NORTHERN TOWNSHIP – Historic preservation tax credits will jumpstart efforts to develop residential and commercial operations in the Hoover District and help revitalize one of Canton’s downtown bank buildings.
The two Stark County projects are among 38 statewide projects receiving assistance under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The program provides tax credits to developers who rehabilitate historic buildings.
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Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik stopped by the Hoover District on a day-long visit to some of the project sites.
“Ohio is booming in historic rehabilitation projects,” Mihalik told local officials and developers. “We are happy to play a small part in this project.”
Who benefits from the tax credit?
The Hoover District project received a $5 million tax credit to help develop 226 apartments, as well as commercial space in the oldest part of the factory complex at the corner of E. Maple Street and N. Main Street.
Solon-based Industrial Commercial Properties and California-based Industrial Realty Group have been redeveloping Hoover Co.’s former factory and offices since 2008. The companies received a $5 million tax credit in 2013, but canceled it in 2019 because the project stalled.
Mills Historic Tower, at the southwest corner of Tuscarawas Street W and Market Avenue S, received a tax credit of $1.12 million. Built in 1924 to house the First National Bank, the building was last used by Chase as a bank office in 2018.
Township lawyer Laura Mills, who has offices in the building, bought it last year.
The tax credits will help with the $5.71 million renovation of certain interior spaces, including the historic banking hall. It is planned that the upper floors will be let to new tenants, while the ground floor will be proposed for a restaurant.
“Already a success”
Since acquiring the Hoover office and factory complex, ICP and IRG have leased to multiple tenants. Different businesses now have nearly 1,000 people working in the Hoover District.
“It’s already a very successful project,” said Stuart Lichter, President and Founder of IRG.
But while much of the building is rented, the part facing Main Street has remained vacant. The plans have always called for the construction of apartments and commercial or office space. The plan discussed on Wednesday is not much different from previous proposals.
The 226 apartments will be one, two or three bedrooms on the upper floors. Previous plans called for 150 apartments.
The ground floor will be designed for commercial use, with approximately 50,000 square feet available. Developers still hope to attract a brewery for the powerhouse building that anchors the towering Hoover Chimney.
The project carries a price tag of $89.2 million, according to state officials.
Jeff Martin, senior vice president of development at ICP, said the company has already invested a lot of money in preparing the site. Work already done includes interior demolition and infrastructure, as well as new windows and other changes.
Why the delays?
Chris Semarjian, owner of ICP, cited a variety of funding issues as factors in the delay of the project.
While project costs were high, rental values were low, he said. Rental values have increased, helping to balance the charges.
The construction of a 178,000 square foot addition to a building already leased by Diebold Nixdorf also contributes to the residential and commercial project. The addition will increase Diebold Nixdorf’s production and add space for research and other business activities.
Semarjian said developers have learned from the development of the East End project at Goodyear’s former facilities in Akron that when paired, commercial and residential projects help each other and thrive.
Semarjian and Martin said state tax credits help developers cross the finish line as they secure project funding.
“It also allows us to kick off the commercial lease,” Martin said.
Officials in the Canton du Nord are understandably happy to see that state tax credits are helping the project.
Mayor Stephan Wilder said the community has been patiently awaiting the redevelopment and is encouraged by Wednesday’s announcement.
Wilder cited the city’s 2022 Master Plan, which identifies the significance of the Hoover District’s redevelopment, adding that the project “helps build a vibrant downtown with a vision for Main Street as a destination.”