Historic Mill Becomes Advertising Office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Published by Mark O’Meara on Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cuyahoga Falls, a city of 49,000 people in northeast Ohio, is situated on the bank of the Cuyahoga River. At one time, the river was a major source of industrial growth for Cuyahoga Falls, as mills were built along the river. What started with mills led to a series of dams generating hydro-electric power and eventually to population growth fueled by regional development related to the tire and rubber industry. 

Now, only a few of those late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings remain, including the Falls Stamping and Welding building. Built in 1928, the Falls Stamping and Welding building, as its name suggests, was a stamping and welding facility for more than 30 years before being used by a variety of other manufacturers. The property was purchased from owner Bruce Collins and BWC Ltd. in 2014 for $165,000. The building was vacant, last operating as a metal fabrication facility in 2007. 

The Falls Stamping and Welding building recently took on a new purpose and a new name: The Foundry, which is office space for TRIAD Communications, a digital advertising, branding and marketing firm, which opened its new office Feb. 26, 2016. 

This move was necessary as TRIAD Communications outgrew its old space: a 1913 Georgian house about a half-mile from the company’s current location. 

“I was looking for a cool place to expand the business with ample parking and more space,” said Rick Krochka, president of TRIAD Communications. He said the old office was very segmented and closed off. “It didn’t make for an open, collaborative space. The new space is very, very open. Collaboration just happens because of the space.” Krochka owns the building under his company Arkay Properties LLC, while TRIAD Communications occupies the space under a long-term lease. 

“The owner has an advertising firm,” said Lauren Pinney Burge, principal and architect at Chambers, Murphy & Burge (CMB), a studio of Perspectus Architecture, which was the historic consultant for the development. “[Krochka’s] company is growing and he was looking for a larger space for his staff. A lot of his staff is young, who were not looking for your usual cubical office.”

Journal August 2017 State photo 1

Image: Courtesy of Shooting Star Photography / Todd Williams
The basement has employee space with lockers, a small fitness area, a full bathroom, a pool table and a foosball table as well as a full bar. The Foundry also has a 12-foot by 20-foot media room that is used for web tutorials, CMS training, and phone and video conferencing; a small one-on-one meeting space; and a balcony overlooking the basement.

“The idea was to have a big, open floor plan with a lot of natural light,” said Krochka. 

The Foundry has that in spades. The 8,500-square-foot production shed is a perfect fit for offices. It features four offices at the front of the building, a 20-person conference room–up from an eight-person conference room at the old office–with a smart board and five pods, with four desks at each. Krochka said the pods are all on wheels so the office can be easily re-arranged. Three of the five pods are occupied by employees, giving TRIAD Communications room to grow. The company has 12 employees and one intern. Krochka said this building can easily fit 25 to 30 employees. 

The building also has a 12-foot by 20-foot media room that is used for Web tutorials, content management system (CMS) training and phone and video conferencing, a small one-on-one meeting space and a balcony overlooking the basement. The basement has employee space with lockers, a small fitness area, a full bathroom, a pool table and a foosball table as well as a full bar. The old loading dock area outside of the building is now an events space for 200 to 300 people. 

Prime Location

Krochka said the location of The Foundry was a big draw for him, as it sits along the bank of the Cuyahoga River. Not only that, the property is just south of downtown. “Our building ignited interest in this part of downtown,” said Krochka, who called this an “anchor property” for the area. “Now, the south end of Front Street has taken off,” said Krochka. 

Journal August 2017 State photo 2

Image: Courtesy of Shooting Star Photography / Todd Williams
The 8,500-square-foot production shed is a perfect fit for offices. It features four offices at the front of the building, a 20-person conference room with a smart board, and five pods, with four desks at each.

High-end apartments and a local brewery are near the building and Krochka said the city is redeveloping an old mall in the downtown corridor. “It is an exciting time to be here,” he said. 

Historic Rehabilitation 

While the building was converted to an office, many of its historic features were preserved thanks to both federal and state historic tax credits (HTCs). All of the original steel sash windows were restored and are operational, including the upper clerestory. The brick façade was also preserved along with the electric crane on the interior of the building. While the crane is no longer operational, the track is used to support LED lights.

CMB helped Cuyahoga Falls become a Certified Local Government in early 2014, which allowed the city to designate the building as an individual historic landmark. Burge said this helped expedite the HTC applications and corresponding paperwork. “Most industrial buildings from this period are all gone,” said Burge. “What makes this so special is it is one of the last remaining buildings of its type. … It is just a gem of a building.” 

Historic preservation is a key component of the city’s redevelopment goals and becoming a Certified Local Government allowed Cuyahoga Falls to better preserve its historic structures. Fred Guerra, planning director for Cuyahoga Falls, said becoming a Certified Local Government helped the city create a downtown historic district and gave the city access to various grant programs. 

Cuyahoga Falls performed environmental studies and soil remediation before Krochka bought the property. “Our goal is to make our downtown successful again. One way to do that is to preserve what we have,” said Guerra. “This building has been underutilized for at least 30 years. This redevelopment preserves a historic building and brings jobs to the downtown corridor.” 

Journal August 2017 State photo 3

Image: Courtesy of Shooting Star Photography / Todd Williams
While The Foundry was converted into office space for TRIAD Communications, many of its historic features were preserved thanks to federal and state historic tax credits.

Financing 

The development was financed with both federal and state HTCs. Krochka kept the $212,908 in federal HTCs and $241,000 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the state HTC, to use against his own tax liability. 

The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) provided the $241,000 Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit allocation. “We see this as an opportunity for the development to provide a catalytic impact by bringing in other investment to the community,” said Penny Martin, public information officer at ODSA. These investments prove even more impactful in small communities such as Cuyahoga Falls, said Martin. 

ODSA divides its $60 million annual allocation of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit into two rounds of funding per year. Each round of funding is then divided into three pools: large, intermediate and small projects. The Foundry received funding from the small-project pool, which receives 8 percent of each round of funding. Martin said The Foundry was the first Cuyahoga Falls development to use the state HTC. Guerra said two other developments in the city have since applied for state HTCs. 

“Without the state HTC, this development would not have been feasible,” said Burge. “Small projects don’t have the economy of scale, but when you add the 25 percent state credit to the 20 percent federal credit, the development pencils out. We didn’t see many small [less than $2 million] tax credit projects before the introduction of the [Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit] in 2007. The state credit tipped the scales for small projects.” 

The development also received a $900,000 construction loan from a local bank, a $65,000 Ohio Jobs project grant and about $25,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the city of Cuyahoga Falls. 

Journal August 2017 State financebox