Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 24, 2014

Falls Planning Board OKs plan to sell of vacant fire hall

Niagara Gazette — A vacant North End fire hall is one step closer to being renovated and returned to the tax rolls.

The city planning board unanimously approved a recommendation to the city council that a Highland Avenue fire hall owned by the city be sold to the Isaiah 61 Project, a housing not-for-profit that trains underemployed city residents in the building trades while renovating abandoned homes, at its assessed value of $6,000 during its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Rick Smith, the planning board chairman, said he believes the organization’s work is valuable to the city, but found the proposed agreement particularly appealing because the project while pay full taxes on the building despite having not-for-profit status.

“There going to pay the taxes, which is really unheard of for a non-profit,” Smith said.

The renovation will take a building that is now a liability for the city and turn it into an asset, he added.

“It’s good for the taxpayer,” Smith said.

The organization is moving forward with plans to renovate the long-vacant and run down fire hall — owned by the city — to be used as a headquarters for its growing programming.

The Isaiah 61 Project will use the hall as a office, training facility and a reclaim store.

The organization recently began sorting through houses set to be demolished by the city and extracting valuable materials before the buildings come down. A temporary reclaim store is set to open on Hyde Park Boulevard next week. The materials salvaged from the houses will be available for purchase to the general public and the store will also buy and accepted donated materials to be resold.

The Isaiah 61 Project has received a number of grants — as large as $200,000 — and will use money from the city, state and federal governments to complete the renovation.

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