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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2001

Whimsy may have led to the name of the street where you live

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Jeff Wolens admits he may have driven his real estate agent a little crazy on his recent search for a house.

Of 50 listings he was handed, he rejected at least a third without even touring the house.

The reason? The street name.

Ones that particularly drew the ire of the new chief financial officer for Hinckle Manufacturing, Inc., in Perrysburg, were Gunckel Boulevard in West Toledo (“I know it's named after someone, but still ...”), Brainard Drive in Sylvania (“It has brain in it. I don't want anything with a body part in it.”) and Locust Street in Perrysburg (“I didn't want to think about locusts.”)

“The agent would say, `You haven't even seen the house yet,' and I'd say, `I don't want that to be my address,'” said Mr. Wolens, who grew up on West Main Street in Westerville, Ohio.

It's a quirky quandary shared by many buyers today as developers increasingly forgo numbers and such typical names as Main Street for residential streets in favor of grandchildren's names, nature, and whimsical themes.

Streets in the Lincoln Woods subdivision in Sylvania, for example, carry the names of famous Civil War and World War II battles.

In turn, to prevent confusion for police and fire departments, the county engineer's staff is working double time to make sure chosen names are not duplications.

“At one time, you could have a Summit Street in Toledo and in Holland and one in Sylvania,” said Ralph Williams,chief surveyor for the Lucas County engineer's office. “But now, we try not to let any duplications through whatsoever because it's just too confusing.”

“With some of the names that are coming up now, I'd say people have pretty good imaginations,” he said.

Said Jim McGowan, developer of upscale subdivisions such as Wildewoodoff Corey Road in Sylvania Township, “Many times, it's one of the toughest things to get by everyone in our family operation.

Streets in Wildewood include High Point, because the road is the high point of the subdivision, and Hill River, where yards slope toward the Ottawa River.

Doug Wamsher, who has developed projects in Sylvania and Sylvania Township, said he likes to pick a theme for a development and have the streets reflect it. That's why Twelve Lakes in the northwest corner of Sylvania Township, which has several man-made lakes, has streets called Blue Mirage Drive, Golden Pond Lane, and Country Lake Court.

“You search for names that hopefully fit and aren't too long,” he said. “I mean, when you hear Golden Pond Lane, it brings a little smile to someone's face and it reflects the flavor of the subdivision.”

Also favoring themes for each of his subdivisions is veteran builder Chuck Reynolds, of Reynolds Construction Co. in Toledo, who found inspiration in the history books when planning the Lincoln Woods subdivision in Sylvania 35 years ago. Associating Abraham Lincoln with the Civil War, Mr. Reynolds turned to that war's famous battles to name his streets - Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and Appomattox, among others.

Developers acknowledge that popular inspiration often comes from the names of children, wives, and grandchildren, although it's not that easy. Mr. Wamsher's daughter, Summer, is memorialized with Summer Drive, but son Brandon was morphed into Brandy Lane, and son Ryan got Rymoor and Spring Rye Court because his first name was already used as part of street names in Lucas County.

The six grandchildren of veteran local developer Richard Moses will be honored by the six streets in his latest subdivision, Brookestone, in Sylvania Township.

“Luckily, I have six streets and six grandchildren,” he laughed.

Mr. Moses is aided in his street-naming duties by Richard Rosenlund, land development manager for the civil engineering firm Feller Finch & Associates, Inc., in Maumee.

“I like something that nobody around here has ever [thought of],” he said. A recent trip to England yielded Hammersmith Circle in a new Moses-Schlachter development in the village of Holland, named for a small community in England.

And he chuckles over the stories people have come up with to explain Shooters Hill Road in the St. James Wood subdivision in Sylvania Township. Although it conjures up tales of a sinister crime, it's named for an English golf club, Mr. Rosenlund said.

Jim Loss,of Loss Realty Group in Toledo, estimates that at least 10 percent of home buyers he deals with show some concern over a potential address.

“I don't think they would seriously walk away from a deal because of the name, but you do get people who definitely notice a street's name,” he said.

Take one his most recent clients, Mr. Wolens, who moved to the Toledo area from Hawk's Nest Drive in Charlotte, N.C.

Favorites during his search for a home in the Toledo area included Garrison, Barrington, and Manchester, all of which he found to be strong names, but the winner is Beechway Boulevard in South Toledo.

“I think Beechway Boulevard sounds good together. My only fear is that people will think it's two words ... and they won't know how to spell Beech.”



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