Cold weather has delayed spring cleaning on Broadway, but a developer has plans in the works for downtown Lorain.
Meanwhile, the city’s streetscape plan remains vital for attracting new businesses and tenants to Broadway, said the leader of Main Street Lorain-Lorain Growth Corp.
Last fall, Jim Long and an ad hoc committee of downtown observers made a walking tour to look at conditions of some empty buildings on Broadway.
In April this year, the weather remains unseasonably chilly, but soon it will be time to call for more building improvements by property owners.
Veard met with Long and Dave Goline, owner of Dave’s Gold & Jewelry Repair, inside the City Center, 300 Broadway.
There have been recent building sales on Broadway, which may be a good sign – if the new owners have plans.
Long credited Veard’s approach because he has plans for using properties, not just buying them and letting them sit empty.
“It’s good that they’re buying them; I want to know what they’re going to do with them,” Long said about the Broadway structures. “Because otherwise, you’re just playing checkers. We don’t need investors; we need developers, like him.”
Renovations are nearing completion inside the former Lorain Moose Lodge, 713 W. Fifth St.
That will become a production center and kitchen for Spectrum Consulting Services LLC, which specializes in education and work programs for students and adults with autism and developmental disabilities.
Once the weather warms up, downtown observers can expect to see landscaping and fresh paint on the outside of the building.
That building will become a renovated 22-unit residence supporting Spectrum Services.
The 444 building’s corner store will become a candy stop, and the space next to it will become gift shop supporting Spectrum Services.
The former Lorain County Community Action Agency building at 502-506 Broadway will become a residential center.
Behind the new Community Action Agency office complex at 936 Broadway, the 1902 Modern Building will become the new City Cycle Shop.
Next to that, a hydroponic greenhouse will be built.
In the block between Reid Avenue and Streator Place, between West 10th and 11th streets, Veard said he wants to buy the houses there to tear down to improve the area behind Community Action Agency Head Start at Hopkins-Locke, 1050 Reid Ave.
That will shift parking to the area behind the preschool and expand its playground.
The projects will have start dates ranging from the next 45 days for the Community Action Agency’s bike shop, out to 18 months or longer for the residential buildings.
If Lorain wants to add businesses to Broadway, the city needs automatic tax abatements for merchants to move there and residents to shop there, Veard said.
“If you don’t get people downtown, you’ll never keep your shops open,” he said.
Broadway needs more parking as well because people don’t want to park behind a store, then walk around a building to find the front door, Veard said.
Broadway is a safe part of Lorain, but the perception of safety is bad for downtown, Long said.
“But, what adds to the perception? Vacant buildings that start to deteriorate,” he said. “You get them housed, you get people down here, the perception of safety will disappear, I’ll tell you right now.”
“Jon’s doing a good job of that,” Goline said.
“It’s a slow process, unfortunately,” Veard said.
The process would move faster if Lorain had three or four more developers bringing in new residents and businesses, he said.
They agreed the Broadway streetscape also is vital this year.
It is a city plan to reconfigure Broadway with new traffic flow, traffic islands, wider sidewalks and more lights.