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Sandusky approves loan for Rieger developers

Andy Ouriel • Nov 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

In early 2012, Columbus-based housing organization Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, a nonprofit, secured enough money to renovate the Rieger Hotel at Jackson and West Market streets.

It’s an $8 million project, mostly funded through tax credits aimed to preserve an iconic structure and spur economic development downtown.

Scheduled for a late 2013 debut, developers want to sculpt the legendary property into a 37-unit complex for senior living.

The building’s first floor will likely include some office space, and perhaps retail and an eatery.

City officials recently finalized the loan and previously provided a decade-long tax break to streamline the process. The tax break should save at least $110,000 in taxes in 10 years.

“The project is financed largely with senior housing tax credits,” said the city’s financial consultant, Greg Sherman. “Without the tax credits, this project would not have worked financially. So we provided a small loan to help the company obtain over $5 million in tax credit financing.”

City officials provide these types of loans to encourage builders to improve infrastructure and facilities in low- or middle-income neighborhoods.

The loan ideally parlays into injecting additional income into an area while bolstering job opportunities, effectively turning an empty, decrepit property into something productive.

Today the Rieger is valued at almost $102,000, according to the Erie County auditor.

The most recent entity to operate inside the facility, about 20 years ago, was a nursing home. Before then, the 70,000-square-foot facility provided lodging to visitors. The Rieger was built in 1912.

Foundation workers said they want to make a long-term commitment in Sandusky.

Local studies concluded the area’s senior population, 65 and older, should boom from 18,000 today to about 26,000 in eight years, showing an obvious need for more senior housing.

“The redevelopment of the Rieger is going to be great in terms of serving the unmet needs of seniors who want to live downtown,” foundation vice president Roy Lowenstein said.

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