Some owners of businesses on Broadway pushed back against proposed plans for a 62-unit apartment complex that would provide housing for those who have suffered with chronic homelessness.
Plans call for Broadway Commons to be built at the corner of Broadway and 21st Street.
Developers for the project say the facility would provide service-enriched housing for individuals struggling with homelessness.
But three owners of Broadway businesses told members of City Council during its June 6 meeting that they do not want the project to go forward.
Kel Fligner, who owns Flinger’s Market, 1854 Broadway, said his customers constantly have to fend off panhandlers who approach them when entering or leaving his store.
Fligner said he fears that the residents at the planned apartments could exacerbate the problem.
“We already have so many panhandlers that we are calling the police all the time and chasing them away,” he said. “They are bad for our business.”
Fligner noted his store is celebrating its 98th year in business.
The downtown grocery store is known for its giant meat counter.
Its large and high-quality selection of meats attracts between 1,000 and 1,500 out-of-town customers a week, and up to 2,000 for holidays, Fligner said.
That kind of customer will go elsewhere if they are harassed for money in the parking lot, he said.
“These people are not returning if they get attacked by one of these homeless people,” Fligner said.
Eden Housing, based in Cleveland and one of the partners in Broadway Commons, did not return a call June 6 for comment to the opposition.
A similar apartment complex in Elyria opened earlier this year and has received positive feedback from government officials and residents who live there.
Developers of Broadway Commons in presentations to the Council on the proposed complex have emphasized security would be tight in their building and residents would have to follow strict behavioral guidelines.
In May, T.J. May and his business partner purchased Lake Screen Printing, 1924 Broadway, and just recently learned of the proposed apartmentcomplex.
“We aren’t opposed to the idea,” May said. “We are against the location. We just want to make that known.”
The proposed complex may impact May and his partner’s decisions about their business going forward, he said.
The two were discussing the possibility of buying the building they now lease.
“Do we really want to do that with that going in?” May said. “That all needs to be taken into consideration.”
Also critical of the project was Vincent Giovannazo, owner of Giovannazo Funeral Home, which would be located directly across the street from the proposed apartment.
For years, the funeral home has dealt with panhandlers approaching grieving visitors to the business, Giovannazo said.
Over the years, he explained, they’ve been able to curtail by talking with the panhandlers and “explaining why it’s not an appropriate time to ask for money.”
Giovannazo pointed out that when he recently purchased property around the funeral, he was made to sign papers saying that he would not add residential housing.
The Lorain Planning Commission approved a request to have the property for the proposed apartments re-zoned from B-2 to MU in December 2021 and the Council approved the ordinance recommending the zoning change to the property Feb. 7.
“I guess I don’t understand why we are going to make a large residential area,” Giovannazo said.
Councilwoman at-Large Mary Springowski has not been a fan of the proposed apartment and said she told developers while she was in favor of the project, she wanted to see it in a different neighborhood.
“I recognize the need for the project, but that location is very bad and I don’t support that location,” Springowski said.