Ironton City Council approves RoNa ordinance

Published 10:13 am Friday, October 21, 2011

The restoration of the old RoNa Theater is inching closer to reality.

The Ironton City Council Thursday night suspended the rules and gave final approval to an ordinance that would allow the old theater to be transferred to the Ironton Port Authority. The move allows the RoNa to receive approximately $2.5 million in federal and state tax credits.

“The deadline is the end of this month,” Mayor Rich Blankenship explained. “We have to do this to take advantage of the tax credits. If we don’t (pass the ordinance) we lose them.”

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Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Assistant Director Ralph Kline said the tax credits are not given to governmental entities, hence the need to transfer ownership to the IPA.

Later on, he anticipates the RoNa will be transferred to a for-profit corporation, such as the Old Engineers LLC, a collaboration of the IPA, Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, the CAO and other entities.

This holding corporation will then go out and seek what is known as a syndicator, an entity that would handle the financing of the project. Such a syndicator, Kline said, would be a limited partner and have no say in operations.

“We’ve talked to PNC Bank. They did the Park Avenue Apartments,” Kline explained. He added there is no guarantee the city will be able to find a syndicator. “There are still some gaps in the project,” he said. Still, he said the tax credits are a significant step in the restoration of the RoNa and he is optimistic about its future.

Chris Destocki and Carol Jean Hampton both attended the council meeting. They are members of the family that owned the RoNa prior to the city acquiring it. They asked that the building be called The Hampton RoNa in honor of their family.