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Can Amazon deliver new life to Reynolds Road?

In a few months, what was the weed-strewn, broken concrete grave of the former Southwyck Shopping Center will be reborn with the opening of Amazon’s $25 million “Delivery Station.”  The 150,000-square-foot facility at 2040 S. Reynolds Rd. will bring new life, plus 410 jobs, to the 58-acre site that has sat vacant since 2008 when the dying mall closed and was torn down a year later.

But city of Toledo officials and business owners in the area are hoping for something more — some of that Amazon brand magic that will restore the Reynolds Road Corridor to the bustling thoroughfare it once was during Southwyck’s reign.  “One of the things I like about Amazon is it adds some sex appeal. This is a happening company,” said Jim Oedy, owner of the Genesis Village senior living community on Reynolds at Heatherdowns Boulevard.

“Right now, I think my family is keeping that company in business,” Mr. Oedy said jokingly. “But seriously, it’s a real vote of confidence in the area that they came here. I just think that’s a good sign.

“If they thought this area was going down the tubes, there’s no way they’d come in here and risk their investment,” Mr. Oedy added.

Brandon Sehlhorst, the city of Toledo’s Commissioner of Economic Development, said the one-story Amazon Delivery Station has yet to open, but already is generating new interest and activity along Reynolds Road after only being announced one year ago and completed in November.

“I think from an everyday citizen’s perspective, when they’re driving by the site they’re really going to start seeing a lot of activity in that area very soon,” Mr. Sehlhorst said.

Recently, the city sold property that was formerly a Ramada Inn to the Toledo Police Federal Credit Union, which intends to build a credit union on the site.

In August, Local 18, Operating Engineers union, finished building a new union hall and offices just south of the Amazon facility.

At the northern end of the Reynolds corridor at Airport Highway, the Urban Air trampoline indoor adventure park opened in December, Mr. Sehlhorst said. “That brings another attraction to that corridor and it is doing very well,” he added.

The economic development commissioner said Toledo and Maumee have been working together to create new signage near the Ohio Turnpike that would be more inviting to either city.

“We both had projects happening at the same time. So we decided to get together and have a brand gateway for both cities,” Mr. Sehlhorst said. “We’re hoping for more of a blurred line between the two areas,” he added.

Having grown up in the city’s south end, Mr. Sehlhorst has fond memories of Southwyck — browsing its shops and riding its grand carousel.

But seeing the site’s sea of weeds whenever his duties took him down Reynolds Road was a dagger that went straight to Mr. Selhorst’s heart.

“For me, it was personal just because of my attachment to that site,” he said. “Helping redevelop it was something I felt like I was meant to do.”

The revival effort began in 2017 when Mr. Sehlhorst, then the city’s manager of real estate, assisted with putting together a proposal for Amazon’s “HQ2” headquarters search. Toledo put together a proposal pitching the Southwyck site.

Mr. Sehlhorst acknowledged that the city knew it had no hope of landing Amazon’s headquarters, but offering the Southwyck site might get Toledo on Amazon’s radar. A 700,000-square-foot fulfillment center with 3,000 jobs eventually went to Rossford, But Southwyck so intrigued Amazon that it chose the site for the Delivery Station to complement the Rossford warehouse that opened last August.

The city sold the site to Amazon for $1 but believes it will get far more for its investment.

“Our hope is that by bringing this Amazon project to that site that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Mr. Sehlhorst said.

“I think anytime you put 400 new people into a location there’s going to be opportunities that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he added.

Sam Zyndorf, a commercial real estate agent and retail specialist with the Toledo office of Signature Associates, said he is not sure whether the Amazon facility can revive Reynolds Road entirely.

However, “It can’t hurt,” Mr. Zyndorf said. ”It’s not a mall, it’s not retail, but it can’t hurt. (Amazon) cleaned up a site that was terrible looking.”

As far as activity, a shopping center on Reynolds Road was sold recently. “The buyer bought it based on Amazon coming there. That was one of the major points of the sale,” Mr. Zyndorf said.

Mr. Zyndorf said he has not personally fielded any calls for people seeking properties on Reynolds Road based on the arrival of Amazon. But he and two partners own property on Reynolds that has been vacant for 21 years.

The group recently secured a tenant for the property and the arrival of Amazon played a part in the tenant’s decision, he added.

“I can’t compare it to a Walmart that has thousands of people going there a week,” Mr. Zyndorf said. “Granted, it’s just a warehouse but a warehouse with nice landscaping and design. It’s not as dreary driving down Reynolds Road as it has been the last 12 years.

“… It helps the area aesthetically and creates some activity. Will it be a big boost? Probably not. But I would think it can’t hurt,” Mr. Zyndorf said.

Duke Wheeler, a commercial real estate agent with the Reichle Klein Group of Toledo, agreed that there isn’t likely to be a specific increase in activity in the corridor.

“But what it will do is stabilize the area,” Mr. Wheeler said. “It’s not the eyesore that it once was. It’s brought employees and jobs to the area. They’ve built a beautiful structure there.”

Mr. Oedy knows all about stabilizing an area.

In 2013 when he officially opened Genesis Village in a former Holiday Inn complex at 2429 Reynolds, the area was destabilizing quickly with businesses closing and crime increasing. But now with 175 seniors living there, the area’s decline halted for the most part.

Mr. Oedy thinks Amazon’s importance to the city will draw more resources and services to Reynolds.

“Whenever something like this comes into an area, police, fire and other services — which have been good for us — gets even better,” he said.

“I think that is something that people don’t get when you look at just on the surface. They say, ‘Well, it’s another big hole covered up.’ But really, the whole dynamic is changed,” Mr. Oedy said.

“Basically, we see the momentum going in the right direction.”


Posted By: The Blade on April 4, 2021.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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