As reported by WTHR:

WTHR has learned the city of Kokomo is about to build a new upscale apartment complex in the heart of downtown – part of a “dramatic transformation” of downtown Kokomo that will be officially announced next week.

“This is a really aggressive project, and we can’t wait to get going,” City of Kokomo development specialist David Tharp told WTHR. “A lot of folks have a view of what Kokomo was, and we’re about to show what it is and what it can be.”

The project will transform a 100+ year old building into 178 apartments designed to attract professionals who currently commute to Kokomo from outside the city. The site is the former home of Northern Indiana Supply Company (NISCO) and Haynes-Apperson car company which has been vacant for years.

The old industrial facility will be developed by Indianapolis-area property developers Flaherty & Collins. Company president Jerry Collins said the new apartment complex will be loaded with amenities such as granite countertops, hardwood floors, a swimming pool, a fire pit and high ceilings.

The project is being made possible through a series of tax-payer funded tax credits and incentives offered by the city and state.

Dinosaur Tax Credit

Tuesday afternoon, Collins and City of Kokomo development director Jennifer Collins asked the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to approve a rarely-used tax credit to launch the project.

The Indiana General Assembly established the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit — nicknamed the “Dinosaur Tax Credit” by state lawmakers — to redevelop large, vacant, very old “dinosaur” industrial facilities that are considered both an eyesore and a financial drain on communities. It allows developers and communities to receive up to 25% of the cost of redevelopment in the form of state tax credits.

IEDC’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the Dinosaur Tax Credit for the Kokomo apartment complex, allocating $5.235 million for the project. The city of Kokomo will contribute another $6.9 million in tax abatements, grants and other incentives. The developer will pay the remainder of the anticipated $23 million dollar price tag, according to IEDC.

The state’s decision to grant the credit is especially unusual because Flaherty & Collins announced Tuesday that it plans to fund the project by selling the $5.235 million in state tax credits to a third-party investor in exchange for cash.

“We don’t allow that with any other tax credits, but it is allowed for this one,” IEDC chief of staff Stephen Akard explained to some surprised board members before the vote.

It is the largest Dinosaur Tax Credit ever granted by the state economic development agency, which usually awards grants based on the prospect of job creation and growth. Despite the likelihood of little job creation from the Kokomo apartment complex, IEDC board members said the state investment is warranted based upon the opportunity to help revitalize downtown Kokomo and to secure future tax revenue from the rehabilitated property.

“This is really a vote of confidence in Kokomo,” said IEDC board member John Mutz.

More to come

City officials say groundbreaking on the apartment complex could take place by spring, and Collins told IEDC board members that units could be ready for sale in 2016.

And the size of the redevelopment project could get much bigger.

Tharp told WTHR the city is planning to unveil images of the proposed apartment complex Monday, along with an announcement about more development plans for the same area of Kokomo. “We are talking about a dramatic transformation of our downtown,” he said.

The new development is taking place between Union and Main streets, adjacent to Kokomo Municipal Stadium which is scheduled to open in spring 2015. The baseball park will be home to the Prospect League Kokomo Jackrabbits – named after the Apperson Jackrabbit automobile. That car was built in the old factory which will soon be transformed into new apartments right next door to the stadium.

New details to become available Monday.