Project Announcement Historic Tax Credit

Transforming History: The Mercantile Building Project Revitalizes Cincinnati’s Urban Core Through Adaptive Reuse

Written By: NTCIC

NTCIC’s Historic Tax Credit Investment Supports the $80 Million Mercantile Project

Washington, D.C. – March 25, 2023: The National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) is excited to announce the successful financial closing of The Mercantile, an $80 million adaptive reuse project in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. This project showcases how historic preservation can effectively combat the growing housing crisis by transforming two historic office buildings into much-needed housing in Cincinnati’s urban core. NTCIC provided an equity investment in the $12.7 million in federal Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) to revitalize the historic Mercantile Library Building and Formica Building in the heart of the city.

The Mercantile Library, located on the upper floors of the Mercantile building
The Mercantile Library, located on the upper floors of the Mercantile building

The project includes a unique combination of two adjacent historic buildings, the 13-story beaux-arts Mercantile Library Building, dating from 1903, and the 13-story high modern Formica Building, built in 1970. Once complete, the revitalized spaces will create market-rate housing and commercial spaces while preserving the historic integrity of both structures.

The Model Group, a Cincinnati-based leader in historic preservation, mixed-use urban development, and affordable housing, is the project partner responsible for the revitalization efforts. The Mercantile will feature commercial space on the first two floors, with the remaining floors being adaptively reused for market-rate rental apartments. The exception is the 11th and 12th floors, in which the project will expand and enhance the legendary Mercantile Library, a cultural institution that has been the center of Cincinnati’s literary community for over 200 years.

In the wake of the pandemic, the need for housing has been exacerbated, and the Mercantile project demonstrates the future of adaptive reuse – converting office buildings, which are becoming more and more vacant as many companies shift to remote environments.

“We’re proud to participate in this project that will prove it is possible to convert downtown office buildings, even modernist office buildings, to housing with distinct appeal,” said NTCIC Project Manager Tony Maruca. “Expertise not just in project finance but also design, construction, and operations make the Model Group the ideal steward of both our investment and these treasured historic buildings.”

The Mercantile project highlights the challenges and successes of office conversions, particularly in the case of the Formica Building, a modern office building from the 70s. The Model Group, an innovative partner in this project, has demonstrated the ability to envision new uses for a contemporary office building while respecting its historic character.

This transformative project will contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Cincinnati, stimulating economic growth and attracting new investment. NTCIC’s financing, combined with traditional debt, sponsor equity, state HTCs, the recently created Ohio Transformational Mixed-Use Development (TMUD), and Ohio Opportunity Zone financing, will help ensure successful project completion.

Click here to read more about the project development.

About National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC)

NTCIC is an industry leader in providing investment capital, asset management, and innovative financing solutions for historic preservation and community development. Since its inception, NTCIC has contributed to the rehabilitation of more than 22 million square feet of historic real estate, creating nearly 80 thousand jobs and generating more than $2 billion in project financing.