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Broadway Building owner given September deadline

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LORAIN — The crumbling Broadway Building will live to see at least three more months.

At a hearing Wednesday afternoon, visiting Norwalk Judge John Ridge said the owner of the building, Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd., will go to trial Sept. 29 if necessary steps aren’t taken to abate the structure’s issues.

Spitzer attorney Anthony Giardini said his client is planning on addressing the building’s exterior issues “immediately,” which were cited by the city of Lorain in January.

“We do disagree with the city on some of the citations that were handed down, but we agree that the building needs to be safe for residents, and we’re going to do what is necessary to make that happen,” Giardini said. “We’re especially concerned with the pedestrian traffic on East Erie Avenue and Broadway.

The building, which sits on the south corner of that intersection, received citations for 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.

Assistant Law Director Mallory Holmes said the city is giving the company until Sept. 1 to resolve the issues, whether it comes from redevelopment, construction or demolition.

“We want to see Spitzer make an effort to make the building safe,” she said. “We have pretrial dates set in case, for whatever reason, the work doesn’t get done, but we’re hoping it gets taken care of by the end of the summer.”

At the hearing, Giardini detailed a series of roadblocks associated with his client’s agreement with Chicago-based developer ReTown.

“About a year and a half ago, Spitzer entered into an agreement with ReTown to turn the building into market-priced apartments,” he said. “From there, the project was awarded a state historic tax credit of $440,203 as well as several federal tax credits, totaling a couple of million dollars.”

Giardini said that’s where the wheels came off.

“The agreement ended up expiring without a deal closing,” he said. “ReTown said they had trouble acquiring the funding for market-priced apartments. They would have been able to get it for subsidized housing but not market-priced.”

Giardini said both Spitzer and the city don’t want the building, which operated as the Spitzer Plaza Hotel until 2005 when it closed due to low occupancy, to become subsidized, but there might not be an option.

“This can be resolved several ways,” he said. “It turns into subsidized housing, we make the market-priced apartments project work, which would involve Spitzer donating the building at a loss of $1.4 million, and it’s something we can only do if the developer can show that they have the funding, or we tear the building down.”

While the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, agency spokesman Jeff Joeckel said since the building is privately owned, the company can demolish the property.

Holmes said regardless of the project’s tax credit status, the company will go to trial in September.



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