LORAIN — The city will buy the Walter A. Frey Funeral Home.
Council voted Monday to purchase the lakefront property for $133,000 including closing costs.
Beth Henley, D-1st Ward, said the purchase, which was discussed at the March 11 Building and Lands Committee meeting, was a good one for the city — and most Council members agreed with her.
“This seems like a no-brainer to me,” she said. “We need to move forward with this because of the location and downtown Lorain growing, and City Hall may or may not need more space. It’s just a pretty valuable piece of property.”
The city agreed to purchase four parcels owned by Walter A. Frey Jr. — 700 West Erie Ave. and 225, 233 and 239 Washington Ave.
Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the city will look to raze the buildings on the properties, possibly to create additional parking in the short-term. Ideally, the city would be able to lease or sell the parcels for a profit as downtown development continues and waterfront development “becomes a reality,” he said.
Built in 1870, the 5,497-square-foot-building at 700 West Erie Ave. has housed the funeral home since the 1940s. It was listed for auction last fall, before the agreement with the city.
On Monday, Council also approved additional positions needed for the growth in the housing court docket. Discussed at length March 11, the additional caseload will require six new positions: a part-time magistrate, a part-time process server and a part-time court aide in the Office of the Judges; an administrative staff person in the Law Office; and housing support staff through the Mayor’s Office, who are part of the Lorain Police Special Auxiliary and help enforce building and housing code violations in the city.
All positions except the three in the Office of the Judges were incorporated into the 2019 permanent budget.
A sunset clause was added for the end of this year, which allows Council to re-evaluate the program and its staffing costs at the end of the year.
In other business
- SNG Properties received a Community Reinvestment Area Tax Abatement for a Domino’s Pizza at 445 Broadway. Home of the former Driscol’s Music Company before it shuttered in 2014, the property requires remodeling at an estimated cost of $400,000. The property is slated to house a training center as well as the pizza parlor and have eight to 10 full-time employees and 15 to 20 part-time employees.
The abatement is for 12 years.
Joe Koziura, D-At Large, voted against the measure, citing that size of a project is not what abatements are meant for. The agreement narrowly passed with a 6-4 vote. Mitch Fallis, D-At Large, abstained, as his employer does business with SNG Properties.
- The city was awarded a Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council Energized Community Grant totaling $156,954 for energy conservation projects in government facilities. Ritenauer said he would look to put it and the money left over from last year’s grant toward repairs needed in City Hall and the new fire stations and service complex projects.