A boarded up video store, a vacant old thrift shop — and the hint of new beginnings.
On West 35th and Lorain Avenue in Ohio City, historic buildings that sat empty for years are getting a new lease on life.
“I don’t see vacant buildings. I see an opportunity,” said Ronnie Kertesz of Kertes Enterprises.
The company purchased the old Fifth Third Bank building at 3500 Lorain Avenue last December, the first step in revitalizing a neighborhood Kertesz believes has been overlooked for years. The renovated building is now home to office space and, eventually, restaurant and retail.
“The reason why it is so successful is because of its diversity,” Kertesz said. “That’s what Ohio City is doing. They’re making sure the population stays diverse. No one is looking to push anybody out, but they’re looking for a good mix.”
But with progress comes some pain.
Recently, a man was caught on surveillance camera stealing brass panels from the front door of the historic building.
A petty crime, but forever removing some of the 1920s charm and character.
Local scrap yard dealers said the most someone could get for that stolen brass is a few dollars. Most reputable scrap yards require identification at the time of sale. Cleveland Police are circulating the surveillance photos and trying to make an arrest.
Still, Kertesz said it won’t discourage them from development and investing in the neighborhood.
More than 2,000 apartments are opening or scheduled to be opening in the neighborhood in the next several years.