12-year tax deal paves way for Central School rehab

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



A historic preservation zone designed to provide tax breaks for renovation of Central School was created Monday with a unanimous Amherst city council vote.

The property will be gutted and restored by Sprenger Health Care as an assisted living facility, provided state and federal tax credits are approved. Workers have been busy inside prepping the site for months.

Amherst has agreed to give the company 12 years of property tax exemption on new valuation to the building — that means Sprenger will keep paying taxes at the present level, so the city won’t lose any income.

Councilman Chuck Winiarski has fought fallout from Lorain’s abatement of homes in the Deerfield Estates development on Oak Point Road. He noted the Amherst tax break was rooted in the same “nasty little” part of the Ohio Revised Code that allowed Lorain to slice into the Amherst school district’s collections.

That raised red flags in his mind.

But after hunting through stacks of documentation and talking with education officials, he could find nothing in the Central School plan that would harm the Amherst Schools.

“I did not think that was possible, but honestly we tore this thing apart,” Winiarski said.

City council members praised Robert Ellis, an attorney for Sprenger who developed the map for the new historical district. The zone envelopes Amherst city hall south to Franklin Avenue in a small box.

“We felt that was a good balance between being too small and overly large,” Ellis said.

Councilman Joe Miller said he is happy to see Sprenger revitalize the old school, which has been closed and empty since the early 1980s.

However, he voiced displeasure that the historical preservation zone does not encompass the Old Spring and Braun Brewery property on Milan Avenue. He also requested that Sprenger use local workers at the prevailing wage during its renovation project.

Sprenger president Kenneth Malanowski said he envisions construction starting in the first quarter of 2017 and wrapping up within the year.

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


By Jason Hawk