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Third Time's A Charm For Union Terminal Project Funding

Tana Weingartner
Work underway at Union Terminal in May, 2017.

It took three tries, but the Union Terminal renovation project has finally landed more than $3 million in state historic tax credits. In fact, the project which had asked for $3.25 million was awarded $5 million during an announcement Wednesday morning in Dayton.This is the final piece of the funding puzzle the project was awaiting. It was denied in two earlier rounds, likely Cincinnati Museum Center officials believe, because the museum remains partially occupied during the construction. Ohio's historic tax credit program gives weight to buildings which are empty.

It is unclear if the credits will result in a net amount of $5 million or if the project will have to sell them on the market for an amount closer to the original $3.25 million. Project officials expect to know more by Friday.

Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Elizabeth Pierce was ecstatic Wednesday morning.

"It means a great deal to us to have the state historic tax credits as part of the Union Terminal project," says Pierce. "It enables us to make sure we're going to accomplish everything we want to accomplish inside the building from a historic preservation standpoint. And, it's a testament to the fact that this is such a significant building around the state of Ohio and an iconic project that the state really wanted to be a part of."

Pierce says the project remains on schedule and within its $219 million budget.

While project officials are happy about Wednesday's announcement, plans were already in place to cover the $3.25 million gap if the state credits didn't come through. It was announced in February that Bank of America would buy the project's federal historic tax credits for a net amount of around $31 million, roughly $9.8 million more than budgeted.

So what will project officials do with the 'extra' funds?

"I think right now we are going to be cautiously optimistic about how we continue through the process," says Pierce. "We are right in the middle of the construction... we still have a lot of masonry work that has to happen around the back side of the building and the west wall behind the Omnimax. We're continuing to dismantle the fountain in front of Union Terminal. We have done as much due diligence as we could possibly do to understand what is lurking beneath the walls, but I don't ever want to be surprised by anything. We're going to make sure that we have the contingency that we need to do everything we need to do."

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The historic Dayton Arcade features a Flemish exterior on one side.

The historic Dayton Arcade is also a big winner. The $5 million worth of state tax credits will help turn the collection of five buildings into a mixed use facility housing the University of Dayton, the Dayton Visual Arts Center, Warped Wing brewery, and an outdoor pavilion among other amenities.

Projects Receiving State Tax Credits

172 S. Main Street (Akron, Summit County)

3101 Euclid Avenue (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)

East Boulevard Apartment House (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)

Kelley Hardware-Odd Fellows Hall (Hayesville, Ashland County)

Liberty Textiles Building (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)

NASA Lewis Research Center – Development Engineering Building and Annex (Fairview Park, Cuyahoga County)

Standard Savings Bank (Akron, Summit County)

The Landmark Project (Akron, Summit County)

Trinity Cathedral Church Home (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County)

Villa San Bernardo (Bedford, Cuyahoga County)

Wayne Agency Building (Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County)

Whitelaw Building (Akron, Summit County)

S. Metzger Produce Building (Toledo, Lucas County)

Potter Davis Building (Cambridge, Guernsey County)

34 Building (Columbus Dispatch Building) (Columbus, Franklin County)

Engine House No. 6 (Columbus, Franklin County)

115-117 S. Main Street (Urbana, Champaign County)

1500 E. 5th Street (Dayton, Montgomery County)

Coleman-Allen Building (Troy, Miami County)

Dayton Arcade-Fourth Street (Dayton, Montgomery County)

53 E. Clifton Avenue (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

126 E. 6th Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

620-622 Vine Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

1731 Elm Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

1815 Elm Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

1900 Vine Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

1902-1904 Vine Street (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

Cincinnati Union Terminal (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

Niehoff Flats (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

Price Hill Masonic Lodge (Cincinnati, Hamilton County)

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.