available, he said.
Before any money is spent, Hake must determine if the city can recoup what it spends on the project.
The CDC will likely hire Hake as project manager if the city moves forward with the deal, DiMuccio said.

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