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County seeks $10 million federal grant to renovate SeaGate Convention Centre

The Lucas County Commissioners took a small step Tuesday toward a much larger plan to make the downtown SeaGate Convention Centre more attractive by agreeing to submit an application for a $10 million federal grant.

Should the county be approved for the Economic Development Administration grant, which would come under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it would be used to pay for a new 1,000-seat ballroom in the convention center and the relocation of the entrance to its underground parking garage.

But those improvements are secondary to a $64.5 million plan, which the commissioners confirmed on Monday, to bolster the number of hotel rooms serving the convention center by redeveloping the 15-story Park Inn at Summit and Monroe Streets.

That project also would include tearing down the decayed shell that is the former Hotel Seagate, which also is on Summit and adjacent to both the Park Inn and the convention center.

During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, which was held via Facebook, the commissioners voted 3-0 to submit the grant application which would greatly offset the cost of the ballroom and moving the garage entrance from Summit to Monroe.

“It’s one of the larger grants we’ve ever applied for a single project,” Commissioner Pete Gerken said. “It’s a big ask.”

But he added that the commissioners’ staff was hopeful and the application has the support of both U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as other elected officials.

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the commissioners, said both the hotel project and the improvements to the convention center were “great opportunities” to bolster the number of visitors to Toledo and improve on its $1.3 billion tourist industry.

The commissioners also unanimously approved the appointment of County Administrator Megan Vahey Casiere as the county’s interim economic development director, a post she will fill while a search for a new director is conducted.

Ms. Skeldon Wozniak, Mr. Gerken, and Commissioner Gary Byers took no further action Tuesday on the hotel project. Further action on the project now is expected to take place piecemeal as parts of the project, including the demolition of Hotel Seagate, come up.

The commissioners also took no action on a new public-private partnership that will be made up of the commissioners’ office, developer Continental Real Estate Co. and hotel operator First Hospitality Group.

Technically, the commissioners will provide funds to its Lucas County Economic Development Corp., which will be the party that will officially join with Continental and First Hospitality to redevelop and own the hotel.

The three parties plan to spend $64.5 million over the next 20 months converting the 33-year-old Park Inn into a pair of hotels, a Hilton Garden Inn and a Hilton Homewood Suites, with 309 total rooms and a 120-seat restaurant that will complement the attached SeaGate Convention Centre.

The commissioners will contribute $35 million to the project, Continental and First Hospitality will contribute about $20 million, and $9.3 million will come from a loan from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

Demolition of the 19-story Hotel Seagate, which was saved from the wrecking ball in 2014, will commence this fall and the area will become part of a pocket park in front of the entrance of the new Hilton.

In 2018 the commissioners originally planned to rescue the Hotel Seagate and redevelop it into a 220-room dual hotel structure. But as the project proceeded, the hotel was found to have significant structural flaws that would have required spending more than the $60 million the county had allotted to redevelop it.

Joining Continental in its bid to redevelop the Park Inn will now save Lucas County nearly $30 million via the public-private partnership. However, the Park Inn will not be ready until the spring of 2022, whereas plans were to have the Hotel Seagate ready by next summer.

The delay means a newly-renovated downtown hotel will not be available for the Solheim Cup golf tournament that, as of now, is set to be held in Toledo at the Inverness Country Club in August, 2021.

The tournament pits the best women golfers in the U.S. against those from Europe but the commissioners are now hoping that Solheim officials will delay the event until 2022.


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on July 14, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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