COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — The nearly $115 million Kroger Bakery mixed-use project near downtown is the only Central Ohio project to get a state historic preservation tax credit in this round.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $36.2 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for 24 projects, which are expected to leverage approximately $478 million in private investments in 10 communities. The state will give a $5 million tax credit for the Kroger Bakery project.

Casto, the Kelley Cos. and The Robert Weiler Co. bought the property for $8.15 million from Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. after it closed the bakery in 2019.

The proposed development would add to the historic buildings at 427 and 457 Cleveland Ave. to include a restaurant, retail, office, and multifamily space.

There are 427 apartments planned, 8,850 square feet for restaurant space, and 49,000 square feet for offices. In total, there will be three new buildings in addition to the two being preserved. The developers’ application states tenants “have been secured” for the commercial spaces fronting Cleveland Avenue, although the company did not disclose them.

“The tax credit was another piece in the puzzle we needed to get this project going,” said Brent Sobczak, president of Casto Communities. “It was very critical.”

The Kroger bakery project still needs Columbus City Council approval, which Sobczak said he hopes to get in the first part of 2022. Casto hopes to break ground on the project this summer.

Sobczak said there will be a nearly 3-acre park within the area of the project, making the site unique.

“This is going to continue the growth in that part of town and further enhance that area,” he said.

“These projects are an important investment in preserving the unique history of our communities,” Lydia Mihalik, director of the state’s development department, said in a release. “Not only do they help conserve our historic buildings, but also give them a second life and prepare our communities for the future.”

The awards help private developers rehabilitate historic buildings statewide. Many of the buildings are vacant today and generate little economic activity. Once redeveloped, they will drive further investment and interest in the adjacent property, the state said in a release.

According to the project application, the developers said the project’s sizable investment and new residents and businesses will contribute to the local economy, compensating for the lost employment and output of the former industrial operations and preparing the property for its next generation of users.

Developers are not issued the tax credit until project construction is complete and all program requirements are verified.

“Giving these buildings new life preserves Ohio’s past and provides economic opportunity for the future,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in the release. “By preserving parts of our past, we are also enhancing the quality of life in our downtowns and neighborhoods.”

One other Central Ohio project applied for the tax credit in this round. The Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis (CCC&I) Railroad Depot project in Delaware applied for the tax credit, but was not funded this round, according to the state.

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