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Colony development proposal on track for city council approval

Plans for a major development near ProMedica Toledo Hospital are on track for city council approval, despite the request of two councilmen and a dozen community members to delay Wednesday’s committee meeting on the project until it could be held in person.

ProMedica and Columbus-based developer Frank Kass, who founded Continental Real Estate Co., intend to build apartments, a hotel, and a mixed-use building at what was formerly home to the Colony neighborhood in West Toledo.

The $56.6 million project will feature two buildings for 262 apartments south of Central Avenue between ProMedica Parkway and Upton Avenue, and a mixed-use building at Central and ProMedica on 8.8 acres on the south side of Central.

The latter will house retail stores, a community center, and Toledo’s second Old Bag of Nails Pub restaurant.

The hotel with 120 rooms will take up 2.2 acres on the north side of Central and east of ProMedica.

Toledo City Council heard from Matt Lewandowski, the development engineer, and Robin Whitney, ProMedica’s chief of strategic planning, business development, and real estate, at its virtual zoning and planning committee meeting dedicated to discussing the project Wednesday afternoon.

A dozen residents signed a letter sent to council members from former Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Wednesday requesting the committee meeting be delayed until it could be held “face-to-face and eyeball-to-eyeball.” The residents are part of the Colony Neighborhood Coalition, which largely opposes the planned development.

“We will not participate in your undemocratic ‘Zoom’ meeting,” the letter states, referring to the video conferencing platform used by city council to conduct meetings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilman Tyrone Riley proposed the committee defer its meeting by one month and reassess whether a June meeting could be safely held in person.

“As a result of not everyone having a computer, not everyone can access Zoom,” Mr. Riley said. “By having it over Zoom, we really don’t get an opportunity to feel the passion, to feel the emotion that these residents, these taxpaying citizens have about their neighborhood.”

Council President Matt Cherry said he understands the resident’s concerns with the remote committee meeting, but he believes it is necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus and he is unsure when in-person meetings will resume.

He pointed out there have already been seven public, in-person meetings about the Colony development where residents have shared their concerns.

Nine of the 12 councilmen voted to move forward with the zoning and planning meeting Wednesday, which is a committee of the whole. Mr. Riley and Larry Sykes voted to defer the meeting, and Yvonne Harper abstained because she logged on late.

The residents’ concerns largely relate to the potential for increased traffic, the project’s building materials, the height of the buildings, and the fact that the new restaurant will serve alcohol. Mr. Riley said he needs to see those concerns addressed.

Mr. Lewandowski said the developer agreed to install a privacy fence and additional landscaping along Jermain Drive, to use LED lighting, and to conduct pre and post-construction foundation inspections at homes immediately adjacent to the site, as neighbors requested.

The developer will not find a new site for the development, nor will he reduce the apartment building heights from four stories down to two, he said.

ProMedica has agreed to include the neighborhood in its security patrols, which the group also requested.

City Council will vote on whether to approve the zoning requests to allow the project to move forward at its May 19 meeting. Should the developers receive the green light, they hope to start working in late fall or early spring, Mr. Lewandowski said. They had planned to begin work on the hotel in June, but funding has been held up because of the coronavirus.

Mr. Cherry said the project will provide much-needed economic development and jobs. ProMedica and Mr. Kass have agreed to use local labor and union trades for the project, with an emphasis on minority-owned contractors.

Councilman Nick Komives urged ProMedica to think creatively to partner with the neighborhood on projects or initiatives that could strengthen the whole corridor as the development moves forward.

“We don’t have to think about this being a detriment. This could be quite a positive for the neighborhood,” he said


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on May 13, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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