As long as Strollo Architects finalizes financing for a $5 million project to rehabilitate the downtown Wells Building and starts construction by Dec. 31 as well as have the project finished by Sept. 1, 2014, the firm will receive $1.8 million in state and federal tax credits.
In a letter dated Thursday, Jennifer O. Poklar, assistant deputy chief of Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Redevelopment, wrote that the agency agreed to extend the completion deadline date to September 2014. The original completion date to receive the credits was in April 2014.
“As the applicant has made significant progress toward financing the project and moving toward construction, [ODSA] has determined that this amendment is conditionally approved subject to” having financing in place and starting construction by Dec. 31, she wrote.
The letter is “very good news,” and the extension will give the company the needed time to get financing in place, said Gregg Strollo, the firm’s president and principal.
“Given the disruption in the tax credit environment, caused by a large, poorly structured project in New Jersey [the Atlantic City boardwalk], this extension allows us the time required to arrange financing and market the credits appropriately,” he said.
Strollo originally was required to start construction by Aug. 11, but at the firm’s request, the state gave tentative approval a couple of days before that to postpone the completion of the work until sometime in the summer or fall of 2014. Poklar’s letter gives specific dates.
If the architectural firm didn’t move ahead with this project, it’s quite likely the 96-year-old Wells Building at 201 W. Federal St. would be demolished, Strollo said.
The building has been vacant for about 30 years and last used as an armed forces recruiting center. The structure is owned by the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., a nonprofit downtown property development organization managed by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. The CIC is selling it to Strollo for $85,000.
Strollo said his firm would have been able to start some interior demolition of the building if needed by Aug. 11, but still needs time to finalize funding.
The firm is located in the city-owned 20 Federal Place office building.
The plan for the Wells Building is for Strollo to use the first floor for its office, including building a mezzanine for additional workspace and a portion of the basement for storage.
The upper three floors would be converted into 12 apartments, four on each floor with each having storage space in the basement.
The architectural firm will receive $1 million in tax credits from the state and $800,000 from the federal government upon completion of the project.
The firm has preliminary approval from the city for a $2 million loan with an interest rate of 0.25 percent as well as city grants of up to $520,000 for water and wastewater improvements and up to $100,000 for improvement work, and a 12-year real-property tax abatement.