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Absentee landlords needn't apply as town offers 6 new homes to first-time buyers

Nestled on the Cheektowaga-Buffalo line off Walden Avenue are six new houses that will be sold to first-time buyers this year.

With their front porches, attached garages and vinyl siding, the houses on Randolph Avenue are part of Cheektowaga's strategy to anchor the west end of town with homeowners instead of absentee landlords.

The homes fit in well with the older homes in the Walden Avenue-Doat Street neighborhood, and the town sees them complementing the senior citizen housing planned at Villa Maria Academy at 600 Doat.

Neighbors have been wondering when the homes would be finished and who might buy them.

"They look nice from the outside," Gloria Eyring said. "We don't know too much about it. We're speculating."

The houses were built on land that was home for many years to Randolph Hall and its parking lot. The banquet hall was owned by Rescue Hose Company No. 1 until Cheektowaga Economic Development Corp. bought it and the parking lot for the residential redevelopment in 2003.

The home ownership opportunity program started with three other properties that the town bought for $1 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2002. Officials are waiting for the mortgages to close for the new owners of 195 E. Grand Blvd. and 77 and 128 Preston Road.

The East Grand home was torn down and a new one constructed in its place. The Preston houses were renovated and converted from two-family to single-family homes.

All the properties were turned over to New Opportunities Community Housing Development Corp., an affiliate of Belmont Shelter Corp. Construction was funded with federal HOME Investment Partnership funds that came to Cheektowaga through a multi-town consortium for community development funding. All three are awaiting closing on the mortgages.

"After the properties are sold, the proceeds are returned to the consortium for use on another project," Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said.

The renovations for the Preston Road houses cost $75,000 to $80,000, Gabryszak said. The East Grand house had a selling price of $115,000, and the Randolph houses cost about $120,000. Government subsidies bring the mortgages down to 60 percent to 70 percent of the selling price.

"They're getting a lot of house for that money," Gabryszak said.

Those who are interested in buying the Randolph houses must fill out an application available from the community development office. There are income limits, depending on the size of the household. If there are more qualified applicants than homes, a lottery will be held.

Open houses will be conducted during the last two weekends in April at the Randolph properties.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com1

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