Demolition advances on a downtown Ravenna building which has been hailed for its architectural history.
While it’s unclear exactly what will be built in the space when the building is gone, business owners hope to see outdoor seating for customers from nearby businesses, green spaces and additional parking. .
“If done right, it could definitely be nice to have next to us,” said Scott Hutchinson, manager of Guido’s.
Neighborhood Development Services approached the city last summer with a plan to raze the building and replace it with green space, landscaping and parking. The structure previously housed the law office of Municipal Court Judge Melissa Roubic. One of the city’s downtown murals is painted on the side of the structure.
After a review of the property by the Ohio Preservation Office, the city has decided that the potential development will include a historical markerwhich will pay homage to the art deco facade that the structure once boasted.
When demolition plans for the building were first unveiled, Kevin Gray, vice president of the Portage County Historical Society, pointed out that the 1920s building once housed an art deco facade. The architects wondered if the facade was still in place, hidden by the new brickwork, but Gray said it appears the old facade was removed during the building’s renovation.
The art deco facade was put in place when the storefront was an Acme grocery store. A 1919 article in the Ravenna Republican reported plans to replace “one of the city’s oldest shopping stalls” with a “modern, up-to-date shopping block” on the same site. Fred Albrecht, owner of what was then called the “Acme Cash Basket” grocery chain, said he had operated his business in Ravenna for four years.
Gray said he wondered how long the building’s foundation had been in place.
“Since Ravenna is a village, there has always been a building on this block,” he said. “It’s just weird to think about that.”
Gray said he hoped parts of the building that might have “historical significance” could be saved.
Mike Bogo, assistant director of Neighborhood Development Services, said the exact plans for the property are still being worked out and more information will be revealed over the next 30 to 60 days. But the eventual development will include parking and landscaping and will be a “downtown improvement”.
The building’s trusses are being saved and should be incorporated into the eventual design, Bogo said.
In the late 1990s, there was talk of razing the building to provide more parking downtown, but the city administration at the time did not support the project.
More recently, a downtown business group discussed closing the block to provide a outdoor terrace. However, Guido’s management opposed the plan, fearing that the loss of traffic and parking in the driveway would hurt the business.
Hutchinson said the driveway and parking lot are still important to Guido’s business, but he expressed hope that the eventual development will still maintain through traffic and some parking lots. There are only a few parking spaces in front of the business, he said, and many customers. use the driveway to drop off passengers before finding parking about a block away.
While public seating would be a nice place for customers to eat their takeout, Hutchinson said he was concerned about who would be responsible for cleaning the area.
He predicted that when the building is gone, people will be surprised at how much space it will leave.
“This building occupies a pretty good footprint,” Hutchinson said. “When it’s gone, people are going to be surprised how much space there is.”
Arasin Hughes, executive director of Main Street Ravenna, said Main Street was consulting with NDS on the possible design of the property. Main Street, she said, advocates things like a park, a seating area for the Designated outdoor refreshment areaand parking spaces tucked towards the rear of the space.
“We don’t want to see just a gray parking lot,” she said.
Historian Wayne Enders said he was a client of Guido and understood the restaurant needed all the parking it could get. But he said a building on that corner had been part of downtown Ravenna’s landscape for decades.
“My concern is that when you tear down a building on Main Street, it looks like you had a fire,” he said.
Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139.