Building sale downtown seen as catalyst to Four Corners revival
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One of three vacant downtown office buildings seized from an out-of-town and inactive property owner is set to be sold by the Lucas County Land Bank to a local internet business that plans to put it back into use.
The sale marks the start of a hoped-for comeback of the Four Corners hub in Toledo’s central business district — so labeled because Madison Avenue and Huron Street is the only downtown intersection with legacy buildings on every corner.
The former Port Lawrence building at 616 Madison — a half-block away from the corner — is under contract with CNWR, Inc., a Toledo information technology consulting firm, according to David Mann, president and CEO of the Lucas County Land Bank.
Mr. Mann said the tentative price of $216,000 is conditioned on the new owners’ completion of renovations. That work, expected to cost up to $300,000, will include a new roof, interior renovations, and a new sprinkler system in the basement.
The building, which has not been occupied in the last several years, needs new storefront plate glass to replace windows shattered during a riot following a protest last May in response to the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
CNWR, which has 13 employees, is now leasing space at 1301 Summit St., above Toledo Spirits, a distillery and bar.
Jason Slagle, vice president for operations of CNWR, said the building is what his company has sought in downtown Toledo for about two years. He hopes its 13 employees can move in to renovated space by July.
“We plan to renovate the building as soon as we close, which should be in a couple of weeks,” Mr. Slagle said.
“I really like it,” he continued. “We love the location. We love the building and how it’s laid out. We think the downtown is coming back, it’s where people need to be. It works for our uses.”
He applauded the land bank for seeking an owner-occupant of the building, rather than a developer who might never get around to restoring it into use.
Noting that three other buildings at or near Huron and Madison are empty, “maybe we can be the start of those coming back,” he said. “Somebody’s got to be the first one.”
The move will provide the company with a spacious 5,400 square feet on the second floor to house its headquarters, much more than double the 2,000 square feet in its current Summit Street location. CNWR expects to lease the first floor to a retailer or an office.
City officials hope CNWR’s arrival will herald the rebirth of what many regard as the center of Toledo’s central business district.
“The hope is that as we as a community put together a plan to see productive reuse of the buildings at the four corners, that revitalization of the building adjacent helps make that case for the redevelopment,” said Sandy Spang, city commissioner of business services.
“It’s a great story that we’re seeing two things come together: the growth of a local tech company and the revitalization of a building,” she said.
Though its appearance is modern, the two-story building dates to 1905. The Land Bank acquired it in August along with the Spitzer building and the Fifth Third Center, often called the Nicholas Building, which sit opposite each other on Huron at Madison.
Madison and Huron is also home to the Huntington Bank building, which is occupied, and the long-vacant Nasby Building, sometimes called the Madison Building, which belongs to the city of Toledo.
Ergur Private Equity Group, run by California resident Koray Ergur, acquired the Nicholas Building in 2008, the Spitzer Building in 2009, and the Port Lawrence Building in 2015. They were vacant and in various states of disrepair.
The Land Bank in 2019 sued Ergur Private Equity Group to collect more than $450,000 of unpaid debts associated with the properties. In early 2020, the Lucas County treasurer’s office also filed lawsuits for unpaid property taxes totaling nearly $90,000.
Land bank officials said at the time they would partner with the city of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the downtown development corporation ConnecToledo to manage and stabilize the properties and then market them for redevelopment.
Posted By: The Toledo Blade on March 15, 2021. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
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