IF TOLEDO'S urban center is to ever thrive as a vital, growing residential enclave - and it's off to a good start with so many people living downtown again - the amenities of home must be within easy reach. Which is why it is so hopeful to witness the opening of a downtown grocery in St. Clair Historic Village.
Just blocks from the Fifth Third Field, The Market on St. Clair aims to offer nearby residents the essentials in grocery fare from fruits and vegetables to frozen goods, plus more exotic commodities that could also attract customers who just work downtown.
The investment is the gamble of Socrates Cafe, which owns both The Market and the city's newest ice cream shop with made-to-order specialities, called Cold Fusion Creamery.
This is more like it. Downtown living depends on downtown entrepreneurs taking a leap of faith that if they build it, people will come and maybe put down roots. The bold development decisions require local support and encouragement not only to reward the risk-takers but to embolden others to take a chance on cultivating a wholesome living environment in the heart of Toledo.
Even the most enthusiastic believers in Toledo's renaissance who are moving into newly refurbished quarters created from the city's past and luxury condos built to order aren't going to stay forever if they have to leave home to shop for everything. For that privilege they might as well have a two-car garage attached to a colonial in the suburbs.
Joseph McCaffery, president and chief executive officer of Socrates, envisions downtown's only grocery with a New York state of mind. "We want to make it fun, make it cool, but still have good stuff." If it doesn't mimic New York prices, the venture could be the start of something big.
The Market joins an expanding venue just south of Fifth Third Field that includes a coffee shop, a hardware store, and a wellness spa. It's not far from the proposed "entertainment district" complementing the ballpark as well as riverfront attractions just a few blocks north.
Fold in estimates from a New Jersey consulting firm that downtown could support up to 293 new housing units a year or about 1,500 new dwellings in the next five years, and suddenly a promising big picture emerges.
All the supporting players are in place to make Toledo a popular and permanent destination. Just add possibilities and stir.