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Developer Honors Personal Heritage with Historic Redevelopment

Published by Mark O’Meara on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Journal cover July 2016   Download PDF
Image: Courtesy of Grandin Properties The 138-year-old Hogan Building features two three-story buildings, each with six apartments, including a mix of one- and two-bedroom units in each building.

When Grandin Properties purchased two historic buildings, now known collectively as the Hogan Building, in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, founder and CEO Peg Wyant wanted to pay tribute to the history of the area and her family lineage. The Hogan Building now provides market-rate housing.

The development is named after Ohio Attorney General Timothy Hogan, who played an important role in defending German immigrants during World War I. On behalf of two high school teachers who taught German, Hogan filed a law suit in the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Ohio, demanding that citizens have the right to speak and teach any language. Hogan won the case. Hogan is, in fact, Wyant’s grandfather.

Other than her personal connection, Wyant chose to name the development the Hogan Building for a couple of reasons. First, because the neighborhood has a long history of housing German residents. And second, Wyant said that Over-The-Rhine has a storied history of overcoming religious, racial and many other forms of persecution. “Hogan’s story really struck a chord here,” said Wyant.

Grandin Properties purchased the buildings Jan. 20, 2015, from local nonprofit Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). “Peg had done a number of other projects in the immediate area using historic tax credits (HTCs), and we knew her quality of work,” said Adam Gelter, 3CDC’s executive vice president of development. “She’s been a great partner in the push to bring these old buildings back into use.”

The 138-year-old development features two three-story buildings, each with six apartments, including a mix of one- and two-bedroom units in each building. Rents range from $850 to $2,400 per month. The units feature large balconies, hardwood flooring, in-unit washing machines and dryers, large closets and secured entry into the development. In addition, the kitchens feature energy efficient appliances. Wyant said this development fit the demand of the marketplace, as the property was 90 percent leased after just eight weeks and fully occupied shortly thereafter.

Like all sought-after real estate, this development has one important thing: “location, location, location,” said Wyant. “It is right next to Washington Park.” The Over-The-Rhine neighborhood is an arts and entertainment hub, featuring the Cincinnati Music Hall as well as countless restaurants and entertainment venues. The neighborhood is also one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. Construction took about 12 months, with the completion in January.

Historic Rehab

While the two buildings were originally built as housing, Wyant said there was still work to do to have this development meet 21st century standards. Also, she noted that much of the interior of the development was destroyed as the property had sat vacant for more than two decades. The brick façade was refurbished to match its original look and the internal stairways were preserved. Other than that, Wyant said the interior was virtually destroyed. Even the windows had to be replaced with historically accurate replicas. Wyant said creating historically accurate windows was especially challenging for this development. She recalled having to rework the design of the windows a few times before they met the National Park Service standards.

In the 1960s and ’70s, a previous owner took out the original fireplaces and lowered the ceilings by 3 feet. In order to receive the federal and state HTCs, Grandin Properties had to return the ceilings to their original heights.

Grandin Properties owns property in several urban Cincinnati neighborhoods, but now focuses development almost exclusively in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. The company has developed six properties in the area, with two more underway. And, each property used federal and state HTCs, including the Hogan Building. Grandin Properties is also located in the neighborhood.

Financing

Like all of Grandin Properties’ developments, the Hogan Building also used federal and state HTCs to help preserve the development. Grandin Properties received a $398,000 state HTC allocation from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) and a $355,000 federal HTC allocation from the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service. Grandin Properties kept all of the credits for the company’s family owners.

Nathaniel Kaelin, Ohio preservation tax credit program manager at ODSA, said that this development met three key criteria: it was fully vacant, had an experienced developer in Grandin Properties and had all of its financing lined up. Furthermore, “There is a constant demand for residential units in this neighborhood,” said Kaelin. The Hogan Building received state HTCs under ODSA’s small project set-aside, which is reserved for projects with qualified rehabilitation expenditures under $1.25 million. The small project set-aside makes up just 8 percent of ODSA’s total annual allocation authority of $60 million.

The remaining financial piece is $2.5 million, which is a combination of owner equity and a line of credit from PNC Bank. Wyant added that Grandin Properties will obtain some permanent financing once the development has been fully occupied for one year.

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