UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Developer eyes Keller building for apartments, retail

Columbus developer Thomas Fortin wants to turn the Keller building in downtown Sandusky into apartments, along with a retail section that could include a brew pub.
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2011


Columbus developer Thomas Fortin wants to turn the Keller building in downtown Sandusky into apartments, along with a retail section that could include a brew pub.

Fortin, of Thomas Fortin & Co., told city commissioners Monday he knows part of the Keller building likely can't be saved, but he still wants to develop half of it.

Historic preservation tax credits will be essential to make the project work, he said.

Fortin's vision for the project -- dubbed "The Lofts@Mariner's Cove" -- calls for 36 apartments that will each rent for $750 a month or less.

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They need to do something with the building before it falls over


Wishful Thinking

Did anyone every think to put a McDonalds, Wendys or Burger King downtown.  Maybe Taco Bell.  Policeman eat to.  Along with the bar traffic.  Just a thought.  Better than developing the Keller building.


 Oh yay, just what downtown needs. More overpriced apartments & another bar. They can barely get anyone into the Chesapeake Display & Packaging Overpriced Mini Apartments & Snake Pit. Oh, and what type of ATTRACTION will make people want to LIVE down there, except a lovely gay bar on one side, a factory on the other, & towards the bay, more apartments. There isn't even a grocery store except Cardinal way up Washington. Build an Ihop, a college &/or a sports arena. Preferably a veterinary college.


I did not think the Keller building was viable for residential construction.  So this company wants to revitalize HALF of the building because portions "can't be saved" which would be a huge RISK of investment money.  I am not sure if this company did a complete structural engineering survey.  It will cost so much to build and repair, the cost of rental units would far exceed $750 a month.  If they have the private money to invest, I say let them do it.  If they are seeking more tax dollars to fund this project, (as in liberal entitlements, freebies and welfare), then forget it and demolish the building.  Having "tax credits" (paying NO taxes) will not be enough to PAY OUT for this project.  I have noticed the "fast food" industry has shunned the downtown area because the forecast to make a profit is bleak.  The usual watering holes manage to survive a bit longer than other businesses before FAILURE dooms them to the "closed, out of business" syndrome. 



Raoul Duke

Good place for that ice skating rink...


The developer stated that it would take months before he can actually start work on the project.  I don't think the Keller building has many months left with the roof left open to the weather.  It is a race against time and time is not on the side of the Keller Building.


Might as well propose a Unicorn Farm.

Either one is just a fantasy for this building

my oh my

That building has been deemed unsafe by SFD and the State Fire Marshal's office. That water tank will come down very shortly as it is barely anchored and secured properly. I have been up there and can relate to the condition of this structure.......


 This building should look like the late Monroe Services building.

Bada Bing

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Tax breaks yes, tax dollars no. Anyone wishing to start a business should not have Uncle Sam nickel and diming them. Many businesses would never have gotten off the ground years ago if we had the sysytem we have now.

As long as they don't get any freebies off the taxpayers' backs, it's their business, let them try anything they want.

Truth or Dare

With all the tornadoes happening, maybe our best hope is for Mother Nature to suck up that tower and deposit it in the Bay?!  Otherwise that bad-boy is going nowhere but north, onto all the power lines and the southside of the Chessie.  Hoping those southside condos are empty when it happens! 


Hmm. The Keller apparently survived the 1924 tornado that shredded the rest of the waterfront.


Do something with the Keller Building? Okay, assuming there's enough structural integrity there to save it. I'm all for historic preservation. More apartments? You'd better give people some reason to live downtown! The view of the Bay (from some units, at least) isn't going to make up for the lack of grocery shopping and other kinds of retail, nor will it counter the abysmal condition of too many other buildings downtown.

I agree that a fast food outlet would be nice downtown (maybe something with a LITTLE more class than McDonald's). I also agree that there are already more than enough bars downtown. How about office supplies to serve all of the lawyers and such that remain in that immediate area? I still think there needs to be some kind of a "draw" at the waterfront. You can pretend all day long that the parks are a "draw," but they're not. They're pretty, and most of us locals appreciate them, but they're not any kind of a "destination!" Maybe a riverboat-style casino (and during the summer months, a flea market in an otherwise vacant parking lot).

Solving the problem of the Keller Building, as nice as it might be, won't solve the greater problem and will, in fact, make that part of the solution an eventual failure. There's so much that downtown Sandusky COULD be, but isn't. A big part of the answer is to acknowledge that there's more than one piece to the answer!



I think that the Keller building would make an excellent underwater reef in the lake.

Bada Bing

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The Answer Person

A "BREW PUB"?  Now THERE is a NEW and NOVEL IDEA!  No one ever thought of THAT before...aren't they all closing all over the country for lack of boring interest?  zzzzzzzz

Apartments sit empty all over town.  Rent and skip.

Sandusky's new bi-line should be a takeoff on Charlie Sheen's quote:


The Bizness

There should never be negativity when it comes to someone wanting to redevelop Downtown Sandusky.  Sure the building is in some disrepair but they will take care of that and the new apartments will be safe and secure.

Our city needs to try to bring in more and more of these types of people so we can create a lively community Downtown throughout the year and not just the summer.  I do not see one single negative to getting more people to live down there.

Return of Dragon II

I don't know how they expect to get $750 a month rent for views of  a factory and a couple of gay bars.  Well, I guess some of my Republican friends would like the view of the gay bar but I don't know if they can afford it.  Just curious where exactly will people park?  Not much room down there.  Maybe they can turn it into a zoo we already have plenty of snakes.


Many of the recent successes downtown were achieved by outsiders. Do locals lack vision, or just money? I suspect we fail to see the potential in what we've taken for granted all our lives. The Sandusky-bashing negative attitudes don't help.

Remember, local "wisdom" was that the Chessie was doomed, too. Instead, despite a horrible real estate crash, it's one of the most successful rehab projects in Ohio, contrary to assertions by the local booing section.

Really, folks, we gotta get out of Sandusky once in awhile and see what other rustbelt port towns have done.

The main reason the Keller is crumbling is because too many saw only doom, and that became a self-fulling prophecy as naysayers subverted inadequate and inept efforts to maintain it. Too many opinions based on too little knowledge and experience. Can't we learn from the experience of other cities, instead of the hard way, after it's too late? (Sandusky Mainstreet seems to now think so. They've come a long way.)

I don't know about "brew pubs" but microbreweries often close because makin' good beer is a lot harder than just makin' beer. Plus, you need to know something about marketing, and offer good food, too. And you need a bunch of working capital beyond the very expensive equipment investment. Some folks with the dream fail to put together any of that.




SamAdams:  I agree with you that a destination would be a great way to bring people downtown.  A large sports and entertainment venue would be ideal:  a casino/resort would be perfect.  I also think that market rate apartments are an important piece of the revitalization puzzle.  It sounds like this particular developer's vision for the Keller Building would fit that niche.  It's really a chicken and egg analysis.  If you create living space, the new residents will create the demand for products and services.  On the other hand, if you create the products and services, you create demand for residences downtown.  A good mix of the two is probably the best approach. 

Either way, I support moving forward with this project and others that will make downtown an attractive destination spot for both tourists and residents.  I would also be in favor of tax breaks, and even matching funds for the right developer with the right credentials and ideas.

Truth or Dare

Hey Fact;   That was 87 yrs. ago and it's just not quite the building it use to be, eh?  When's the last time you did a drive by?  The nw support beam is crumbling away, right underneath that one leg of the tower.  Please, can anyone explain/describe how this tower has been secured, and too what?  The roof is caving in!   This last winter alone took a toll on this structure, lotsa new holes in the walls!  Here is a fair question......Do ya suppose it would withstand the winds of 1927, today?  Highly doubtful!!!!

So, what part can't be saved?!    He wants to develop it, fine, sell it off, cause as a taxpayer  I'm about sick of lookin at it, and sick of the excuses being made for the cost of weather-proofing every year!  How much has been spent since it became taxpayer property?!  Just because I feel this way regarding the Keller, doesn't mean I'm against the much-needed  (re) development in Downtown Sandtown!



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downtown first

I would have seen it more as a hotel/specialty shops to take advantage of the new transient marina, but I hope they have success regardless.


fill the keller building water tank with brewski ...... that'll bring em' into the microbrewery in the same building ......... never know ...... could work .......... or make a whorehouse there ..... like the one that use to be near downtown ...  when my dad was younger! ..... and "NO" ...... that's not where i came from!