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STUDENT-BUILT HOUSE AWAITS BUYER FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT IS TAKING BIDS FOR 3-BEDROOM HOME

Psst. Wanna buy a house -- cheap?

The Niagara Falls School Board has a deal for you.

See, there's this 24-by-48 ranch house -- three bedrooms, complete with cabinets, wiring and all -- sitting at LaSalle Senior High School, ready to be moved to an owner's lot.

Just $27,000 for a minimum bid. How can you go wrong?

That board still is mulling that question. Earlier this year, the same sales pitch went unanswered. On Thursday, the district unveiled revised plans which it feels will generate renewed interest.

The first time around, the district wanted too much up-front money, said Roy W. Rogers, administrator for school business services. A $3,000 cash bond at the time of application.

"We heard from people who said they did not want to tie up $3,000," he said.

Now, interested parties have until 3 p.m. July 19 to deliver a sealed bid and leave a mere $50 deposit. A certified check for 10 percent of the bid price will be required within five days of the July 19 bid opening.

Of course, selling the house may be the easy part. When it comes to trucking the building anywhere in the north or south end of the city, there is a major obstacle -- the Niagara Thruway viaduct which passes over 65th Street at Niagara Falls Boulevard. It seems the 14-foot-high house just won't make it under the viaduct while atop a trailer.

No problem, said carpentry instructor Arthur Garabedian.

Garabedian said the district is talking with the Department of Transportation to get permission to exit Niagara Falls Boulevard at the viaduct, go north on the Thruway for about 1/2 mile, make a left at a turnaround and return south to the 65th Street exit.

The idea for a student-built house has been in the back of Garabedian's mind for 10 years. There was nothing he could do about it until the board closed down the old Trott Vocational High School in 1988, where he used to teach, and moved the carpentry program to the more spacious LaSalle Senior.

"This is the first time it's been done in the school district and the first time a completed house has been done in the state," he said.

Other districts, such as Niagara-Orleans BOCES, have done modular houses that were built as compartments and later joined together. A few weeks ago, BOCES sold a student-built house for $34,000. They also came up empty on the first call for bids, Garabedian noted.

It took five months, from Jan. 2 until Memorial Day, minus breaks and vacation, to complete the house at LaSalle, Garabedian said.

Three groups worked on it, including 17 junior carpentry students, 13 seniors and eight adults from the Joint Training Participation Act program.

"(It) really gives the students a hands-on experience in the carpentry program," said Garabedian.

Rogers said there are interested buyers. However, if the district finds no bidders -- hey, no problem. The house could be towed to district-owned land at Hyde Park Boulevard and North Avenue, where it could wait for a buyer.

The district plans to do it again next year. Interested parties can check out this year's product at a July 8 open house. Garabedian said he will hook up a generator so that the lights and fans will work.

"The only thing that is not running is the water. And we're afraid to do that because someone would be living in it," he joked.

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