State Awards $2.6M in Tax Credits to Local Projects

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Three buildings in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties were awarded more than $2.6 million in historic preservation tax credits by the Ohio Department of Development on Tuesday.

The Huntington Bank Building in Youngstown, formerly known as the Mahoning National Bank Building, which was sold last week, will receive $1.2 million for the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program to support a $12.2 million renovation project, according to state documents.

Also awarded tax credits by the state program were the Packard Apartments building in Warren, which received $1.18 million to support a $6.4 million renovation, and the Kresge Building in Salem, which received a $247,400 tax credit for the $2 million project.

Work on the 13-story downtown Youngstown bank building, which was constructed in 1910, should get underway during the first quarter and take a little over a year, based on supply chain issues, said Annissa Neider, principal and project architect at A Neider Architecture, Canfield.

Plans for the building are about a month from completion, in part because of the need to react to historical comments during the process of applying for the tax credits, she said. The intent is to maintain commercial space on the building’s first four floors – including space for Huntington, which temporarily has its downtown branch in the Stambaugh Building, on the ground floor – and convert the upper stories into 71 residential units.

Last week, representatives of Platz Realty Group, Canfield, announced that they had closed on a sale of the 151,667-square-foot building, and Sam Huston, community president for Huntington in Youngstown, confirmed the sale as well as plans to move back into the building. Construction is set to begin in the next few months on Huntington’s space, which will take place separately from the rest of the building project.

“Huntington remains committed to downtown and strengthening this community,” he said.

The new owner of the building is 22 Market Street Ohio, a New York development firm, Neider said. So far, the transaction has not appeared in Mahoning County online records. The owners plan to issue a news release in the coming weeks regarding the renovation project.

“They’re very excited to be working in Youngstown and bringing this building to life,” she said. “We need to bring in more people like that.”

Salem businessman Joe Hovorka is repurposing the Kresge Building, 343 E. State St., which was built in 1930, as a restaurant. He said the tax credit is “an important part of the capital stack” for the project.

“The project is moving forward, so this is very helpful,” he said. Demolition and utility work is underway for the renovation, which he projected will be done in 2023.

The restaurant will have outdoor seating, utilizing three vacant lots that are adjacent to the building that will be remodeled to accommodate the seating, he said. An operator with “extensive background and knowledge in the restaurant industry” will lease the space.

The Packard Apartments building, 318 N. Park Ave., was first constructed in 1989 by the brothers who launched the Packard Motor Car Co. in Warren. Much of the building’s historic interior has been lost, but the original fireplace mantels and tile surrounds remain and will be repaired, according to the state documents. Upon completion of the renovation, 17 new apartments will be available.

In 2018, the Packard project was awarded a $675,000 tax credit for what was then a $4.1 million project. That tax credit was later rescinded when the project did not move forward in the required time frame.

In June 2021, the project was awarded $819,000 following a second application and changes in the program because of the enactment of Senate Bill 225 that permitted the developer to apply for additional credits, an Ohio Department of Development spokeswoman said.

Developer Steve Coon of Coon Restoration, Louisville, did not respond to a request for comment by phone and email.

The tax credit announced Tuesday is “a critical part of the financing” for the Youngstown project, Neider said.

“It also reinforces that the building is historically significant, and the state recognizes that it wants to maintain it. Keeping that character alive is critical not only to the ownership team but also our design team and the state.”

A total of 21 communities across the state received $64.13 million in tax credits Tuesday.

“By rehabilitating these historic buildings today, we can preserve the heart of our communities for future generations of Ohioans,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a news release announcing the credits. “Once restored, these sites will help renew local communities and create additional opportunities for Ohioans.”

“Revitalizing these underutilized spaces creates new opportunities for Ohioans and the local neighborhood,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “These are unique spaces in our communities, and once they are transformed, they will be catalysts for future economic development and growth.”

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.