Crews were working on the exterior of the historic Goetz Tower Wednesday, March 13 in Middletown. Coon Restoration plans to transform the building into office and residential space that officials say will help that area of downtown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

After delays, the significant Goetz Tower renovation project will start in Middletown

Nearly three dozen people attended the event at the seven-story Art Deco building located at 1000 Central Ave., which is undergoing a $3.5 million restoration and redevelopment that will include new apartments and office space.

Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. and other community leaders spoke about the commitment made by developer Steve Coon of Historic Developers as well as how several entities such as the city, Middletown Community Foundation and Middletown Moving Forward assisted with the project in some of the early phases. Mulligan called Coon “a key partner in Middletown.”

The Goetz Tower project is one of several that are planned, underway or completed in downtown Middletown. Other projects include a new gated townhome development, a boutique hotel, new restaurants such as the Swire Inn, a new BMW motorcycle dealership, renovations at the Post Office and Middletown City Building, downtown public wi-fi, renovations of the former Carnegie Library and future development of the Oakland neighborhood.

Goetz Tower renovation project back on track after setback

Coon said he identified the building as a possible investment. His company works on close to 70 projects per year around the state, including the Spooky Nook project in Hamilton.

“I have 12 buildings in Hamilton,” he said. “Middletown is just as nice as Hamilton. We need to take advantage of the assets here. I’m glad we’re finally going to get started.”

Built in 1930, the building’s upper floors will be redeveloped into 16 market-rate apartments, ranging from 800 to 1,100 square feet. Coon said that the apartments will be ready for occupancy by September 2020.

“People will want to move to a downtown location,” he said. “Millennials and empty-nesters love urban living.

PHOTOS: See Middletown’s historic Goetz Tower before renovations began

In addition, about 2,000 square feet of office space will be created on the first floor and on a small mezzanine on the second floor for the Middletown Economic Development Department office which will relocate from the Middletown City Building. Coon said the space should be ready for occupancy by mid-October.

He said a new roof will be installed this year, and new windows will be installed next spring.

“I’m really excited,” Coon said. “There are a lot of nice buildings that can be redeveloped in Middletown. I hope this inspires other people to invest in these buildings here.”

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The project has been in the works since 2014. One of the issues that delayed progress was an interior fire main that burst on the building’s fourth floor around New Year’s Day 2018.

Water ran from the pipe for more than 48 hours during a time when the temperatures fell to minus-10 degrees with wind speeds of 30 mph, Coon said. Jennifer Ekey, Middletown’s economic development director said an adjacent business owner contacted her to report flowing under the doors and freezing.

The water damage put the project behind schedule by more than a year, which required Coon to get extensions for state and federal historic tax credits. Last fall, Middletown City Council extended its Community Reinvestment Area abatement completion date to Dec. 31, 2019. That agreement provides a 100 percent tax abatement for 12 years. The Ohio Developmental Services Agency also agreed to continue the historic tax credits with the same completion date as the city.

Middletown focusing in on downtown living

Coon said projects such as these depend on receiving the state and federal historic tax credits to ensure they are completed.

He will be seeking another extension due to delays in settling the insurance issues from the water damage that kept the project from moving forward.

“I wouldn’t do it if I did not believe in it, and I believe in it,” Coon said.

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