LORAIN, Ohio — The building on East 28th Street near Globe Avenue in South Lorain doesn’t look like much yet, but Scottie Bowyer has plans for it.
“A small pizzeria, subs, wings, fries,” Bowyer said of the restaurant he hopes will open in late October or early November 2019.
“This area’s in dire need of just smaller franchise restaurants or food chains that would offer to the public, cause there’s not a lot of places for that,” Bowyer said.
Born and raised in Lorain, Bowyer now lives outside the city, but he wants to make his hometown a better place, and he’s focusing on South Lorain.
Bowyer, who said he worked for the county engineer’s office for the first ten years of his career, ventured into real estate several years ago. He already owns an auto repair shop across the street on East 28th Street and a car lot elsewhere in town. Another of his buildings, next door to the future restaurant, was recently demolished to make way for a parking lot for his pizzeria.
“A vacant building that was occupied by cell phone stores,” Bowyer said of the building that was demolished. “It never could sustain itself.”
Bowyer said his pizzeria is still in the design and development phase. Next, he’ll go to the city planning board to get it approved and then begin construction.
Meanwhile, he’s making an offer to other would-be entrepreneurs to get them on board. He’s offering two years rent-free in another building he owns, the former Ice Cream Heaven at East 31st and Grove Avenue. Bowyer said the building is about 5,500 square feet and is in an area that gets heavy traffic.
“Just motivate other investors and entrepreneurs and businessmen and the city and the council and everybody to get on board to get the ball rolling, to where you start believing that things are happening,” Bowyer said. “And I believe they are. Downtown Lorain is seeing a major renaissance and I believe it’s contagious. It’s infecting everybody. It’s rolling outwards and I want to be part of it.”
His offer, Bowyer said, is intended for someone with a solid business plan for a restaurant, a place that could bring new life to South Lorain and continue operating for years or even decades to come.
“It’s a great opportunity for somebody that would want to try a restaurant and be an entrepreneur themselves,” Bowyer said.
He said he’d advise future entrepreneurs to keep it simple.
“Create a business plan,” Bowyer said. “Create something that’s going to be sustainable. Create something that there’s a need for, and do something that you’re great at. Don’t go try to do something you have no clue about, and I think it’ll work.”
Bowyer has support from Rey Carrion, who won the May 7 Democratic primary for Lorain City Council’s 6th Ward and is now unopposed for November’s general election. Carrion said what has been successful in revitalizing blighted areas of Cleveland could work in Lorain, too.
“This will raise the bar for this community,” Carrion said. “And it will give people a sense of hope and to know that there are better plans ahead, better plans in the works.”
Bowyer said he wants to change the image and reputation of Lorain, which he described as an international city with “great opportunity for culture and diversity.”
“I want to see it succeed,” Bowyer said. “I want to see it to where we become proud of Lorain now.”
After two years without rent, Bowyer said, the entrepreneur who takes over the Ice Cream Heaven building would likely pay between $2,000 and $2,500 a month in rent, given the square footage of the building and the average cost in the area.
According to Carrion, that part of South Lorain is classified as an “opportunity zone” under Ohio’s recent tax reforms, giving developers an incentive. Carrion said the zone that covers a portion of South Lorain qualifies for tax abatements of 10 to 15 years for renovations and new construction, respectively.
Bowyer said the entire investment and real estate venture is his own money right now, but that he planned to explore possible tax credits. Carrion said that would involve applying through the city of Lorain’s Building, Housing and Planning department.
If you’re interested in contacting Bowyer about the Ice Cream Heaven building, you can email him here.
If you’re interested in contacting Carrion about other Lorain properties, you can email him at here.