Lorain $4M redevelopment aims to transform vacancy into vibrancy

LORAIN, OH (WOIO) - The demise of the American steel industry dealt a harsh blow to Northeast Ohio.

One of the communities hardest hit is Lorain. The shrinking tax base quickly translated to shrinking services, and over time, the closing of businesses.

Broadway Avenue in Downtown Lorain is filled with empty storefronts, one after another.

A new plan is taking shape to change that and fill the shuttered and quiet corridor with new life.

Hopefully a vibrant district with an overhead archway branding the area Broadway.

It will mean a lot of changes, starting with making the street just two lanes.

City officials say "A typical sidewalk section out there is 12 feet, we're going t expand it to 20 feet, make it more friendly for pedestrians outside, eateries that sort of thing."

The financing is a public-private partnership. Store owners will pay based on frontage.

Jeweler Carl Nielsen is all for it. "I think it's outstanding it's long overdue. The last time we had sidewalks in Lorain was 1981."  Carl and his sister are the fourth generation of Nielsen's to run the store.

It's been in Lorain since 1877, so he's got a long history.

His assessment will be $3,500. He says it is a small investment for a long term gain.

Merchants will contribute up to $600,000. NOACA will contribute $1.5 million, and the city of Lorain will chip in $2.2 million.

Completion is set for late 2019.