Cleveland developers often look to lucrative tax credits to make a deal work

Posted at 11:42 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-22 00:01:32-04

Some delayed Cleveland redevelopment projects are often held up waiting on lucrative tax credits to get approved.

Every year, the Ohio Development Services Agency awards tens of millions of dollars in historic tax credits to developers looking to rehabilitate older, underused buildings. It’s part of a twice annual lottery.

In June, the agency awarded more than $34 million in credits, $1.4 million of which went to 3100 Euclid Avenue, a project set to turn a vacant office building into 80 apartments.

Developer Mark Schildhouse anticipated work starting toward the end of 2016, but his initial request for the credit in December was denied. He reapplied in June and won. Now, work could begin this fall.

"We had our financing in place. We had all this going and now they awarded it to us,” Schildhouse said. "This is going to take a major step in revitalizing that particular part of the neighborhood.”

The program awards money to a long list of projects statewide, but only a select few mega projects get the mega money, a rare $25 million infusion.

Real estate expert Mark Dottore says the limited pot of money is why two huge, long-planned renovations in downtown Cleveland faced delays.

“So Huntington and May Company were up for the $25 million,” Dottore said, referring to the old Huntington building at 925 Euclid Avenue and the May Company building at Public Square. "Huntington got the $25 million tax credit, thus stalling the May Company, because without these credits, you can’t do these deals. They just don’t make fiscal sense.”

Now, developers are set to transform 925 Euclid into apartments and hotel rooms, bringing new residents and workers downtown. But, besides a new Taco Bell Cantina on the ground level, developers behind The May Company are still waiting.