April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Poor economy puts quarry project on the back burner

ELYRIA — The $500 million quarry project on the west side of Lorain County has been slowed by the recession, but the California development company that plans to build the upscale residential and recreation complex said it remains committed to the project.

“It’s still moving forward, but not as aggressively as it was,” said county Commissioner Lori Kokoski, who was part of a meeting Tuesday between county officials and representatives of Industrial Realty Group, including company president Stuart Lichter.

The sprawling project at the former Cleveland Quarries was expected to take seven to 10 years to complete when it was formally announced in December 2007. If completed, the approximately 1,000-acre project is expected to include homes ranging in price from $750,000 to $1.3 million, a hotel, recreation amenities and a 100-foot waterfall.

IRG Senior Vice President Debbie Harrell, who also was at the meeting, said the lack of lending by banks hasn’t derailed the project, but it has slowed it down significantly. IRG — which is also redeveloping the former Ford plant in Lorain — isn’t alone in feeling the pinch from lenders, Harrell said.

“The economy has really slowed down a lot of development across the country, not just us,” she said.
When it was announced, the project was hailed by many as the impetus for the west side of the county to finally see significant development.

But there have been some problems. A deal with the county to run a sewer line from Lorain to the project in Amherst Township, Brownhelm Township and South Amherst fell through. IRG has since said that it will build its own sewer plant.

IRG also has shelved plans, at least for now, to seek the annexation of nearly 450 acres of township land into South Amherst.

Harrell and Kokoski both said they couldn’t go into the issues that currently are being worked on.

But Harrell said the project’s phases are being readjusted and that the work that is being done now will pave the way for the project to move forward once the financing situation improves.

“We’re trying to get the infrastructure set so when the economy turns around — and it will turn around — we can move forward,” she said.

Kokoski said she remains hopeful that the quarry project will still come together.

“The project is still a very good possibility,” she said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.