Ohio City developer to rehab historic funeral home on Lorain Avenue into retail, apartments

The Nunn Family Funeral Home at 4434 Lorain Avenue in Ohio City dates back to 1865, and the site operated as a funeral home until about 20 years ago, when it was converted into a daycare. Now, a developer plans to restore the building into retail, apartments, and the site of future residential development.


4434 lorain avenue ext photo.jpg

The Nunn Family Funeral Home at 4434 Lorain Avenue in Ohio City dates back to 1865, and the site operated as a funeral home until about 20 years ago, when it was converted into a daycare. Now, a developer plans to restore the building into retail, apartments, and the site of future residential development.

Bob Biggar, a sales associate with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, purchased the building for $410,000 in October 2020. Last week, he asked the Cleveland Landmarks Commission to approve demolition of several additions to the property, so that he could restore the original 1865 property as a single storefront and upstairs apartment.

“A large chunk of the property would be used for future development, but we don’t have immediate plans,” Antonia Marinucci, the architect for the project, told the commission. “What we think makes sense is residential along West 45th Street and new retail along Lorain Avenue.”

The developer plans to remove an existing curb cut on Lorain Avenue, to comply with the pedestrian retail overlay and make the area more pedestrian friendly. In addition to white boxing the retail space for a future tenant, he plans to add a retail patio along Lorain Avenue and landscaping that will help soften the space next to the adjacent Sunoco gas station.

The building has an interesting history, having been the site of the first motorized hearse used by a funeral home in Cleveland in 1906. Additionally, the property was renovated in 1926 to its current look. “The 1926 renovation gave us the French inspired façade that’s there currently,” said Marinucci. “The goal is to restore it.”

The Landmarks Commission unanimously approved the demolition of two rear additions to the property as well as a cinder block garage.

The property contains seven parcels, including what was once a 30-space parking lot on West 45th. Last year, when it went up for sale, a realtor’s salacious web copy tantalized buyers, “Now’s your chance to stake a claim on the Lorain Avenue corridor before it’s too late!”

It appears someone agreed, and that claim has been staked. Marinucci and the developer promised to return before the commission with additional plans for signage, once a retailer had been selected, as well as plans for future residential development.

To learn more about the Cleveland Landmarks Commission, view agendas here and its Youtube page here.

Lee Chilcote is a freelance writer and editor of The Land.

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