December 20, 2014

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Inspection finds more violations at former Spitzer hotel

LORAIN — Alan Spitzer isn’t a cash-strapped inner-city homeowner struggling to maintain his home.

Protective netting prevents the crumbling facade of the former Spitzer Plaza Hotel from falling onto the sidewalk in this photo provided Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the city of Lorain.)

Protective netting prevents the crumbling facade of the former Spitzer Plaza Hotel from falling onto the sidewalk in this photo provided Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the city of Lorain.)

Spitzer, president of Spitzer Great Lakes LTD Co., owns at least 59 properties in Lorain County, according to the Lorain County Auditor’s website, and another 12 are listed under Spitzer’s company, Spitzer Management.

Given Spitzer’s wealth and property holdings, Rey Carrion, Lorain’s acting community development director, said he’s surprised Spitzer hasn’t rectified numerous code violations at the former Spitzer Plaza Hotel.

“There’s just very little investment or maintenance,” Carrion said Tuesday, hours after he said he re-inspected the outside of the building and parking lot and found numerous violations. “I thought some progress would be made by now.”

The re-inspection of the building at 301 Broadway, near the East Erie Avenue intersection, found broken glass, cracks in walls, facade damage, graffiti, missing bricks and missing plaster, according to Nuisance Inspection Task Force documents. An extension to make repairs that was granted Feb. 6 by Lorain expired Sunday.

The re-inspection came as frustration with Spitzer over his failure to renovate or sell the building since it closed in 2005 mounts. City Councilman Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward, at Monday’s City Council meeting, called the building — placed on the National Historic Register in 1985 — a “piece of crap” that needs to be razed.

Spitzer couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday and Spitzer attorney Anthony Giardini and Spitzer manager Matt Edwards didn’t return calls. Giardini, who also represents the Lorain Board of Education and is Lorain County Democratic Party chairman, said when the 69-room hotel closed because of shrinking business, that it might remain a hotel or be converted into condominiums, time shares or assisted-living units. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said Monday that the condition of the building and the asking price, between $2.5 million and $3 million, may be discouraging potential buyers.

He said it might cost $3 million to renovate and several hundred thousand to demolish. Ritenauer said if the property were demolished, the cost might be assessed on Spitzer’s property taxes or it could be paid for with federal taxpayer demolition money.

Carrion said another extension won’t be granted and the violation information will be referred to the city prosecutor for a hearing in Lorain Municipal Court. Carrion said he’ll seek to inspect the inside of the four-floor building, which Ritenauer said has collapsed ceilings on the upper floors. The task force, formed a year ago, has sought to reduce blight and hold property owners accountable, and Carrion said the former hotel is no exception.

“The ultimate goal is to clean up our city,” he said. “It’s time to change, and these properties have to be brought up to code.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.