Ribbon cutting 46-48 apartments

Annamarie Fernyak (center) cuts a red ribbon in front of her new apartments on Park Avenue West.

MANSFIELD -- A new set of apartments made its official ribbon cutting debut this week at 46 and 48 Park Avenue West.

The owner of the conjoined buildings, Annamarie Fernyak, has been working on restoring the historic property for over a year. One of the two storefronts has been rented out by LuxLife MedSpa; three of the four apartments upstairs are available for rent.

Fernyak renovated the building with help from an Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, a highly competitive grant administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency. The grant can help property owners recoup up to 25 percent of qualified rehabilitation expenses.

In order to be eligible, a building must be individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places; contribute to a National Register Historic District, National Park Service Certified Historic District, or Certified Local Government historic district; or be listed as a local landmark by a Certified Local Government.

Jennifer Kime, CEO of Downtown Mansfield Inc., said tax credit programs can help potential investors meet a growing demand in Mansfield.

“There definitely remains an interest in downtown housing. The issue has been the affordability of being able to do the reconstruction on the historic houses and then being able to lease them at an amount that people can recoup their cost on,” she said. “(These programs) make them a little bit more affordable because they’re able to get an immediate return on the investments through tax credits.”

The historic tax program requires that buildings are restored as close to its original state as possible. 

“The bones of the building haven’t changed at all,” Fernyak said. 

With minor exceptions, the building’s floor plan matches the original. The apartments boast original hinges, doorknobs and transom windows.

While the building may boast rich architectural history, it was the story of its first owner that intrigued Fernyak. Dr. Mary Jordan Finley, who specialized in women’s health, constructed the building in the late 1890s. 

“I’d heard rumors that somebody wanted to buy this building to tear it down,” she said. “Then I found out that it had been owned by one of the first female doctors in the area. I decided that I couldn’t let the building be torn down, so I bought it.”

Each of the building’s two bedroom, one-bath units will rent for $1,200 a month.

Kime predicted that any vacant apartments downtown won’t be available for long.

“When housing becomes available it becomes snatched up almost instantly,” she said. “We could sustain another 32 units fairly easily in downtown at rents of about $800 to $1400, depending on size.”

Providing more downtown housing for all income ranges is a key component of the Mansfield Rising plan.

“Quality downtown housing is important to attract talent back to Mansfield, as we’re trying to bring them home or bring new faces into the area,” said Clint Knight, head of workforce development for the Richland Area Chamber.

“In order to a downtown community to be viable and continue to grow it has to have people living downtown,” Fernyak said. “If you’ve ever been to a city where people don’t live downtown, it shuts down at 5 o’clock. They drive into the city to work and drive out of the city after work.”

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