Friday, December 11th, 2009
By William Kincaid
Construction work put on hold until February
Earlier financial problems cause work to fall behind planned schedule
  Work has abruptly stopped on the construction of a 32-unit senior citizen apartment complex on the old Mersman property in Celina.
And most likely, it will not resume until the beginning of February, Robert Hellmuth, president of RLH Partners, a real estate development and construction company based out of Dublin, said.
"This is tough stuff. Because we're not under roof, it's very difficult to make any progress," Hellmuth said.
Two weeks ago, some initial site work started - but Hellmuth said he knew the season would prove burdensome for any major progress.
"With the difficulty encountered in getting all the financing arranged, it caused delays which we knew fundamentally ... were going to put us into just about the worst time of the year you could pick," he said.
With the holidays and January approaching, Hellmuth said he doesn't foresee much work being completed.
Hellmuth said his company would have worked easily through the winter if it could have poured the concrete slab and established the building frame in September.
"We knew this was happening ... we knew we were losing our schedule because of (the financial situation)," Hellmuth said.
"I suspect it's going to be awfully hit and miss," he said.
But Hellmuth said the project still should be completed by fall of next year.
Mackinaw Retirement Village - an L-shaped, single-story apartment complex with multiple parking spots, garages and available transportation- will be built on a portion of the former factory site on the south side of Wayne Street, he said. The step-less complex will feature 16 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom apartments for those 55 and older who want independent living.
The planned project cost is estimated at $3 million with some of it being financed through low income house tax credits by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
All of the tax credits have been purchased by private investor Nationwide Insurance Company, which has created a special fund to support the construction of affordable housing in Ohio, Hellmuth said. In return for the purchase, the private investor is able to reduce its corporate taxes during the next 10 years, Hellmuth said.
Also, Mackinaw Retirement Village received $940,000 in funds from the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and $486,156 in funds from the Tax Credit Exchange (TCE), both of which were created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT. That financing is either in the form of grants or low interest loans.
Hellmuth has said the former Mersman site is a great location for the aging population because of its central location in the city. The 3-acre site was purchased by Mackinaw of Celina United Partnership from Brickyard Investments in September 2008.
At that time he said the building would probably be a combination of siding and brick with a shingle roof.
"This development will be one of the first green communities built in Western Ohio. An array of energy conservation features and environmentally friendly building techniques will be incorporated in this development," Hellmuth wrote in a project overview.
A play area for tenant grandchildren, a community room for social events such as dinners and bingo, a library, computer room and laundry services are planned within the building, Hellmuth said.
Apartments will range from 688 to 875 square feet and include appliances, he said. Applications for potential tenants will be accepted next spring and some of the units will be available by late next summer, Hellmuth said.
Those interested can call 419-586-1728 to be placed on a waiting list. When pre-leasing activity begins in late spring, interested citizens will be contacted according to their place on the list, Hellmuth said.
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