State OKs tax break for Hotel Jess rehabilitation in Holyoke
March 18, 2021 : The Republican, by Jim Kinney
The former Hotel Jess, also known as the Levi Perkins Block, at Main and Dwight Streets in Holyoke, was identified by a consultant as a priority for historic preservation. (The Republican file photo)
HOLYOKE — Work will begin soon rehabbing the 149-year-old former Hotel Jess in Holyoke’s historic Depot Square into eight apartments and a first-floor restaurant once all the tax credits for the project are finalized.
The state announced Thursday that it approved the city’s five-year tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement for the project. The City Council OK’d the agreement, worth $20,811, in December, but it also needed approval from the state Economic Assistance Coordinating Council.
A TIF reduces the property tax burden on newly redeveloped property for five years.
Owner Anthony Witman said Thursday he’s also expecting a $475,000 incentive from the state Housing Development Incentive Program, as well as state and federal tax credits to help finance the project.
The state Economic Assistance Coordinating Council said the project will entail a private investment of $850,000 and create 10 new full-time jobs.
“The construction costs are significantly more than the value of the property when you’re done,” said Whitman, who owns and manages other Holyoke properties.
He bought the property in 2018 for $10,000, according to documents on file with the Hampden County Registry of Deeds. The previous owner was MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency.
Built in about 1872 and also known as the Perkins Block, the building at the corner of Main and Dwight streets was a big part of Holyoke when it was a bustling railroad town.
“Now they are bringing the railroad station back,” Witman said. “I know a lot of older Holyoke people remember going there when it was the Hotel Jess as a bar and restaurant.”
The building has been vacant since the 1980s, Witman said. A fire in 1997 led to the city condemning it. But on Thursday Witman called it a gem.
“I love fixing these things up,” he said, sharing photos of surviving Victorian details including a pressed-tin ceiling. “It’s great. A real landmark property.”
Statewide, the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved six projects for participation in the Economic Development Incentive Program and one Vacant Storefront Project. These projects are expected to create 297 jobs and retain 25 jobs throughout Massachusetts, while leveraging approximately $108.6 million in private investment.