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Lorain Council to vote on tax abatement

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LORAIN — Council will vote next week on a downtown tax abatement.

The Finance and Claims committee recommended Monday that Council approve a Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement for N and H LLC. The group plans to remodel 822 Broadway, turning the first floor into a steakhouse and the second floor into a Victorian-era pub, according to plans discussed Monday evening. The group will remodel the third floor as well, but has yet to decide what to do with the space.

The group expects to invest $200,000 into the remodel. The group requested a 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years.

“Hopefully, while things are going on in downtown Lorain, it’s kind of nice to give the citizens another option for food and this abatement would help tremendously in helping that come to fruition,” attorney Henry Patterson Jr. said. He and Jeff Neal, of N and H LLC, were on hand Monday evening to answer Council’s questions.

Andrea Neal purchased the property for $30,000 on July 27, according to County Auditor records. It was transferred to N and H LLC in November. The LLC includes Andrea and Jeff Neal and Tony Horne. It plans to facilitate the rehab of the building, but contract the individual restaurants — the steakhouse and pub — out to local restaurateurs. Jeff Neal said the group has not pulled its permits to start, as it is waiting for final plans from Fischer and Associates Architects.

As a real estate agent, Neal said he and his wife had sold several buildings along Broadway, but despite showing the 800 block space around a dozen times, no one could see the possibilities of the building. So, instead of allowing it to sit empty, the LLC bought it.

“As you know, born and raised in this town, I love this town,” Neal said. “We thought our own way of giving back was to invest. I just donated six years of my time to the Palace (Theater), I loved it, I love being downtown, so we decided to purchase a building to try to facilitate some kind of business here.”

Several Council members commended N and H LLC’s decision to move into the Broadway space. Mitch Fallis, D-at large, cited the abatement as a good way for the city to partner with small businesses like Neal’s.

“Two-hundred-thousand dollars is a lot of money,” Fallis said. “Restaurant businesses are somewhat risky so I think a good way to partner with an investor such as yourself would be to extend a full-amount tax abatement to you, to help get that business up and jump-started and take away some of that financial burden for the first several years of the operation of that building.”

Council will next meet 6 p.m. Jan. 22.

In other news

The Finance and Claims committee also recommended to Council approving an increase to its seasonal and part-time wages to meet the state minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage is $7.25, Ohio’s is $8.55.

The ordinance would adjust summer seasonal rates to $8.55 to $12 an hour. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said departments “should be all right as budgeted,” despite the $0.40 pay bump.

Following the Finance and Claims committee, the Building and Lands committee recommended Council approve an ordinance limiting how long temporary storage units can be on properties. Introduced by Josh Thornsberry, D-8th Ward, following numerous complaints in his ward, the legislation would require a $30 per month permit, with a max of 90 days. Building, Housing and Planning would keep track of permits, and according to Law Director Pat Riley the penalty for ignoring the time limit is a minor misdemeanor.

An ordinance transferring 13 parcels — the former Pellet Terminal Site — to the Port Authority to allow for environmental cleanup was removed from the agenda by the administration.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.
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