September 3, 2014

Elyria
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After 38 years, blighted Lorain house to come down

The house at Fourth and Hamilton streets in Lorain will get demolished after sitting empty for nearly four decades. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

The house at Fourth and Hamilton streets in Lorain will get demolished after sitting empty for nearly four decades. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — In 1976 as the nation celebrated its bicentennial, Loraine Ritchey grew concerned about an abandoned, blighted house on her block.

On Friday, the house at 1034 W. Fourth St., a symbol of Lorain’s housing decay and city and state bureaucratic delays, will come down, ending a 38-year battle.

Ritchey, co-founder and co-chairwoman of Charleston Village Society, a neighborhood improvement group, said delays were largely due to the house being in a historic district. Charleston Village is Lorain’s oldest neighborhood and began as a trading post in 1807.

The area, which included a gathering space in what is now Veterans Park on West Erie Avenue, was named Charleston Village in 1834. The village was renamed Lorain in 1874 after Lorraine, France.

Ritchey said squatters occupied the home as recently as a few months ago. The home is near Lorain Community Elementary and Middle School at 1110 W. Fourth St., which Ritchey said exacerbated safety concerns.

Ritchey said she wrote numerous letters to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, which oversees historic areas, and Lorain officials. The effort began with the administration of Mayor Joseph Zahorec, who served from 1972 to 1980 and in 1984.

Ritchey said the administration of former Mayor Joe Koziura, who served from 1996 through 1999, got homeowner William Gow to put a new roof on the house. Gow couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ritchey said then-Community Development Director Sandy Prudoff tried to get the house rehabilitated about 10 years ago. Prudoff is now imprisoned on federal corruption charges.

The 1,800-square-foot house, built in 1900, has a total market value of $33,260, according to the Lorain County auditor’s website.

The house is being demolished with money from the Lorain County Land Bank and the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program, a state-run program, said Mayor Chase Ritenauer.

Ritchey credited the aggressiveness of the Ritenauer administration for putting the wrecking ball in place. The administration has demolished some 170 blighted homes since Ritenauer took office in 2012.

“I told them when they came into office, ‘That’s my icon house,’” Ritchey said. “It was the poster child.”

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

  • SoLoJimbo

    Lorraine Ritchey… I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, masked by We, We, We. So did the house get torn down because it was more worthy and was more of a threat to the community or was it to pacify someone who “knows some people downtown”? I would bet I can find 10 houses in worse condition in south Lorain just as close to some LCS buildings but why are those houses torn down? POLITICS. Don’t say you are non-partisian becasue you are not. You are very partisian to yourself. We should hold our city accountable to do projects based on merit not who squeals the most or will moan to more people. I thought this mayor was different, I was wrong and he lied that he would be.

  • http://www.dennisflores.org Dennis Flores

    I’m loving it…don’t care when, where, or why just as long as they keep them coming down. Making progress by leaps & bound yielding positive results!

    • stillsleepyeyes

      Making progress ???? I would call it making progress when the buildings that spritzer owns gets fixed or torn down or maybe even the city garage that is actually falling down around city employees are taken care of.

  • loraineritchey

    Solo

  • loraineritchey

    Solojimbo well I MUST have a great deal of sway considering we (I) Me complained about this property for 38 years and 8 administrations lot of pull there apparently – This house has been open to the elements for the past 18 years and NEVER has been lived in since we have lived her 40 years It is a terrible shame that in 8 administrations bar one it slipped through the Building Code cracks infact the Spitzer Hotel was purchased , refurbished open to great hoopla and closed down all within 30 years of the 38 we (I) Me have been complaining about this house. You can call me a lot of things I don’t mind and for all my faults I am least tenacious and post under my own name YOU what have YOU done lately at least we ( I) Me try :)

    • SoLoJimbo

      Well, after years of complaining about a house near me on E. 33rd, it was finally torn down about 2 years ago. A woman was assulted in it as a result of it being unsecured, but about 6 years after that it was tore down. No article, no credit, no individual chest pounding, not even a polititian saying look what I did. Why is this one deserving of headlines?

  • Phil Blank

    They don’t use wrecking balls around here.

  • SniperFire

    Before I even read the story, I knew this was only being done with some sort of grant by the State or Fed. Seems Lorain County ‘leaders’ can do nothing without using somebody elses money.

    • Zen Grouch

      What do you mean someone else’s money?

      Where do you think the big Federal and State bucks come from?

    • rlm_Lorain

      Of course they have to use federal and state grant money; where else would the money come from? This city couldn’t even get a $5 piggy back tax passed to fix the streets, and now everyone is screaming about how bad the roads are. Things in this city need to be fixed and it costs m.o.n.e.y., yet no one is willing to pay for it. The few honest tax-paying citizens still living in Lorain can only afford so much. I have no problem paying more taxes to get things done, but a lot of people just can’t afford it.

      • SniperFire

        Just move. The Democrats have done their magic in Lorain and there is no hope.

        • Zen Grouch

          Have you ever thought about just getting it over with and swallowing your gun?

  • ekwaykway

    Market value 33k, more like 33 cents. What a joke.

  • Jimbo smith

    Keep them coming down like some ice cold brews. You agree Mr. Flores?

  • colmwn

    it’s good to get blighted houses torn down, but it is a shame that everything goes in the landfill and materials can’t be recycled

    • johns62

      probably already been stripped long ago

  • loraineritchey

    SoloJim probably because we (I) Me had a paper trail for those years and because the house is in one of the historic areas according to the state- you might want to check because part of South Lorain also has an historic designation- check with Community Development ( Housing and Planning Dept)

    Thriving Communities Institute of the Western Reserve
    Land Conservancy- Sarah Ryzner, the institute’s director of projects, and Paul
    Boehnlein, GIS and conservation planning specialist had the house as part of their “report ” as the worst house the F house in Lorain – up on a huge great screen at City Council as part of a power point presentation . The example of all that was WRONG!!! and both newspapers covered it and the house was at that meeting given “status” – so I was not alone in pointing out the problems of that house- a foundation spent a lot of money bringing that report to the city and county but CVSI had the documentation available for the CT for their article and they contacted me as a co chair . and of course being a real person ( unlike some who impart information to the article in the comments they could name names ) Hope you get South Lorain sorted out we all benefit from quality housing and quality neighborhoods .

  • Carrie Watson

    What’s really sad, to me, about all these houses being destroyed is that we have so many homeless people in Lorain and Elyria, while we have a lack of affordable housing. Yet, we’re bulldozing houses left and right. It’s too bad someone couldn’t buy this, rehab it, and rent it out as sleeping rooms or make it a shelter.

    • loraineritchey

      Carrie , the city tried to get the owner for many decades to rehab etc and at one point wanted to refurbish it as part of the historical inventory as an example as to what could be done in these older neighborhoods- but the owner apparently was not willing . It was a waste of a home- one that was according to some local historians built ( possibly by an ancestor of the current owner) as a wedding present for his daughter late 1800′s – the house actually sits on the “bank” of what was a stream and at one point was named “The Bluffs or Bluff house . Lorain has imho never really embraced her historical worth as do other communities . It is very sad but the house has become a hazard in more ways than one , it was too far gone ( open to the elements for 18 years) to be rehabbed and the cost of rehabbing would cost 4 times as much as the house’s market value .

      • Steve Miller

        The Gow ancestors built all 3 homes at that corner (1032, 1034, and the house on Hamilton. My grandparents (Sam and Helen Pappas) lived at 1032 4th from the 1920′s until the 80′s. I’m glad 1032 was restored. Steve Miller

        • loraineritchey

          It had to have been built really well by someone that knew what they were doing because it has taken many years being “open” to the elements to cause her demise. Thank you for the information as to the other properties .