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Development of Ludlow Building Falls Through, City Says

Earlier this year, the property at 333-335 Elm Street in Ludlow, commonly referred to as Ernie's, the name of the former bar that occupied it, was set to be razed.

The city-owned property, purchased by the small city with a hope that it would be developed, had fallen further into disrepair.

But in May, a Covington-based development firm stepped up and entered into an agreement with the city.

Sparen Realty contracted to purchase Ernie's for a dollar with plans to transform the building with an additional floor put on, residences on the upper floors, and active commercial spaces on the ground level.

Impressive renderings of what was to come were released.

A rendering of the proposed renovation to Ernie's Bar in Ludlow (RCN file)

But five months later, Ludlow Police Chief and interim city administrator Scott Smith said, the project could not land proper financing.

"It seems like a done deal," Smith said, adding that others are looking at the property. "I'm not saying I'm counting it out, I'm just not terribly optimistic."

That means the property could again be set for demolition as a "worst case scenario", according to Smith. "If we feel it will be a detriment to safety, we will have to tear it down," he said. "There are a lot of mixed reviews about how structurally sound that thing is. I can't believe it will last too much longer."

Smith encouraged any interested developers to contact the city.

Councilman Tom Amann asked about whether the city could put a tarp over some of the openings in the building, but Smith said the city had previously looked into it, and not only would that be costly, it may be dangerous to put the weight on the building, "because of the danger of it not being solid inside. It's not a good structure."

"That's the only reason there's not a tarp over it now."

Councilman Stephen Chapman noted that the city hands out code enforcement violations to owners of property in better condition than Ernie's, which is owned by the city. 

"Often we acquire things that aren't our fault, but at the same time you're trying to preserve it for other reasons," Smith said. "We don't want to sink massive amounts of money into buildings that would eventually be demolished."

In other business, Smith, Mayor Josh Boone, and Fire Chief Mike Steward thanked the city crews and other responding agencies for their work when the Ludlow-Bromley Yacht Club was destroyed by a barge the week before.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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