20 Federal Building, Columbiana Projects Share $10.7M Tax Credits

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Area projects were awarded nearly $10.7 million in historic preservation tax credits, including $10 million for the former Strouss-Hirshberg Building.

The three projects — in Youngstown, Salem and East Liverpool — were among 46 projects involving the renovation of 54 buildings. Collectively, they were awarded $67.5 million in tax credits as part of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.

“Historic preservation is so much more than just updating old buildings. We’re preserving what exists and making concerted efforts to weave this history into the fabric of Ohio’s future,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a news release. “By restoring our historical assets, we’re ensuring that these structures remain part of their communities for years to come.”

The Strouss-Hirshberg Building, today known as 20 Federal Place, was a department store that operated from 1926 to 1986. In 1987, the property was redeveloped as a multi-tenant property that the city purchased in 2006. In 2022, the city, in partnership with the Mahoning County Land Bank, received a state brownfield remediation grant for nearly $7 million to address asbestos and other issues in the 332,000-square-foot building at 20 W. Federal St.

Work will include reinstating the historic storefront configuration, repairing the masonry, and replacing the windows and to reinstate the former arcade on the interior.

“After the project is complete, there will be 157 residential units above first-floor retail, second-floor office, and parking space in the basement,” according to the announcement.

“By February, the building will be basically cleared of all asbestos and other issues and available to put back on the market in terms of finding a suitable developer,” said Hunter Morrison, city planning consultant. The city has been approached by several potential developers for the property.

The two Columbiana County projects that received funding were the Sybil Block in Salem, which received a tax credit of $250,000 to leverage a nearly $1.03 million project, and the Thompson block in East Liverpool, which received $414,105 to support a nearly $2.2 million investment.

The Sibyl Block, in downtown Salem, was built during the latter half of the 19th century with commercial space on the first floor and offices above. “The façade features decorative brick, terra cotta, and sandstone detailing,” according to the announcement.

Following the rehabilitation work, the building will have ground-floor commercial spaces and residential units on floors two and three. Windows and storefront will be replaced based on the original design and much of the original historic detailing lost on the interior will be repaired.

The Thompson block, built in 1892, sits at a prominent intersection in downtown East Liverpool, which is notable for its unique rounded corner tower.

“Now vacant and in disrepair, the mixed-use building once had commercial spaces on the ground floor with apartments above. This configuration will be reactivated after the project is complete with a mix of retail, office, and five apartments above,” according to the announcement.

The awards will assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods. Many of the buildings are vacant and generate little economic activity. Developers are only issued the tax credit once project construction is complete and all program requirements are verified.

“This program is so important because these tax credits are often a deciding factor in determining whether or not a historic preservation project is able to move forward,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “We’re proud to be able to help make these projects happen and restore life back into our state’s historical assets.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.