More housing, restaurants in downtown Springfield? State’s $2.8M tax credits aim to help

Wren Lofts would honor former department store as building is restored and expanded.

A Springfield project involving the planned rehabilitation of a historic downtown building into nearly 90 apartments and first-floor business space received $2.8 million in state tax credits Wednesday.

The project is billed as Wren Lofts on the site of the former Wren Department Store in the McAdams Building at the intersection of High and Limestone streets.

“This is a big, big hurdle to get over to get people living downtown,” said Daren Cotter, chief financial officer for the Turner Foundation, which is overseeing the project. “This is really big for Springfield.”

The work has an estimated total development cost of $29 million, according to a release from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office.

Plans call for the building to be renovated to include 36 apartments plus about 5,700 square feet of first-floor restaurant and retail space. A five-story, 6,000-square-foot addition also is planned to create 53 apartments and ground-floor restaurant and retail space.

A parking structure will be added on the back, Cotter said.

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The 89 market-rate apartments would include one-bedroom and two-bedroom versions, and some will include office space as more people are working from home now. Cotter said final numbers are not yet known, but rental prices could be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 per month.

Efforts to restore and redevelop the McAdams Building have been discussed at least since 2017.

Cotter explained renovating historic buildings — the Turner Foundation owns multiple such properties — is nearly impossible without help from tax credits and praised state leaders for their efforts.

“This first one has been tough,” he said.

The Turner Foundation previously worked with two developers on plans for the property and expected to begin construction multiple times during the last few years.

The Turner Foundation now is partnering with developer Dillin LLC.

Cotter said Dillin believes the building will support two to four restaurant spaces with room for additional retail.

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“We are really confident we can get those filled quickly,” Cotter said, noting plans would allow for indoor and outdoor dining options.

The application for the credits said the project would create about 200 construction jobs.

The $2.8 million in credits make the project more likely to happen.

“Without question, this is very helpful moving this project to the finish line,” Cotter said.

However, the Turner Foundation is waiting to learn if it will be approved for $4.8 million in historic tax credits it has sought. That word could come later this month.

The price of the project has risen with inflation and other factors, Cotter noted, but the historic credits could be the last piece of the puzzle.

He said he felt “very confident” if historic tax credits are approved, the Wren will move forward.

Springfield city commissioners about four months ago authorized Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck to enter into a Community Reinvestment Area Agreement for the property.

That deal would give a 50% abatement on the commercial space for 15 years.

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The Springfield project is one of 12 mixed-use development projects that DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced received state support, noting they are expected to create $2.3 billion in investments across Ohio.

Other projects are in Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Grandview Heights, Lima, Painesville and Van Wert.

They are part of the second round of the Transformational Mixed-Use Development Program. The projects could result in the construction or redevelopment of more than 5.3 million square feet of space to create new housing, retail, dining, office, lodging and entertainment opportunities.

“These projects will transform not only the sites themselves, but also the look and feel of entire neighborhoods,” DeWine said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the tremendous change these projects create in their communities.”

The projects include the construction of the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, the construction of the Merchant Building Development at the Columbus North Market, and the rehabilitation of three historic buildings for the Mercantile + Traction Block Redevelopment in Cincinnati, the release said.

“These awards will leverage additional private sector investment that will create jobs and improve the quality of life,” said Husted. “These awards will leverage additional private sector investment that will create jobs and improve the quality of life.”

The state will provide $100 million in tax credits approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority and recommended by the Ohio Department of Development.

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