CAO seeks funds for lofts project

Published 10:19 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

Building located on S. Third, Vernon streets

The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization has gotten a formal invitation to pursue funds to turn the old Brumberg Building into commercial office space and eventually lofts.

The five-story building on the corner of South Third and Vernon streets has been vacant since Guy’s Carpeting moved from downtown Ironton to a newly built building on the eastern edge of town in 2006.

Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said the building was bought 10 years ago and they had historic tax credits in the past for the project.

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“We went to get those tax credits renewed, but we are not able to compete with the state historic tax credits,” he said. Most of the large urban centers like Columbus and Cleveland are able to leverage money from the private sector for projects. “So, since then, we have been working on a plan to preserve the building and put it back into partial use.”

After Lawrence County gave the project a high priority last year, the Ironton-Lawrence County CAO was invited to go after funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission for $250,000.

“Because of that, the state became supportive of what they call pockets of opportunity money,” Kline said, adding that the amount was $200,000 of HUD money. “And, with some private money, we can preserve the building. So we have been formally invited, which means we are pretty assured of funding, but there is no absolute guarantee.”

But the odds are pretty good unless there are program requirements they can’t meet.

“However, with this being federal ARC funds, there will be a time frame the funds are transferred from the ARC to HUD to the state,” Kline said. “They’ve said as much as six months on past projects so we will see.”

The money would go toward a new roof and putting in new replacement windows that meet historic preservation requirements.

“Then we can get the first floor space back into use for a commercial tenant,” Kline said.

Once that phase is completed, the goal is to create condominiums on the upper floors.

“As it is designed right now, it would be 15 two-bedroom condo apartments,” he said.

The Ironton Lofts project includes the adjacent three-story Berg Building on South Second Street. The ground floor has a transit center for the TTA-Ohio bus depot on the ground floor. There are plans to put four lofts on the second and third floors.

Kline said that a lot of the utilities were brought into both buildings when the work was done on the Berg Building.

“That’s how we can get this part of the project done as cheaply as is projected,” he said.

The Brumberg project, including putting the lofts in, is in the $5 million range.

There is an elevator that serves both buildings that will have to be repaired so it can provide access to the residences in both buildings