Loren Naji Art Gallery failed to comply with Law

Submitted by JohnDoe on Mon, 06/09/2014 - 08:52.

 W. 25th Street Gallery given ample time to comply with law prior to liquor inspection

 

by Henry Senyak
(Plain Press, June 2014) In the past few weeks you may have read in the Plain Dealer and Cleveland Scene articles and opinions regarding a liquor inspection by State of Ohio Department of Public Safety agents at the Loren Naji Gallery. The Gallery is a located at 2138 West 25th Street. Some stories were balanced some were not and failed at the core to explain how many attempts by City of Cleveland police officers, and building inspectors occurred to inform the owner of his non-compliance. Most stories seem to paint the gallery owner as a victim of over zealous enforcement by city and state officials.
Another perspective on the request for team inspections for the building located at 2138 West 25th Street is that of citizens, police and city officials who have attempted to gain the gallery’s compliance to city and state ordinances.  Concerned residents in the Ohio City Community contacted me in 2013 on issues concerning the Loren Naji Gallery stemming from the Brite Winter Festival. This was a community event that has been held in Ohio City since 2012. These residents also contacted then Commander Keith Sulzer of the Second District Cleveland Police. (A team inspection is when the City and State coordinate resources with different departments to inspect a premise for compliance of local codified ordinances and Ohio Revised Code.)
COMMENTARY
Commander Sulzer on March 12th, 2013 sent an email to Ohio City Inc. and copied Councilman Joe Cimperman over issues at the Loren Naji Gallery. I was sent a copy because some of the residents have contacted me too.
Here is Commander Sulzer’s email to Ohio City Inc:
ALL,
I RECEIVED SOME COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIS LOCATION FROM OHIO CITY RESIDENTS AND SOUTH OF LORAIN BLOCK CLUB MEMBERS.  APPARENTLY THIS STUDIO IS HAVING CONCERTS, EVENTS, WITH ALCOHOL.  I DON’T REMEMBER SIGNING OFF ON ANY PERMITS FOR ALCOHOL.  THE COMPLAINTS ARE THAT THERE MAY BE A COVER CHARGE, ALCOHOL BEING SERVED, OVERCROWDING, OPEN CONTAINER, IMPROPER PERMITS, ZONING VIOLATIONS, ETC.  REPORTEDLY, AFTER OR DURING THE BRITE WINTER FEST, PATRONS OF THIS STUDIO WERE DRINKING IN THE VOSS PARKING LOT.  CAN YOU SET UP A MEETING WITH THESE PEOPLE, OR AT LEAST GIVE ME SOME INSIGHT ON WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
THANKS, KEITH.
This email was the start. According to Loren Naji’s Facebook pages he had opened the building as a public gallery in 2011. Since the March 12th 2013 email, the former Second District Commander, his Vice Detectives, and officers, either have visited and/or contacted Loren Naji at least six times or warned him what he was doing was not legal. Former Commander Sulzer had warned him personally that he could not have all these people inside the building and block fire exits. Naji has made handbills promoting his live entertainment. This is what nightclubs do to get business.
Loren Naji has given interviews that he did not know anything about needing a temporary liquor permit. But public records attained from the State shown that Naji had signed a permit tenantcy application for the local non-profit Land Studio for the premise at 2138 West 25th. This was for 2013 Brite Winter Festival.

 

Commander Sulzer sent one of his officers to speak with Loren Naji the week prior to the 2014 Brite Winter Festival. Naji told the officer that he attained the proper 2014 temporary permit, just like last year. Naji showed the document to the officer, the officer did not bother to look at the dates. Naji showed the officer the expired permit for 2013. Public records show that no temporary permit was requested or issued for the address in 2014.
More of the same issues of overcrowding and other complaints came out of the Brite Festival and 2138 West 25th this year. So I sent emails to City and State officials requesting team inspections. The City of Cleveland Building and Housing (B&H) took immediate action. My emails showed evidence, and copied and linked to web pages and Facebook accounts. B&H Inspectors tried to gain access on March 5th 2014. Records show B&H issued a violation for illegal use on March 6th. On two separate occasions the B&H Department had tried to gain access without cooperation and then on April 21st sent a prosecution packet submitted to the Cleveland Law Department. Naji is now scheduled to appear in Housing Court on June 3rd 2014 regarding the illegal use charges. (2138 West 25th does not have a legal use as a gallery or entertainment venue).
Here are some Facebook – Social Media Excerpts on May 2nd or prior:
Bob Peck(Graffiti Tagger that was the artist appearing at the gallery the night of the inspection): “There will be live music, drinks and snacks. (And of course, our art.) There is no cover/door charge or anything like that but donations are appreciated for drinks”.

”
If you’ve never been to a gallery opening, don’t let it scare ya’. It’s like a party with some sweet ass art on the walls. “
Loren Naji (Property owner of record for 2138 West 25th Street): “It’s FREE! But we greatly appreciate a $2 donation.”
“ I’m being loose with my vocab here. It’s actually just a beer pit.”
Dave Segrue “That’s the coolest Beer Pit I’ve ever seen–better selection than World of Beer!!”
Now comes May 2nd 2014, Councilman Joe Cimperman sent a text to me that he contacted Cleveland Police Department (CPD), and later called me that day to say he spoken with the Law Department and CPD Vice. CPD Vice arrives at the gallery and issues another stern warning. The State agents then arrive and issue a cease and desist order, and further charges in a summons at a later date. Councilman Cimperman was well aware of issues since March 2013, so was Ohio City Incorporated (OCI).
FULL STORY here http://plainpress.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/w-25th-street-gallery-given-ample-time-to-comply-with-law-prior-to-liquor-inspection/
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