LORAIN — The Broadway Building is either being redeveloped or it’s coming down.
In a correspondence with City Council, Mayor Chase Ritenauer gave an update on the building, which has been cited by the city’s building department and is set to appear in court May 25.
“Aside from the court date, a deal is pending between Spitzer (Great Lakes Ltd., the building’s owner) and ReTown, which seeks to redevelop the Broadway Building into a housing complex,” Ritenauer’s letter said. “The project would make use of historic tax credits and was supported by Council during the application process what is now a few years ago. The deal and its financing are complex, and Spitzer and ReTown — two private entities — have spent a considerable amount of time trying to come to a conclusion.”
In 2014, James Louthen, ReTown president and managing director who also developed Black River Landing, expressed an interest in turning the building into 50 upscale apartments for those ages 55 and older.
Ritenauer said while the deal is a private one, he and the Lorain Port Authority have been involved in helping to reach an agreement between the two companies.
“I’m confident that an agreement can be reached here and I think we’ll know soon,” he said. “There’s going to be a resolution here and there’s only a few ways it can go.”
Ritenauer’s letter said if an agreement cannot be reached between the two companies, Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. has begun collecting demolition estimates.
“Since it’s a historic building, obviously I’d like to see redevelopment first,” Ritenauer said. “But if that doesn’t happen I’m not opposed to demolition. I just want the space to be kept up.”
Ritenauer said the redevelopment project has already received a $440,203 tax credit from the Ohio Development Services Agency, and he is waiting to hear back about others.
“I think the redevelopment of the property really hinges on whether or not there’s historic tax credits,” he said. “Redeveloping something that old and historic is going to be costly, so the incentives have to be there.”
Ritenauer said the historic status of the building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, is what would help to get the tax credits but would also cause some roadblocks when it comes to demolition.
The former Spitzer Plaza Hotel, which closed in 2005 due to low occupancy rates, at the corner of Broadway and East Erie Avenue, has been a bone of contention in the community after sitting empty for more than 10 years with a crumbling exterior.
The city cited Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. in January for the following issues with the Broadway Building: a failure to maintain the exterior structure in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so it will not pose a threat to public health and safety; bricks that appeared to be detaching from the building; and two unsafe conditions violations, which said that siding and masonry joints were not maintained or weather resistant as well as that veneer, cornice, belt courses, trim and other decorative features were not property anchored or capable of supporting loads.
Ritenauer said the case is expected to be heard in court May 25 by a visiting judge to avoid a conflict of interest between magistrate Chris Cook, who presides over the city’s housing court, and Spitzer attorney Anthony Giardini, who previously worked at the same law firm.
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