Loan Will Kick Start Comeback

The story is familiar in the Midwest. A year and a half ago Ralph Lukich was pounding the nails into the coffin of the old Lake Erie Screw on Athens Avenue. Literally, he was crating the machinery from the plant where he worked for 15 years so it could be shipped out of state. An 18 acre facility that once was the home of the Templar Motor Car Company was only one third occupied.

Lukich and other investors, many who had strong ties to the old Lake Erie Screw formed the Pride One Omni group to remarket the hidden, yet sprawling facility that lies in the Historic Birdtown District. Ferry Cap and Screw decided to set up shop in an expansion away from its Cleveland plant. Long term tenant North Coast Office Furniture is expanding by opening a first floor showroom overlooking Madison Park.

Lakewood Public Library had an urgent need for temporary storage space during its construction, so The Friends of The Library covered the cost of paint and the Omni Group provided the space that is needed for the next year.

Artists and woodworkers have added to the eclectic mix of tenants so that now the occupancy is 71%.

At the Tuesday, February 20th council meeting, members will have the third reading on a loan, which if approved, will maintain the momentum on a great turnaround. Specifically, the Bazetta Group, LLC, is asking for a $200,000 loan on the purchase price of $1.2 million piece of machinery which will add to the manufacturing capacity of their operation.

Lukich indicated that when the new group came in they approached Tom Jordan and Dryck Bennett of the Planning Department for assistance. "I think they were skeptical to begin with about our chances for success" said Lukich. I think we demonstrated to them and the city that we're here to stay and we will succeed.

At a prior council meeting, Jordan said this loan "will keep the momentum going for this plant and it will add jobs."

And consider this; when you watch the Cleveland Browns making a grand entrance storming through a giant inflatable helmet as they take the field, it is manufactured here in Lakewood on Athens Avenue!

As for Lukich, "I love coming to work now, seeing all the new faces. This year we put up a Christmas tree in the lobby. Tenants donated items which we then delivered to the Lakewood Christian Service Center. That makes it a lot better than nailing those crates shut."
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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 2:02 PM, 02.19.07