September 18, 2014


Business owners assemble group to promote Lorain


Gary Davis

Developer Gary Davis met with business owners Tuesday to brainstorm ways to revitalize Lorain’s downtown. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — Proponents of downtown revitalization must have a unified approach to make it happen.

That often-stated concept by proponents in the past is easier said than done, but a newly forming group is taking on the challenge. The group, tentatively named the Lorain Waterfront Business District, is the idea of developer Gary Davis.

Davis, who moved to Lorain from Tacoma, Wash., a few years ago, is the owner of the Gardens of Charleston, a 28-unit upscale apartment building at 610-630 Broadway and the Charleston Coffee House at 630 Broadway. Davis hosted a meeting of about 15 business people Tuesday at the coffee house. He suggested shutting down portions of downtown to vehicular traffic for art festivals or other events once per month to attract people.

“We’ve got to get our image and our pride back,” Davis said. “Make it fun to be down here.”

Meeting participants said past revitalization efforts have failed due to apathy and a fragmented approach.

“If we’re going to be a united front, we need to mean it,” said Angela Greiner, a Key Bank banker.

Leon Mason, Lorain’s deputy safety service director for community programs and affairs, said Lorain may be able to get federal money to help promote downtown if a private group could provide matching funds.

“What the city wants to see is one group working towards the same goal, not 20 groups working different agendas,” Mason said. “We need one entity with everybody being cohesive and working toward the same goals.”

Davis said after the meeting that he was pleased with the response and the group may seek nonprofit status. He said previous groups have had good intentions but have been unable to defeat perceptions that Lorain is crime-ridden and stagnant. Davis said it’s important this group be comprised of business owners.

“The only person who’s going to watch your business the best is somebody that’s got money invested in it,” he said. “We want to get the businesses more involved because this is their livelihood.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

Businesslike Approach

Downtown developer Gary Davis is forming a new business group to help revitalize downtown. The Lorain Waterfront Business District’s goals include:

  • Coordinated efforts to promote downtown and the lakefront, capitalizing on assets such as the Lorain Palace Theater, the Lorain Lighthouse and Lakeview Park.
  • Creating a united voice to advocate for business owners with representatives attending each City Council and Lorain County commissioners meeting and regularly meeting with state representatives.
  • Coordinate with existing entities such as the Lorain International Festival, the Lorain Historical Society and the Lorain Port Authority.
  • Pool resources for advertising to promote downtown as a safe and unique place to visit and shop at and to create a website promoting events, stores and restaurants.

SOURCE: Lorain Waterfront Business District

  • oldruss

    The first thing Lorain should do is to force Alan Spitzer to fix-up Alan Spitzer’s now abandoned hotel at the corner of Broadway and East Erie, formerly the Broadway Building. By allowing Spitzer, represented by Attorney Anthony Giradini, Lorain County Democratic Chairman, to continue to ignore building code violations, the Mayor and his Building Department is continuing to allow a very large eye-sore to blight what should be the centerpiece of downtown.

    • Phil Blank

      Get rid of it, we need another parking lot.

  • GreatRedeemer

    I agree its fragmented, because everyone wants to get a
    little piece of the action. Committees, executive directors all with salaries
    and political clout. In some cases the way to hire relatives and children.

    • Suzan Smith

      Fragmented, indeed.

  • Suzan Smith

    Lorain needs a Mayor and city council more concerned with their standing with the voters than their personal standing with their party leadership.

  • JoyceEarly

    We’ve always been a corrupt city. Keep the same people making the decisions and we’ll have more of the same.

  • Phil Blank

    Return the 4-way flashing traffic lights back to red, yellow, green lights.
    #1 no one can safely cross Broadway walking or driving!
    #2 the way the traffic lights are now, flashing, people just speed down the Broadway and never look at any of the buildings, open or closed-up. Can’t look for a place to open a business if the traffic is flying bye.

  • Phil Blank

    Take a walk past the old Nelis wallpaper & paint building on the west side of Broadway at 9th street, across from Scorcher’s.
    There are large holes from missing siding on the north side of the building where animals, rain, snow, etc. is getting in.
    Another building that needs to be taken down.

  • soundreasoning

    I’m just glad they did’t hop on the “main street” band wagon

  • stop ur whining

    fixing a city is an easy solution, but would be a very tough plan to get people behind. the first thing you do is raise taxes. that forces the unwanted element that plagues your street out of the city because they can no longer afford to live there. then with the extra tax revenue you flood your street with police to take out the remaining trash. once that is done you sink every last cent you have into your schools. once you have a safe city with great schools you can attract new families looking for an affordable place to live and a great place to send their kids to school. with the population boom you then attract more businesses and your city flourishes. everyone has it backwards thinking business attracts people, its people that attract businesses. its an easy, but unpopular fix. but ask yourself this question…Westlake, Bay, River, Avon Lake….what do all these flourishing cities have in common? Low crime and amazing schools.

  • bpbatista

    Kudos to Mr. Davis, but who in their right mind moves to Lorain from anywhere?

  • therest_ofthestory

    I was down there at Christmas time and people were lined up to see Santa or whatever. It was a madhouse. And the language! They were trying to do horse and buggy rides which was really nice but you had all these little kids running in and out of the street. The piped music was really great but it just seems like whenever you go out of your way to do something nice in downtown Lorain, people have to go out of their way to prove that they’re trash! Until you can do something about the type of people down there, people who might be willing to spend considerable amounts of money are not going to want to come down there. They don’t want to be around people that look like they’re going to knife you if you look at them wrong. What kind of business are you going to bring in? I’d love to see clothing boutiques or little shops or eateries but who’s going to come down there? My family would love to come down and support the Palace more often but when we come out of a movie, we’d like to get something to eat and I’m sorry, but the Charleston Coffee House is limited in what they serve. My entire family would LOVE to support downtown Lorain. We still remember the sidewalk sales and the different stores that were there in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. Regardless of what you are willing to admit, there is an element of people that frequent the downtown area that many people do not wish to expose themselves to. Until you fix that or enforce the law, nothing is going to change.

    • ken

      well with our “fine” judges letting criminals free that’s what you get

  • Zen Grouch

    **He said previous groups have had good intentions but have been unable to
    defeat perceptions that Lorain is crime-ridden and stagnant.**

    Sometimes perceptions are reflections of reality, as is the case here.

    Now… if someone can’t accept reality, how on earth are they going to change it?

    Sure, you can slap whitewash on perceptions, but I have to wonder…

    Out of all the business people willing to invest in downtown Lorain in the past 40 years, how many have managed to not lose their shirts in the process.

    OK, look at Davis. An out of towner with a few bucks burning a hole in his pocket invested in Lorain, I’m sure with the best of intentions and hopes.

    I’m guessin’, -now-, the reality of what Lorain IS, is apparent to the guy, who now wants to start a non-profit and get federal grants to help rebuild what once was a thriving city… a city that’s broken and has degraded to something that is no longer fixable.

    If the initial investment Davis made in Lorain would have been a wise one, he could use his own profits to invest in and build a better city… But at this point he’s probably grabbing at straws wishing he never heard of Lorain, Ohio.

    There have got to be about a thousand other towns in the United States that would be more worthwhile in investing in than Lorain.

    And that’s a reality…