Monday, June 22, 2015

Thoughts on the Demolition of Those Motels

Shoreway Motel as it looked this past weekend
It's probably not a surprise to any of my regular readers that I disagree with the City of Lorain's decision to expedite the process of demolishing the vintage motels on Route 6 on the western outskirts of town.

As reported in the Morning Journal last week (here), Parkview Motel and Shoreway Motel will be barricaded by the city by July 18 and demolished by Oct. 2. The Erieview Motel and Lake Motel will be discussed by the Lorain Demolition Board of Appeals this morning at 9 a.m.

According to the article in the Morning Journal, the city had obtained search warrants to inspect the four motels back in April. Numerous health and safety violations were found.

However, it sounds like rather than give the motels time to fix the problems, the city has basically pressured them into agreeing to be demolished. There was little discussion by the demo board about the conditions in the motels before making their decision. As a result, the motel owners will lose their businesses, and the motels' residents will lose their homes.

Parkview Motel as seen over the weekend
The Morning Journal printed an editorial on Sunday stating, "The city of Lorain's decision to take on four Lorain motels with what some would call squalid living conditions was an act of decency for people residing or lodging in them."

Not if the people living there can't afford anything else.

The editorial closed with these observations. "Visitors to the International City deserve safe and clean lodging options. The city's actions are a step toward ensuring they find them."

Find them? Find them where? There are no other motels in Lorain.

Erieview Motel on Friday night
I would much rather see the city work with these motels to try and keep them in business. Have the police patrol the area more often to discourage crime. Help the motel owners find loans or grants to fix up their buildings to correct the violations. Or try to find new owners for the motels who have deep enough pockets to improve them.

Erieview Motel – one of the two motels being discussed by the Demo Board today – was a state-of-the art motel plaza when it opened as the Beachcomber Motor Lodge in the late 1950s. It had a heated swimming pool and a business conference room that seated fifty. It even had a Howard Johnson's restaurant in front of it.

Wouldn't it be great to see it restored to its former glory?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Lorain cannot bulldoze its way back to prosperity. To attract tourists, it's got to have affordable places for them to stay, nice places where they can eat, and things for them to do. The city should partner with existing businesses to help them survive – not plot to put them out of business.

Empty lots don't generate taxes for the city. They only make the city look like an undeveloped ghost town, instead of being the supposed eastern gateway to Vacationland.

US 6 traffic zips by the Lake Motel Friday night
UPDATE (June 22, 2015)
As expected, the Erieview Motel will be torn down according to this article on the Morning Journal website. The Lake Motel was granted a 30 day delay.


Anonymous said...

Dan, you wouldn't feel the same way if you lived near these places. They are havens for criminal activity and I'm not talking about simple noise complaints. There have been multiple shootings, a murder, people over dosing, vandalism, stolen vehicles, prostitution, etc. Much like you, I don't like to see my city demolished, but Lorain is a better place without these motels.

As far as the people losing their "homes", they're getting raped anyway. $125 per week for a bed and a bathroom? That's $542 per month. For $495 per month, Pinebrook Towers offers a one bedroom apartment with free heat and water, swimming pool, laundry services, tennis courts, senior discounts, and even a seriously reduced rate directv service. Maybe that so-called concerned motel owner will even let them take the bed and TV's with them since he's walking away anyway.


Dan Brady said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the comment – I appreciate it. You made some excellent points, of course. I tend to look at things through the veil of nostalgia – no surprise there!

I just hate the idea that the last traces of Lorain from the days when it actually had tourists is being erased. At least the motels gave the city's western approach the appearance that there was still a tourist trade going on. Most of these motels still look nice from the outside.

I also wish the city would have enforced the code over the years unless of just lowering the boom on all four motels at once. It's like letting a problem employee get away with things for years, and then – without disciplinary warnings or a series of notices – just firing them.

I think the city is patting itself on the back a little too much over the "excellent" work that it did in deciding to fastback the demolitions. The city should never have let things get as bad as they were at these motels – obviously people were not doing their jobs enforcing codes or the law.

Lastly, I have mixed feelings about the concerns of people who live near these motels. While I sympathize with them, I have to point out that the motels have been out there since the 1950s. So unless you lived there before they were built, I think you are asking for trouble if you knowingly buy a house nearby. I looked at buying a great old house close to Erieview Motel in the 1990s, and had to weigh the pros and cons of living there. I ultimately didn't buy it.

Anonymous said...

What needs to be done is to develop the lakefront. Step one should be removing that railroad line.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Parkview and shoreway, they have always been rat holes and not inviting. I remember as a kid staying at Parkview in the 80's, due to gas and sewer issue in the house we were living in, had a animal in my room. but it was the only place grandpa could afford working at the railroad bridge. the old beachcombers and lakeview should be rehabbed and put under reputable management, I know beachcombers use to be decent and before I left for the navy in 92 it started to fall apart. lakeview has nice view of the lake and if it had a dock with access to the motel might make it more inviting. I know how the ritneuars are grew up around them and the campanas another lorain family that should be proactive.

Dan Brady said...

I really appreciate the discussion here. I was disappointed by the lack of comments on the Morning Journal website about this so I'm happy to see that readers are weighing in. I agree that it would have been nice to try and save the Erieview, it was pretty ambitious for its time when it opened as the Beachcomber. Fixing it up would have been a nice start to resuscitate the lakefront along there. Together with Chris' in front, it would have had a nice retro vibe.

Anonymous said...

biggest thing I see when I come home is the lack of industry. since the shipyard folded, the ongoings with the mill and ford vacating, there is no industry there to keep people in town. there is plenty of history there but as buildings and land gets cleared it all is forgotten and lost. its a shame some of the old buildings, churches and houses being boarded and demo'ed. I thought the 3 school rival (i.e. lorain high, admiral king, and southview) was great. always look forward to lorain high and admiral king rivalries. mostly cause I had a lot of friends at admiral king also lol. I guess the generation change has a lot to do with things. no matter what is done there is always going to be crime and drugs all one can do is be vigilant and help prevent things before they happen. im just waiting for the sad day the city says they are going to take out the palace theater. I remember watching starwars there as a kid, then getting ice cream on the way home. like your article on ted Jacobs and the parrot I tell my kids about it they thought that would be cool but this day and age they will never see anything like that, to easy to jump on internet and keep the great work up love going and reading the stories. military duties keep me away from home but plan a visit in the near future hopefully next spring I miss put n bay and lake erie, plus vist some friends still in lorain

Rick Kurish said...

I figured your thoughts on the Motel demolitions would arouse strong feelings both ways. While I'm sad to see structures that can be saved hit by the wrecking ball, I believe that the removal of these buildings was long overdue. Lets be honest. No one was going to step in to renovate the units to attract travelers. They have been in decline for many years, and have attracted a criminal element which blights surrounding property.

Not so long ago the Broadway Building was renovated at great expense by Spitzer, and it was quite grand when it reopened. Why did it fail? Because too much of the business was from persons who had business with the Ford Plant or Lorain Products. When these companies closed or drastically downsized, their business disappeared. Lets face it, there is virtually nothing to bring tourists into Lorain, and until that changes there will never be enough business to support a motel of any size.

I think the best idea for a successful motel would be one built along the Black River that could provide dockage for boaters traveling along the lakes. But even then, who are your customers in the winter months? I understand that someone is looking to repurpose the Spitzer Hotel --- lets hope they can make a go of it.

Just my two cents!

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

Anita Gregus said...


I just discovered your blog and am enjoying the nostalgia. We went to grade school and high school together and I still live in Lorain. In fact, my son is the mayor! I think the city has come a long way during the past 4 years of his administration, especially trying to develop the Black River and the entire downtown into an entertainment district. The Rockin' on the River concerts are awesome and bring tons of people to Lorain. I happen to think that these motels should be demolished for health and safety reasons, along with many of the blighted homes that are nothing more than havens for drug dealers. We do not need these eyesores in our city. It is nice to see the pride being restored in Lorain. If you ever happen to meet the mayor, make sure to tell him that you know his Mom. Keep writing!

Anita (Faris) Gregus

Dan Brady said...

Hi Anita!
Great to hear from you! (We do go way back, from living a few streets away from each other as kids, through grade school, high school and then both being down at Ohio State at the same time.)
Thanks so much for your comment. You have a unique perspective as the mother of the Mayor of Lorain, and I'm sure you're justifiably proud of him and his achievements. It's a tough thing for me to remember Lorain as it was when we were growing up, and then seeing what it has become today. I guess that's why I hate to see so much of Lorain getting torn down and replaced by – nothing. But I do agree with you – the Mayor has done a great job and I wish him success in luring some national companies to our hometown. Thanks again, Anita! (PS--you are on my post of March 8, 2012!)

Wireless.Phil said...

Me, I think someone wanted the property, especially Erieview, but to build what?
No matter how nice a home you build, would you really want a restaurant in your front yard?