NEW CASTLE Cheap house equals moving experience

The school district wants to sell the homes to people who will move them to new locations.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- For $12, you can pay for a good meal in a restaurant or a day's worth of parking in a garage.
Here, it just might be enough to buy a house.
City school officials received seven bids earlier this week from people interested in buying homes slated for demolition. School officials say they will sell the homes if the new owners can move them and fill in the holes left behind.
The lowest offer -- $12 -- came from local funeral director James Meehan for a two-story stone house at 322 Reis St.
Meehan said he wants to move the house to a vacant lot next to his funeral home, located at Highland and Lincoln avenues. He eventually wants to rent or sell the house.
Bids for the other six homes came from a Niles, Ohio, company, the Cynthia Corp.
The company wants to buy 322 East St., 214 and 220 Lincoln Ave. for $500 each; 318 East St. for $400; and pay $50 apiece for 335 and 332 Berger Place.
Local attorney Angelo Papa is representing Cynthia Corp., but refused to reveal who owns the company.
School officials say Randall Hecke of Warren, Ohio, is acting as the agent for the company. Hecke is an architect interested in historic buildings, according to Papa.
Papa said they don't want to talk about plans for the homes until the bids are approved.
The homes, many of them built in the 1800s by New Castle's first industrial leaders, are slated for demolition to make way for a new city high school. The school district took them by eminent domain from their owners last year.
The Lawrence County Historical Society has vocally opposed the plans, hoping to save the homes. School officials recently agreed that the homes can be saved if they can be moved before demolition starts later this year.
New Castle Mayor Timothy Fulkerson started a campaign last year to move the homes, but it ended when he determined it would be too costly.
Papa also approached school board members at a meeting last summer about moving the homes, but never returned for more details.
Meehan said he doesn't know how much it will cost to move 322 Reis St.
"There's a staggering amount of details involved. A lot of things you don't think about until you go and do something like this," he said.
Obstacles: Trees and power lines now block the house from its three block journey to the vacant lot, he said.
"If we can't take the trees out, we may not be able to move the house," he said.
Meehan said he was surprised to learn he made the lowest offer for one of the homes.
"People have been talking about the houses, just around town, and most people said just put a bid of $10 and see what happens. I thought if everyone else is putting in $10 bids, I would put in a $12 bid," he said.
School officials say they may have a special school board meeting in the next few weeks to consider the offers.

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