State reverses ruling, OKs $4.5M tax credit for major downtown Springfield project

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Decision gives a spark to $32M renovation of Edward Wren Co. Building into apartments, retail.

Last year, supporters of an estimated $32 million downtown Springfield project thought they were on the verge of getting the long-envisioned renovation of a historic building started.

Billed as the Wren Lofts on the site of the former Wren Department Store, the plan calls for 89 apartments and space for restaurants, retail and parking at the intersection of High and Limestone streets.

The last piece of the puzzle was roughly $4.5 million in historic preservation tax credits. When funding was announced in December, nearly 55 other projects received $64 million worth of incentives, but Wren Lofts did not get approval.

This week, after the state evaluated the scoring procedures used for the Springfield project and others under language in a Senate bill state lawmakers passed last year, officials determined eight additional projects should have been funded, including Wren Lofts.

“We are very excited to receive these credits and get this project started this year,” Daren Cotter, chief financial officer for the Turner Foundation, which is overseeing the project, said. He called the latest tax credits “a huge shot in the arm for us to make this project a reality.”

He said the Turner Foundation did not know the Ohio Department of Development had reconsidered its scoring.

“The phone call I received from them stating we were now receiving the award was a complete shock to all of us,” Cotter said. “It was great news to say the least.”

ExploreEARLIER: More housing, dining in downtown Springfield? Plan calls for major project

The vacant Edward Wren Co. Building, located at 31 E. High St., also is known as the McAdams Building.

According to the application for the historic tax credits, the development would spend about $31.7 million to create 89 apartments plus restaurant and retail space. Apartments would be on the upper floors of the existing five-story building, and the ground floor would be used for dining and shops.

A two-level parking garage will be built, extending into the basement of the existing building, with additional space above for the remainder of the apartments.

Earlier details said the market-rate apartments would include one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, some with office space to attract those who work from home now. Rent could be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 per month, though the final prices are not yet known.

The project has been under consideration at least since 2017, and inflation and supply chain issues drove up the costs since then.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said of the project: “This would continue the huge momentum in the revitalization of our downtown, and address a real need, which is market-rate apartments ... as well as additional commercial retail space.”

Renovations of historic buildings are nearly impossible without tax credits.

Through the process, the Turner Foundation worked with two other developers but now is moving forward with Dillin LLC.

“The Turner Foundation and the Dillin development team will be meeting next week to get things moving ASAP with the Wren Building redevelopment and addition,” Cotter said.

The building is across the street from City Hall Plaza, which will undergo renovations this year, and is about a block from COhatch, home to multiple restaurants and bars. Entertainment and cultural venues are within walking distance, too.

Heck said: “This project would be a welcomed addition to the core block of our community. The city is embarking on a revitalization project of our plaza and will serve as a vibrant space for the residents of this adjacent development.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey


A look at the Wren Lofts project.

89: Apartment units expected to be created

4.5 million: Dollars of state historic tax credits approved this month

31.7 million: Dollars the project is expected to cost.

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