Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vian’s Part 8

Throughout the 1970s, Vian's On the Lake Motel Plaza was still promoted in ads in the phone book as "the Commercial Man’s Haven in the Lorain Area."

Beginning with the 1979 phone book, however, the motel underwent a name change and became the Driftwood Motel. Here’s the ad (below) that appeared in the 1979 edition.

The motel continued to offer a few amenities, including color TVs and in-room telephones, and the cottages (referenced as 'kitchenettes' in the ad) were still available for rent.

But apparently the motel’s name change coincided with the gradual winding down of the business, because the ad appeared only one more time, in the 1980 phone directory. And with the 1981 edition, the Vian’s name sadly disappeared from the listings, and a chapter in Sheffield Lake roadside hospitality history came to an end.

The restaurant would last a little longer, operating as the Terrace Restaurant. (I also remember going in there in the early 1980s when it was briefly called City Limits.)

With the motel closed and for sale, it’s not surprising that the huge Vians lakefront property attracted the attention of developers. However, it would take a while for the right proposal to come along that would meet with approval by the city and nearby residents.

The article below, which appeared in the December 23, 1982 Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, describes how one developer's luxury condo proposal met much resistance and ended up being scuttled.

Meanwhile, the shuttered motel (now more than twenty years old) was beginning to deteriorate and was becoming somewhat of a nuisance. The article below from the September 13, 1984 Elyria Chronicle-Telegram tells the sad story.

A Journal newspaper article from June 23, 1985 provided a bleak summary of the situation. It stated, "Sheffield Lake's financial plight is perhaps symbolized best by the Driftwood Motel, which is, along with its attendant cottages, a rotting, vandalized hulk sitting on the largest piece of lakefront real estate in the city. It has been that way for two years. Its companion restaurant, the Terrace, closed recently, too."
Two years later, the motel was still deteriorating, and yet another developer's request for rezoning of the property hit an unexpected roadblock. An article by Mike Noga in the September 9, 1987 Avon Lake Press stated, "Developers who were denied rezoning of land at the site of the former Vian's Driftwood Motel told the Press they want council to call for a revote. They want council to reconsider an ordinance which can grant them limited-use zoning for the development of a 51-unit, $5.3 million condominium community.
"Developer Paul Alexy said he did not expect the Aug. 11 rezoning refusal on a 2-4 vote."
A photo of the Driftwood Motel (below) accompanied the front page article.
Eventually the plan for the property seemed to move forward. A short article in the May 4, 1988 Press stated, "Lakehurst Construction Corp. and Sheffield Lake developer Paul Alexy plan to begin construction of 36 town houses at this location. Alexy said the project will be in full swing by late May, weather permitting, and the development will be called Pointe of View. The two and three bedroom town houses planned range from $150,000 to $170,000 and are available through local real estate agents. He said each town house will have its own garage, fireplace, solarium over dining room and private entrance. Owners will share access to the lake with two fishing piers that are being renovated and be members of a homeowners association which will coordinate other activities."
However, there was a change in plans. 
The Plain Dealer of January 7, 1990 included a small item which stated, "Kopf Construction Corp. paid $524,000 for a now-demolished motel and surrounding land along E. Lake Rd. in Sheffield Lake. The firm has proposed building a 48-unit, two-building condominium project for the site."
There were some more tweaks needed in the proposal. The Plain Dealer of December 7, 1990 included a short article with the heading, "Sheffield Lake's revised condo plans OK'd." It stated, "The Sheffield Lake Planning Commission has approved developer Herman (Bucky) Kopf's revised plans for condominiums at the site of the former Vian's Motel on Lake Rd. Kopf originally had planned 48 units, but cut back to 24. City Council must now vote on the plan. The cost of the scaled-down project is estimated at $4.6 million.  Kopf said he was hoping to take out a building permit for the project in January."
The condominium project – eventually known as the Residence on the Beach – was finally built. A Kopf Builders ad for the condos (below) appeared in the May 15, 1991 Press.
Today the condominium complex is known simply as The Residence. It’s an impressive and attractive community that has helped contribute to a positive image of a modern Sheffield Lake.

It’s also fitting that Nicholas Vian’s property – well-known for providing so many area residents and travelers with happy memories of good food, lodging and fun – is enjoying “retirement” in such beautiful and serene surroundings.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at a part of Sheffield Lake’s heritage that deserves to be remembered. 


Mark said...

That was a very interesting series. Thanks!!

Dan Brady said...

Glad you liked it, Mark! It was 5 years in the making! (I kept putting it off as I found more material.)

Anonymous said...

As a former Sheffield Lake resident, I found this to be extremely interesting. Thank you for your hard work.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks very much! I really appreciate it.

Mark said...


Anonymous said...

The name Vian's was so etched in my mind that I had forgotten that the resturant became The Terrace in the 80's.

Very interesting read! Thanks Dan.

Jackson, MI

Bill said...

You don't mention Sol Donnerkiel in any of your posts..He was involved with Vians Restaurant in some capacity during the late 50's and the 60's...And I do remember their food always being pretty darn good,especially the Bar-B-Oue Sandwiches

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Bill – I appreciate it as my research is usually limited to what I can glean from directories and ads. I saw Sol Donerkiel's name on the matchbook on Part 1 of the series and knew that he was involving in its operation in some capacity, so I am glad that his name is now mentioned online and part of this. I'm sure more information and details will come out as time goes on.

I sure wish that I had eaten at Vian's in its heyday! Barbecue anything is about my favorite meal!