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Far West Design Review Case Report


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Project Information

Far West Case #  FW 2015-006

Address: 11815-37 Lorain Ave
Company: Westown Community Development Corp

Erect marquee and blade sign on Variety Theater complex


Committee Actions/Submissions

Date: May 18, 2015
Committee: Staff
Action Type: Initial Plan Submission

Description of Theater Complex: 13 Apartments. 10 retail storefont. 1,900 seats + balcony 350 seats. Built 1927. Built for Vaudeville then transitioned to talkies 1926-54ish. Architect Nicola Petti. By the 1970s it had transitioned to 2nd run films and eventually a charter school, wrestle plex, rock show venue (Motorhead, Metallica, U2) in the 80s. More info available on Friends of Variety Theater FB page.


Theater 20,000 sqft. Retail SF have been sustaining the building. In order to maximize points for historic tax credits, it was necessary to evict last tenant. Last residential tenant moved out in August or Sept.

Roof is in good condition. Some of the parapet walls are deteriorating and allowing water infiltration. Plumbing is shot.

6-7 years ago, several grants were provided to update electrical and create marquee & blade sign. It has been sitting out in Elyria at Wagner sign. 1st phase of renovation (electrical) is 95% done.

Next is installation of vertical canopy & blade.

Structural steel was needed to sustain canopy & blade. Currently complete and sitting in American Tank & fabricating shop.

Current anchor is George Group – sports themed restaurant and live sporting events.

Lobby would be integrated into restaurant area.

Historic Tax Credit application was submitted in March. Linchpin before going after other funding. Self-scored at 72 points. Last Sept lowest scoring funded project got 73 points.

Competing with other projects downtown Dayton, Cleveland, & Cincinnati.

Announcements will be made late June.

Project would likely be put on hold without credits.

Parking – Westown getting ready to close on a couple of properties across the street. Opportunity to valet and employee parking at CCH and Westown Square shopping center.

Marquee – upgrade from Capitol – LEED standard for historic signs – 2,200 LED bulbs. Marquee is lit underneath on all three sides with hat-channels.

Signage will not be digital

Existing roof structure will be significantly rebuilt by Opera Roofing. The old wood decking has to be removed. It has to be graded and waterproofed.

Committee Comments:

Support chains look correct on S.01c


Will the structure match what was there before? (framing at the top of the blade) rendering looks a little different from historic photo. Seems a lot cleaner but not correct from a historic perspective. Most of this will be dictated by the historic tax credit.


Notes need to indicate how sign will be operated (flashing/scrolling/changing) 

Design & color scheme look great

Lighting controls (front marquee should not be flashing – distract traffic – unpleasant for outdoor patrons – light pollution for surrounding residential units) ( should it go dark at a certain time) (energy, neighbor relations) (provide defined time for when it will be dimmed or turned down)


Date: May 27, 2015
Committee: Staff
Action Type: Approved
Date: May 28, 2015
Committee: City Planning Commission
Action Type: Approved

Approved by Landmarks Commission. Landmarks Commission expressed concern about site plan showing demolition of nearby buildings. Requested Westown staff work with Landmarks staff to explore alternatives.