This small Ohio town is making waves with waterfront renovation and affordable real estate.

By Jacquelyne Froeber
July 26, 2007
This small Ohio town is making waves with waterfront renovation and affordable real estate.
Courtesy of Cedar Point

Ask Buckeyes where to go for fun and they'll likely send you toCedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Home to some of thetallest, fastest, most hair-raising roller-coasters in the world,the park offers visitors amazing views of Lake Erie―andallows thrill seekers to peer down onto one of the state's mosthistoric Great Lakes cities.

In quiet downtown Sandusky, shops line Columbus Avenue beneathAmerican flags hanging from vintage lampposts. On a typicalweekday, "traffic" may mean two drivers waving as they pull awayfrom Stillwaters Coffee Café. Although the city's populationdoubles in the summer (thanks to Cedar Point and an expansivemarina), a stable community of about 30,000 resides hereyear-round.

For a change of pace, residents travel an hour east forbig-league sports in Cleveland, or an hour west for Toledonightlife. "We are far enough away so people can live in a smalltown yet work in the city," says former city manager Mike Will. "Ithink we attract those who see our waterfront as aninvestment."

In the meantime, Mike asks that visitors pardon the dust.Downtown is currently undergoing "a much-needed revitalization,"says John Lippus, director of downtown development. Founded in1818, Sandusky became a leading shipping port for the Great Lakes,and a popular Victorian-era vacation destination. Visitors stillflock to the beach and amusement park, and, happily, the town isinvesting in its infrastructure.

Along the waterfront, Sandusky's rebirth can be seen in the newcondos and apartments that have replaced dilapidated industrialbuildings. Residents are in a prime position to enjoy the pavedBayfront Pedestrian Pathway, which, when completed, will span 12miles. A portion near Shoreline Park was a key corridor of theUnderground Railroad during the 19th century. Markers throughoutthe city identify the more than 100 structures listed on theNational Register of Historic Places.

On a crisp autumn afternoon in this Midwestern town, the waterripples softly under fallen orange and red leaves. As residentsrelax on a bench outside the New Sandusky Fish Company withpiping-hot orders of fish-and-chips, the prospect of another Ohiowinter seems easy to bear.

(published September 2007)