Bertram Inn condominium proposal could be on May ballot

Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate
Condomiums could be in store for some of the existing guest rooms at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center if voters approve a rezoning request.

AURORA – Residents may see a rezoning issue on the May 4, 2021 primary election ballot that would allow Heritage Capital Corp. to convert about 70 to 75 rooms at the Bertram Inn to condominiums.

Further discussion about the proposal, which was introduced at the planning commission’s Oct. 21 meeting, took place Nov. 18. Chairwoman Kathi Grandillo said the panel could vote Dec. 2 to recommend to City Council placing the issue on the ballot.

For the issue to go to voters in the spring, the city would have to send it to the Portage County Board of Elections by early February. A public hearing is necessary before council takes action.

Heritage Capital is seeking to rezone the 16.4-acre property from I-1 industrial to M-1 mixed-use so the business can convert several of its rooms to condos.

The nearly 20-year-old, 25,000-square-foot inn operates under a conditional zoning certificate as a hotel complex, with 224 rooms, a conference center, banquet and meeting facilities, outdoor pool and two restaurants. The land surrounding the parcel is zoned PD planned development.

Heritage Capital spokesman Rob Benjamin explained the changing dynamics of the hospitality industry have been difficult for the Bertram, including the closing of the nearby theme parks, the renaissance of Cleveland’s downtown hospitality market and the coronavirus crisis.

“A zoning change to mixed use allows us to work with the city to create a viable solution,” he said, adding the firm wants to transform some of the rooms into about 35 for-sale condo units. About 150 rooms would remain for overnight guests, and the other amenities would stay in place.

“Most of the changes would be to the interior; there would be few exterior changes,” said Benjamin. “We are trying to be creative with this approach. This would not be a cheap project, but it would be a positive alternative to closing the facility.”

Benjamin pointed out the company has a couple of options – convert the hotel’s third floor or convert all floors of a building in back to condos. He said the condos likely would sell for between $175,000 and $200,000.

“A lot of things have changed since the Bertram was built,” said Heritage Capital spokesman George Kimson. “We are looking for a new business model that makes sense.”

In other action at its Nov. 18 session, the planning panel approved lot splits for properties on East Garfield and East Mennonite roads.

At the Carl Draucker property at 832 E. Garfield Road, 2.4 acres will be split off from 46.3 acres so neighboring property owner Dan Skowronski can add the parcel to his 8 acres. The area is between East Garfield Road and the former Norfork Southern Railroad tracks, east of Eggleston Road.

A revised lot split also was OK’d for city-owned land on East Mennonite Road. That split intially was OK’d a couple of months ago, when City Council decided to sell two 3-acre lots and one 4-acre lot from the existing 92 acres.

Because one prospective home buyer sought to build a larger house, city officials decided to increase the two lots to 3.5 acres and the other lot to 4.8 acres. The lots border the Mantua Township corporation line.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9433, or auroraadvocate@recordpub.com.

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