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Brumberg project won’t get tax credits

Once again there won’t be tax credits to restore the aging Brumberg Building on South Third Street.

“The state changed the criteria that they used in competition for the tax credits,” Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said. “We lost three more points out of the rating system and that put us out of the funding range.”

Those credits are needed to start work on turning the Brumberg into market-rate apartments with rents between $700 and $800 a moth.

Points are given for possible job creation, time frame for completion, the number of tax credit projects awarded to a community and the poverty rate in the area.

Even though the Brumberg is not designed to be low-income housing, drops in Ironton’s poverty rates cost the project three points.

“The poverty level according to their data dropped in Ironton downtown from Railroad to Spruce,” Kline said. “In 2006 the poverty rate was at 45.5 percent. Now as of what they are showing in 2014 it is 21.6 percent.”

Also overall for the community the poverty level dropped to 19.6 percent, the state said.

“When we went below 20 percent, we lost a point,” Kline said. “We were trying to scrape enough ways of gaining points. We needed to get three points the last time. We were able to gain one point because unemployment went above the state’s. But we were down five points.”

In December 2015 the state rejected Ironton’s application for the credits saying it missed the mark by three points.

Now five down, officials didn’t even make an application.

“It wasn’t going to be feasible,” Kline said. “We are having some discussions on alternatives with the state and other folks trying to get some dollars to stabilize the building, get a new roof and make the first floor able to be occupied.”

Economic development leaders have tried for more than four years to rescue the building, many in the community look at as an eyesore. With market-rate housing it would bring residents with a higher level of income to downtown.

“We are not giving up,” Kline said. “We are trying to see what we can get accomplished. Without the tax credits we can’t get the numbers to work to get a feasible financial plan.”