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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 7/15/2014

COMMERCIAL CONTRACTOR

Lathrop plans move to downtown Toledo

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Lathrop Co., a commercial construction general contractor, said Monday that it will relocate its headquarters to downtown Toledo after 34 years in Maumee’s Arrowhead Park. The move will take place late this year or in early 2015.

The company, which is owned by New York-based Turner Construction Co., has about 50 salaried employees.

Lathrop is considering various downtown sites for its move but hopes to settle on one soon, said Tom Manahan, the company’s president.

The timing of Lathrop’s move will hinge on subleasing its current 20,000-square-foot building at 460 W. Dussel Drive. Lathrop’s lease does not expire until October, 2017.

Lathrop and The Andersons Inc. were the first tenants in Arrowhead when the office and industrial park opened in 1980. The Andersons recently announced it plans to relocate within the Toledo area but has given no indication where it might go.

Mr. Manahan said Lathrop’s first choice downtown would be the Central Business District but other options include the adjacent Warehouse District.

“We have done some initial investigations of locations downtown and that will continue. ... But we first wanted to make public our intention to move downtown,” Mr. Manahan said.

He said moving downtown puts Lathrop closer to some of the engineering and architectural firms with which it works. Also, as the construction economy rebounds there could be more business opportunities downtown, he said.

“Maumee has been a great place for us to be for the last 34 years … but it is critically important for our metro area as a whole to have a vibrant center,” Mr. Manahan said. “We sense momentum and we sense excitement with downtown Toledo. We want to be part of that.”

As a vice president with Turner Construction, Mr. Manahan oversees its Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati offices — all of which are in downtown areas. The Columbus office recently relocated from the suburbs.

“There’s an excitement about being downtown,” Mr. Manahan said. “If we can get downtown Toledo to become more robust, that’s a good thing for the community.”

The Lathrop president said that ProMedica’s recently announced plans to move its corporate headquarters to the former Toledo Edison steam plant downtown was a compelling signal that downtown Toledo is gaining momentum and that perhaps Lathrop should return to Toledo.

Founded in 1895, Lathrop operated for 85 years off Dorr Street in Toledo near the University of Toledo Scott Park campus before moving to Maumee in 1980.

Mr. Manahan said there will be balance in Lathrop returning downtown to a skyline that it and its parent firm helped create. Lathrop was general contractor or part of the construction team that erected several downtown buildings, including Huntington Center and Fifth Third Field, while Turner Construction, which acquired Lathrop in 1986, built Fifth Third Center at One SeaGate, Toledo’s Government Center, and Fiberglas Tower downtown.

“It’s a bit of a homecoming, if you will,” Mr. Manahan said.

Though disappointed, Maumee city administrator John Jezak said he understood Lathrop’s decision to leave. “They handled this whole thing with class and it speaks well of them as a company,” Mr. Jezak said.

The Maumee administrator said some companies use moving to pit communities against each other in a gambit to extract tax incentives. Lathrop did not do so.

“I have spoken to them, but the issue wasn’t really about Maumee or economic incentives,” Mr. Jezak said. “What was explained to me was this was a decision they had made primarily to be closer to the design professionals that they work with. SSOE and the Collaborative, as well as a number of other clients they work with are all downtown,” he said.

“It wasn’t about any dissatisfaction with their Maumee location. It was based on their parent company’s wishes and their own internal thinking that [downtown] is where they needed to be,” Mr. Jezak added. “And I appreciate them being straight about that.”

Matt Sapara, Toledo’s economic and business development director, said the city has worked with Lathrop the last two months on its relocation plans.

“We’re obviously very excited by the announcement. We think it’s another domino in the redevelopment of downtown,” Mr. Sapara said.

The city will provide Lathrop with a Toledo Expansion Incentive, which is a cash-grant refund on income tax paid for job creation. The company could get up to $370,000 over 10 years. But Mr. Sapara cautioned that companies only get money after they have created new jobs. Lathrop officials are hopeful that jobs can be added as the economy improves, but have no solid job-creation projections.

“It only happens if they hit their job numbers. It is paid on the number of jobs they actually create,” he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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