Former Crook building could become hotel

EAST LIVERPOOL Steps were taken last week by City Council that could pave the way toward establishing a hotel in the former Crook building downtown.

With no comment, council approved an ordinance authorizing an agreement with the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to convey the property at 112 E. Fifth St. from its actual owner Craig Newbold to the city, then to the CIC and back to Newbold.

This is the same type of agreement that was used to transfer property just down the street that is earmarked for the New Castle School of Trades.

While the city does not actually own the building, both the city and CIC must be included in the “chain of title” as part of the development plan which includes seeking historic tax credits.

The legislation was reviewed just prior to the council session by its economic development committee, which forwarded the ordinance for consideration.

Committee Chairman Ryan Stovall offered a brief synopsis of the Vision 20/20 project, of which the Crook building is part, saying a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement has been approved by the school district as part of the project, with council soon to act on its part of the same TIF.

The environmental phase one has been completed on the Crook building, with the developer and owner having negotiated a cost-sharing agreement and working on grants and tax credits.

Stovall said a letter of intent has been signed by a “flag” hotel for the property, but said he does not know which one it is at this time.

Updating council on other parts of the Vision project, Stovall said state review of historic tax credits for the New Castle School of Trades are complete, with federal historic and new market tax credits expected to be awarded in June.

A $28,500 finance fund grant was awarded for pre-construction costs of the project, phase one of the environmental study is complete, and the boundary survey is being completed, with a survey of property behind Westgate school which will also be used for the school also complete, Stovall reported.

In regard to the Brookes block project, which entails an apartment house at Fifth and Market, the last piece of property has been acquired and tax credits will be sought through the same process as the New Castle and Crook Building project, Stovall said.

As part of the Vision project, three parking structures are being eyed for the downtown: one near the New Castle school, one near the new hotel and one near the Brookes block, to be funded with TIF money.

Stovall said that non-disclosure agreements and potential investor confidentiality limits the amount of information that can be shared at this time.