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Council holds off on decisions on Broadway Building

  • 301-Broadway-1-jpg

    The former Spitzer Plaza Hotel, at 301 Broadway Ave. in Lorain.

    CHRONICLE FILE

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LORAIN — Decisions regarding funding for the Broadway Building will have to wait until later in the month after City Council decided not to vote on a letter expressing support for incentives.

At a regular meeting Monday night, Mayor Chase Ritenauer introduced a resolution that would allow Council to show its support in the administration offering tax abatements, tax increment financing or TIF, and Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE financing.

The incentives are being considered to take the place of city funding in the $10 million redevelopment of the Broadway Building, at the corner of Broadway and East Erie Avenue, into senior living apartments.

Ritenauer said the $440,203 in historic tax credits offered to Chicago-based developer Jim Louthen are set to expire at the end of the year, so the sooner the resolution can be adopted, the better.

“If this is pushed to Dec. 19, it’s not fatal, necessarily, but if we can let him know as soon as possible that we’re behind him and on board with this, it puts them in a better position,” he said. “Just recently, Mr. Louthen and his team have changed their tune a little bit, and they’ve brought on some people that have some experience in Columbus as well as with these incentives.”

Louthen had originally asked the city for Community Development Block grants and HOME funds in order to fund the project, but several city and federal officials were wary about offering that as an option when it was unclear if use of those funds would be allowed.

According to the letter, the city would be offering:

  • A community reinvestment area tax exemption, totaling $1.6 million over the course of 12 years;
  • A TIF ordinance for the increased assessed value of the project, totaling $2.5 million over the course of 30 years;
  • And PACE financing of $2.4 million for energy-saving retrofits, including lighting, HVAC systems, energy management systems, waste energy recovery systems, electrical distribution and refrigeration.

Ritenauer said the school district would also have to approve the tax abatements and TIF funds because they would be taking place over more than 10 years.

“It’s moving pretty fast, but these tax credits are a timely matter. I think if we could send the message sooner rather than later I think it’ll do a great deal,” he said. “I think it’s moving so fast that the developers aren’t even sure how it’s going to come out. Is it going to all be in abatements? Is it going to be all TIF? The sooner we can let them know we’re supportive of offering these options the better.”

Since the resolution was added less than 72 hours before the start of the meeting, Council had to approve it being added to the agenda before discussions could take place.

Council initially decided to send it to committee, but Ritenauer asked the body to reconsider due to the quick nature of the project.

“I don’t think most of us had a chance to really look at it,” Councilman Brian Gates, D-1st Ward, said. “But, if we approve the letter, we’ll have to separate the ordinance for CRA and TIFs? Then I have no problem reconsidering that. Seeing this wouldn’t be a done deal, I want to withdraw it from committee.”

However, the resolution was denied the possibility of approval Monday night with Councilmen Mitch Fallis, D-at large, and Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, voting against suspending a rule that requires pieces of legislation be read three times before being voted on.

“A resolution isn’t an ordinance,” Ritenauer said. “We want to support these incentives, especially now that the developers aren’t looking to us for use of our federal funds.”

Council will meet Monday to discuss rezoning near Kolbe and Jaeger roads as well as for Building and Lands and Federal Programs committee meetings.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @KatieHNix.



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