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Fiscal foundation laid for new homes

All the resources are in place to begin the first phase of Crescent Village, a $5 million community development project in a 16-block area of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood.

The project -- one of the largest housing revitalization projects ever launched in that neighborhood -- focuses primarily on developing the area through market-rate new builds, subsidized new builds, homes that have been rehabilitated and sold, and owner-occupied homes that have been upgraded.

"Our goal is to redevelop that whole section, to get some of the people who have lived here to stay here," said Larry Leman, project manager. "It'll be good for everybody to see movement."

The first phase involves constructing subsidized homes in the target area, which extends to Walden Avenue, Broadway, Loepere Street and Rother Avenue. An open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York, 1081 Broadway, for prospective buyers to view the architect's designs for Phase I homes.

The Urban center, developer of the project, and the Masjid Zakariya Mosque on Sobieski Street have been collaborating on the project for more than two years. And depending on the availability of funding and future demand for East Side housing, the Crescent Village project eventually could result in as much as $20 million in new investment in a neighborhood that has been plagued in recent years by a shrinking population and abandoned properties.

In recent weeks, resources have come together for Phase I:

*The Federal Home Loan Bank agreed last week to provide $75,000 to buy down the interest on mortgages on the first 10 homes.

*The City of Buffalo gave the project a $115,000 loan in May for predevelopment activities such as conducting environmental testing and hiring an architect and builder.

*Also in May, city officials agreed to provide $1.8 million to the project.

*Demolitions have begun on 10 of the 72 houses identified by the developer as unsalvageable. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's office provided $472,000 in federal funds last summer for the demolition of about 40 houses.

The Crescent Village project also includes 10 new builds for private individuals who have their own money to construct market-rate homes in the target area. The approximate value of each home is $160,000. One of the homes, 306 Sweet Ave., has been built, and the family has been living in it since December.

The way it works, the developer would acquire property that is vacated, derelict or close to being vacated, either from the city or from a private owner, then rehabilitate it and resell it at a reduced price from what it would cost for a new build or a subsidized home, Wesolowski explained.

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