Laketran CEO discusses headquarters expansion at zoning commission meeting

Feb. 21—Laketran CEO Ben Capelle recently presented plans for the transit agency's upcoming headquarters expansion to the Painesville Township Zoning Commission, with commission members unanimously approving the expansion's site plan review.

Capelle said that the current headquarters dates from 1989-1990 and "hasn't seen any substantial upgrades since then." He said that the approximately $20 million expansion will provide additional space for offices and vehicles, while also allowing the agency to "renovate and replace a lot of the mechanical systems that we haven't touched that are 30 years old and inefficient."

He noted that the new space will be added to the back of the existing headquarters and into a portion of the parking lot in front of the building.

According to Zoning Commission Chairman Ted Galuschik, the project will add around 37,670 square feet of space to the existing 162,000-square-foot headquarters.

When asked about a tree planting plan, Capelle noted that "most of the trees that are on site are being retained," adding that the expansion will primarily impact a parking lot and gravel pathway.

He also explained that Laketran is adding landscaping to the property, saying, "we have homes on multiple sides of us, so we wanted to make sure we maintain a good image and good barrier between those homes with appropriate landscaping, and make sure we maintain a high-quality environment just for anybody that uses us or lives nearby."

According to Capelle, the transit agency has "tried to stay up to date over time with technology" and will add "incremental changes" to the headquarters. These include improvements to the camera system and expansion of the gas detection system.

"The other thing we really took a hard look at is, because we serve so many people with disabilities, we kind of overengineered the building from an accessibility perspective," he added, noting that the transit agency instructed the architects to use wheelchairs, walkers and crutches in the building.

"We've taken a lot of extra steps, particularly from an accessibility point of view, to make sure that anyone who interacts with us has the best experience possible," Capelle said.

As was reported at the time, Laketran received a $14,681,981 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration in March 2022 for its headquarters expansion.

Laketran Board of Trustees President Brian Falkowski indicated in December that the agency planned to start work in the spring.

Laketran's headquarters is located at 555 Lakeshore Blvd.