‘Final Piece of the Funding Puzzle’ in Place for Thompson Building

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Rehabilitation of the iconic J.C. Thompson Building on Devon’s Diamond could begin as early as summer after city officials learned another $212,950 in tax credits have been awarded for the project.

On Wednesday, a press release from the Ohio Department of Development was provided by Community Improvement Corporation President Patrick Scafide, who said it announced the “final piece of the funding puzzle” for rehabbing the building, which was built in 1892.

In the release, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lydia Mihalik, Department of Development director, announced $2.6 billion in investments for mixed-use development projects across the state through the Transformational Mixed-Use Development Program.

The total development cost of the Thompson Building project is $2,129,500, and $414,105 in state tax credits were already awarded in December.

In providing these additional credits, the Department of Development noted the East Liverpool CIC, which owns the building, is in partnership with other public and private entities to rehab the historic structure, which has been vacant and deteriorating for years. 

“Also supported by federal and state historic tax credits, this mixed-use redevelopment project includes residential, office and retail uses that will help diversify the local economy, increase access to community health care services and increase downtown foot traffic,” the Department of Development release reads. “[The project] will act as an anchor to reactivate East Liverpool’s downtown, support adjacent business and catalyze future development projects within the surrounding area.”

Architect Scott Shepherd gave a report on the project at a Jan. 18 CIC meeting, where he said two buildings are involved, including a smaller structure attached to the Thompson Building, which was constructed in 1897, creating 12,000 square feet of space. 

Shepherd said the CIC “has some great partners involved” and his project is the same as that which was used to renovate two Fifth Street buildings several years ago to accommodate the New Castle School of Trade.

Craig Cozza, who renovated the historic Potters Bank and Trust on Fifth Street into The Vault, an upscale restaurant and bar, is the developer for the Thompson Building project, investing $300,000.

Other investments include a $10,000 grant from the county land bank and matching funds of $100,000 from the CIC. Initially, $600,000 was provided by JobsOhio through its Vibrant Community Program, which led to the determination that the building was salvageable.

Plans call for Cozza, who also owns Pro Bike & Run, to put a retail shop in the storefront, selling bicycles that will fit in with a running and biking trail also being planned for the city with other grant funding.

True North Medical Billing LLC is expected to use some of the second floor space for its offices, and East Liverpool City Hospital has signed a letter of intent for office space, while the top floor is earmarked for apartment space.

In addition to construction jobs during the renovation, the project is expected to create nearly 100 jobs in the building, according to officials. 

When the project is completed, plans call for the CIC to sell Cozza the building for a nominal fee, which Scafide said will be $1.

Although Scafide said these tax credits are “the final piece of the funding puzzle,” CIC Executive Director Bill Cowan said Wednesday he was uncertain exactly when the rehabilitation project will begin. He said the CIC first needs to hire someone to handle all the funding sources, each of which has its own requirements. 

Cowan said construction will start “soon,” and Shepherd reported during the Jan. 18 meeting he hopes it can begin this summer.

Referring to the project during the January meeting, Shepherd told the CIC, “This is a really big deal. It’s really exciting for East Liverpool.”

Pictured at top: The J.C. Thompson Building in East Liverpool.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.