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Here’s what to know about seven downtown Toledo redevelopment projects

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on September 7, 2022.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.


Toledo leaders say they hope redeveloping two of downtown’s largest and oldest buildings, the Spitzer and Nicholas, will spur additional investment in the area.

Much of downtown could use such a jolt: Despite the revitalization of the Warehouse District surrounding Fifth Third Field, numerous buildings farther north still have high vacancy rates or stand altogether empty.

Yet, there are a handful of promising downtown projects moving forward. Several others appear to be in a holding pattern for now, but might get back on track soon.

As for the Lucas County Land Bank-owned Spitzer and Nicholas — located at the intersection of Madison Avenue and Huron Street — plans call for attracting one or two developers in the coming months who want to transform the office buildings into housing, shopping, and other uses. Officials say it will likely require public and private funds to pull it off.

Here’s a look at where seven other prominent downtown projects stand:

Nasby Building, 605 Madison Ave.

The Spitzer and Nicholas buildings occupy two sides of Four Corners — the only downtown intersection where all four original buildings remain. A third corner is occupied by the Huntington Bank building.

The fourth corner is the site of the abandoned Nasby Building, owned by developer Kevin Prater.

Mr. Prater purchased the deteriorating structure five years ago from the city for $10. Plans called for turning it into a mixed-use development with commercial, residential, and office space.

Work hasn’t begun, and Mr. Prater said last week he had no update on the project’s timeline or specific plans.

He said the former TARTA bus station next door, which his company also owns, will be torn down by the end of this year. Demolishing it will create space for eventual construction activities on Nasby, he said, and also help improve downtown from a blight-removal perspective.

Former KeyBank branch, 245 N. Superior St.

Just east of Four Corners and behind the Huntington Center is a former KeyBank branch, more than a century old. The empty 11,000 square-foot building features massive concrete columns out front and intricate oak paneling and marble floors inside.

The Toledo Mud Hens bought the building for $430,000 in 2015 not long after the bank moved out. It announced plans to convert the facility into an intimate entertainment venue that would complement the Huntington Center and Valentine Theatre — possibly hosting small acts such as jazz musicians or comedians.

But that plan hasn’t panned out. For now, the building appears to be used for storage, with rows of boxes stacked inside.

Joe Napoli, the Mud Hens’ president and chief executive, said last week his organization is “strongly encouraged” by the nearby Four Corners development plans. While the Mud Hens have met with “many interested groups” regarding the building, he said, it had nothing new to report on its redevelopment progress.

Pythian Castle, 801 Jefferson Ave.

Just west of Four Corners is a structure called the Pythian Castle, attached to a former Greyhound bus station. Developer Dave Ball rebuilt the interior of the building in recent years after the roof collapsed and knocked out the floors below.

Now that the structure is stabilized, Mr. Ball said last week, he’s been chipping away at smaller projects on the interior and exterior: installing a fire escape, restoring an original stairway, and bringing back some of the historical exterior’s original flourishes using custom-made fiberglass pieces.

“It’s painstaking, but we want the building to look original,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ball said work is expected to start on the adjacent former Greyhound station in the next week or so, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and North Michigan Street. That building will get an overhauled brick exterior and new windows.

The city’s engineering department originally planned to move into the old bus station, but Mr. Ball said that deal is off.

He said there has been preliminary tenant interest in the Pythian Castle. But, to make it more attractive, he said the Greyhound project’s exterior must be spruced up. As it stands now, the structure features boarded-up windows and is surrounded by a chain link fence.

Universal Bindery building, 126 N. Ontario St.

Mr. Ball’s company Pithian 1 LLC recently paid $500,000 for a large building across Ontario Street from the Pythian Castle — the former Universal Bindery stationery manufacturing building.

He said he hopes to turn the four-story brick structure — which also includes an adjacent garage — into apartments and commercial spaces.

The Lofts on Jefferson, 715 Jefferson Ave.

Near the Pythian Castle and former Universal Bindery building is an apartment project called The Lofts on Jefferson, expected to open to tenants in less than two months.

Developer Perry Teplitsky said the final interior finishing touches for the 18-unit building are underway, and the last big project is installing an elevator. The company Mr. Teplitsky runs with Robert Killworthy, Talon Renovations LLC, bought the five-story building in 2019 for $550,000. Known as the Ontario Building, it was built in 1892 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

All units have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, Mr. Teplitsky said, and range in size from 1,300 to 2,000 square feet. Rents range from $1,825 to $3,400, he said. The first floor has been leased to a fitness center, GameFit, that will be open to tenants and the public.

The business partners previously developed another nearby building into apartments, The Lofts on Adams, which Mr. Teplitsky said is fully leased.

“People want to move downtown,” he said, adding that if a grocery store moved downtown it would help speed up the revitalization process.

Overmyer Lofts, 15 S. Ontario St.

Two blocks south of the Pythian Castle on Ontario Street is the former Commerce Paper Co. building. The century-old structure, next to the upscale Bartley Lofts, has long been abandoned.

Mr. Prater’s company bought the building for $1.6 million in 2018 from a Peruvian developer who had also hoped to turn it into apartments, property records show. He said this week he plans to turn it into 75 studio and one-bedroom apartments averaging about 1,000 square feet.

The state awarded a $4.1 million historic tax credit for the more than $37 million project late last year, and Mr. Prater said he continues to line up financing. He said he recently received a building permit, and hopes to complete the apartments by December, 2023.

Barber Farris Produce Warehouse, 144 S. Huron St.

Another downtown project recently awarded more than $800,000 in historic tax credits is the former produce warehouse at the corner of Huron Street and Market Street — near the Toledo Farmers’ Market.

According to a state description included with the tax credit award, the $8.3 million project plan is to turn the building into eight apartments with space for five commercial tenants on the ground floor, including a bar, restaurant, retail space, and offices.

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