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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tax credits push Hawks project forward

LaCasa hopes to take control of building this summer.

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 11, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.

GOSHEN — LaCasa, Inc. continues to move closer and closer to acquiring the old Hawks Furniture building, and a recent award from the state will help immensely.

LaCasa’s plan is to turn the one-time furniture store at 214 West Jefferson Street into a living and working space for artists and entrepreneurs.

Conversion of the building will be accomplished through phased construction. The first phase will focus on apartments.

LaCasa is planning on developing the south side of the building into approximately 24 low-income apartments, aimed at artists and young entrepreneurs.

The second phase of the project would focus on developing the first floor of the building into a space for commercial tenants, while the top two floors of that space could be used either for additional apartments or commercial tenants.

In total, LaCasa envisions 32 apartments for the building.

Demolition of the non-historic portions of the Hawks building was recently completed down to the foundation of those non-historic sections. Director of the community development department Mark Brinson said the city must now take care of the environmental remediation of the grounds.

Becky Hershberger, Goshen’s Brownfield coordinator, explained that process will include the removal of the foundation and two feet of topsoil around the building.

The soil will be replaced by new, clean soil and then the Indiana Department of Environmental Management must review the work before closing on the building can occur.

On LaCasa’s end, the big task for them is to demonstrate $1.6 million. An award from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) announced late last month will go a long way in helping LaCasa reach that goal.

The Hawks Arts and Enterprise Center will be one of 20 multi-family housing developments throughout Indiana to receive rental housing tax credits from the IHCDA.

LaCasa, which will potentially take control of the building from the city’s Redevelopment Commission this summer, is to receive $635,014 in IHCDA funds to assist in the transformation of the Hawks building.

“Having received the tax credits, this is the first and most important piece of funding this Hawks project,” said Alan Greaser, LaCasa’s vice president of real estate.

Greaser said LaCasa is still waiting on determinations of other applications for various funds, but feels “absolutely confident” that LaCasa will take control of the building in the near future.

Besides securing the balance of the funding needed for closing, Greaser said the organization will need site plan approval and will be working on creating partnerships around the community to help make the Hawks Arts and Enterprise Center work.

But the tax credits are the catalyst, he said.

“This is the kind of watershed moment where we work in earnest to move towards completion.”

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