October 23, 2014

Elyria
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Brinda to propose city entity to hold commercial properties

Holly Brinda

Holly Brinda

ELYRIA — The creation of a nonprofit organization that can serve as a go-between for the city and developers is being proposed by Mayor Holly Brinda.

If City Council signs off on establishing the Elyria Community Improvement Corporation, the city will be able to better steer future economic development by owning strategic pieces of commercial property. The idea is not for the city to go into the real estate business. But by holding onto key properties it can have a greater influence over future use.

“The intent would be for the board, which by state law can be made up of the mayor, members of Council and community members, to work with the city’s economic development plan to strategically advance projects in the city,” Brinda said. “We don’t have a mechanism in place that will allow us to basically assemble properties that can be made available to corporations and businesses.”

Brinda will present the idea of establishing the community improvement corporation Monday to City Council during a joint Community Development and Finance Committee meeting. It is a part of the city’s bigger economic development plan, but is coming in advance of Brinda rolling out the entire proposal to Council.

With a proposal to place an income tax increase on the ballot and time dwindling for Council to vote, Brinda said she is holding off on the lengthy presentation.

But she said the quasi public-private entity would be easy to create and cost the city little beyond the legalities of establishing a 501(c)3. She estimated that cost to be about $2,500.

“Community improvement corporations can take in funds from other organizations and take in grants,” Brinda said. “It will have its own economic engine behind it, so it doesn’t cost the city taxpayer dollars.”

Councilman Vic Stewart, head of the Finance Committee, said he will keep an open mind about such an entity.

“We are a city working to encourage our existing businesses and companies to stay and new companies to come. It’s a challenge every day,” he said. “We have to consider all things because economic development is important to growing our tax base and tax revenues so we don’t have to run to the voters.”

Councilman Tom Callahan, head of the Community Development Committee, was unavailable.

Brinda said most cities have similar groups at their disposal — such as the Lorain Port Authority — and the absence of one in Elyria is costing the city. The best example Brinda said she could offer was a recent project she worked on to bring a new call center to the city from California. In the end, the city had no commercial space it could offer the developer, who was left to negotiate directly with a private owner and could not forge a deal.

“That was eight months of my time, and it went nowhere because they were negotiating with private property owners, and the city really can’t negotiate or determine what a private property owner should do.”

But if the city was the one at the table, the outcome might have been different.

“It makes sense for a city to take control of strategic properties that are situated in commercial areas,” Brinda said. “They could fall into other hands when the city could have them and influence the development of said properties.”

Brinda said the city can’t even take the donation of commercial property within the current framework. That could potentially become a problem for the highly charged topic of the former General Industries site.

John Peshek, who owns the property, has given the city a land access agreement for environmental studies and is willing to donate the property to the city for redevelopment once the studies are complete and the city has a firm grasp on the environmental liabilities.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Brian_Reinhardt

    Just another layer of government control over the property rights of an individual or company.

    Now yet another government agency will get to decide who gets what private (or what used to be private) property.

  • SniperFire

    Watching socialists attempt to grow businesses is like watching somebody trying to herd cats.

  • Sis Delish

    On the heels of her Biggest Challenge/Accomplishment the Fireworks Fundraiser, the Mayor is emboldened.

    Now, she’ll spend her time “showing” properties that the City doesn’t currently own.

    La La Land on the shores of the Black River.

  • 2111

    I suspect many future lawsuits for this endeavor if they implement this. Government shouldn’t be getting in the way by picking winners and losers in business they should be getting out of the way. Allowing public officials to form an entity with the power to collude is fraught with personal vendettas and will expose them to personal liabilities crossing the line between public interests and private ones.
    There are ways to make public holdings work depending on how the asset has been acquired but as presented so far it is not a wise way to proceed. Which means it has a very good chance of taking place with this group of meddlers.

  • rob

    Could be valuable, could be a waste. However, we need good paying jobs, not call centers. I hope this is where stradegy comes into play.

  • SniperFire

    ‘If City Council signs off on establishing the Elyria Community Improvement Corporation, the city will be able to better steer future economic development by owning strategic pieces of commercial property. The idea is not for the city to go into the real estate business. But by holding onto key properties it can have a greater influence over future use.’

    Says….. who? Who is speaking for City Council here regarding the outcome of the proposed legislation? Perhaps it Is the reporters personal opinion? Or, If this is specifically what the Mayor told the newspaper to say, shouldn’t this have been sourced accordingly – in quotation?

  • Exposing Trolls

    Look, the Mayors name is in the headline! Lets start making political comments about how bad they are and turn this into a Republican party gathering spot…
    Invasive viruses do the same thing, need a vaccine for it, :)

  • Joe Flabetz

    The city has the ability to work with the Lorain County Land Bank, the Growth Partnership, Lorain County Land Bank, Team NEO, Team Lorain County, Downtown Elyria, to mention a few, but let’s create another group. It has everything to do about control not results. Simply no one wants to associate with the Mayor, cause all she is worried about is getting credit for others efforts and work. And this new entity would cost 2,500 dollars – are you kidding me. Mayor works eight months and criticizes private owners because the city could negotiate better??????? Get real. Candidly the problem is the mayors ego.

  • wahoo99

    City should send a bill Mr. John Peshek for cleanup and maintenance of G I property. Commercial properties should be required to have insurance.

  • luvmytoaster

    Why in the world would Mayor Brinda spend 8 months working on bringing a new call center from California only to find out that the city had no commercial space it could offer the developer?!?!?

    This just doesn’t make any sense to me, why did she put the cart before the horse?

  • todd

    Brinda said. “We don’t have a mechanism in place that will allow us to basically assemble properties that can be made available to corporations and businesses.”
    I would like to know what this statement means. Especially the word assemble.
    Sounds like more government and more liabilities to pay.
    Can’t we modify what we already have to do this?
    So in summary it sounds to me like the Mayor wants more money and more levels of government to have to deal with. Not good.

    • Retreat

      How come she didn’t refer them to the County? I hear WE have plenty of property that the County controls that needs tenants. I.E. Old County Court House, One Floor of the Administration Building, and A Floor In The Justice Center. Problem solved and revenues generated to help alleviate a tax burden on the taxpayer. Oh and I forgot the Lorain National Bank Building on Middle. We own that too.