On paper, 822 Broadway is an asset in the pending probate court case of its deceased owner.
On the street, 822 Broadway is an eyesore that could deteriorate beyond repair if no one takes responsibility to maintain it.
“It could be redone, it could be redone,” said Jim Long, president of the Lorain Growth Corp. “This building could be workable. But we’re not happy with the way it looks now.”
The building at 822 Broadway was the latest target for downtown advocates who say now is the time for owners to repair the empty buildings in downtown Lorain.
The group included Long, and Loraine Ritchey of the Charleston Village Society Inc., a group that advocates for preservation in Lorain’s oldest neighborhood.
As an online blogger, Ritchey is a frequent commenter on Lorain issues.
With them were Frank Sipkovsky, a member of the Lorain Design Review Board. Sipkovsky and his wife, Carolyn, also are local historians and trustees of the Lorain Lighthouse Foundation Inc.
At 822 Broadway, Lorain Fire Assistant Chief Christopher Radman has said the building is locked up, its utilities are shut off and there are no fire code violations per se.
But 822 Broadway still needs work, Long said.
The building is owned by the late George Schneider, who died in September 2014.
Lorain County Auditor’s records continue to show him as the owner of record.
Schneider’s estate remains in Lorain County Probate Court.
Attorney Brent English, who is working on the probate case, was not available to comment on the building.
Lorain County Probate Judge James Walther declined to comment on the pending court case.
It was unclear exactly what could happen next.
On a walking tour, Long pointed out conditions visible from the street or from the alley behind the building.
Near the top of the three-story building, it states “A. Helfrich,” with 1906 listed as the year of construction.
That would make it a survivor of the Great Tornado of 1924, which destroyed and damaged numerous structures in Lorain.
It was one of the first commercial buildings built on Broadway, Long said.
Its owner lived above the work space, which served as a furniture store and funeral business, he said.
“The interior isn’t that awful bad except for a little bit of mold from the roof leaking,” Long said, citing previous visits into the building. “But it’s not that bad.”
Now the building is sealed up, mostly.
From the front, the dirty glass clouds the faded vintage posters in the windows.
Plywood that was set in place, now is fixed to secure the opening, Long said. He estimated it has been there for years.
Around the back of the building, there is an upstairs window open with no glass or plywood in place.
It appears a tree is growing up from the roof or through the north side of the building; it is difficult to tell exactly from the sightlines visible from the ground.
A wood extension off the back of the building, which is its west side, appears to be rotting.
“There’s a lot of money that would have to go in it,” Long said.
In 2012, Lorain local historian Dan Brady published a piece on the building when it was Rusine’s. Robert Rusine wrote that his father, Mike Rusine, used the building as a bookstore on Broadway.
The building also was a target of a Ritchey blog about city issues including politics and the conditions of Lorain neighborhoods.
The building has an exterior awning that reads: Joshe’s Place.
Working with a former owner, Perez Bar and Grill LLC was developing Joshe’s Place, a bar and restaurant in the property, according to a memorandum filed at the Ohio Supreme Court.
The building went into foreclosure, then to a tax foreclosure sale.
Perez had a verbal lease, but was not operating a business at the site in September 2007 when Schneider was the winning bidder to buy the building at the foreclosure sale.
Perez and Schneider then disputed who owned a stove, chairs, wooden bar and bar-back, a kitchen hood inside the building and a five-ton air conditioning unit on the roof, according to the Ohio Supreme Court records.
Lorain County Common Pleas Court and Court of Appeals sided with Perez, ordering Schneider to pay $9,230.
In January 2013, Schneider and English appealed that case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In May that year, the High Court declined to hear the case.