RETOWN IN LORAIN, OHIO Coverage in The Chronicle-Telegram

Filed on December 18, 2014 by Evan Goodenow

UPDATED: Tax credits awarded to revive Spitzer hotel

LORAIN — From eyesore to eye-catching.

That’s the vision of developers for the former Spitzer Plaza Hotel, which they want to convert to upscale apartments for tenants 55 and older. The proposal got a boost Thursday with the award of a $440,203 tax credit from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits are rebates to investors received after projects are completed. They are designed to encourage investment in historic buildings. The former hotel at Broadway and East Erie Avenue opened as the Broadway Building in 1928 and was placed on the National Historic Register in 1985.

“The Broadway Building is a crucial historical asset for the community,” said developer James Louthen, who helped develop the nearby Black River Landing, which opened in 2003. “We’re just proud of the fact that we’ve been a part of delivering the investment required to save and redevelop the building.”

Louthen said he has recruited T2 Capital Management, a Chicago-area investment firm, to help fund the $10 million project. He wants to build about 50 apartments in the four-floor building. The first floor would be for retail and might include a restaurant.

Developers have sought up to $1.9 million in tax credits. Louthen said getting the remaining $1.5 million is contingent on showing the agency that the project has enough investors and is making progress.

He said construction is planned for the summer or fall of next year and should be completed by early 2017.

“We want to recruit local contractors to spur local employment, so we aren’t going to rush the construction plan,” Louthen said. “It’s an iconic phase of Lorain’s redevelopment.”

Since closing in 2005, the building has fallen into disrepair, including bricks falling from the facade several years ago. The property at 301 Broadway has a total market value of about $1.1 million, according to the Lorain County auditor’s website. City Council members grew frustrated with building owner Alan Spitzer of Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. for not selling or renovating the building, and several councilmen said last year that it might need to be demolished.

However, project architect Gary Fischer said considering the building’s age and the nine years it’s been shuttered, it’s in good condition. He said renovation is doable.

“It’s been a labor of love to get it to the point of tax credit approval,” said Fischer, principal architect with Cleveland- and Lorain-based Arkinetics. “It’s rewarding to see the state of Ohio and the federal government realize that this is an important thing to help in the redevelopment of the city.”

The Lorain award was part of $41.8 million awarded to 35 projects statewide, according to an agency news release. Louthen cited cooperation between investors and city officials for obtaining the credit and said the conversion couldn’t occur without it.

“We’re very proud and excited about the award and the redevelopment,” Louthen said. “Without question, the biggest beneficiary of the redevelopment of the Broadway Building into a mixed-use downtown project is the community of Lorain.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or Follow him on Twitter at @egoodenowct.

Read the original story featured in The Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County here.