EAST LIVERPOOL - A plan to turn two now-vacant downtown stores into a trade school received another boost Tuesday after nearly $1.2 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits were awarded to help rehabilitate the buildings.
The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) awarded a $1,130,336 tax credit to a group of investors who plan to renovate the former Ogilvie Department Store and former 5&10 on East Fifth Street for use by the New Castle School of Trades.
The Pennsylvania-based trade school will bring vocational training to the city, including commercial/industrial maintenance, welding and commercial drivers' license programs, creating an estimated 20 permanent and 12 part-time jobs.
Once the site of East Liverpool’s largest retailer, this building on East Fifth Street is being eyed for the New Castle School of Trades vocational training program. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
Mayor Jim Swoger said he and Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell began working on the project two years ago and said, "I would like to thank the state officials who approved this project, but most of all I thank the local citizens who came together with Better City to move this project forward."
Better City LLC is a Utah firm with which the city has contracted to develop an economic plan.
City Councilman Ryan Stovall has also been instrumental in the development of plans with Better City and the Vision 20/20 ELO Committee spearheading this project.
Founder of the Vision 20/20 Committee Scott Shepherd and Stovall traveled to Findlay Tuesday to attend the ceremony at which the tax credit awards were announced.
"There is a great deal of behind the scenes work by some very good people on this project, and today we see the fruits of that labor. This is just the first step in restoring the historic downtown East Liverpool," Shepherd said.
Stovall called Tuesday's announcement, "A good day for East Liverpool, Ohio."
Adam Hughes of Better City agreed, saying, "This news is very exciting for us and for the people of East Liverpool. We are pleased the state of Ohio came through for the citizens of East Liverpool. Today, we celebrate, tomorrow, we get back to work, as we have much more to accomplish before we reach our goal of completely reinventing the city of East Liverpool."
This is just one of several development projects being eyed for downtown, with a top-name hotel being planned for the former Crook building, an apartment building in the former Brooks building, and parking garages in the works.
Stovall said the next step in the process is awarding new market tax credits and said construction/rehabilitation on the Ogilvie building could start in late July or early August, with New Castle School of Trade officials having indicated they would like to start classes downtown after the first of next year.
Also on Tuesday, the ODSA awarded a $5 million tax credit to the NYO Property Group owned by the Dominic Marchionda to transform the Stambaugh Building in Youngstown into a hotel.
The tax credits were part of more than $30 million in total tax credits awarded by the ODSA for the rehabilitation of various properties around the state.