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Lofts project gets boost

The project to renovate the rear portion of the former Guy’s Floor Covering building into a transit terminal and loft apartments took a step forward Thursday.

Ohio Director of Development Lisa Patt-McDaniel announced the Ironton Lofts project had gotten a state historic preservation tax credit of up to $1.9 million.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the South Second Street building. The Berg building, left vacant when the floor covering store moved to a new location, dates back to the late 1800s and was one of the more prominent buildings in the city’s early days. Local leaders are keen to restore the building to prominence once again.

“There is a huge need in our small town as to how to restore and keep existing facilities,” Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Assistant Director Ralph Kline said. The CAO is one of the local partners for the project.

Kline said the tax credit is a critical part of financing the project. Because design plans have already been completed, bids for the transit center portion of the building may be advertised in January, with construction following in February. The total cost for the project is $8.1 million and will take approximately a year.

The tax credit applies to the four one-and two-bedroom loft apartments, however, the building will also house two corporate suites on upper floors and the bus terminal on the first floor.

Local officials hope to also eventually convert the adjoining Third Street building, the Brumberg Building, into 10 additional apartments.

Both Kline and Patt-McDaniel pointed out the lofts project ties in with other downtown projects, such as the water park planned for a vacant lot across South Second Street from the lofts building and the open air market, all of them designed to draw people downtown, not only to shop and spend leisure hours, but also to live.

Mayor Rich Blankenship welcomed the tax credit as good news.

“I appreciate the fact the state is willing to work with the city,” Blankenship said. “It’s great to come to this point.”

The Berg building is one of only 12 across the state getting the tax credit.

“Each one has their own unique character and we want to preserve that here,” Patt-McDaniel said.

Kline said market studies are being done now but he guessed the loft apartment rent would fall in the $700 to $800 range.