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Toledo officials hope to position former North Towne Square Mall for redevelopment

City officials are moving to reposition the former North Towne Square Mall property for redevelopment in their latest move to get vacant city-owned land back into productive use.

The North Toledo site has been vacant for 16 years, and 11 years ago the city took ownership of the former shopping mall so that it could obtain state and federal grants to help pay for needed demolition and environmental remediation. The city also was tasked with facilitating the mutual release of cross-access easements between the adjacent Super Fitness store property and the city-owned parcel, which were originally in place to allow patrons to access all parts of the mall despite the different property owners.

When the mall was demolished in 2013, the easements were never released, and the city hasn’t been able to reach an agreement on that until now.

The Kapszukiewicz administration on Tuesday proposed ordinances to city council in hopes their passage would be able to finally spur the site’s redevelopment.

One would authorize the city to sell 11.2 acres to Development 2002 LLC, which owns the property on which the Super Fitness now operates, at $10 an acre in exchange for the release of the cross-section easements. The city would then own 58 acres on the site and begin to market it for redevelopment.

Another ordinance before council would authorize tax-increment financing for the 58-acre property, which would take the increase in property taxes eventually created from future development there and use that money to pay for infrastructure repairs around the site.

“Despite the city’s inability to sell the property over the years, there has been a lot of interest from prospective companies,” Brandon Sehlhorst, the city’s commissioner of economic development, told council Tuesday. “Concerns over the poor condition of the public roadways around the site are raised in nearly every conversation with interested parties.”

The tax-increment financing would allow the city to offset the cost of improving those streets, Mr. Sehlhorst said.

He added the city has had success in recent years attracting business to Toledo by packaging and zoning available land with those projects in mind. He cited Amazon, Inc.’s development at the former Southwyck Shopping Center site in southwest Toledo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ proposed vehicle customization facility at the former Textileather and MedCorp properties in North Toledo as recent examples.

“The city is running out of sizable, pad-ready industrial sites to attract new job creation opportunities,” Mr. Sehlhorst said. “We have been very successful over the years attracting big projects to sites that we have proactively prepared for redevelopment.”

In other business Tuesday, Toledo City Council discussed modifying its water agreement with the neighboring city of Oregon and Toledo Refining Company, LLC so that it is similar to the city’s agreement with Clean Energy Future, LLC. That rate is 90 percent of the typical rate afforded to industrial customers.

Scott Hayes, health, safety, and environmental manager for Toledo Refining, said a downturn in oil processing in the United States during the pandemic has caused great financial concern for the company.

“We’re the No. 1 producer of jet fuel to Detroit Metro Airport, and the reduction in business travel has been very tough. There have been eight refineries that have closed so far in the United States this year,” he told council members.

Toledo Refining was considering opening its own water plant to cut costs, but instead the company and city officials reached an agreement to reduce the standard industrial rate by 10 percent. The company’s water contract will bring in about $3.5 million in revenue to the city, according to the legislation.

“Because we’re the No. 1 consumer of water in the city of Toledo — there’s not a second behind us that’s even close — we deserve a better rate,” Mr. Hayes said. “I’ve been bugging the city administration about this for years, and now it’s come to a point where we really have to look at every cost control.”

Council is set to vote on both the water proposal and the North Towne Square matter during its 4 p.m. meeting Feb. 16.


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on February 9, 2021.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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