Builder 'hopeful' project will get needed tax credits

Testa to learn in June if request approved

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- Although a recently erected sign on the property at which a developer wants to build a city center complex doesn't mean the project is a sure thing, the developer says it's remaining "hopeful" that good news will come its way June 12.

That's when Testa Companies will learn whether the Ohio Housing Finance Agency will administer the senior tax credits, on behalf of the federal government, it needs to move its proposed "The Village at Town Center" project forward.

Dennis Loughry, economic developer for Tallmadge, said that will be a big day for the city.

He first noticed the sign two weeks ago that promotes Testa Companies' proposed mixed-use development project, which the sign refers to as its "planned development."

"I thought they were optimistic about their application," Loughry said when he saw the sign.

With the proposed project, Testa Companies seeks to combine residential, retail, commercial and civic elements to create a city center complex on the 8.3-acre, mostly vacant lot next to City Hall.

Chief Operating Officer Joel Testa said a similar sign is put up for each of its project, regardless of how strong of a candidate it is for tax credits. The signs are part of the company's community outreach program that informs the community about its project and directs them to a website and Facebook page for more details.

He said the sign for this project also helps the state with its senior tax credits review process by identifying the property for workers who visit the site and look at the surroundings.

Loughry said it's not uncommon for a developer to publicly show its confidence for a project that has yet to be finalized. He said it's an advertising and marketing tool, similar to when real estate agents leave their listing signs up after a property has sold.

"In the real estate business, it happens all the time. It's like a soft sell," said Loughry, a former real estate agent himself. "They're trying to build momentum, to see if there's interest in the project."

In the meantime, Testa said the company has internally scored its application for the senior tax credits and those of its competitors with information made available to the public, and its town center project has come out on top.

"We feel really good about this one, but you never know," he said.

"I'm hopeful, and we think it's a pretty strong competing project for a lot of reasons. We think it's unique, and it's a project we're already thinking about developing in other communities," he added.

He declined to disclose at this time which communities he's targeting but did say they were in Summit County.

Typically, each year the state reviews about 130 applications for the senior tax credits and awards about 30, Testa said. The numbers can vary from year to year, depending on how much money the federal government allocates, and how expensive the winning projects are to develop. The more expensive projects will be awarded more money in the form of the credits.

If Testa Companies' project isn't awarded the senior tax credits this year, it may decide to try again. Testa said the company could resubmit its application next year or revamp the project to eliminate the significant senior housing aspect.

"In the sense it's so heavily designed around that senior housing piece, if the tax credits don't get funded, it can't be built," he said. "The project wouldn't move forward, at least in the capacity it is now."

He said because the need for this development in Tallmadge is so strong, his company probably would try to work with the owner of the property to not sell it so the company can submit its application for the senior tax credits again next year.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

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