LORAIN — The owner of a shopping center on the west side of Lorain is suing the city because inspectors have placed signs and placards on the property, declaring it a “dangerous building.”
According to a lawsuit filed Friday in the County Common Pleas Court, owners Muhanad Bazyan and Westbank LLC “have been unable to use their property, (the Westgate Shopping Center at the intersection of West 21st Street and Leavitt Road), for its intended purposes” because of the signs.
Bazyan and Westbank are looking to receive $25,000 in damages and also are suing chief building official Richard Klinar in his official capacity with the city.
The lawsuit says Bazyan and Westbank didn’t receive any notice from the city prior to the signs being posted April 4 that the building was dangerous, unsafe or required any repairs in accordance with the city’s ordinances.
According to Lorain Municipal Court records, Bazyan was cited for more than 30 different violations of Lorain’s fire code Sept. 6. A pretrial in the city’s housing court is scheduled for July 18.
A report from the city’s then-fire marshal Matt Homolya dated Jan. 23, also cited 13 problems with the building not adhering to the city’s fire code and said the building was in a state of “rapid deterioration” with roof leaks and black mold as well as structure problems.
“The exposure and structural integrity of this one occupancy puts the health and safety of all citizens, safety forces and city workers that may be near this structure when a failure occurs or may need to respond in the event of an emergency or catastrophic failure,” he said.
Safety-Service Director Dan Given said the city has a history of trying to inform the property owners of the issues and the property owners choosing to ignore them.
“Basically he’s not making money off of this property, but it’s his duty to maintain it,” Given said about Bazyan. “We’re turning up the heat and want this to be dealt with. It’s an unsafe property and is beyond repair. There are sections of it that don’t even have a roof.”
Given said recently Bazyan had been operating a dollar store out of the plaza but it hasn’t been open in months.
“I stopped in once and there wasn’t any heat, and he said it’s because he couldn’t afford it,” Given said. “I feel sorry for the gentleman because he bought something but doesn’t have the money to fix it up, but it’s beyond its useable life.”
The lawsuit also states Bazyan and Westbank haven’t had the opportunity to go before the city’s Demolition Board to tell their case, but Given said that’s something the city hopes to rectify.
“There’s discussions going on because we want to see them being held accountable,” he said. “We want to see a big impact.”