Apartments get $675,000 in tax credits

The Packard Building apartments were built in 1896, 318 N. Park Ave., Warren. With a $675,000 tax credit to restore it in a project worth more than $4 million, officials are hopeful the building will be restored and turned into apartments in the next few years.

WARREN — With the award of a $675,000 tax credit, the restoration and development of the vacant and rundown Packard Building apartments but described as historic, now is likely in coming years, according to Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit incentivizes the $4.1 million project, which was one of 28 announced Wednesday by the Ohio Development Services Agency. Most of the other projects are in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

The historic apartment building was built in 1896 and has sat vacant for about 12 years, Franklin said.

“The Packard Apartments is the third historic preservation project in Warren and the first residential project. Built in 1898, the building was constructed for the Packard brothers who went on to automobile fame. It has been vacant since 2006, and the project will create 17 market-rate apartments just outside of downtown Warren,” the announcement states.

The building’s owner, Steve Coon, is part of the Legacy Group that purchased Packard House several years ago for $55,000 and quickly repaired the roof for $85,000 to preserve the building for future renovation.

Coon applied for the tax credits numerous times, missing the award by a few points a few times, Franklin said.

“I thank (Coon) for his patience and for keeping the building secure in the meantime,” Franklin said.

In 2013, the city hoped the development would be completed in a year or so. The property was on a list created by the city’s Resident Advisory Committee presented to the administration as one of 10 projects its members believed would help reinvigorate the city’s growth.

Although the building’s 17 apartments were divided into 32 apartments years ago, the project is expected to return the building to 17.

Franklin said the restoration will meet the need for more housing close to the area’s downtown area, and may lead to more development on North Park Avenue.

“It is has been a really desired living location since its inception in 1898. It was considered the place to be in Warren. With its proximity to downtown, and some peripheral improvements in that area, it will only enhance the marketability and help sustain the push to create housing in the downtown district,” Franklin said. “There is a lot of momentum right now. People want to live downtown.”

Franklin said he intends to meet with Coon, who operates Coon Restoration and Sealant in Stark County. Coon has been responsible for successful restoration and development projects in Dayton, Hamilton and Cleveland, Franklin said.

“He has a long history of restoring buildings all over the state. He knows what to do and how to do it. He is very experienced and once he comes in and builds, I think it will spur more projects in the city,” said Anthony Iannucci, Jr., executive director of the Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corporation. “We will work with (Coon) on this and then continue to go out and address more of the buildings and structures to the north of it, while the motivation is there. There are some former mansions over there we would like to see some work done to address the condition they are in. We will talk to the owners and see if we can move the needle on those.”

The property owner has to apply for the tax credits, which can be sold to other companies to help fund the project, or used by the owner to reduce taxes associated with the restoration after the project is complete, Iannucci said.