How would you improve downtown?

City commissioner hopefuls explain how they would lure businesses, tourists to the area
Andy Ouriel
Oct 19, 2013


Just like vinyl records or Justin Timberlake’s music career, downtown Sandusky is all about an impressive comeback.

About 30 new businesses — everything from restaurants to clothing shops — have joined the makeup of downtown over the past few years.

There’s also a growing list of festivals and regular events, including the Sandusky Art Walk, Cruisin’ by the Bay and Ohio Bike Week, the latter drawing a record 160,000 motorcyclists and tourists this past summer.

City commission candidates view downtown as the seed to continue growing interest in Sandusky. At a recent Register political forum at Sandusky High School, a student asked how candidates would improve downtown in hopes of luring businesses and enticing people to visit.

Here are the responses from the seven candidates vying for three open seats on Nov. 5:

• “It’s the government’s responsibility to stay out of the way and we make it easy for private investment, building departments and building officials to accomplish what they need to do.” — Dick Brady

• “We’ve got to support the Sandusky State Theatre and the arts in this community. That is so critical in the community. We need to stay out of the way of business and let them do what they do best.” — Diedre Cole, city commissioner    

• “Reinforce survival and safety. I believe the city of Sandusky, because of the high winds and rains that we’ve had within downtown, we should have a disaster center.” — Patricia Ferguson

• “We need to focus on the housing stock. People come to a city first. Once you have residents, they will support businesses that are here. We got some really cool old houses in Sandusky. A lot of it is really affordable and easy to heat and cool.” — Dennis Murray Jr.

• “We need people with ideas to implement them. We’re sitting on revolving loan fund money available for entrepreneurs. It’s up to government to create an environment for these businesses to flourish in.” — John Hamilton, ex officio mayor

• “We need to continue what we are doing. Downtown has experienced a great rebirth, and that’s mostly been through private investment. The city has money it can loan for aspiring or existing businesses. We obviously have to keep that going. We have to do whatever we can to encourage local entrepreneurs and people with ideas.” — Scott Schell

• “I think we should be continuing on the path we are on.” — Naomi Twine



Vinyl Records never went out of style. The quality of sound is much better on one. The only reason why they are popular because of the hipsters.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

A few hipster jokes for you!

Q. Why did the hipster burn his mouth on his pizza?
A. Because he ate the slice before it was cool.

Q. How did the hipster drown?
A. She fell into the mainstream.


Those are good, lol.

Colonel Angus

Burn it to the ground.

yedr556's picture

Google is paying 80$ per hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. Yesterday I bought a top of the range Lancia after having made $9458 this month. Its the most-financialy rewarding I've had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out




More industry!

Clark W. Griswald


Smcc Alum



get all them drug dealers off the streets after the bars close they all start coming around the bars downtown sandusky needs to make a change and get reed of this


Sell it to Donald Trump for $1.00 OBO.


I think Trump is smarter than that... less than 10 cents. If you put up for auction you would be better off you might pull in 25


Re: "I think Trump is smarter than that"

Though "tongue in check," I'm 'somewhat' serious in the need for a developer.


On Friday or Saturday evening, almost impossible to get a parking space, State, restaurants filled, yes it could be improved but its much better than many downtowns. Compare it to Fremont, Lorain or Elyria, all comparable size communities Sandusky wins easy.



The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

How to improve downtown?

1. If parking fees through meters or the like are put in place that money should go solely into a fund to improve the downtown area so that the city can put that money to use elsewhere to repair roads, mow, and provide other services for the residents.

EDIT: Adding to this point that perhaps it could be brought up that those who live or run a business downtown pay a special 1% extra fee or tax of some kind to go into the same dedicated fund in order to hire police/security for the downtown area or to just go into continuous improvements in our own corner of Sandusky. Those downtown would be mostly taking care of themselves leaving the rest of the budget to be put to work elsewhere. SO LONG AS THOSE FUNDS ARE USED AS MEANT IN A CLEARLY OUTLINED ZONE!

2. More events will bring more people downtown all year long. If it means getting Victoria an assistant planner or the like to help not just facilitate but coordinate then so much the better. In my store I call it "Organized Play" and it has consistently brought people downtown to spend their time and money as well as create memories and opportunities to post on social media.

3. Not just market the revolving loan but offer sessions to educate people on how to apply so they can better understand it. The same for brownfield restoration cost abatements and other programs meant to spur economic activity.

4. Host some kind of public forum (or series of them) and invite business owners and residents to come and offer ideas for what they'd like to see or do downtown. Many people have an "wouldn't it be nice if we had a..." idea.

5. Improve the aesthetics downtown. They are not "necessary" and it does cost money, but it shows that there is an active investment in the area. People want to be where others are. Where things are going on. Putting arches over the streets like on the Short North in Columbus would increase lighting, safety, and beauty. The baskets are nice and seasonal, but maybe get more than just two banners for the poles? There's a lot that can be done with this.

6. Free public Wi-Fi, and I say that knowing it will compete with my business. It is too valuable a resource to not be able to make available.

7. Market the downtown not just to investors and residents but to university film schools, private movie studios, and the like to attract filming business. Even if the downtown is the setting for a burnt-out, post-apocalyptic zombie horror movie because of how it looks we were still featured. Just putting it out there, but we are a zombie shelter here at the shop. Just sayin'.

There's a few ideas that hopefully span the realistic and immediate to the fanciful and long-term.


The State is not big enough for any major draw.


Then why did Ron White sell out both shows? I don't like him, but my wife does. If he were to come back, I know she'd want to go again. My point is, the State can sell out.


Ron White? Enough said. :)


Right, but it's not big enough for bigger-named attractions.


Tear it all down and expand Cedar Point parking.

From the Grave

Expand the cemetery.


good answer


Take a trip in the wayback machine to 1955. It was a "downtown" then.

looking around

If you look at the history of downtown Sandusky it's apparent that much change has taken place. Look at the pictures on display at several area businesses and you will note all the second and third floors of the buildings which are still recognizable were occupied either by business or residential. The streets were bustling with pedestrian traffic as well as street car transit. The waterfront was full of ships and smaller boats involved in transportation of goods and people. Downtown was the epicenter of the community.

What has happened? Commerce changed, and even in those days certain aspects of life downtown was not agreeable to many who lived there. Soon folks began to spread out to what we now call the suburbs and surrounding townships. Businesses followed. The suburbs and townships flourished because of industry and employment that supported a tax base and middle class lifestyle. As time went by the downtown area was more or less abandoned, as it was in many city's that went through these transitional times.

Fast forward to the late ninety's and we see a reemergence of interest in these areas, an interest from an historical sense as well as a vision of what could be done with this unpolished gem. We envision entertainment venues, housing, various commercial entities that we feel are desirable and viable. We try to figure out ways to sterilize the area from unwanted elements that may threaten that vision.

The hardest obstacle to overcome is the fact that we have lost that base of commerce. Industry that has supported the overall populace inclusive of the surrounding townships has dwindled. Support for the type of visions that investors have is hard to find these days in this area.

A lack of optional transportation to bring outside interest in is non existent. Some talk of a rail system between Cleveland and Toledo.

What we have downtown now with recent improvements would make many investors interested if they felt that enough people were here that could and would support their ventures. I think a lot of old money is still in control of the property's that will never do anything with them. Perhaps it's time to look at reasonable offers. Most of the buildings require major investment to renovate and sadly the only interest seems to be on the ground floors leaving the upper floors shuttered and in disrepair.

It's a shame that building inspectors and owners allowed these upper floors to erode to the condition that they now are in. The cost of clean up and renovation of many are not feasible given the return on investment.

With the lack of commerce and industry we are completely relying on entertainment and tourism, all which requires expendable income from the participants. That's a tough sell.

I've visited many downtown districts that have undergone revitalization programs. They all struggle, large or small. Seasonal areas such as ours struggle the hardest.

I think one of the main things in drawing people is the ability to offer them accommodations. They don't want to stay out on 250 and drive into town unable to find parking or being unfamiliar not knowing where to park. Perhaps a continuous mass transit service from various points convenient to the ridership that would provide service from open to close for all venues.

It would be nice if someone like Hoty would take an interest in renovating these beautiful old buildings and offering leased space or all out sale by floor or building.

My hat is off to those who have in the past years invested and promoted the downtown district, they have carried the torch and made our area a much more desirable and interesting place to live and play. I hope we will see a continuance in interest and support.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Expanding further on my "wouldn't it be great if we had a..." point above:

1. Hotel (preferably thematic to the area and not a cookie-cutter chain)
2. An appropriately-sized convention facility. This is what I use for inspiration:
3. A combination of the above?
4. Is there a charter fishing vessel based out of docks downtown?



Brick Hamland

Casino would have been the ticket. How many of us drive to Toledo or Cleveland. Take the retirement home and turn that into a casino. Increase police patrols... more importantly increase the size of the jail. That way when people commit crime they go to jail and and not let out for overcrowding, that will help downtown. Add a restuarant with a rooftop seating over the water, be great all seasons except winter. Add a minor league baseball stadium over past Lyman... Get rid of Surf's up or sell it to a developer to do something with it. Concert venue maybe. Clean up the streets and get out of the way


I would let the cops sleep in their cars downtown!!!!


I would like to know how the group of commissioners coming in will move city hall on the taxpayer's dime. Watch for an income tax increase.


Casino boats!

Clark W. Griswald

Saloon/casino/ broth el

The Answer Person

They, the commissioners past and present, have totally missed the boat so to speak.
Watchdog types have driven investors away with arguing and road blocks for decades.
There is NO REASON for any people from out of town to go there.


There is no business other than boutique type individual ones...struggling.
There are NO HOTELS of ANY sort.
There is NO WAY to get anywhere to nor from downtown.
You can't get to Cedar Point from downtown anymore.
There is a plethora of annoying stoplights if you want to get to the Mall where stores are (sort of).
While there are some really nicer places to eat downtown, there are a also couple of places to eat downtown which suffer from the disgusting apathy of their staff and owners.
The State Theater, while a super venue, cannot do it alone. You can fill it nightly but when the show is over, the patrons STILL go home to their houses NOT downtown.
Adding more senior or low income housing built by feel good do-gooders will NOT help in the least. THESE PEOPLE DO NOT SPEND MONEY!!!

Bottom line:
It will never change. It will continue on as it has been and morph a little here and there. SMALL struggling individual businesses will continue to open and close. Value City type businesses will continue on because of their support from their mother ship in Columbus. Commissioners will continue to be intimidated by mouthy community self-interest individuals who pay little or nothing and will continue to give away premium property and streets to businesses who eviscerate neighborghoods in the name of "jobs and redevelopment".

It is over. What you see is what you get/have. There will be nothing in our lifetimes to match the fantasy of what everyone THINKS it once was...which it never was.

Have a great weekend...somewhere!


@ The Answer

Very confusing comments.

Not quite sure about your reference to "Watchdog types have driven investors away with arguing and road blocks for decades" when the Register reports 30 new businesses downtown in recent years.

Go to the City's web-page and search SPARC transit. There are several transit stops downtown. Take a ride for a couple bucks.

A hotel downtown ---really?

The Answer Person

Yes REALLY, a hotel. that is a no brainer for bed tax and moneyies spent on entertainment. Tourists spend money. That is why they come to a resort. Unfortunately going to Cedar Point is their ONLY goal because there is nothing else.
Sandusky downtown has NO destination nor goal. There is NOTHING there to go to...but if you think so, let's assume they do come. If they come once, WHY would they come back a second or third time?

What are you observations and answers? 30 businesses? Whoopee doo! How many have folded after struggling along and losing their entire investment while waiting for your purchases and your imaginary customers?

What it is, is what it will always be.

Read the letter from Theodore Stellhorn in the 1924 Sandusky Centennial souvenir book. In it he says that the naysayers shall be proven wrong and that Sandusky is on the verge of success. Prosperity is just around the corner.

We are not Charlie Sheen saying "WINNING!"
We are saying, "WAITING..."zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Answer Person

Yes REALLY, a hotel. that is a no brainer for bed tax and moneyies spent on entertainment. Tourists spend money. That is why they come to a resort. Unfortunately going to Cedar Point is their ONLY goal because there is nothing else.
Sandusky downtown has NO destination nor goal. There is NOTHING there to go to...but if you think so, let's assume they do come. If they come once, WHY would they come back a second or third time?

What are you observations and answers? 30 businesses? Whoopee doo! How many have folded after struggling along and losing their entire investment while waiting for your purchases and your imaginary customers?

What it is, is what it will always be.

Read the letter from Theodore Stellhorn in the 1924 Sandusky Centennial souvenir book. In it he says that the naysayers shall be proven wrong and that Sandusky is on the verge of success. Prosperity is just around the corner.

We are not Charlie Sheen saying "WINNING!"
We are saying, "WAITING..."zzzzzzzzzzzzzz


"There will be nothing in our lifetimes to match the fantasy of what everyone THINKS it once was...which it never was."

Answer person, you are wrong! Downtown used to be a vibrant place. There were stores such as Lasalles, Grey Drugstore, Carol Cranes, Jupitor, Woolworths, Holzapples, Sears, etc...and they were busy all the time. You could never find a parking space. There were people walking the streets. Things downtown didn't change until they built the mall on 250. That's when the downtown started to go downhill. The people left downtown to go to the mall and some of the the store followed and the rest of them tried to hang on as long as they could.

Downtown Sandusky WAS vibrant. It wasn't a fantasy. You are either someone who moved here from somewhere else, or you are too young to remember just what it was like back then.

Stop It

+1! My mom used to take us downtown to get school clothes in the 60's.


Answer Person from another planet I suspect


Same with the improvement discussions on downtown Port Clinton. Will never change/improve. It's a parking lot for Put-in-Bay. Period.

Yellow Snow

Know what I miss? Jupiters, there was a dime store, Lassale's. I know they're gone, but they had selections. I wouldn't want to see a Dollar Store, but the other stores had options for any wallet. Specialty stores are great if you have a specific need or want, those that offer variety would do well. Charge for parking? No.


Oh heck yes! I second the casino idea! That would be great!


Sounds too logical.


Offer hourly tours , history lessons ,small tour bus, make it more interesting and people will come down for the tour & then spend a little cash for lunch , icecream or further sightseeing.


There are things that could be done (thought the disaster center comment is laughable at BEST -- there's ANOTHER candidate clearly too far off in la-la land to get my vote). The problem is that there's an organized group of naysayers in this town that slam the brakes on anything and everything that people have tried to do.

Hotel downtown? Casino? Great idea! Went down in flames some years back (and what a shame that was). More new businesses? City regulations and ordinances (sometimes seemingly selectively enforced) have caused problems there. Those who said the City should get out of the way are right; it's just that the City WON'T.

Here's some things that we can still do that WILL work:

1. Move festivals, etc. back downtown Putting them over by the City Building in the old Surf's Up site doesn't bring anybody downtown, and the fact it's no longer a short walking distance keeps some away.

2. Actively police the he11 out of downtown at night until the worst elements go ply their wares (and bad behavior) somewhere else. (I won't walk downtown at night, mostly because I'm not an idiot.)

3. If the State Theatre wants more people to go there, then it needs to bring in more popular events. The comment about Ron White was well taken. The Theatre CAN sell out! It's just that so many of the events there seem to target a pretty specific age (old) and genre (G-rated). I've only bought three tickets to the State: George Carlin, Alice Cooper, and a multi-comedian show (which, I assure you, was NOT G-rated). The shows were all sell-outs (or nearly so). I've said it for years, and I'll keep saying it since it's true: Have whatever family shows you like; but if you want to sell out, bring in something different!

It's hard enough to start a business, and many residents who CAN leave the downtown area are more and more likely to do so. Add another tax for the "privilege" of working and/or living near downtown, and you'll seal the deal for good. If you want to increase the tax base, go back to Option #1 above (and pray the "watchdogs" don't stop yet ANOTHER effort to actually DO something here).


The issue with The State is the actual number of seats vs. what the acts charge. For example, Faith Hill in her early years, was willing to do a show but her fee was a minimum $150,000 plus, plus. Having only 1,200 or so seats wouldn't cover the cost due to having to charge enormous ticket prices for such higher end entertainment. Sadly, small town theaters will continue to struggle to find acts that counter this issue. You're absolutely correct about family shows. They may fill seats, but the revenue generated will not be enough to sustain the theater and it will eventually close....again. It already would have if it weren't for the generosity of a few, wealthy supporters.


You're right where "big name" acts are concerned. But nostalgia acts -- like Alice Cooper -- appeal to a whole different group (and frankly a larger one) than your average woodwind concerto group. I'm not saying one is BETTER than the other. I'm saying that one is more POPULAR than the other and will thus sell more tickets.

You may never manage to get the teens to show up for a concert because they're too young for affordable "nostalgia" shows (and in this town, I'm not sure I want that kind of crowd). But you WILL get the middle-aged people who LIKE Alice Cooper and Ron White.

Family-oriented? Great! Bring the kiddies downtown and enjoy. Classical performances for the old folks and the serious music lovers? By all means! But the State continues to forget those of us who don't fall into those categories.

Some years back, some people tried to get a film festival going. It would have been horror-themed. There was quite a bit of preliminary interest, but then the Theatre Board (don't know who's still on the Board and who isn't) intervened with all of their "Ooooh, let's have wine and cheese in the lobby!" and "Noooooo, we can't have any film that's not entirely family-friendly!" and the entire thing fizzled as a result.

Small town theatres DO have a hard time. But shouldn't that mean they ADD to their repertoire rather than lamenting they can't fill enough seats with that obscure harpist or yet another re-showing of "Toy Story?"


Well said!


Wh ore houses


Aren't there already some? If not, that comes with the casinos.


It would be nice to have a "draw" downtown, but first you have to have something to offer. The city should try some sort of theme idea for the downtown area. You need to attract some "anchor" stores to go downtown to make it worthwhile as well. This shouldn't be too hard if you find the right anchors with which to do that. Then incorporate a nice hotel with a nice "hotspot" for the evening adult fun and make something worthwhile to attract young and old alike in your "theme". (and I don't mean Cedar Point).

I happen to know for a FACT that there were a couple of ideas given to the city commissioners over a year ago about this very thing and nothing was ever done about it. A meeting with two commissioners was held to do this. It went no where.


@ Gramy

How about being more specific.




I think downtown IS making a comeback. Dockside is fun, there are great restaurants, better then the chain ones on 250. Bringing upscale apartments and condos will drive what develops next. Who doesn't want to live on the water? NO more sweet deals for attorney's offices, or housing for the aged.



The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Or...I suppose if we could have a vision of a great downtown, there's an interesting one I am very familiar with...

Caution, this presentation may not be for everyone.

Though the above reference aside, going for an attempt of a unified theme or presentation would be pretty nice.

Stop It

That link reminds me of the old Myst games I used to play, HZ.

Don S

Do NOT put parking meters in. That alone will keep people away. Many people go to the businesses on Rt 250 for the free easy parking.

Build a convention center where the old American Crayon company is at.

Tear down the Keller building and build a parking garage there and charge a fee to park. I'm sure downtown business owners and residents will use it. Make the 1st floor secured by partly inclosing it and gating it.

Put LED lights over the entire street width, downtown from the courthouse to the waterfront. Span them between the buildings, they will probable use less electric than the present street lights.

Stop It

Living outside your city, I can say that getting to the downtown/city other than in broad daylight can be problematic. Just read this newspaper to see where the problems are. One block away from the cop shop and you are in trouble. Head south, east or west from the county courthouse and you'll run into trouble if not careful. It's almost like one can't get to the city epicenter from any direction other than the lake without feeling as if they are in Thugville, USA. We don't call it Little Detroit for the hell of it.

Gambling and whorehouses will not make it better. The ones saying it will, are the problem you have in what could be a very lucrative place to have a thriving downtown on the bay. One has to go through "their" part of the city to get there, though. From all directions other than the lake.


Lucrative, how? Agree that there is no major interstate so that is one huge issue. Agree on the crime issue. Tell me what your draw is going to be on a twelve month basis.


Get undesirables off the streets.


You have three to four months of good weather to make it work. That's it! Sandusky is a seasonal town, barely, unless you can give me a reason to go down there in the winter. Do I want to go stay in a hotel in downtown Sandusky in the middle of the winter? No.

Stop It

I would like anyone that lives in Sandtown or has a business downtown how to get there from any direction.

Well, other than on a boat from the bay? How does one get there without seeing what is *still* hurting what could be a thriving community?

Julie R.

"How would you improve downtown Sandusky?"

"Bulldozer ..... tornado ..... sell it to Donald Trump for $1.00 Or Best Offer ..... a place for the cops to sleep in their cars ...."

Those were tooooo funny.

That said, I think it's sad what downtown Sandusky looks like now compared to what it used to be.

T. A. Schwanger

The answer to this question can be found by doing a little research.

There are many examples of revitalized downtowns found by conducting a simple Google search.

The repeated common denominator is a mix of commercial retail and RESIDENTIAL.

When in downtown Sandusky, look skyward at the upper floors of most of the downtown buildings. You'll see shuttered windows and empty space. A revitalized downtown is dependent on downtown living and that includes what is now happening at the former Reiger Hotel. One blogger claims "those folks don't spend money". Well they do. In fact, it's my understanding, the lower age limit for this new development is 55 years of age.

At this time, forget about a hotel. There are a number of hotels inside Sandusky limits that close in the winter because of lack of business. Sandusky needs a destination attraction first. It must be something different that what is already in the area. Sawmill Creek and Kalahari have the market on the convention hall theme.

I get a kick out of "The Answer Person" when he comments about the "naysayers" when he's at the top of the list.


Agree, but commercial retail will not leave the Rt. 250 strip.

No hotel/convention center will survive downtown unless it has a 12 month support system in place, i.e. Kalahari. Sadly, the only thing I can come up with is a casino, but even that hasn't helped cities like Cleveland and Detroit. Not another indoor waterpark, either.

Another great example is Tower City in Cleveland. People in the suburbs will not drive downtown just to simply shop at another Foot Locker or watch a jumping fountain. Plus, there is that "risk" factor that steers people clear. They'll go to Crocker Park in the suburbs or a mall, instead. The Flats couldn't even survive based on a two day week customer base...Friday and Saturday nights. Dead by bulldozer!

The current residents near or in downtown Sandusky drive to Perkins Township for the mall and surrounding shopping and restaurants. Unless it's a quick need, the people in Perkins drive to Crocker Park to get away from the crowds coming from Norwalk, Fremont and Sandusky. It's a vicious circle.

Also, retailers will not all of a sudden pull up shop and decide to move Dicks, Macys, Outback, etc. to downtown Sandusky. Not a chance.

Sadly, I'm afraid if it could be done, it would have already have happened. Sandusky will always be a haven for small, start up businesses and restaurants due to the cheaper rent....which is a good thing. The catch is, how long can they survive without a strong customer base even with the lower overhead?

T. A. Schwanger


@ fifteenthgreen

I couldn't agree more.

In fact, there has been talk recently about luring Gander Mountain, Cabalas or Bass Pro Shop to downtown Sandusky. Taking a look at "store locator" directions for these outdoor stores reveals the vast majority are located at major highway interchanges.

Even discount stores such a Dollar General in Sandusky and Huron go where the most traffic is generated--it's all about the foot traffic numbers and rightfully so.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the folks recommending parking meters downtown, etc. are most often not lifelong Sandusky residents and do not remember how parking meters chased shoppers out of downtown with the advent of commercial development on Rt. 250.

They don't remember Sandusky spent millions in Federal and local match dollars on the "Downtown Streetscape Program" of new sidewalks, decorative lighting, curbs and gutters. Somehow, the downtown lighting was change to one of the most inefficient type lighting imaginable--it's dark and constantly needs maintenance attention. I counted 15 light burnt out this week.

I can remember when elected Sandusky officials laughed at the idea of a mega-mall on Route 250 saying it will never work.

I've heard the stories from "Old-timers" of how Ford and GM wanted to build in the Sandusky city limits but were chased out by locally owned "ma and pa" industry out of fear they would have to pay the wages Ford and GM offered.


In fact, there has been talk recently about luring Gander Mountain, Cabalas or Bass Pro Shop to downtown Sandusky.

Would those be good fits as anchor stores? During the summer, the tourists would be drawn to those stores. Hunting and fishing appeal to a small segment of the general population. I see three sporting goods stores just south of Sandusky. Would these three stores take potential business away from the stores like Gander Mountain, Cabalas or Bass Pro Shop? I see a lot of used boats for sale in Ohio cheap. Is boating down on Lake Erie?


They all would be a good draw, but the tourists come to this area for one thing, Cedar Point and in the winter months, the indoor water parks. If any of these stores were located off of the Rt. 250 corridor and away from Rt. 2 and 80, they would struggle, if not fail. Plus, their corporations do their due diligence on geographics and understand where it is all happening. You would have to see the highways and current infrastructure to understand why it is the way it is.

We had an outlet mall here several years ago located a few miles south of the existing retail hub of our area and it failed miserably and is now a ghost town. Also, it failed due to our weather and the poor design of the mall itself.

The one thing Sandusky may have going for itself is Perkins is running out of property between Rt. 2 and Perkins Avenue. Businesses could decide to go south of Bogart Rd. and build around the Kalahari facility but again, why did the outlet fail just south of that area? I personally feel a well designed outlet or outdoor shopping center could thrive in our area, but design and location are crucial. The waterfront of Sandusky would be an incredible location for a Crocker Park type common area but I still feel there is not enough of a highway structure to get the people there quickly. In fact, there currently is none. Plus, current buildings would have to be destroyed.

Lots of boating potential, Centauri. Many marinas exist and are used.

T. A. Schwanger



My point exactly. The outdoor stores mentioned only build at major interstate exchanges. The days of "big box" anchor stores downtown has passed.


T.A. Schwanger -

Remember when Rt. 250 was simply a two lane highway. Oh, the good old days. I wish it was like The Christmas Story where things seemed to be a lot slower, more family based, window shopping, conversations on the front porch, dinners at the table, slick cars driving up and down Columbus Ave., but time seems to have caught up to us. We're in a different society now built around speed, lower costs and instant information and I for one wish everything would slow down.


Many ideas that would work for warmer states such as Florida and Arizona will not work for Ohio. I see that there is a Sam's Club near Sandusky, Ohio. I feel that a large "anchor store" might work if Sandusky has about 15 acres of land and tax incentives.

A large anchor store will operate year round. Perhaps a Costco or BJ's Wholesale Club could bring the people into Sandusky. It's one idea. Stay away from ideas that failed in Ohio.
"Portside probably had about 80 speacialty shops, but no major anchor stores. Given Portside's location, there was no room to even connect an anchor store. The specialty shops were more upscale and overpriced, in most cases. There also was a lack of recognizable "chain" stores that often draws mall shoppers. Portside became more of a novelty than a necessity."

Too bad that Sandusky didn't get Cedar Point's space spiral. That would have been a draw for people.

T. A. Schwanger



Actually, the idea of bringing the Space Spiral to Sandusky (Paper District Marina) was suggested by our group but was turned down because of the alleged "condition of the ride". We suggested it be relocated as a scaled down version as 1/2 its original size.


There's nothing alleged about it. They constantly had to fabricate replacement parts to keep it running, and it wasn't designed to be movable. Now, if you wanted the Wildcat - it was designed to be dismantled with the tools most people have in their garage and packed on a couple of flatbed semi's.

looking around

A few people here have referred to Sandusky as well as Port Clinton as parking lots for Put-In-Bay. I can tell you from first hand experience that the ridership on the Jet Express out of Sandusky is not as robust as one might expect. That goes for the Good Time vessel as well. Many of the passengers this year I recognized as those who worked on either Kellys or Put-In-Bay, many of the boats rarely reached capacity.

There are many ways to reach the islands, private boat, ferry services, airplane, that come from various points of origin. While the Bay and Kelly's at times seem overwhelmed with tourists there are many slow days as well. The businesses on the islands make their money in a rather short period of time by charging outlandish prices for drink, food, lodging and associated sales and rentals.

The ferry services themselves were developed out of need for people and services to reach the island. The potential for increased ridership due to tourism allowed them to expand and grow as well as on island transportation service.

Once there tourists are a captive audience, for the price of the boat ride your not going to spend just an hour or two, your in it for the day or possibly the weekend.

While it would be nice to divert some of that cash flow to Sandusky, it is rare that we have anything of interest going on to attract these folks. A few summer activity's such as Bike Week provide some interest. During these festivity's we have various entertainment on a continuous schedule to attract crowds. There is a lot of business ventures participating and to some extent political support by monetary partnership.

Sandusky businesses do benefit from this transient traffic and it does bring in patrons at times that otherwise might be slow. Perhaps accommodations downtown that would cater to those coming from some distance and returning on "the Last Boat" often earlier than many would like. Many may enjoy the ability to continue the party upon returning if they knew they could walk to their accommodations and entertainment was varied and available. I'm sure that staying on the mainland at more reasonable prices would be of interest to many. Tie that in with breakfast and lunch business the next day a lot of business could be generated.

The Islands get the business to come to them by providing a wide variety of entertainment to appeal to many pallets. It's a social collage that they have mastered even designing parody's of off season holidays such as Christmas in July, New Years on the Bay with Monte Carlo night, Half way to St. Patty's Day etc. etc. It takes imagination and good PR.

If you want to capitalize on the transient traffic headed for the islands you have to be as good as them at the game. If you peak interest you also will get the folks who are not going to the islands but looking for entertainment as well on a local level.

If you go to Put-In-Bay you will note a wide variety of entertainment venues appealing to different clientele. Large ones with Vegas style show bands, smaller ones with more intimate inter reaction with the patrons. Varied food menus and themed entertainment such as TJ's Saloon offering the only BBQ on the Island and Country and Western / Rock live entertainment some direct from Nashville, complete with mechanical bull riding by participating patrons. Mojito's offering a tiki hut, toes in the sand type of experience you would expect from a tropical island.

There are outside and inside venues often of the same establishment. As an example the new roof top bar at Mr. Ed's.

I might note here that the problem areas on the Islands center around venues that cater to the hip hop style music and gangsta/ jersey shores type clientele. While they spend money they also account for most of the problems encountered on the islands and are a constant source of needed service by law enforcement and emergency services.

This years reenactment of the war of 1812 battle of Lake Erie attracted thousands to the islands.

I made mention of Mr. Ed's who's owner Ed Fitzgerald has many operations both on and off the Island, he watches intently and is willing to invest where he see's potential. So far that has been Port Clinton on the mainland. Give him and others like him a reason to be interested in Sandusky downtown and you might be surprised.

Personally , I'd like to see a venue downtown offering BBQ and maybe throw your own steaks on the grill type of atmosphere with good country/classical rock. The type of crowds I see on the Island drawn to TJ's and Mojito is exactly the type of crowd we need downtown. Hard working upstanding fun loving folk who enjoy a day/night out and love good food and entertainment.


Good points, Looking Around. Are you suggesting duplicating the island experience on the shores of Sandusky? Would it be more of a Flats experience? It could possibly work in the winter months, as well but would the city residents support such an environment. It works well on the islands because they are on an island. :) I like the idea of it and could be worth exploring. I wonder if investors have considered it already?

looking around

@fifteenth green,

I'm suggesting using imagination as the island entrepreneurs have demonstrated. Yes not so much a duplication but a continuance of the experience. Although much smaller than the "Flat's" as we really would never draw that big of a crowd. I'm imagining just catching the interest of a percentage that would take note of what is available.

Believe me residents of the Islands are not always thrilled with the tourism either. You would get a fair share of dissent from many Sandusky residents as well but that comes with any vibrant area.

It is interesting to watch how various businesses feed off a nucleolus of well thought out and managed entertainment venues.

The Islands basically shut down in the winter and transportation to them is cut to the bare essentials of need. I think Sandusky would be a year around draw due to the ease of access, however it would most likely drop of to low points in the winter months due to the weather and lack of the summer tourist trade that so much of our locale is all ready reliant upon.

Have investors considered it already? I can't imagine an investor/entrepreneur that would walk through our downtown/water front area, look at the beautiful architecture and not see potential. It's tough for any investor to be on the fore front, blazing a trail for others to join and follow. These days they take calculated risks based on the assessment of potential business. We have already designated downtown as an entertainment district.

Had not Cedar Point established business years ago when we actually had a larger population and then expanded over the years, would they look at this area as a potential for virgin development in this day and age?

It takes imagination, determination, financial ability, and fortitude to weather the storm before success.

Stop It

Rt. 101, Rt. 6. and Rt. 4 all used to be great corridors to downtown. Then due to Cedar Point in the summer, and from now till February for frippin' christmas I'd rather go to Norwalk, Fremont, Findlay, B.G., Toledo or even the armpit of Ohio called Lima.

Ya really gotta get rid of the thug stuff on those older routes.

RT. 250 sux because it's Road Rage Alley.

Stop It


The Bizness

“Reinforce survival and safety. I believe the city of Sandusky, because of the high winds and rains that we’ve had within downtown, we should have a disaster center.” — Patricia Ferguso


Stop It

That is a definite WTF?


Read her campaign flyers (that were ILLEGALLY placed on windshields of cars parked on private property on Sunday.) The choice of items on it don't exactly paint a picture of brilliance, if you know what I mean.

pigeon farmer

Turn to Dan Sharp for downtown improvement advice.

tdluvpit's picture

Disaster Center?? Are you kidding me??? Wind & rain? This is not typhoon territory. Laughable! Downtown is a joke. Crappy flea market type junk stores, which are never open, by the way, proprietors who keep odd hours, don't know how to run a business. If you want business try opening the doors everyday at 9 a.m. til at least 5 p.m. I don't even know how these places pay the high dollar rent being open a few hours a day maybe a couple days of the week. I've been here over 20 years & this has always been the case for downtown businesses. Elected officials don't care about business downtown or it would already be thriving. Thank everyone for their typical political canned remarks on ideas for downtown.


You can't run a business and have the mentality of being open 9am to 5pm as you suggest. Those are bankers hours. It needs to be an all day, full time commitment from the businesses down there. Agree on the stores. The restaurants have the most potential but their hours are terrible and inconsistent due to lack of consistent people traffic. It's a losing proposition all the way around. Times have changed.


Find a way to put it under a dome or roof of some sort. It has to have a hotel or two.


Go directly to the Traverse City, Michigan playbook and do that...No need for any new studies, just send a junket of all the key players within the City of Sandusky and do exactly what they're doing up north. This is easy...just copy what someone else is successfully doing...


bring in Trader Joes, its an experience all its own.


Being a lifelong citizen of the Sandusky area for 60 years, I can honestly say I still love downtown Sandusky. Do I wish it was as it was before the Mall?? Yes, of course!! All the independently owned stores, shoppes and restaurants were wonderful. But, I still feel fortunate that we are able to share in the natural and man-made beauty of this charming, unique town. Our parks are so amazing, one would be hard pressed to find any park that could surpass the beauty of ours. And our State Theater with its beauty and preservation, and they even have free shows, and the Firelands Symphony even performs there... And the great restaurants such as Crush and J Bistro. After experiencing their high quality cusine, there is no way I could ever return to dine again at the Milan Rd. chains. If only Markleys was back at Markleys.... I must mention our most amazing library for its history and architecture. Ever since I was a child, its presence has instilled in me a grateful awe and wonder. A beacon of light in a hard place, it offers to our community (adults and children alike) the freedom to dream and hope, the building blocks to create a different reality. I say, Keep up the good work Sandusky!! I, for one, am proud of everything Sandusky stands for! I believe that if the city continues to retain its memory of a vibrant, colorful past while evolving its local economy, then Sandusky will continue to attract a more diverse and eclectic population to its waterfront with time.


The reality of the current economy is that only specialty stores and purposeful destination businesses can survive more than a mile from a freeway interchange. The effect of competition on the markups on commodity goods requires those selling them to live on high volume, which requires high traffic flow. There are not enough hours in the day for enough cars to get in and out of downtown to support a big box store.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I can attest to the first part of what you say, being exactly that kind of shop myself.


"There are not enough hours in the day for enough cars to get in and out of downtown to support a big box store."

How about close to downtown?

There are enough hours in a day for Cedar Point traffic to travel through the city.

I still believe that a large warehouse type store besides a Sam's Club would attract the people into Sandusky. People need to buy food and necessities. Plus competition is good.

Does anybody remember how that wave action pool would be a boom to Sandusky, Ohio? Make up too many stupid rules to shake down the people for more money and the people will stop coming.