No tax credits for Sprenger’s bid to revive Amherst’s old Central School


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



File photo The former Central School, closed since the early 1980s, has sat empty for more than three decades. It’s been used for storage by Sprenger Health Care, which owns the building. The inside has been vandalized, paint has peeled from the walls, and years of extreme cold weather and rain have warped old wooden floorboards.


Central School’s resurrection is not on a list of 18 projects across Ohio that will get $22.8 million in historic preservation credits.

Released Dec. 20, the Ohio Development Services Agency list prominently features big awards for Cleveland, such as $249,000 to rehabilitate the upper floors of the Bloch Block Building in the Warehouse District; $1 million for commercial office space in the Empire Improvement Building on Superior Avenue; and $5 million for the Halle Building on Euclid Avenue, which will get 122 apartments on its six highest floors and retail and commercial space on others.

Cincinnati, Hamilton, Kent, Sandusky, Dayton, Xenia, Delaware, Newark, Columbus, Tiffin, and Lima are all big winners.

Sprenger Health Care had been banking on state help to renovate Amherst’s former Central School, located on Church Street, to be transformed into 40 assisted living units.

Amy Sanfilippo, corporate acquisitions director for the Lorain-based company, said there is a lot of disappointment that the project will not move forward this winter.

But the project is far from dead. She said Sprenger plans to go after historic preservation tax credits again in February.

Until then, the Central School project is on hold.

North Coast Design Build, which had been prepping the site for interior demolition in hopes of starting construction early in the new year, has cleared out of the building. Sanfilippo said no more work will be done until funding is available.

This possibility was not unforeseen. Architect Mike Cloud, whose firm oversees Sprenger projects, said earlier this month there was a “small” chance the bid for Central School credits would be rejected.

Sprenger chief operating officer Michael Sprenger told the News-Times this summer that the project is far too costly without the aid of those tax credits.

In the meantime, the company will focus on continuing construction of a vast addition at Amherst Manor on North Lake Street. Work crews are nearly doubling the nursing facility’s footprint by adding 24,400 square feet worth of rooms for 30 new patients, a dining room, offices, living room, bar and lounge, and physical therapy space.

Also underway is construction of 45 more assisted living units at the Towne Center Community Campus in Avon Lake.

The groundwork is laid for the Central School plan to move forward if tax credits free up later this winter.

Already, the Amherst planning commission has given conditional approval for the project, which would entail turning old classrooms into living units, rebuilding the old stage and adding a salon, lobby, bar, elevator, lounge, activities area, and soda shop. Plans also call for an addition to connect the old school to the nearby Central Village, also operated by Sprenger Health Care.

A new historical district has also been created by Amherst city council to envelop the Central School area. It even takes in town hall, which could open the door for funding to one day restore the old auditorium on the second floor.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

File photo The former Central School, closed since the early 1980s, has sat empty for more than three decades. It’s been used for storage by Sprenger Health Care, which owns the building. The inside has been vandalized, paint has peeled from the walls, and years of extreme cold weather and rain have warped old wooden floorboards.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2016/12/web1_DSC_2690-2.jpg

File photo The former Central School, closed since the early 1980s, has sat empty for more than three decades. It’s been used for storage by Sprenger Health Care, which owns the building. The inside has been vandalized, paint has peeled from the walls, and years of extreme cold weather and rain have warped old wooden floorboards.

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com