The laughter, the tears and the beer that kept flowing at the hundreds of parties in Randolph Hall in Cheektowaga are memories now, soon to be replaced with the bustling activity that comes with family living.
The former banquet hall will be torn down to make way for six new single-family homes.
"Neighborhood preservation has been our number one priority over the last several years, and this project symbolizes our interest in removing blight from our town while showing the residents that their elected officials are committed to keeping our community strong," Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said.
That's why he scheduled a "demolition kickoff" for today, with sledge hammers for public officials and the public to whack at the building at 72 Randolph Ave.
The Cheektowaga Economic Development Corp. bought the hall and adjoining parking lot on Doat Street for $100,000 from Rescue Hose Company No. 1 last year and turned it over to the town.
"The CEDC board of directors considers this project to be as valuable as any loan that our organization can make to the business community, as this project should encourage businesses to locate in this area," said Debra Liegl, president of the Cheektowaga Economic Development Corp.
Once the building is torn down and the site restored, the town will turn the property over to Belmont Shelter Corp. and its subsidiary, New Opportunities Community Housing Development Corp., to develop the homes, said Jerome Gabryszak, director of Cheektowaga's Community Development program. Construction is to be funded with federal HOME Investment Partnership funds received by the town.
The houses will have 1,400 square feet to 1,500 square feet, two stories and three bedrooms. They also will have porches, he said.
"They fit in the neighborhood," Jerome Gabryszak said.
New Opportunities is responsible for marketing the homes, which will be sold to income-eligible buyers. A lottery will select the purchasers from qualified applicants.
The net proceeds of the sales will go to the Community Development Program to be used for other improvements.
"This represents a significant investment by this Town Board in that neighborhood," the supervisor said. "We hope to see this rub off on the people who live there."
The first section of the hall, which had several additions over the years, was built in the 1930s and was host to many anniversary and wedding receptions, fund-raisers and Dyngus Day celebrations.