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Ohio awards nearly $40 million in historic tax credits for projects in 19 communities

Posted at 4:29 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 18:38:45-04

ELYRIA, Ohio — The State of Ohio will aid in the rehabilitation of 38 historic buildings by offering nearly $40 million in tax credits as part of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. In total, the Ohio Department of Development announced Wednesday it is awarding $39,874,792 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for rehabilitation projects in 19 communities located in 16 counties.

$2 million of that is going towards the $36 million transformations of the Merthe Co. building on Broad Street in Elyria, directly across the street from Ely Square. It's a building that's served many purposes over the last century and a half but will soon be transformed into something they couldn't have imagined in 1873, a 173-seat e-sports arena called Forge 417.

"It's pretty mind-blowing to think that this building was originally constructed in the 1870s and now here in 2022 we're repurposing it for using cutting edge technology," said Stephanie Mercado the project director. "It's a mixed-use project that is a combination of e-sports gaming, commercial office space and multi-family."

It's a $36 million transformation aided in part by that $2 million from the state.

"These tax credits are extremely important to these types of projects," said John Werkman, Chief Investment Officer with the Ohio Department of Development. "Because in many cases they wouldn't be able to get done without these tax credits and also sometimes additional tax credits that can be received on the federal side."

In all nearly $40 million in tax credits were awarded this day, money that's paid only after the projects are complete. Together the 38 projects in 16 counties are expected to draw more than a half-billion in private investments. Three on the receiving end in Cuyahoga County include $225,000 for the old Lakewood Board of Education Building and $5 million for Lakewood's Homestead Theatre Block along Detroit Avenue. $2 million for Cleveland's old National Hawthorne Elementary on West 130th and $1.3 million for St. Michael School on Scranton Road.

Back in Elyria, the Forge 417 project is the city's first-ever historic tax credit award, hopefully with more to come said Mayor Frank Whitefield.

"We're a post-industrial city, over 200 years old and most of our history has built who we are and this gives us an opportunity to take that history and move us into the future."