Historic Xenia building awarded $183,715 in tax credits

The Litt Bros. building, home to Xenia Shoe and Leather Repair, is to received about $184,000 in historic tax incentives from the the Ohio Development Services Agency. The money is part of $22.8 million the agency awarded Tuesday in state historic preservation tax credits to 18 applicants statewide to help rehab 33 buildings. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF PHOTO

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The Litt Bros. building, home to Xenia Shoe and Leather Repair, is to received about $184,000 in historic tax incentives from the the Ohio Development Services Agency. The money is part of $22.8 million the agency awarded Tuesday in state historic preservation tax credits to 18 applicants statewide to help rehab 33 buildings. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF PHOTO

Upstairs space in the Litt Bros. building will be turned into apartments.

A 141-year-old building in downtown Xenia will have its upper floors renovated into housing with the help of state historic preservation tax credits.

Local economic development officials hope the project is the first of many that activate empty upstairs spaces

“We’re just trying to get more people to make investments downtown and to live downtown and work downtown,” said Mary Crockett, Xenia’s community development coordinator.

The Ohio Development Services Agency on Tuesday announced it has awarded about $183,715 in historic tax incentives to rehabilitate the second and third floors of the Litt Bros. building at 21 E. Main St.

The owners plan to spend about $828,950 turning the long-vacant floors into five apartments, offering one and two bedrooms.

The building is home to Xenia Shoe and Leather Repair on the ground floor, which has a large shoe showroom. But the upstairs spaces have been empty for decades.

“These are great old apartments and having them full will just feel better,” said Tim Sontag, the owner of the building and shoe shop.

State tax credits, along with federal ones, will help finance the project.

ExploreAlso, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earlier this year awarded the city of Xenia a $500,000 grant from the department’s Main Street program to support the project. Xenia and the building owners were expected to chip in about $149,400 for the project, though the city’s contribution is likely to decrease with the new award.

“Giving a building new life honors the history of the building, while creating construction jobs in the short term and opportunity for economic activity into the future,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.

There are about 60 commercial buildings in Xenia’s historic business district, most of which have occupied storefronts.

But most of their upper floors are vacant, and the city years ago identified filling those spaces as an economic development priority.

Local and state officials hope the rehab project will spark additional reinvestment and reuse and will encourage other property owners to pursue historic tax credits.

“I think as much as getting dollars for this specific project, this is also about showing that these credits are accessible for smaller cities,” Crockett said.

Rehabbing these empty spaces can be cost prohibitive, but, with the help of tax credits, these projects can succeed and make Xenia’s historic district more lively, she said.

“When you get more people living downtown, other things follow suit,” she said.

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