Project in Niles aims to revitalize old neighborhood while providing affordable housing

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Where most people saw a vacant lot, a Niles realtor saw a chance to build brand new, affordable houses

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – A brand new house has been built in the middle of an old Niles neighborhood. Where some saw a vacant lot, a realtor saw an opportunity.

He put up his own money then worked with several government agencies and a bank to get it done.

Now, other communities with vacant lots are being urged to do the same.

Retired grandmother Karen Robison has a brand new home on North Cedar Avenue in Niles.

“I love it. It’s really nice. It’s comfortable. At first I thought when I saw it, I thought it was too small, but it isn’t,” she said.

“This project was a vision of how to recreate this block in the city of Niles, and we did it with affordable housing in mind,” said Niles realtor Jason Altobelli.

Altobelli drove the project to get houses built at the corner of North Cedar and Ford Street. He put up the non-refundable $18,000 application fee to get money from the Federal Home Loan Bank out of Pittsburgh.

“So it was a substantial investment to roll the dice,” Altobelli said.

But the $567,000 grant was approved, which meant the $200,000 house could be sold to a qualified buyer for $64,000. The payment would be $450 a month including insurance and taxes.

The new house sits in a neighborhood where many of the houses are well over 100 years old.

The property was owned by the Trumbull County Land Bank. It had been vacant for nearly 65 years, ever since the old Cedar Street School — later renamed Lincoln School — was torn down.

“That can be replicated. That can be scaled across the county, in other parts of the county. So we’re looking for other communities that want to do the same kind of project,” said Matt Martin, with the Trumbull County Land Bank.

On Wednesday, behind the new house, a bulldozer was moving land where another brand new house will be built. In total, four will be constructed, with one going to a person with a disability.

“You know, anyone who approaches us with trying to revitalize a neighborhood and offering new housing within our neighborhoods, we’re all about and we’re going to support as much as we can,” said Niles Mayor Mientkiewicz.

Part of the $567,000 grant also went to renovate four houses in Warren, one of which is on Fairfield Street NE. It’s for sale through the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership for $49,900.

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