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The Suburbanite
  • Gervasi looks to expand, eyes Green

  • Gervasi Vineyard, a Plain Township-based winery is eyeing Green's Belden Lodge and its 8.71 acres of property for expansion.

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  • There may be new life for the Belden Lodge located in Southgate Park.
    Gervasi Vineyard, a Plain Township-based winery is eyeing the lodge and its 8.71 acres of property for expansion.
    “We are looking to have a family-oriented restaurant that also offers an event center and winery with an Italian themed menu,” Gervasi owner Theodore Swaldo said. “The Massillon Road corridor is growing rapidly and it is a great for us to locate in Green close to Jackson Township.”
    A private residence prior to the city’s purchasing it in 2006 along with Southgate Park, the Belden Lodge has been unavailable for public use due to the cost of maintaining compliance with ADA and fire codes. It is estimated it would cost Green close to $1 million dollars to renovate the property and it costs the city $12,000 annually to maintain the property.
    In the fall of 2011, Green placed the property on the market knowing there was great potential for the property.
    “We’ve had much interest in the property by a number of potential businesses,” said Green Mayor Dick Norton. “The picturesque location of the Belden Lodge certainly makes it a great property for a winery and restaurant. We are extremely excited to have a Gervasi operation coming to Green.”
    Previously, Table for Life LLC, owned by restaurateur Kent Welsh, targeted the building and property for a restaurant, but plans fell through in March when investors backed out after determining the cost to renovate the facility surpassed their original estimates.
    Swaldo understands the amount of work and capital investment it will take to get the lodge and property up to speed. According to the winery owner, one of his biggest challenges is clearing a 1,000-foot road to access the business. Swaldo believes the existing lodge building is in decent condition and won’t need major renovations.  
    Several hurdles have to be cleared before the project moves forward. Council must approve the plans, a zoning change must take place and a liquor license must be obtained.
    Swaldo hopes to complete the paperwork and obtain required licenses within the next four months; He hopes to see the lodge opening one year after that.   
    Gervasi Vineyard got its start in an old barn more than three years ago. Today, the winery has 14 buildings on a 55-acre property in Canton that serves as bistro and villas for overnight stays.