LORAIN — Developers hoping to renovate the Broadway Building caught a break when the state offered extensions to their historic tax credits.
The $440,023 in tax credits for the more than $12 million project were to expire Saturday, but Lorain Port Authority Executive Director Rick Novak said developer Jim Louthen of Chicago-based ReTown got a five-month extension.
“Jim was able to get the extension, and earlier this month the Port Authority board also gave an extension for the planning portion of the project until the end of next year,” Novak said. “We’re still trying to work through the exact details, but there’s going to be thresholds throughout the year that they have to meet.”
The project to turn the building into 58 senior apartments has come under fire in 2016 as Louthen struggled to get financing, notably asking the city for as much as $1.7 million.
The building at the intersection of East Erie Avenue and Broadway has been empty since 2005 when the Spitzer Plaza Hotel closed due to low occupancy. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In August, an agreement was reached with Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. to donate the property, valued at $1.1 million, according to the Lorain County auditor, to the Lorain Port Authority.
In turn, the authority will lease the land to Louthen and his development team.
Novak said Louthen has gotten a good financial team together to help him secure the remaining funding for the project, which will likely include some incentives from the city.
Earlier in December, City Council approved a letter of intent to offer the following: a community reinvestment area tax exemption, totaling $1.6 million over the course of 12 years; tax increment financing for the increase assessed value of the project, totaling $2.5 million over the course of 30 years; and Property Assessed Clean Energy financing of $2.4 million for energy-saving retrofits, including lighting, HVAC systems, energy management systems, waste energy recovery systems, electrical distribution and refrigeration.
Mayor Chase Ritenauer said getting Louthen and the developers incentives isn’t the problem.
“The issue is the state of the building,” he said. “I want to see serious benchmarks that get the property put in compliance, and if they can’t make that happen, we need to move on to another developer or get to demoing the building.”
The building was cited in January for building violations including failure to maintain the exterior structure in good repair, structural soundness and sanitary problems. There also were problems with bricks that appeared to be detaching from the building as well as issues with the siding and masonry joints that were not maintained or weather-resistant, in addition to other problems.
“I want to see something good happen with this property, but we have to move swiftly,” Ritenauer said. “A lot of time has been provided, and I don’t know how many more extensions are out there.”
Louthen was unavailable for comment.
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