Main Street group considers downtown Sandusky building rehab

For Sale: Building in prime waterfront location. Needs TLC.
Andy Ouriel
Jan 11, 2013


Sandusky Main Street Association has first right of refusal for the building at 109 E. Water St., an abandoned structure wedged alongside Water Street Bar and Grille.

In all, the association spent about $34,000 to help fund a building analysis, perform minor construction and preliminary design work.

"We have the first right to buy the building from the owners. If it's deemed feasible, we'll move forward with it," association executive director John Lippus said. "It would be a complete building restoration."

For more on this potential renovation project and its costs, pick up a copy of Friday's Register.



Why? Downtown will never be what it was...

The Bizness

Central Business Districts are the core of cities, without a central area for people to congregate and mingle cities die and do not function as well.

People my age appreciate having bars/restaurants/shopping all in one centralized area rather than the sprawl and head aches that are 250.

I think it would be great if they allowed downtown to have open containers on the weekend. So you could walk from bar to bar with a beer. Only is restricted areas of course.

BW1's picture

A viable economy requires more than getting people drunk.


While this may have been true in an old economy now, given the current economic structure in modern time, you do not need this centralized area.

How many people "mingle" in downtown Sandusky, compared to how many people get drunk and fight... The fact that the commenter thinks that allowing open containers on the street shows just how deeply rooted in reality he/she may be.

The Bizness

Have you been out in downtown Sandusky on a Friday night? it is full of young professionals. The open container would make it more friendly to tourist....I am making this statement from areas in New Orleans, and Louisville that enacted open container districts and it works great there. Plus it can bring in more revenue by booking people who break the rules.


That would be amazing!!

Phil Packer

Tear it down and put in motorcycle parking.

The Bizness

Looking at it from the bay side that building appears to be in need of a lot of structural work with the sagging windows and such...I am not an engineer though and I hope that something happens to it that makes it a functioning property again.

I always thought a couple story bar and restaurant would be cool with a roof top bar.


They tried that in the Flats in Cleveland. Look what happened to that place. It's not all about bars and eateries.

The Bizness

You need to live work and play in one spot...they need shops and living as well.


Contact Donald Trump and offer it to him for $1.00.

"If you build it they will come" is a great line from a fantasy movie, but in reality ya tend to go broke with that kinda thinking.

Due dilligence is the watch word - caveat emptor.

The Bizness

I don't really want to start an argument on this but there are a few instances where that line worked...

Look at Disneyworld, Cedar Point, Las Vegas, resorts, Kalahari, and all manufacturing...people built it and people came...


@ The Bizness:

You're comparing this particular situation to your list? Circumstances for many of those was completely different.

We're back to: Due diligence and serious market research.

The restaurant trade has one of the highest casualty rates - not for the "faint of heart."

I wouldn’t invest $1 USD until I saw the plan.

I can certainly appreciate your enthusiasm, but dreams without "feet" are just dreams.

The Bizness

I understand your point, I am not saying it is market feasible, but rather offering ideas. I do not have the money to do these projects so I throw them out to people hoping it sparks interest. I am an inventor, and am always thinking of business ideas, sadly I do not have the capitol yet at my young age.

BW1's picture

And that's the rub. If wishes were wings, beggars would fly. Since the investment isn't happening, it's clear that those who DO have the capital don't agree with you, and since they GOT that capital by being right about such things more often than they were wrong, their choices carry more weight than that of yet another wet behind the ears wannabe who's out to tell us how everything that came before him was wrong.

The Bizness

I just see a lot of potential in the downtown area that I guess most people posting here don't. The city of Sandusky is a tourism hot spot and our city center needs to look like Crocker...bustling with shops, food, and offices, as well as condos. Why build a whole new artificial city center like Crocker Park, when the infrastructure is already in place?

You can disagree with me, but I will do my due diligence and when I make enough money I will invest in the downtown area.

BW1's picture

Call us when that happens. Until then, those whose PROVEN investment performance gives them credibility seem to disagree.


First stop will be the city to ask for taxpayer funding and any other funding they can load up on.


You are soo right John will beg the city for funding and tax credits and in the end it will be the Keller Building all over. I have seen this show before.


Towards the end of The Flats, they tried strip joints. After that, the place went. May as well have been flooded by the Cuyahoga River.

The Bizness

The flats are currently being turned into a mixed use live/work/play area. It is a gorgeous plan.


A gorgeous plan that according to the Plain Dealer, lacks the private investment capital to go much further. Their suggestion was to add another tax to county residents to continue on with the boondoggle. A mixed use area in the flats will be great for the swinger crowd since they do have a club right their in the flats that caters to the lifestyle.

The Bizness

There is a ton of private investment going on... not sure where you are coming from with this statement.

BW1's picture

A georgeous plan that will eventually repeat the district's history. The problem is, the "play" part appeals primarily to the immature magpie dictates of fashion - what's de rigeur among the target upscale market. What people don't seem to realize is that the less desirable markets imitate the tastes of the more desirable, and "play" venues, especially those strongly dependent upon alcohol sales, inevitably deteriorate as the socio-economic level of their clientele drops. The CLE warehouse district is on that path right now.

The Bizness

I guess we just completely disagree, the Flats East plan is a multi use of living, working, and playing all in one area. The way cities are supposed to be built, I don't really get why you think that the plan is all about "play" because it isn't. Downtown Cleveland is having a renaissance, along with Ohio City, Tremont, University Circle, and many other neighborhoods. All because they offer a live, work, play atmosphere that my generation seeks, rather than the suburbia our parents wanted.


This building is totally beyond repair. Have looked at purchasing a number of downtown buildings. This the worst. It should be demolished and a park put there. The building is worth nothing, the only thing of value here is the lot.

The Bizness

It is in very bad shape...a park or new construction should be put in its place unless people are willing to spend huge amounts of money on it.


I agree with you 110% on this. I looked at this particular building a few years back and it is a mess.


There are times that we must give up on nostalgia and proceed with future endeavors. Many downtowns and uptowns in this Register and Reflector area can benefit from this. And! I don't mean malls and strip malls. This is not a circus. People live here and count on having a decent place to work and have something viable to look forward to.


Where does Main Street get its funding?


@ reader - Exactly, how did they get the funds for this? What product or service do they sell? Oh wait it's FREE grant money provided by the grant fairies!

Destroy it and put in a park. People have to come to a realization that nothing is forever... except the Keller Building!!


The main problem is the owners. The owners think these falling down buildings that are on the waterfront are worth a fortune. This particular building had been the real estate magazines for a while. Last time I saw the listing they were asking $1 million.


Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. Welcome to your new Sandusky City Building. Worried about parking availablity? Don't be. The power-brokers believe a parking problem downtown is a good thing.


I have been in the building recently, The structure is sound, everyone should calm down and see what happens.


Sandusky will never be what it once was, the buildings are on The National Histrical List, so you can't go in and knock walls down or add on to without knocking it off the wonder noone wants to move downtown, or the buildings can't be rented out....they need to revamp all of downtown so they can put new buildings up so people will want to move to downtown, if you ask me downtown Sandusky has moved to Rt.250

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I certainly hope for the best. Getting new neighbors is always a good thing, but there certainly does need to be a plan in place. Having doing a lot of business restructuring and research myself lately with the SBDC, RISE, and other similar programs it can be tough to put thoughts to paper in a way that lenders or investors are interested in committing the funds to follow through. Asking for $1M on that building, if that is the case, does seem a bit excessive considering the quote I am working with to purchase the building I am in. Unless a water view honestly is what does it?


Hero Zone. How much $$ can you shove into an antique building before it becomes inviable? A shell of the facade looks cool and all, but the windows, the heating, the plumbing, the flooring, the sound proofing, et all? Where do you draw the line?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Oh I agree, Luv. The cost to even appraise a building is high as even this article points out $34,000. It's not even public places that need evaluations but private lenders too. EPA screenings, special material handling, there is a lot of expense involved and that is all BEFORE any money is put on the land/building! I don't say that so much to gripe about the EPA, but just in the general context that the mere act of showing interest can cost ~$50k.

Perhaps it is because I don't have a lot (in the grand scheme of things) invested in downtown monetarily nor sentimentally that I am all for the clean out or knock down of derelict buildings to be eventually replaced by something better and more modern - which in the case of nostalgia can very well have an older facade. There is a crossing point though where renovation succumbs to demolition.

Looking at modern uses for buildings from a residential or commercial standpoint there is such a huge gap in use/need and cost control from 50-100 years ago. Quality and standards of life issues for residents or downtown in general. It's a weird juggling act. I count my blessings that I am in a relatively newer building in the downtown area, yet I still have many of the up front costs to get various approvals before anything is done with it.


Watch. Unless some monumental event occurs this is a dream. Facts are too many are struggling. For the most part there are no real decent jobs that pay living wages. You'll figger out the rest.


I had the opportunity to purchase downtown. The problem is the buildings need too much work to be safe and usable. Unless you have a lot of money to throw at them its better to look somewhere else to get the best bang for your buck. Downtown is not what it was and people need to just deal with it.


I'm not certain that the Sandusky Main Street Association really benefits themselves by going into the real estate business. Sounds like it could be an awful lot of headaches and misdirected energies.

Comment to Biz,

You have a lot of great ideas.

Certainly in this great land of ours there exists city revitalization plans with successful track records that blueprint every phase of development right down to square inch.

At any rate my suggestion to perk up downtown is a daily shuttle shuttling between the city's parking lots and the downtown businesses that would run every half hour or so with pickup and drop off points on each corner. In addition, businesses could entice potential customers to park in the city lots by giving riders specials' coupons.


Just follow the City's "old" money.

Don't think for a moment DMSA is footing the bill for the property purchase and/or renovations. More than likely a local philanthropist or two are financing the project. Odds are when the building is completed, it will house government offices whether it be the City Court or City offices.

One thing ic for sure--we will never know who is actually footing the bill-DMSA is not required to make public their funding sources.


"The Flats" in Cleveland isn't perhaps the best reference to compare this project to, whereas the Warehouse District is a better comparison, which has been a major success for many years. The benefits of historic preservation are largely underrated here as in many mid-west communities. In most cases the preservation and utilization of existing older buildings has been tremendously successful when preservation projects are implemented; Medina being a perfect example of the balance between new construction sprawl on vacant land and the preservation of buildings with historic integrity and design within a city center. It is well understood that growing communities need new construction for growth but it is less understood that the loss of existing historically interesting structures increases the inertia of downtown district decay. The value of preserving these types of districts is immeasurable at times when hasty decisions to either remove them or simply allowing them to fall into disrepair. If the city wishes to make centrally located neighborhoods and districts safe, valuable and desirable it is wise to invest in them. It is not only environmentally responsible but projects to those living in the city or visiting the sense of pride to the city's unique aesthetics and responsibility to its economy.

BW1's picture

The warehouse district has already begun the slide downscale, with all the attendant problems.


It might depend on how "decline" is being measured; Or perhaps it is simply a retort against an opposite idea. Cleveland's Warehouse District continues to draw people by implementing a combination of retail, restaurant and residential space with existing structures. By doing so it keeps property values higher, neighborhoods safer and creates revenue for the city. It is undoubtedly a challenge for cities with shrinking populations to attract people after an area is already in decline, which in itself supports the idea of the benefits of utilizing existing historic buildings through restoration and preservation, city planning, business incentives and a plethora of other benefits in sustaining these types of projects.


Use it as a 24 hr. homeless shelter, liquor store, fight club or soul food restaurant. It will thrive!