Hamilton set to add incentives for Well House Hotel project

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A few weeks after being awarded state historic tax credits, additional incentives are expected locally for the Well House Hotel project.

Over the next two meetings in August, Hamilton City Council will consider a few legislative actions that will financially benefit the city’s next hotel expected to open.

Tom Vanderhorst, Hamilton’s director of External Services, said there are three prongs to the financial incentives, the main piece is implementing a 30-year tax increment financing, or TIF, district, in the city’s core downtown area.

Payments in lieu of taxes, which will be equal to the amount of real estate taxes, will be rebated to the developer, which is allowed by the Ohio Revised Code. The developer will directly pay the Hamilton City Schools $35,000 a year for most of the life of the TIF district.

“Think about it right now, the school district is getting about $18,000 a year off this project. They’ll continue to keep the baseline of whatever they would get before, plus the $35,000 that they’re getting from the years six through 30.”

In order to put money into the project, Vanderhorst said the city’s name needs to be in the chain of ownership, so “you’ll see this building go into the city’s name and back out. We’re not buying the building, but it’s something we have to do to put money back into it.”

Also, Hamilton will have a five-year community reinvestment area, or CRA, deal that will be a 100% abatement that was part of the compensation agreement and TIF. A CRA allows local governments to provide tax exemptions for property owners of renovation or new construction projects.

Finally, the project will be enrolled in Hamilton Community Authority, which will incorporate a pair of facility use charges, which the city’s other hotels are enrolled.

“It’s pretty complicated,” Vanderhorst said, adding the reason the city’s aiding the project with incentives is because historic buildings “are challenging projects. They need incentives.”

The Well House Hotel is a boutique hotel for Hilton’s Tapestry Collection. The $16 million redevelopment of the nearly century-old Anthony Wayne building, which was originally built as a hotel, was announced last spring. The developer, Vision AWH LLC, which is led by Matt Olliges, is creating a 54-room hotel and recently received $1.645 million in Ohio’s historic tax credits.

The project was also incentivized through $3 million in funding from the city via a grant and loan through the Hamilton Community Improvement Corporation.

“This is something that’s already been approved by the Hamilton City School Distirct, and I can’t stress enough how important their partnership is when we pull deals like this off because these deals are very complicated.”

“This is (Olliges’) second project in the city of Hamilton, just like Jim Cohen with CMC Properties, who did the Marcum and now Rossville Flats,” said Vanderhorst. “They’re coming back to do second projects.”

Olliges was also the developer of the Billy Yanks Restaurant & Bourbon Bar project on Main Street.

Interior construction had already begun, but exterior construction is expected to begin by Aug. 1 with an estimated opening date in the summer of 2024.

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