Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 6, 2013

LaCasa awarded $635K in credits for Hawks Building project

GOSHEN — The Hawks Arts and Enterprise Center is another step closer to reality with the awarding of $635,000 in rental housing tax credits.

The former Hawks furniture store along the millrace is one of 20 housing developments in Indiana that will receive more than $14 million in tax credits announced recently by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

LaCasa Executive Director Larry Gautsche was pleased with the announcement.

“It means other than myself, someone else thinks the project is a good idea,” Gautsche said, with a chuckle.

The Hawks Art and Enterprise Center is the for-profit company, run by LaCasa, that will control the Hawks Building for redevelopment as construction and rentals get underway to turn it into an arts and enterprise center.

“This is the first project like this funded in Indiana with tax credit,” Gautsche said. “This is unique in Indiana, but it has been done elsewhere and very successful.”

The plan is to convert part of the historic structure into 24 housing units that would be rented to local artisans. There would also be studio and retail space on the first floor. The project could add more housing units should they deem profitable.

Gautsche said about 95 percent of the funding has been secured for the project. He believes there is great potential to attract artists to either stay in or move to Goshen and start small businesses and help stimulate the city’s economy.

“It is ideal for people who want to live in that type of environment,” Gautsche said. “It’s a great project.”

Some of the other 20 multi-family projects announced by Ellspermann include new construction, rehabilitation, conversion of existing structures and the preservation of historic buildings such as the Hawks Building. They will be funded through the Internal Revenue Service Section 42 Rental Housing Tax Credit (RHTC) program.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) administers and manages the federal credits. The IHCDA provides incentives for private developers to further affordable housing choices available throughout Indiana.

“Through the rental housing tax credit program,” Ellspermann explained, “we are able to leverage federal and state dollars to enter into partnerships with development corporations, expanding the local tax base.”

She also said the program provides more affordable housing options as well as boosts local economies.

There were 61 RHTC applications in November requesting more than $51.7 million in tax credits.

“It was a very competitive round,” Gautsche said. “(I’m) pleased to be one of the projects funded.”

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