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The Suburbanite
  • City Council should OK Cormony loan

  • The issue: Hercules redevelopment

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  • The issue: Hercules redevelopment
    Most members of Canton City Council are rightly enthusiastic about prospects for redeveloping the Hercules Engine property on Market Avenue S.
    Council should approve a loan to the developer, now that taxpayers’ interests have been protected and the key investor has explained its confidence in the project’s success.
    Cormony Development’s plans to transform the long-vacant factory into nearly 100 apartments, eventually to be sold as condominiums, are coming off the drawing board at the right time, as the economy — including the housing market and commercial lending — rebounds.
    The project calls for construction of 95 market-rate units, to be followed by retail and other business development as well as a boutique hotel on the 600,000-square-foot property.
    Huntington Bank says its research indicates that the apartments will fill up within six months. “The analysis that was done indicated that it will do very well,” a Huntington senior manager said.
    With enough demand for upscale housing downtown to satisfy the bank that the project will succeed, Huntington is lending $13.8 million to Cormony, nearly half the expected cost. The remainder of the funding will come from Cormony, the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, the construction firm for the project and, if City Council agrees, the city of Canton.
    Repayment of the $3 million loan that the developers are seeking from the city will be guaranteed with the Cormony partners’ own funds, city and company officials said. There are no risk-free investments, of course, but this is a relatively small risk when considered against the potential for the revitalization of a major, long-neglected portion of Market Avenue S.
    As many people who visit downtown Canton after a long absence are surprised to discover, the city’s center is experiencing a new vibrancy, due in part to the phenomenal growth of the arts district. Redevelopment of the Hercules property will appeal to the same demographic, as well as boosting the tax base and making downtown as a whole a more appealing destination. And as Repository employees, whose workplace borders this neighborhood, can attest, crime is not the issue in this area that the city’s detractors would have you believe.
    The Hercules project is generating considerable excitement in the business and economic development community. Canton City Council should add its vote of confidence by approving the loan to Cormony.