LORAIN — Spitzer Plaza Hotel will soon have a new owner after an agreement was finalized to donate the property to a developer Monday.
The agreement was reached with owner Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. to donate the property to the Lorain Port Authority for two years and then to the developer, Ariel Ventures LLC.
Spitzer previously attempted to make a deal with Chicago-based ReTown in 2016, but plans fell through due to the historic tax cuts expiring in May of this year. The tax credits originally were part of a $12 million project to turn the former Spitzer Plaza Hotel at U.S. Route 6 and Broadway, which closed in 2005 due to low occupancy rates, into apartments for seniors.
“Without the different tax credits, an old building like this just isn’t a viable development unless somebody’s got a mega amount of money to throw at something and hope that it comes true,” Lorain Port Authority Executive Director Tom Brown said.
Donating the property — valued at $1.1 million, according to the Lorain County auditor — to a public entity will make it eligible for tax credits again, according to Brown.
Brown said the agreement was drafted over the span of three months, so many details of construction dates and cost have not yet been finalized.
As the plan sits now, major renovations are planned for the building on every floor. Half of the fourth floor will be converted from hotel rooms into event spaces, capturing the views of Lake Erie and the Black River. The other half will either have additional event spaces or remain hotel rooms.
The elevators will also be renovated to reach the roof, where they plan to convert into an outdoor event space. The second and third floors will be renovated but remain hotel spaces with a new “boutique style.” The first floor will have restaurant and opportunity spaces for offices or retailing. The basement will also have opportunity spaces.
Tony Giardini, Spitzer’s attorney, said they were encouraged by the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program to reapply for the historic tax credits. Under the agreement, Giardini said, Ariel Ventures plans to have a proposal to reinstate the tax credits early next year.
Both Giardini and Brown said Ariel Ventures has expertise in applying for and gaining historic tax cuts like these.
According to its website, Ariel Ventures LLC is a 100 percent women-owned and minority firm founded in Cleveland in 2001 that provides finance, tax, information technology and business advisory services to renewable energy, real estate, small business, international business, and economic development projects.
“We are all just very confident that the historic tax credits will be restored,” Giardini said.
It is currently unknown what might happen if the developer is unable to gain the historic tax credits, but the agreement will still stand, Giardini added.
Brown is also hopeful the move may lead to more revitalization for developments in the city.
“It’s created some energy already where other building owners are taking notice and fast tracking their proposals and projects to capture the same timeline,” he said.
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