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Landmark real estate deal reaches conclusion

Posted By: The Blade on October 14, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

Decades after the city of Toledo tried to attract investment for a new Jeep plant by buying parcels of land south of the Ohio Turnpike to Fallen Timbers, the property has been developed, rezoned, and sold to invested businesses.

Officials talked about the development during driving a tour of the area around U.S. 24 and I-475 this month. The land deal dated back to 1986.

“The city has no property left there. It’s kind of a milestone,” said Andy Ferrara, a real estate manager at Miller Diversified Inc. From 1995 to 2015, he served as an economic development specialist for Toledo and helped sell its property in Monclova Township.

Property bought by the city of Toledo boxed in Maumee, and fired off extensive litigation going all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court with Toledo eventually dropping its annexation plans.

The three government entities, Toledo, Monclova, and Maumee, resolved their conflict by forming a joint economic development zone where all communities benefited from the tax money.

“But I have to say, it was without a doubt one of the most controversial and challenging real estate transactions that I’ve ever participated in,” said Brian McMahon, owner/broker of Danberry National Ltd.

Land was collected in secret under a title name to keep costs low, as the city of Toledo tried to attract the then-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca to a new location. Toledo’s mayor at that time, Donna Owens, worked with Mr. McMahon to purchase 1,200 acres, and Ms. Owens presented the plan to Mr. Iacocca who would pass on that spot for the Jeep plant.

“When the city finally found another site for the Jeep plant, the decision was ‘OK, let’s find people who can create economic development on this land,’” Mr. McMahon said.

Earlier this month, Mr. McMahon, Ms. Owens, and Zac Isaac, the president of the Isaac Property Co., gave an hour-long tour of the businesses and neighborhoods that have expanded into these once undeveloped areas.

“When I was elected to city council, Toledo looked like a bombed-out city,” Ms. Owens said. “I mean there was nothing.”

Directed by her vision, Ms. Owens said, “I need more to help the community,” and was not willing to take anything less than being mayor after her city council position. “My vision was economic development.”

Since then, Arrowhead Park has blossomed with 37 companies involved in its grouping, and The Andersons, Dana Corp., and Spartan Chemical have put down their roots more formally, staking their companies in more permanent locations instead of rented areas.

“Had not the city controlled all this land, it probably would have gone separately to a number of developers, none of which would have necessarily worked together in a cohesive way, which is what’s happening out here,” Mr. McMahon said.

“You’ve got some pretty substantial companies that have just basically endorsed Donna’s vision, even though it wasn’t Jeep,” he said.

Ms. Owens served as Toledo mayor from 1983-1989. She first was elected to city council in 1979.

Looking out across the expansive flatness along the highways, it may not seem like development is happening, but in Monclova Township the change has already been formalized.

Investors such as Rolled Alloys, a metal supplier from Monroe, is coming to the area, as well as Yarder Manufacturing, a Toledo sheet metal manufacturer. Yarder Manufacturing has bought up the last large parcel, 80 acres of land, that was part of the initial 1,200 acres in Monclova, at 6232 Monclova Rd.

“Right now, there’s a lot of dominoes that still have to happen for us to figure out exactly what we’re gonna do with the land,” Matt Yarder, the executive vice president of Yarder Manufacturing, said, calling it a “land acquisition investment opportunity.”

But Mr. Yarder did mention the company his great-grandfather started back in 1927 had no intentions of leaving Toledo, but has wanted to expand to create more jobs for hard-working individuals.

“Basically, we’re at 50,000 square feet now,” and Mr. Yarder, noting this will accommodate for up to five times the space they currently occupy.

What the company will actually do with the land is still in development, and Mr. Yarder said the company would have a better idea of its use come springtime.

The location next to the highways, the availability of the infrastructure, and the development of neighborhoods such as Monclova Waterside have made the once controversial land deal a formidable area of growth and investment. The governments are working together in the joint economic development zone.

“It was without a doubt one of the most exciting things I’ve worked on in my career,” Mr. McMahon said.

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