St. Joe’s Community Center – Let’s get fiscal/ physical – Let’s get REAL

February 13, 2012 at 12:05 am 33 comments

Let’s Get Physical Lyrics
I’m (they’re) saying all the things that I (they) know you’ll like
Making good conversation
I (they) gotta handle you (us) just right
You know what I mean
Steve Kipner/Terry Shaddick)

I am dithering – I am not sure what is the best course of action for St. Joseph’s Community Center( the old St. Joseph’s hospital) and I haven’t seen anything from those that should know and are in charge of the project to give me a clear picture.
There is a history to the Old St. Joseph’s Hospital;
From Lizzie’s Guide to Lorain

The house was called the “Devonian Baths” and was built in 1887 over sulphur springs discovered by accident by Gilbert Hogan, who had been drilling for natural gas. This is one of the early pictures of the hospital

March of 2009 the article in the Morning Journal
St. Joseph center in crisis: Lack of tenants, operating capital could cause eventual closure
had the then President of the South Shore Development Board ( In 1997 St. Joseph Community Center was created by the South Shore Development CDC )Jim Cordes ( Lorain County Administrator) as stating:

The center is running out of cash and faces about a $300,000 deficit this year, he said.

It seems that number ($300,000) continues to be a problem because according the Chronicle nearly three years later :

As of Dec. 21, Hipp wrote, South Shore had past due bills totaling $287,892. Hipp also wrote that his company projected that St. Joe’s would be running deficits of $25,000 per month as 2012 got under way, and there was no plan in place to absorb those costs.

Between those two statements a lot of “planning, bells and whistles, handshaking and patting on the back has happened .

Lorain City Council in 2010 approved money to operate St. Joe’s while Krasienko’s administration looked for ways to keep it open.

The agreement also calls for the current South Shore board, which has been largely defunct since the city took control of St. Joe’s at the beginning of the year, to be replaced with a new ninemember board. Five of the board’s members will be handpicked by IRG, which gives the company a controlling number of seats. Three members will be selected by the city. The county commissioners will pick the final board member.

In fact just last June 2011 another deal was brokered with great hoopla and artwork

“Definitely good news,” said Mayor Tony Krasienko. “Obviously, we’ve put a lot of time and resources into making sure the St. Joseph Community Center is a success.

However, there was concern from some on Lorain City Council as to the “way forward” and in July 18 2011 an update on the situation at St. Joe’s was requested. You can find the minutes of that meeting in the following PDF file
council meeting minutes

At that time The Board and members of council discussed the “way forward” with positive pronunciations and in response to Mr. Given’s question in July 2011-

There are many questions with long – term stability of the building and group etc.What kind of cash reserves do we have on hand for repair and maintenance etc. What if the basement floods or sewer breaks etc.


Lee Berger: Financially I am happy to say we are projecting to be stable by the end of this year ( 2011) with the sale of the 5th floor. We have done a lot of work internally to get the operating costs down to something we can handle and obviously leasing the building is our way out. Our projections in 2012, which we are working on now, will start the year at zero and hope with new leasing that we will be in good shape in 2012 and forward.

So what happened that just about 5 months after that meeting crisis hits?? and the Ohio Realty Advisors managing the property sends a letter

states in his letter ( emphasis mine) :

Hipp also wrote that his company projected that St. Joe’s would be running deficits of $25,000 per month as 2012 got under way, and there was no plan in place to absorb those costs.

“From the onset South Shore was operating in a deficit with no long -term plan to fund shortfalls,” Hipp wrote.

How things seem to have changed in 5 months

Did this whole project rely on one group purchasing the 5th floor and therefore injecting $300,000 cash plus build out into the project.

Is that the “business plan”???????

This is a bit like saying –

Oh! I am waiting for my Aunt Lilo Lil to die as I am in her will and then I can pay my mortgage and utilities and remodel – but Old Lil runs off with another suitor or writes you out of the will – and your creditors get stuck with the bill


Not a good business plan it seems at least to this “lowly surface dweller”. I am always amazed at the thinking ( which is more often than not) on basing financial decisions on a “projected income”- but then there is that old “well of the taxpayer” if things don’t come off as planned.

My concerns are these :

Why didn’t the South Shore Development Board and Ohio Realty Advisors in July express their concerns before Lorain City Council when Given ( pun intended) the opportunity. Since I was told yesterday the “letter” that was dated January 5th 2012 was to get the attention of the new administration Why not ask for a meeting , a phone call might have served their purpose a little better because NOW – well they are getting attention NOW aren’t they?


Given asked: How much do you think you need to have rented to cover all your costs and after that the pressure is off.

Berger:I have that in my performa and I do not have that with me but it will be presented to our Board during the next Board meeting- that will then be presented to council-

My understanding is that no information was received by council members– who was the follow through person? NOTE: Joel Arredondo-Lorain City Council President also serves on the South Shore Development Board

Also in Hipp’s letter he states

“The situation within the Administration of the City of Lorain over the past 10 months has also negatively impacted the progress of the project

Question since this was the Krasienko Administration ( who brokered the deal ) and just 6 months previously had the “celebration of St. Joes- and Robert Gilchrist was being praised…. what situation????? And why weren’t council informed there was a “administration” problem 5 months ago when they had the chance ?

And now my thoughts

I think cool, clinical accounting heads need to be in the mix – a “BUSINESS PLAN” based upon actual funding– not IF- not stop-gap budgeting – needs to be in place – because even with “new tenants” there are always expenses that come with being the landlord.

All costs should be itemized- all assets- actual income and actual costs not projected with whatever rosy coloured forecasts of ifs and maybe and hope ( hope like plan is a four letter word )….

And speaking of tenants
There are partnerships and groups within the space providing a valuable service to the community . Those tenants have provided income and a tax revenue to the City of Lorain . I would hate to see the loss to them and to us should the building close. They are also experiencing “physical problems” as per their letter found here
Jan 31 St. Joe’s tenants meeting letter to Southshore Board (1)

And lets us have some “real discussion” not the “congratulatory wishy-washy claptrap” as evidenced at the South Shore Development Board Meeting on Febrary 9th-2012
Scant answers provided at St. Joe’s board meetingby Brad Dicken ( who first broke the story of “the letter”)
Morning Journal – Rick Payerchin

The meeting lasted about 40 minutes, but shed little light on conditions at the St. Joe Center. The board did not have a quorum and could not vote on any proposals

ED NOTE: That was definitely the understatement of the year imho 🙂

Source -by Mike Luckovich‚ Oct. 07‚ 2004

South Shore Development-Ohio Realty Advisors City of Lorain and Lorain County LET’S GET REAL – Let me Hear your “Board ” Talk!!!! and walk the walk – too many people’s lives , businesses and money depend upon an accurate picture

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, city of lorain, notorious opponents of exactitude, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Happy 93 to my mum!!!! The reprise of “gobble de gook” – claptrap- wishy- washy -ask me no questions I will tell you no lies

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grammy  |  February 13, 2012 at 2:32 am

    After the time and commitment that some people have made to this facility, they definitely deserve better than they are getting. The city stepped in and dropped the ball evidently, that’s no big surprise. The corporation overseeing the site has dropped the ball. Seems to be the typical pattern for things in Lorain.

    Let’s get it right for the children at least.

  • 2. paulatobias  |  February 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

    First thought after learning about the amount the City was responsible for:
    Well there goes 3 Police Officers to pay that Bill.

    Second: didn’t they go into Executive Session at the Board Meeting, isn’t that illegal without a quorum?

  • 3. Joyce  |  February 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    St. Josephs is the very definition of the money pit. With over $100,000 looming in electric bills, and no money to do anything, we are in a pickle. We have two choices. Tear it down, or move city hall and the police department in and tear down everything on the waterfront to make way for development and the future of Lorain. By city hall and the police department moving in, it anchors the building for a purpose. It’s really sad that all we have on our lakefront is government. What a waste of prime real estate. The building needs help, and moving city hall there would show good faith in keeping it open and good faith in developing the waterfront. I envision restaurants and shops and even a river boat casino, something to bring people here.

  • 4. Grammy  |  February 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Joyce: Do you really believe that there will ever be any kind of viable casino in Lorain? If it’s in Cleveland, it won’t be in Lorain! That should be obvious with the casino going in downtown Cleveland now. When Lorain first tried, Cleveland and other big cities cried and cried. Once it was passed into existence, they were the first in line to put one in. What happened to the outcries about crime, wrong kind of jobs (low paying), negative impact on our city, on and on and on? Now everyone wants one. Can’t have it both ways for sure.

  • 5. Joyce  |  February 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Grammy I was never drinking that Kool-aid. It’s just an idea, something anything to being life back to this city.

    I drove by St. Joe’s this morning and there are windows broken at the very top of the building. My understanding is they can’t cut heat off to different floors. Heat has to be just pouring out of those windows. Nobody has boarded them up. It looks like an abandonded building to an outsider. They can’t do the basic repairs. It’s doomed!

  • 6. Brian  |  February 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    If “fixing” the things that are broken were the only issue, rehabbing the building would be a no brainer.

    There are options for the center, but it will take thinking outside of the box. The building is FUNCTIONALLY OBSOLETE. While discussions are all about the physical conditions of the building, items that are physically obsolete and easily addressable, making the spaces desirable for new tenants is more challenging.

    There is a glut of vacant commercial property in our region, not just Lorain. Lorain is COMPETING with every private “provider of commercial property” and private developers across out entire region.

    Unless the folks that are trying to develop the property can address the physical deficiencies and at the same time make the property “new and exciting” it is a dead horse. I have to get back to work, but I will throw out some ideas later…

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    You are correct Brian- it seems that the initial idea ( and I am going from memory here back in 1997 was to take the closing of St. Joesph’s hospital and with grants that were available at the time to stop the building from being closed and mothballed. Some inovative ideas and money were available it seems in the beginning BUT according to Jim Cordes in 2009

    A big blow to the center will happen within the next year when CHP will end its $500,000 lease, which it agreed to continue paying when a specialty hospital left the center in 2007. Also, the center will have to begin repaying on $2.5 million worth of loans next year, he said.

    Again some refiguing going after more tenants and grants was in the offing with a new Board………It has a couple of good anchor tenants BUT they aren’t enough… the foot print is bad … and unfortunately the problems increase.there is a reason St. Joes closed in the first place and was no longer viable when you see all these “health care facilities popping up all over the plae ( usually off of the main thorough fares…… that didn’t see an opportunity to locate at that facility……

    There are taking down some of the buildings etc. thanks to a grant which would make the space on the outside “more friendly” and hopefully they will do something about the rabbit warrren feeling when trying to fnd ones way around……

    But again there needs to be some serious thinking as to what can be done to get in an assured base income that would cover the running costs. Is that feasible?

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Joyce I asked some questions as in the stabauch report ( remember that one) it was suggested ( and I think on occasion Brian even suggest a few years ago that the “city government” move to St. Joes.
    and thereby opening up the lakefront even further ( now the power lines are coming down 🙂 – there are a myriad of problems to be considered to move government and the LPD etc. , infrastructure , ( communication cables etc) and cost of demolition for the Lorain City Hall structure and those aren’t insurmountable but it will COST and where is that money going to come from – unless there is a developer that is “huge” we are piece mealing once againand relying on grants ( look where that has gotten us with the schools)

    I don’t have any answers maybe they should have asked First Energy to give the money to St. Joes instead of the pipe yard ( fund the utility costs and we could have given them the naming rights 😉

  • 9. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Just a refresher from the Staubach report _ and did we ever finish paying them ?

    Get rid of the Urban Decay –
    Clean up the entranceways and gateways to downtown
    Fix the existing commercial and building facades on Broadway
    Uniform signage
    Get rid of the Transmission Lines
    Move the sewer plant
    City Hall is taking up valuable real estate
    Take advantage of your “history”
    Bring in the Arts
    Get rid of the eyesores
    Camouflage the existing industry on the river and lake front
    HAVE A TIME LINE for completion, a plan and how it will be

    This last one
    HAVE A TIME LINE for completion, a plan and how it will be financed
    could also equate to St. Joes

  • 10. paula tobias  |  February 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    “HAVE A TIME LINE for completion”

    How many groups in Lorain should be in agreement with THAT concept?

    Maybe there should be a rule/law, no more studies until you complete the last one?

    What do you think:
    Port Authority
    oh my the list can go on

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Oh yes the place would come to a grinding halt and all the “foundations” and non profits and those giving funds and getting funds/ grants and granting agencies would be running around in a mjor panic after all it is studies and grants that make the world go round 🙂

  • 12. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I said I would get back and try to explain and offer some suggestions, so here I go. First I am going to explain the differance between things that are physically and functionally obsolete.

    Physical obsolete.
    1. Roof wears out, install a new one.
    2. Toilet doesn’t flush, fix it.
    3. Flooring wears out, install new.
    Things that wear out or break can be easily fixed or replaced, it just takes money.

    Functionally Obsolete.
    1. Bad floor plan
    2. Non divisional or under-provided utilities or services.
    3. Poor or inadaquate parking facilities
    4. Unsafe or undesirable neighborhood.

    The physical issues are easy to fix. Spend the money and one hopes that it lasts twenty or more years, the second issues, when it comes to commercial properties, are more enviromental than anything else.

  • 13. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Secondly, 99% of most commercial property is not typically “rented” like many homes are, they are either owned by the business, or leased from another business.

    The businesses functional nothing like government, bringing up yet another issue. The “so-called board” that runs St. Joes is comprised of a bunch of politicians and people with government ties, so why would anyone think they would run it like a business to attract more businesses?

  • 14. muley  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Year after year, it’s the same old crap. I know y’all are good people, but…….it’s the same crap no matter who’s in charge. The only ones coming out alive and well are your elected officials. The city hasn’t hit bottom yet, sad for all of you. Change your government and you might have a chance. God bless you all.

  • 15. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 14, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Brian I agree with your comment No 12

    No 13 supposedly the Ohio Realty Advisors are in the “profession” of management and real estate and according to the deal done with the city have a majority of the South Shore Board ….. and so to my mind should have been very well aware of the issues they were facing…..

    I don’t have any answers just questions…….

  • 16. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Muley – yes it is the same old same old around here and not just here as I am reprising a post from three years ago tomorrow ……..

    Politicians no matter who – what country , county, city state, party are
    politicians first and no matter who we elect – we elect a politician by definition 🙂

    politician (n) – Bing Dictionary
    pol·i·ti·cian [ pòllə tísh’n ]
    somebody active in politics: somebody who actively or professionally engages in politics
    government member: a member of a branch of government
    somebody seeking personal power: somebody whose main political motive is self-advancement and whose methods are often unscrupulous

    and from today’s BBC news on the thoughts of Charles Dickens ( sound familiar)

    As for the politicians, Dickens concluded that, like everyone else in America, they were motivated by money, not ideals.

    “I am disappointed,” he wrote in a famous letter. “This is not the republic of my imagination.”

    Washington, Dickens blasted in American Notes, was the home of: “Despicable trickery at elections; under-handed tamperings with public officers; and cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields, and hired pens for daggers”

  • 17. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Who is the people that sit on this so called board that the real estate management company operates with and that may very well explain what is going on?

  • 18. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Same thing with all the other “political boards”. Who sits at the table of LCCAA? The Port Authority? Even the Zoning Board? A group of very nice people that know little to nothing about development or private business. Who should be sitting on these boards? People like Ben or Kal Fligner, Robert Campana, Mr. Jacobs, can you name a few others?

    How many people on these boards have ever run a business, has commercial leasing experience? How many folks know how much losing $25,000.00 a month really is besides a lot of money?

    How many of these folks have had a key role in hiring, and firing people or day to day management decisions of a mid to large sized business

    Nothing against the folks that sit on these boards, but you get what you pay for.

  • 19. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Is there even a cafateria in the building or is it just vending machines?

  • 20. Dennis Lamont  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    What does it take for a dead city to return to life ? Attitude!
    How can a city come back to life when a very vocal minority knows beyond a doubt that it can’t, that there is no hope. Attitude!
    In 2007 I made a plan,that was published on the internet showing a variety of proposed projects filling the dead area from the waterfront to a hub at 21st St. One by one I watched these projects go elsewhere, not disappear, go elsewhere and thrive. Attitude! When your highest stated development level is to be good at HUD grants you certainly are aiming low and the results are “in your face”. Attitude! Life and lights are all around the dead center that has gone backward in seven years while other places have climbed out or their holes and rebuilt, Attitude!

  • 21. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I know that I am possibly jumping the gun because I really don’t know who sits at any of these boards, but I would expect that if there were folks with business experience sitting on these boards, they wouldn’t be talking like a bunch of politicians. I will apologize now if I have offended anyone who sits on these boards because I am not attacking your service to the community.

  • 22. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    It takes much more than attitude, it takes a PLAN. If private enterprise isn’t going to INVEST their own monies in our city, what makes you think that taking the monies from tax paying citizens and throwing it at a problem is going to fix a thing?

    I also had a THOUGHT, an IDEA so to say for the Black River Landings. I had pictures, and I thought that I explained it well, but it was nowhere near a business plan that explained how much it would cost, how it would be maintained, how it was going to be paid for, or even how many people would actually use it.

    I am off to work to put in my 9 hours today. My work is measured by how much work I can complete in a day, week, or month. It is measurable. Without a plan, nothing can be measured.

  • 23. Brian  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    One last mention before I head out the door. How much longer will it be before Community Health Partners, or Mercy Hospital closes it doors. It will happen because fish don’t need a hospital.

  • 24. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I think you are correct Brian I sat on various Boards why well one needed CVSI 501C3 🙂 but I suppose I was asked because of my particular insight on various aspects of what the organization stood for. I think it is the same with most volunteer boards. They hope to bring various thought processes and talents to a board.

    Usually if tax dollars are being used the authority whether city state county wants people on those boards to represent those interests and to liase with those that pay to support the organization South Shore Ohio Realty Advisors work under a contract and I would think they get some form of compensation for their involvement as the “manage: the property………

    I was told last night there is a meeting at St. Joes cafeteria at 1:00 pm. on Wednesday but I haven’t been able to confirm that as yet this morning ……..

  • 25. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I think the meeting is re the Veterans and the Commissioners and not the meeting that was discussed at the February 9th Board Meeting that would be a public discussion .so I am probably not going to attend….

  • 26. paula tobias  |  February 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I appreciate your positive outlook.

    But think about this,
    How did people develop their “attitude”, pessimistic, cynical ?

    They’re given lip service, they’re allowed to speak but aren’t heard or their ideas are not acted on.
    Sometimes I can’t help but think that is the intended result.

    Many people have lost hope for various reasons.


  • 27. Dennis Lamont  |  February 15, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Brian …..Plans, we have plans, we have plans coming out our ears …the last was a IMO totally meaningless strategic plan for Lorain to be piled on top of all the others. Paula ….as I said ti seems that no one has any workable ideas for Downtown Lorain, right. A pat on the head and a nice try.yet these same ideas work elsewhere. Don’t feel bad, I watched developers get told the same thing ….and you are going to have a difficult time getting them to come back. The Limestone Plant, the High School, the asphalt plant, something as basic as automated garbage pickup all splashed nationwide as a dysfunctional community at it’s finest ….The city has a heck of a reputation to overcome …
    You want a board try Lorain Growth Corporation, they have open meetings. These are the people on the front line. This is the big disconnect, they are trying to get Lorain to function and trying and trying.

    To be a pessimist is easy …the city is broke, the schools are broke, there is no public transportation, poverty rates are climbing along with unemployment, violence is out of control etc etc etc, this has been a way of life around here even before the great recession. A dysfunctional city in a dysfunctional county in a dysfunctional state. Yet if you look a little ways back Mr. Timko has gone out for and gotten grants to clean up the steel plant and river area. The diked disposal site has been cleaned up … many times have you heard that Lorain has been turned down for grants ???? Has anyone even applied, or even been interested in doing so? Being directly involved I watch and see how our neighbor to the east is cleaning up with hundreds of millions in development grants while the peanut shells blow west …..

  • 28. Brian  |  February 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Many grants come with strings attached. Just look at what has happened with our school system. Grants are handed to the school system, but when the funding runs out, no one has any idea how to continue with the program.

    I know there are “options” for downtown, the problem is Lorain Growth is disconnected from the core problem that hinders development downtown. Fish do not spend money.

    It was announced that 275 people rode the Jet Express in the papers today. I am not putting the idea down, but the Palace Theater can do that in a day at one tenth the cost to the residents. Bringing people downtown is a numbers game. The Palace has the potential to genorate more downtown visitors per public dollars INVESTED than any other plan at this time and people don’t come downtown to watch a movie or concert then ride the Jet Express.

  • 29. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Deniis I was on the Board of LGC infact Charleston Village had a seat , we were one of the founding members we were their fiscal agent when it started in 1995 – and it was then mainstreetlorain ( before there was even the “Main Street” program.long story but I have been there done that ..l and a lot of Boards have a disconnect as well and also not the “wherewithall” to do the job to be successful

  • […] After all my words on the subject of St. Joe’s Community Center in the past few days… […]

  • […] have the money thrown at St. Joe’s old hospital… and then 642 Broadway – again the loans , the acquiring the building. BUT the city of Lorain […]

  • […] St. Joe’s Community Center – Let’s get fiscal/ physical – Let’s get RE… […]

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February 2012

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