Testa Companies hopes for tax credits for mixed-use project on North Avenue in Tallmadge

Testa Companies to reapply for senior funding

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- Testa Companies, the developer behind the plan to create a city center complex on North Avenue next to City Hall, has decided to reapply for the federal senior tax credits it was denied earlier this year.

Unless something changes that would make the company reverse course, its application, and the others that will be competing for the federal tax credits that the state administers, are due Feb. 20, 2014. Developers who apply for the tax credits for their projects are to be notified whether they've been awarded on May 14, 2014.

"That's our plan. Everything's very fluid with these deals. We're usually adjusting them around at the last minute, so things could change," said Joel Testa, chief operating officer of Testa Companies.

The plans for the "Tallmadge Town Center" project on a mostly vacant 8.3-acre property at 76 North Ave. include building a mixed-use, four-story building with retail on the first floor, rental apartment units restricted to seniors on the second and third floors and condominiums that aren't age-restricted on the fourth floor. Private parking garages for the condos would be included on the first floor.

Changes to the scoring system for tax credit applications, which were released last fall, led the company to believe the project will have a better chance of being awarded the tax credits during this round than it did the last round. Because he expected the scoring system to stay the same for the next round of awards, Testa said the project was reworked so he could move forward without the tax credits.

Even so, Testa favors having them.

"Leveraging those funds does make the project much nicer. It gives us the ability to do more things, and it makes it work better," he said.

Without the tax credits, Testa said the project wouldn't be able to include the affordable senior housing element, which he believes is in demand in Tallmadge.

Even if the project doesn't land the tax credits, and the company again decides to pursue the development in its alternative form, Testa said he'd still be optimistic.

"There's certainly a demand. People like the project, and I have no fear that it won't move forward," he said.

A multi-story senior apartment complex that LW Associates proposed to build at 580 Colony Park Drive won't compete with Testa's city center complex development during this round of tax credit awards.

Todd Valentine, director of development for LW Associates, said the changes to the program don't favor its "Tallmadge Senior Village" project so the company won't reapply.

"It kind of favored it last year, but it won't quite make it this year. This year it's clear it's not worth turning in so we are not moving forward with an application on that," he said.

Because the project financially hinges on the tax credits, LW Associates isn't interested in revising the project to eliminate them.

"We'll always keep that site in mind as we're going from year to year, but until it comes back into favor] with the program's scoring method] I just can't see us turning it in," Valentine said.

The Tallmadge Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to City Council Dec. 5 that it approve a request from Testa Companies for a two-year extension on the conditional zoning certificate for the property it hopes to develop on North Avenue.

The conditional zoning certificate is set to expire Jan. 24, 2014.

The property that is zoned R-4 needs a conditional zoning certificate to permit residential, retail, offices, child day cares, adult day cares, educational facilities and restaurants, including fast food and those that serve alcohol.

Council is expected to address the request at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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