Cincinnati's urban residential revival accelerates with $3.5 million in state tax credit awards

Union Terminal and Price Hill get big wins, too
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jun 28, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The repopulation of Cincinnati's Downtown and Over-the-Rhine got a another boost from Ohio Wednesday with more than $3.5 million in tax credits pumped into eight apartment and retail projects.

The eight residential projects continue the remarkable turnaround of Cincinnati's core that has seen long-vacant, dilapidated buildings transformed into apartments and condominiums targeted to everyone from low-income to high-income residents.

Model Group won credits for all five projects it applied for, which means the developer plans to break ground this summer on five building renovations that will yield 39 apartments.

The residential projects range include upscale market-rate housing but also three buildings, collectively known as the Morgan Apartments, that will add 18 apartments with rents targeted toward people making 60 percent of the region's median income or less.

"The state credits, whether it's affordable or market rate or workforce housing, it's a really important tool for all these projects," Bobby Maly, a Model Group principal, said.

In all, Ohio granted $35 million in tax credits that also included a $5 million credit for the ongoing Union Terminal renovation and nearly $2 million to transform Price Hill's vacant Masonic lodge into an events center.

RELATED: Union Terminal wins $5 million in tax credits for massive renovation

Union Terminal's ongoing renovation.

The breakdown of all 10 Cincinnati projects that won historic tax credits:

1) Union Terminal, $5 million credit for $233.5 million project rehabbing the iconic Cincinnati former train terminal that is now home to the Cincinnati Museum Center's three museums and an Amtrak station.

2) Price Hill Masonic Lodge, 3301 Price Ave., $1.9 million credit for $19.2 million project that will transform the dilapidated former Masonic Lodge into a two-story events space and basement offices for Price Hill Will.

3) 126 E. Sixth Street $1.9 million credit for $20 million rehab of The Reakirt Building, a 10-story commercial building to be converted into first floor commercial space and 36 apartments on upper floors.

4) 1902-1904 Vine St., $250,000 credit for $1.5 million project for nine apartments for those making 60 percent of the median income or less.

5) 1900 Vine St., $249,000 credit for $1.5 million project to create four apartments with rents geared toward residents who make 60 percent of the region's median income or less, with street-level retail.

6) 620-622 Vine St., $249,000 credit for $1.5 million rehabilitation of the former House of Adam mens wear shop building street-level commercial space and upper story apartments.

7) 1731 Elm St., $249,000 credit for $1.8 million project that renovate five-story building for street-level retail and upper-floor apartments.

8) 53 E. Clifton Ave., $194,000 credit for $993,000 project for five apartments affordable for low-income residents.

9) 1815 Elm St., $186,000 credit for $1.87 million renovation of three-floor building for street-level retail and upper-floor apartments.

10) Niehoff Flats, 21 E. 15th St., $138,000 credit for $1.2 million project to renovate vacant building into six market-rate apartments.

Maly said Cincinnati, with its plethora of historic but rundown buildings, has recently benefited more from historic tax credits than most cities in the country.

"Cincinnati has more usage of the credits than anyone else in Ohio, and it's definitely near the top of the list in the country," he said.

All of the Greater Cincinnati tax credits were awarded within city limits, and all but two were awarded in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown.

The big exceptions are Union Terminal and Price Hill's Masonic Lodge.

Price Hill Will has been laboring to convert a vacant eyesore into a magnet for west side weddings, concerts and other special events.

RELATED: East Price Hill has a grand events space in its sights to bookend its Incline District

Maly was surprised that other neighborhoods experiencing revitalization weren't able to cash in on this round of tax credits, especially because credits for smaller projects are less competitive. 

But he said the compliance paperwork and legal requirements are no less onerous, which may dissuade smaller businesses from going through the process.

"It's a lot of work and compliance and if you've never done it before, daunting and complex," he said.

Bob Driehaus covers economic development. Contact him and follow stories on Facebook, Google, and Twitter.