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Part of Jennings Building changing hands

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com


First Merchants Bank now holds the deed for the lower sections of the historic Jennings Building.

According to county tax records, Historic Properties Jennings LLC transferred the deed to First Merchants Bank “in lieu of foreclosure” Dec. 26.

Historic Properties Jennings LLC began renovating the building in 2014, when it assumed the property from the New Castle Redevelopment Commission.

Developer Ray Willey estimated the entire Jennings Building renovation project would total $6.5-$7 million when it is finished. He said the project is being funded through several sources including Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits, personal investments and institutional funding.

That total also includes contributions from the City of New Castle.

“The city contributed the building to us and they had done work on it, a half a million dollars of work on it, so that’s part of the package, but that work was done before we took possession,” Willey told The Courier-Times last summer.

Tax records show entire building is legally split in half.

After taking ownership of the building, Historic Properties Jennings LLC and Willey’s business partner, Bill Brown, created a new company called Historic Jennings Apartments LP.

Historic Jennings Apartments LP owns the second and third floors and common areas of the building and, until Dec. 26, Historic Properties Jennings LLC owned the first floor and basement.

Willey and Brown used Sec. 42 affordable housing tax credits to complete the 20 apartments on the upper levels of the building.

As of last summer, ceilings of the street level of the three sections that make up the building have also been completed. Insulation has been added and sound stop, fire barriers and sprinkler systems have been installed. Ceiling electric is also complete, which includes components for sound systems and other various cabling, as well as some duct work.

Brown said ownership of the retail portion of the first floor and basement levels is now “in the process of being restructured.”

“This portion of the building has been transferred to the bank in order to facilitate a restructured ownership entity that will complete the retail portion of the Jennings project,” Brown told The Courier-Times Monday.

The Courier-Times was not able to get a comment from the New Castle Redevelopment Commission as of press time Monday.

The New Castle Redevelopment Commission met Jan. 4 to discuss “strategy with respect to the possible initiation of litigation and the purchase or lease of property” and “negotiations re: industrial and commercial prospects.”