• by Richard Payerchin
Lorain officials and downtown supporters gathered Aug. 29 to celebrate a new beginning for the Broadway Building.
Over the next year, the structure at 301 Broadway will be rejuvenated to become the Ariel Broadway Hotel, a project developed by Ariel on Broadway LLC.
>> PHOTOS: Broadway Hotel construction kickoff 2018
At least 100 people came to the building’s parking deck and entrance canopy to celebrate the project with partners Radhika Reddy, Irene Zawadiwsky and Lynn Selzer of Ariel Ventures LLC, and Annette Stevenson, their partner with Ariel on Broadway.
The speakers expressed an attitude of gratitude with thanks to a number of people supporting the project.
>> Lorain architect Gary Fischer talks about renovation Broadway Building in Lorain “Amazing, the amount of support,” Reddy said. “We couldn’t do this alone.”
The main reason they are in Lorain is because of the entrepreneurial support of the Lorain Port Authority and the city of Lorain administration, she said.
Reddy added she has told others around Cleveland that the public sector needs be entrepreneurial like Port Executive Director Tom Brown and Mayor Chase Ritenauer.
>> Radhika Reddy of Ariel Ventures LLC talks about the Broadway Building
“You don’t see that everywhere,” she said. “Because, private sector, you can do a little. But with the
public sector support, you can do so much.”
The crowd included a number of Port board members, Lorain’s elected officials and city staff and local business operators.
Port board Chairman Brad Mullins said he has thought about the building every day for the last 10 years.
“I can finally say, it’s happening, right,” Mullins said.
He thanked Reddy and her colleagues, the Port staff and everyone who has supported the project.
“Hopefully, this is the catalyst to spark the growth of downtown Lorain,” Mullins said.
Ritenauer said the event looked like a Broadway family reunion and a Lorain family reunion.
He described his youth visiting the hotel with family for a number of occasions.
“I remember this building vividly growing up,” Ritenauer said.
Using a baseball analogy, Ritenauer said he tries to take the long view to win grinding out singles and doubles to get things in the community.
“Meeting Radhika and working with her, her team, the Port Authority, I can say, what’s going on here is the rare opportunity as a mayor to hit a grand slam,” Ritenauer said.
He also thanked the cooperation among city and state governments and the “local homegrown people who are putting their money where their mouth is on Broadway.”
“This, I think, is our moment,” the mayor said. “We’re going to remember where we’re at today, because I think this is a transformative opportunity for the city of Lorain.”
Brown recounted talking about reusing sediment dredged from waterways with Daniel A. D’Agnese, a Lorain native and representative of Bio Rem Company LLC.
D’Agnese suggested Brown meet Reddy and within days, the two were talking about Lorain, the International City, and the Broadway Building.
Reddy had a dream of developing an international corridor in Cleveland, Brown said, and that outlook made Lorain a good fit.
“As an immigrant from India, I love the idea of bringing global cultures together to create that kind of global understanding,” Reddy said. “So, that’s a passion of mine.”
A native of Cleveland who grew up in Parma, Zawadiwsky said she has a personal connection to Lorain through her Ukrainian heritage.
Growing up, she said her family came to Lorain for various festivals.
“We’re really excited about it and happy to celebrate with everybody here,” Zawadiwsky said about the renovations.
Reddy introduced a number of people who assisted with the project so far.
Through her banker, she made a connection with Janice Tata, vice president of BriMark Builders, which is the construction company for Cobblestone Hotels.
Tata works for the Wisconsin-based company, but was familiar with the Broadway Building because her sister, Jinnyn Tata, lives in Lorain.
The sisters attended the kickoff event, as did D’Agnese.
“She will do what she says she will do; I believe her,” D’Agnese said about Reddy.
Reddy also credited Lisa Brownell, who works with the Ohio historic preservation tax credit program of the Ohio Development Services Agency, and Alexandria Kaufman, energy program manager for the Development Services Agency, which loaned money for the project through its energy loan fund.
The Broadway Building is the first energy loan fund project in the last two years, Kaufman said.
“It’s really exciting to actually be able to put this money to a good use and to see something like this actually happen,” she said. “We’ll come back up in a year and see how this turns out.”
“We’ll be at the grand opening,” Brownell said.
Chemical Bank will finance the project and Lorain architect Gary Fischer laid out plans for renovations.
Contractors include Gross Plumbing, Great Looks Painting, First Choice Roofing, Calvetta Bros. Floor Show, Gable Elevator and Coon Restoration.
Construction will start next week with installation of a new roof.
The building formerly was the Spitzer Plaza Hotel and Lorain Renaissance Inn.
Brown thanked the Spitzer Great Lakes Ltd. Co. and Lorain attorney Anthony Giardini for their willingness to make a deal on the building.
Lorain City Council and the Lorain City Schools board of education have supported the project, he said.
Although there is much work to be done, the event had a lighthearted atmosphere.
Some in the crowd let out a cheer when Reddy said her company is 100 percent women owned. Brown said the event had a few simple rules.
“A, it’s casual, but B, excuse our dust,” he said. “This is by all means a construction site, and it’s going to be for the next year.”
Brown encouraged the crowd to take a look at the lobby and remember it to compare the progress when they return in summer 2019.
There is opportunity inside the front door, Brown said.
A restaurant operator is needed and the agencies involved want to hear from businesses about using the space inside, he said.
“We want your input, we want entrepreneurs, we want people to come, we want energy, we want foot traffic,” Brown said. “This building sitting at West Erie and Broadway should be a beacon, and it will be at some point.”