City plans to market former Champion Spark Plug site for new development
Toledo is poised to acquire the rest of the former Champion Spark Plug property so it can market the vacant factory site for redevelopment.
It’s the latest endeavor by the city’s economic development department to take control of blighted, long-vacant commercial or industrial sites and return them to productive use.
Toledo City Council on Tuesday heard a proposal from the Kapszukiewicz administration to buy an 8.5-acre parcel, the old factory site’s northern portion, from its current owner Mark Fayson for $10. The city acquired the southern portion in 2015.
In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent $1.8 million, at the city’s urging, to rid the entire site of environmental contaminants and clean up remaining buildings that had been partially demolished there in 2012.
Now, officials want to package the roughly 20 acres, including two parking lots, together and find a developer willing to breathe new life into what was once an iconic part of Toledo’s central-city industry. Champion’s plant opened in 1912 and closed permanently in 1989.
“For such a long time, Champion Spark Plug was a staple in our community, and when they closed the factory, a lot of jobs moved,” said Councilman John Hobbs III, who represents District 1 and grew up not far from the plant site. “It’s going to present an opportunity for development of that property once again.”
Brandon Sehlhorst, the city’s commissioner of economic development, said it’s a relatively small parcel, but it likely will be a desired site now that it’s clear of environmental contaminants because of its distinguishing position next to a railroad. He noted that’s what motivated Brenntag North America, a German chemical company, to select a nearby site on Campbell Street to be home to its new northwest Ohio branch.
“Our intention is to bring on a commercial real-estate broker, let the world know this is a potential opportunity, and then test the market and see what the market thinks should be on that site,” Mr. Sehlhorst said. “Once we get a proposal, we’d evaluate it based on what makes sense for the neighborhood.”
Gathering neighborhood input about what ultimately moves into the site is a key to a successful project there, Mr. Hobbs said. He said the city and developers should think creatively about the property.
Mr. Hobbs said he believes it could be used as a community center for youth, senior apartments, or a grocery store, something much needed in the area — although none of those specific uses would likely benefit from being next to the railroad.
Whatever it becomes, he is confident it will spur more investment in the bordering neighborhoods and improve quality of life for the residents.
“The failure would be if we decide on something the community doesn’t want,” Mr. Hobbs said.
At-large Councilman Rob Ludeman said he supports the city’s efforts to package and market the site, just as it did with the former Southwyck Shopping Center property and the former Textileather and MedCorp properties. Without the city’s involvement and push for remediation, he said, the old Champion Spark Plug factory would continue to be an eyesore.
“It’s just been sitting there for forever,” he said.
Toledo City Council is set to vote on the sale at its virtual 4 p.m. meeting next Tuesday (Jan. 19).
Posted By: The Toledo Blade on January 12, 2021. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
To receive the In The Know from Signature Associates, please click here to be added to our mailing list.
« Back to Insights