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A long-envisioned residential development near Veterans Park in the City of Tonawanda took a step closer to reality this week when an agreement was reached between the mayor and the site’s developer.

Under the proposed contract, Natale Builders would purchase the wooded 17 acres between Two Mile Creek Road and Little League Drive for $192,000 and build 53 single-family homes in three phases, Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi announced.

“It’s going to be good for the city, it’s going to be good for the business people, it’s going to be good for the school district to add some new life to our city,” he said.

Natale is planning to build four or five models in ranch and two-story designs ranging in size from 1,350 to 2,200 square feet, according to the contract. The new homes would sell for between $200,000 and $300,000, said Larry LaDuca, general manager of Natale Builders, which was named the project’s builder in 2010.

In phase 1, Natale would build 15 homes on land for which it pays the city $53,000. Phase 2 would build 21 homes in return for $72,000. Phase 3 would build 17 homes for $67,000.

Common Council approval is required for the sale of city-owned land. Pilozzi said he’s confident lawmakers will approve it.

“To my knowledge we have a Common Council that’s willing to go forward,” he said.

While the project was first discussed in December 2005, it nearly died in August 2011 when it faced complaints from nearby residents and the two sides couldn’t agree on who would pay for infrastructure costs in a struggling national housing market. But under the proposed agreement, Natale would pay an estimated $1.5 million to build the road, install street lighting and sewer and water lines in return for property tax breaks for the future homeowners, Pilozzi said.

The mayor offered to give the new homes condominium tax status, which means they would be taxed at 65 percent of their assessed value.

“We have this thing called stick-to-itiveness,” he said. “We hammered out something that each party could live with.”

LaDuca said the homes will be built to National Association of Home Builders green standards, which will keep utility costs low. A bike path from Fletcher Street to the water at Niagara Street will stay but be rerouted slightly in one area to accommodate sewer work.

A public hearing on the proposal will be scheduled for late August. LaDuca said construction could begin as soon as the contract is signed.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com