Variety Theater 

The iconic Variety Theater Complex on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland’s Westown neighborhood will see a dramatic historic renovation, made possible in part by a pivotal $300,000 predevelopment from Cleveland Development Advisors. The project envisions a reinvigorated live music venue, five dynamic storefronts tailored for local and minority-owned businesses, and the creation of 12 much-needed affordable apartment units within the neighborhood.

For nearly two decades, the vacant Variety Theater complex has stood as a focal point for community development initiatives, and is the central component in the Westown CDC and Ward 11 Lorain Theater District Strategic Plan. The Westown CDC formed the nonprofit Friends of the Historic Variety Theater (FHVT), which took over the property in 2009. To attract developers, a streetscape revitalization project on Lorain Avenue was completed adding public art, landscaping and a 100-space parking lot. Public funding sources also facilitated the restoration and installation of the theater’s iconic marquee.

Despite steadfast efforts and considerable public investment, the complex languished without additional progress. In 2019, the property was listed for sale, initiating an RFP process to entice potential developers. Regrettably, by 2021, the deadline had elapsed, yielding no compelling proposals.

Kelly Flamos acquired the property in May 2022. For 10 years, Flamos co-owned and opened Mahall’s in Lakewood, transforming the old bowling alley into a nationally recognized entertainment venue, bar and restaurant.

The historic renovation and adaptive reuse development plan of Variety Theater includes:

  • • Renovation of the 20,675 SQF auditorium into a state-of-the-art performing arts venue and event space, focusing primarily on live music, performing arts (dance, comedy, theater), and private events (weddings, conferences, and community events).
    • Five retail storefronts (6,000 SQF) targeting minority, female and nonprofit organizations.
    • 12 affordable studio apartment units.

CDA believes Kelly Flamos’ ambitious vision promises to reawaken the Variety Theater Complex within not only its physical space, but also adding vibrancy to the community.


Emerging Developer

The investment supports an emerging local female developer

Neighborhood Revitalization

The project is the central component of the Lorain Theater District Strategic Plan. The property had been a focus of development efforts for almost 20 years

Historic Preservation

The Project will preserve the Variety Theater Complex, a historic asset and redevelop a blighted and vacant building.

Executed Community Benefits Agreement

The project sponsor has committed to quantifiable community impacts by executing a Community Benefits Agreement.

New owners setting the stage for a rebirth of venerable Variety Theatre

New life for Cleveland’s Variety Theatre: Former Mahall’s owner buys the historic building