Middletown’s Goetz Tower gets ‘new life’ after receiving state tax credits

Developer says market-rate apartments will be available by fall of 2023.

The developer of a vacant, seven-story Middletown building said it “got new life” after the state awarded more than $711,950 in tax credits.

Steve Coon, developer of the Goetz Tower, 1000 Central Ave., said the former bank and office tower in downtown will be converted into 20 market-rate apartments on the second through seventh floors with retail or office space on the first floor.

He expects the project to be complete by the fall of 2023.

“It will happen fast,” he said when asked about a timeline.

Nothing has been fast about the redevelopment of the Art Deco building that was constructed in 1930 by the Middletown Building and Deposit Association.

Efforts to renovate the 30,000-square-foot building began eight years ago, but progress has been slowed by numerous obstacles, including extensive damage caused by an interior water leak during freezing winter temperatures, Coon said. Most recently, the project was delayed due to COVID-19 and now the cost of building materials has jumped 20%.

Four years ago, Coon, president of Canton-based Coon Restoration, said work on the Goetz Tower could begin as soon as Thanksgiving 2018. At the time, he said the structural and design drawings for the $3.5 million project were completed and contracts were being let out to bid.

Then in 2020, Coon, who has redeveloped building throughout the state and is involved with the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill project in Hamilton, said he hoped to complete the Goetz Tower project by Christmas 2021.

Now, Coon said, the project is expected to cost $6 million due to rising construction costs.

Coon said he will meet with city officials soon to discuss his financial plans and construction timeline.

Paul Lolli, acting city manager, said the city “looks forward to working with him (Coon) to create a beautiful asset in the city.”

Monica Nenni, Middletown’s vice mayor, said council has agreed to “come to the table” with the developer and create the best possible plan for the project.

“We will make it work,” Nenni said.

She described the tax credit “as a signal the plan is turning in the right direction.”

Coon said the Goetz Tower can play a vital role in the revitalization of downtown.

“There will be life downtown after 5 o’clock,” he said. “This is huge news.”

Council member Tal Moon called the development of the Goetz Tower “an important project” because it creates space for downtown living. He said the tower has the potential to be the “first high-end” apartment complex downtown.

Rodney Muterspaw, a first-year council member and former police chief, said residents have expressed concerns about the city concentrating its redevelopment plans on the Towne Mall Galleria in the East End.

This tax credit, which he called “a little win and a really cool thing,” shows that city leaders understand the importance of investing throughout Middletown. Muterspaw, a Realtor, said younger residents have contacted him and shown interest in living in the Goetz Tower.

The tax credits were announced this week by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted who said the state will aid in the rehabilitation of 38 historic buildings by offering nearly $40 million in tax credits as part of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.

In total, the Ohio Department of Development is awarding $39,874,792 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for rehabilitation projects in 19 communities located in 16 counties. The Goetz Tower was the only Butler County project to receive tax credits.

“Preserving historic buildings is one tool we can use to build vibrant downtowns and create opportunity on our main streets throughout the state,” DeWine said in a release. “These projects are just one piece of the larger picture to transform our communities and create even more exceptional places to live and visit.”

The awards will assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods, many of which are vacant and generating little economic activity. Once rehabilitated, these historic buildings will drive further investment and interest in adjacent property, according to Husted.

“Historic tax credits create value for communities by attracting investment that would not make sense otherwise,” he said in a release. “Almost every legacy city in Ohio has a great old building that they wish someone would revitalize because it’s important to the community’s history and future — Historic Tax Credits make this hope a reality.”

Developers are not issued the tax credit until project construction is complete and all program requirements are verified. Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $564 million in private investments.

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