FISI: Mom’s House

In a past life, I did a series called “FISI” aka “Fame It – Shame It.” I featured houses that folks needed to fix up, and houses that were very fixed up. The City needed to do something about the rundown houses, before they got worse, and I felt the need to recognize those that went the extra mile on their homes.

For a number of reasons, FISI is not a priority anymore. One day, I’ll relate why I started FISI in the first place.

So, I get a call from my “source” about this house that needs some attention, and this is where it’s located. Just from the intersection, I already know which house it is.

I call this property “Mom’s House” because it’s been a favorite of my Mom’s for a long time. If ever there was a dream house, and we all have them, I think this would definitely be Mom’s.

So, enough said. And sorry about the ladders.

And kudos to Londo Painting for a job VERY well done!


FISI – Westgate Plaza – Shame, Shame

How many of us drive through the intersection of W. 21st and Leavitt Rd countless times during the week, and we just accept the site (sight) that occupies the northwest corner of the area? You could’ve counted me among that group, until about a month ago.


While you can’t tell much from the panorama above, when you get right up close and personal, you’ll see just how far gone the former strip mall really is.

This is pretty indicative of the entire plaza. Boarded up and filthy windows, rust, trash.

This is the first storefront I walked up to, but first, I had to cross this welcome mat.

Built in 1957, Westgate Plaza used to host a grocery store, coin laundry, and other assorted retail establishments. Over the years, one by one, the stores closed, and the building slowly deteriorated. 

Searching for “Westgate Plaza”, I found the site listed “For Rent” here, with the minimum divisible storefront being 634 square feet. The rental rate is $8 per square foot per year. Last verified on July 16th, the listing states the following:


Join us as we create a new Westgate Plaza on Lorain, Ohio’s west side.

Located at the intersection of SR 611 and SR 58, this crossroads connects Lorain with Amherst, Port Clinton and other lakefront communities

G West LLC and/or Georg Abakumov, the owner and mail contact, respectively, should probably concentrate on rehabbing or “creating” the new Westgate Plaza before they try to rent it out. Let me show you why:

This is a good representation of the stores in the plaza. Not a single one is ‘move-in ready’, which is what a storefront should be if you’re trying to rent it out. Purchased in August of 1999 for $225,000, the ‘anchor’ tenant advertised is Family Dollar. The only other tenant is….you have to see it to believe it and truly appreciate it:

The reason I don’t see anything happening here is because it’ll be 10 years in just a few weeks that G West has owned this property, and Family Dollar is the biggest move they’ve made to populate the plaza, AND because they are over $20,000 behind on the property taxes.

Does anyone really think they’ve got money to get this place fixed up “to create a new Westgate Plaza”? Yea, me either.  Maybe the City could send someone down there to check it out.

FISI – From Shame to Fame

There has been exactly one property that I’ve gone back and “famed” after “shaming” it. There is another whose progress I am following as it is being rehabbed.

The property at 1401 W. 19th St. is one that I figured would be a pile of wood before it would be a ‘fame.’ Boy, was I wrong. I covered it once at WoM, and twice more here and here, I noticed in December that the siding had been removed. Heading back home from the library on Wednesday, I turned off of Oberlin Avenue to see what was going on with it.

Check it out!

From this:

to this:

to THIS:

Formerly a ‘Forfeit to the State of Ohio’, the Auditor’s site now lists JPS Property Management as the owner at this address. Ownership was transferred to JPS 2 days after I posted the last article.

A huge round of applause to JPS for tackling this project, and improving what was previously an eyesore and securing what once was a danger to the neighborhood.

FISI – Could History be History?

Last year, in a conversation with ‘That Woman’ Loraine Ritchey, she mentioned to me that the ‘House on the Hill’ was going to be rehabbed. Since she’s had to look at it for the past 30+ years, and it’s been a painful sight at that, she was thrilled that there was a plan to restore the house. I offered, when next she spoke to the owner, to chronicle the restoration project, as I thought the revitalization of the house would be interesting. 

It wasn’t a long time after that when Loraine told me the task was more extensive than the owner realized, and he was abandoning the project. The question now is: What happens now? Is there someone out there that would be willing to restore a piece of Lorain’s history? Is there help that is available, financial or otherwise, that can be tapped to bring back a link to the City’s past? Or is this piece of history, history?

The inside upstairs shows considerable damage to the ceiling.

The window frames show significant aging and damage from the elements, while the roof looks to be in good condition.

So, where do we go from here?

Hocus Pocus – It Appears!!!

Back in August, while attending the ‘Paula Pitches Patch into Potholes’ Party, a house was ‘discovered‘ on E. 34th St. By discovered, I mean at first glance, this is what we saw:

One of the guys from the Streets Dept was looking in through the trees when a voice came out of there, which surprised EVERYONE at the time. Well, I did the article about it, and some other folks also notified the Building Dept. I was in the neighborhood the other day, looking for the potholes Paula patched, and realized, I could SEE the house!!

The pile of wood chips still looks fresh, and the stickers are still in those windows. Hopefully, in a few months, I can do a ‘From Shame to Fame’ article on this house.

Stay tuned!

Morton’s Showing Signs of Life?

Hat tip to Buster’s Momma (Again!! What would I do without her??) for the FYI on this one. Back in October ’07, I did an article on Morton’s BBQ Hut on Elyria Avenue, because it was falling apart, overgrown, and a car cemetery for old out-of-service City vehicles. It was so bad, even the camera wouldn’t focus:


So, I get an email from Momma, and she tells me there have been signs of activity there. And I ought to check it out. So….


Right off the bat, I notice the front awning is gone, the lot is mowed, the two large dumpsters are a gimme, and the doors were open, and there was serious activity in the front:


Word on the street was that Morton’s had some kick-ass BBQ ribs back in the day, and was a VERY popular spot. The property has not changed hands, according to the Auditor’s site. I will keep everyone apprised as things progress.

And make sure you’re here Monday, as I post a little bit of FISI magic!!

East Side Improvements

Brian Hazelett and I were doing a point-and-shoot back in September 2007. He would point out a really bad property, and I’d shoot it. Brian was well acquainted with what was falling down or barely standing up. One of the stops we made was just over the Bascule Bridge.

Remember Paul’s Auto Body?

It had been closed and overgrown for quite some time.

Got another hot tip from Buster’s Momma. She’s so SWEET to me!!

No more Paul’s!!

Do you remember the building to the right? With the blue windows?

This one?

Things are getting better in this City one step and one building at a time!!