Arcade renovation project receives another $1.5 million in tax credits

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NEWARK — The Arcade in downtown Newark has received another $1.5 million in tax credits like Robertson Construction prepares to begin renovation of one of the state’s first glass-roofed malls.

Governor Mike DeWine announced support for 13 mixed-use development projects on Wednesday. The Arcade was one of eight in the general projects category, joined by applicants from Delaware, Hamilton, Elyria, Wooster, Canton, Mentor and Van Wert.

The selected projects are the first to receive state support under the new transformational mixed-use development program, which went into effect last year after it was created by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by the governor.

“This new program allows us to help local communities make long-term change to underutilized areas by transforming vacant buildings, building new commercial and leisure spaces, creating more housing and creating thousands new jobs in Ohio,” DeWine said.

“I am delighted to see the progress of these 13 projects, as they will have a significant positive impact on the local economy and the quality of life for area residents.”

Fred Ernest, executive director of Newark Development Partners, said the $1.56 million tax credit was the total requested by the NDP for the new state program’s $15 million project.

“We thought we would score well,” said Ernest. “We were fourth in the state in our bracket (of population). I was confident, but I didn’t know if we would get the full amount.

The project has now been approved for approximately $5.5 million in federal and state tax credits, as well as approximately $9 million in paid or pledged donations. Last year, the project received approval from the Ohio Development Services Agency for $1 million in historic preservation tax credits.

“It helps us fill in some of the gaps we have, so we’re budgeting for the loans it will take to complete the Arcade,” Ernest said. “The less debt we can have on the Arcade, the more rental income we can put into city projects.”

The state’s announcement listed a total development cost of $17.5 million, but Ernest said that included all demolition work and development costs. Robertson expects the project to take 14 to 16 months.

The historic Arcade, which opened in 1909, will be rehabilitated into dining spaces, art studios, retail, retail, offices and 19 apartments at market price. The 44,000 square foot building is located near Courthouse Square, occupying a city block bordered by Third, Fourth and West Church streets.

The deteriorating building was closed and all tenants except Park National Bank moved to the Newark Commerce Center at 195 Union St., Newark. The NPD purchased The Arcade in November 2019, when it closed the structure to the general public for security reasons.

In the decade before the NPD’s involvement, The Arcade had been placed under 24-hour fire watch, repeatedly flooded due to frozen sprinkler lines or water main breaks, and cited for numerous fire code violations.

State Representative Mark Fraizer, R-Newark, said the project will help continue the revitalization of downtown Newark and create a community center for Licking Countians.

“Space has long been an underutilized gem in our community,” Fraizer said. “This tax credit will go a long way toward bringing downtown Newark back to support business activity, housing, and continue to build pride in our local community.”

Ernest said Fraizer and State Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, were helpful and supportive of the NDP’s efforts to get the tax credits.

The Arcade once housed 30 shops, accommodation and entertainment. It featured an orchestra playing at the Fourth Street entrance, with nightly dancing and children playing around a fountain. A theater was later added and the building at one point became T-shaped, extending to West Main Street.

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