Rezoning could pave way for medical office

By Jason Hawk -

A medical office building and dialysis unit are being planned for the southeast corner of Main Street and Cooper Foster Park Road.

First, Amherst city council must agree to rezone of 4.23 acres from residential to commercial use.

Developer Khaled Fawzy, representing TJCO East, said a group of private practice physicians want to build a 2,500-square-foot office space and 10,000-square-foot extension for dialysis.

“This is an area that is of great importance to these physicians,” he said. “They operate primarily in Lorain County and the vast majority of their patients are from both the city of Lorain and Amherst. This is kind of a strategic position for them but also one that is very convenient for a lot of their patients, who as it stands right now are traveling to Elyria.”

About half the now-vacant site will be developed under a preliminary plan put forward by Fawzy and he believes it will have only a minor impact on traffic at the intersection.

Traffic was a focus for council.

Councilman David Janik said the Main Street-Cooper Foster intersection tends to back up, especially with school buses at certain hours. Fawzy said that’s a concern for his clients as well and said he’s open to cutting 10 feet from the front of the parcel to allow the road to be widened if necessary.

Councilman Matthew Nahorn lives near the intersection and said he travels through it at least twice a day, so he knows the challenges motorists experience there.

“Personally, it’s always nice to see a little bit of open land within a neighborhood, but we all know this area is going to be developed. So the best way to develop it is what this body is charged with looking at,” he said, expressing confidence the city and developer will work together to address issues.

Future development at the site was a sticking point for councilman Joe Miller, who asked for assurances the remaining portion of the acreage would not be used for a strip mall or discount store.

He also voiced concern about what would happen to the commerical land if the physicians were to move out of town.

“To put that type of money into a medical facility, I would think they’re going to be here to stay,” said mayor Mark Costilow.

“I know it’s not a perfect situation, but I think it’s a pretty good fit for that spot,” he said, adding that several other developers have looked at the land, with some eyeing it for apartment buildings.

“This isn’t the kind of investment that we’re looking to do to add value to the land in the hopes that five, 10 years down the line we flip that investment to make money,” Fawzy told Miller. “That’s not at all what the physicians are looking to do.”

The site will be built to suit specific medical needs, and the physicians want every detail customized to make their patients’ visit perfect, he said. It won’t be the kind of development that could be converted into a strip mall later, and there are no plans to build retail there because “it’s a tremendous contrast to what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Amherst treasurer Richard Ramsey said the property in question has been empty a long time and his office would appreciate having another source of revenue operating there.

“If it’s going to be developed C-2, this would be the best C-2 to put into that area abutting a residential property because there’s not going to be any nights where you’re going to have people in there and lights, noise, everything else going,” said councilman Ed Cowger.

“I see this as the best win for the city for this property at this time,” he said.

A rezoning vote could come as early as Monday.

The project must still go back to the planning commission to hammer out details such as ingress and egress locations, Costilow said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk