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Belmont Shelter Corp. to build more rent-to-own homes

Buffalo's Belmont Shelter Corp. will partner with a Cleveland-based housing developer to build a second group of "rent-to-own," single-family homes on the city's near East side.

Belmont, which specializes in construction, renovation and management of affordable housing, will join with NRP Group, a national housing developer to build three- and four-bedroom residences that will be scattered across a multiblock area in Buffalo's Masten District.

Michael Riegel, Belmont's vice president of finance and administration, said strong demand for an initial group of 25 homes led to the $12.1 million expansion.

"We have a healthy waiting list and decided to go ahead with Phase Two," Riegel said.

The "rent to own" homes will be built in an area bounded by Glenwood and Jefferson avenues, and Best and Ellicott streets. Riegel said the first group of homes, which offer low-income persons an avenue to go from renting to home ownership, leased up within two months.

Under the program, residents sign long-term leases which can lead to ownership. In Phase Two, monthly rent will range from $350 to $600, with terms of up to 30 years.

Potential "renter/buyers," who must meet income qualifications to participate in the housing program, can end up paying as little as $10,000 at the end of their leases to take title to their homes.

The housing plan got its first public airing Tuesday before the Buffalo Planning Board, which is expected to approve the proposal at its March 10 session.

The homes will be built on dozens of vacant lots on the city's near east side, filling in physical gaps in the neighborhood's housing fabric.

"This is a very big undertaking in an area that's in dire need of new housing," said Planning Board Chairman James Morrell.

The new, two-story homes will be built in six different styles, all of which feature front porches and basements. Construction is expected to begin this spring with the first residents moving in by the end of the year.

This is the first Buffalo-area project for NRP Group, which will act as the project's contractor. Founded in 1995, the Ohio firm has built more than 12,000 single, multifamily, and senior housing units. It also manages more than 6,000 units.

NRP is involved in projects in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, New Mexico, Arizona and Louisiana.

Also Tuesday, the planning board approved blueprints for a 5,200-square-foot, luxury home at 186 Middlesex Road. The 2.5 story, four-bedroom home will be built on the last vacant lot on the former Nichols Middle School campus.

Natale Construction of Williamsville plans to start construction of the stone and stucco-clad residence this spring. Angelo Natale, whose firm is best known for up-market custom homes in Clarence, Williamsville and Orchard Park, declined to reveal the price tag of the Buffalo home, but it is expected to exceed $600,000. The future owner paid $425,000 for the nearly one-acre lot.


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