Proposal for Tallmadge senior complex and medical center trying for federal funds again

By Paula Schleis
Beacon Journal staff writer

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TALLMADGE: Plans for the Village at Town Center — an 8-acre parcel near the circle on North Avenue being eyed for senior citizen apartments, market rate condos and medical facilities — hit a speed bump last year when the developer lost his bid for a federal tax credit.

But the dream is front and center again thanks to a change in the way proposals are scored for the competitive credits, which are awarded by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) as a way to encourage construction of affordable housing for older adults.

Testa Cos. has developed similar mixed-use projects in the area with the help of the tax credits — including the Village at Anna Dean in Barberton and Watermark in Cuyahoga Falls — but its plans for Tallmadge were passed over by OHFA last year.

The credit would have helped build a single 100,000-square-foot building that would feature commercial space on the first floor, 62 apartments for people ages 55 and up on the second and third floor, and 21 market-rate condos for buyers of any age on the fourth floor.

Last week, Testa reapplied for the tax credit again because of the scoring changes, Chief Operating Officer Joel Testa said.

While the state considers the tax request for the senior building, Testa is demonstrating its optimism by moving forward with the second phase of the project.

Company representatives recently appeared before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to present plans for a separate commercial building. It would be built adjacent to a historical red brick schoolhouse that was preserved on the property.

Joel Testa said negotiations are underway with several potential medical tenants, but a conditional use permit is needed before it can go any further.

Once the permit is acquired, then a building could be designed with the need of the occupants in mind, he said.

A public hearing on the permit request has been set for 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

“There is strong interest from different medical factions in going ahead and doing something regardless of what was going to happen [with the senior complex] so we said let’s go ahead and get the other front started,” Economic Development Director Dennis Loughry said.

The North Avenue property is owned by Joe ­Scaccio, who bought the old Tallmadge Middle School four years ago for $500,000 and tore it down, except for a historical portion that he saved.

He envisioned a $25 million retail, commercial and entertainment complex similar to First and Main in Hudson, but the recession interfered, and anchor tenants and financing were hard to find.

Testa gave him the current alternative.

Loughry has said there is a definite need for affordable senior housing in Tallmadge. The city has one of the oldest populations in Summit County.

The city has also been excited about the project because of the potential for it to attract even more economic development to the circle, which is the city’s central business district.

“That’s what makes the city a cheerleader for this entire thing,” Loughry said. “Not just because it creates housing that’s needed in the city center, but because it brings about job creation — and being medical jobs, they’re good jobs.”

OHFA will announce its awards later this spring. If the Tallmadge project wins, construction could begin this year.

Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or pschleis@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.


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