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City considers new plan for former Southwyck Shopping Center site

After five years of trying, the city of Toledo has given up on the idea that the former Southwyck Shopping Center site on Reynolds Road might one day return to being a retail mecca.

The Toledo Plan Commission on Thursday will consider a request by the city to change the zoning of the 58.5 acre site — now just a wide-open space — from that of a commercial shopping center (CR-SO) to one restricted to limited industrial use (IL).

Limited, or “light industrial,” could be interpreted many ways, but city officials believe there is great potential in marketing the site to companies that might want it for wholesale, storage, and distribution.

Since acquiring the site in 2014 for $3.25 million, the city has attempted to market it as a possible site for retail, housing, commercial space, or any combination of the three.

But other than one undisclosed potential buyer in 2016, the site at Reynolds and Southwyck Boulevard has received little interest.

After offering the Southwyck acreage as a location for Amazon.com during the online retailer’s 2017 nationwide search for a second headquarters, city officials began to rethink the former shopping center’s potential uses.

“Retail is changing across the nation. The space that the former [Southwyck] retail operation was using is better suited to the growth areas of Toledo industry,” said Amy Sackman Odum, director of neighborhood and business development for the city of Toledo.

“By being able to reclassify that, it would place it in use by some of our stronger sectors — logistics, analytics, advanced manufacturing, and automotive-related uses,” Ms. Odum said.

“We continue to look at land in Toledo. It’s one of our greatest assets, and as land becomes available, we want to make sure it’s available for it’s best and highest use.”

Ms. Odum added that the zoning change is a wise move supported by both the city council and Toledo community.

Currently, there is high demand nationwide for so-called fulfillment centers that store goods until they are purchased by online shoppers and sent out either directly to a buyer’s home or to a brick-and-mortar store for customer pickup.

For example, home improvement retailer Home Depot has a wide selection of tools on its website, but not all are available in-store. Instead, those not in the store are kept at the retailer’s huge distribution warehouse in nearby Troy Township and can be delivered to an area store within a day of being ordered online.

The Southwyck site is less than five minutes from the Ohio Turnpike and just 10 minutes from I-475.

“The transportation amenities, the transportation infrastructure in that area which people thought was only attractive to retail is very attractive for a distribution center,” Ms. Odum said. “ … There’s a variety of different people interested in this community site.”

The plan commission staff has recommended the zoning change be approved.

Southwyck opened in 1972 and was an 878,000-square-foot mall with three department store anchors at one time. It began to decline in the 2000s and finally closed in 2008 after 36 years in business. It was demolished in 2009 and the site cleared.

Commercial real estate agent Pete Shawaker, a retail expert at Toledo commercial real estate firm Reichle Klein Group, said the city’s move is probably for the best.

“Land can take a long time to get to the proper use, but it’s not just time that’s driving this decision but rather the retailers themselves. They have all said, ‘We don’t want to be there. We want to be on Airport Highway west of U.S. 23 or down in Perrysburg,’ ” Mr. Shawaker said.

Also, populations have shifted to Sylvania, Perrysburg, Waterville, Whitehouse, and Bedford Township since Southwyck’s heyday. Too many people who once drove past Southwyck on Reynolds Road now zip around the city on I-475, Mr. Shawaker said.

“It’s become a no-man’s-land,” he said. “So I agree that light industrial makes a lot of sense now and their selling point is that they’re five minutes from the turnpike.”

 

Posted By: The Blade on June 12, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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