MORE than one plan to restore Southwyck Shopping Center has been floated in the last decade. Some looked promising, others did not. In every case, nothing happened.
Now, although many won't believe in the newest plan until construction begins, there's a lot of potential in developer Larry Dillin's ideas for the South Toledo mall.
Mr. Dillin is no idle dreamer. Two years ago, the president of Dillin Corp. developed the thriving Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. Now he wants to spend $100 million to $150 million to turn what's left of the shopping center into the Village at Southwyck and a new home for Stautzenberger College - the first major tenant signed - with retail and residential facilities.
Southwyck opened in 1972 and it has been in serious trouble for many years. Many consumers have all but forsaken the place, and the retail space is now more vacant than occupied.
Some South Toledoans still shop there. For them, it's easier to make a quick jaunt to Southwyck than go to Westfield Franklin Park. However, Southwyck in its original incarnation doesn't work anymore and hasn't for some time.
The mall's out-of-town owners have given their approval for the multimillion-dollar redevelopment plan. Sherman Dreiseszun of Kansas City, Kan., and Bill Dillard of Little Rock, Ark., have endorsed the proposal, which is expected to be developed in three stages, beginning at the end of this year.
Although it is unclear whether Dillard's will stay, foot traffic from 1,000 students will be generated when the business college moves into the former Lion for the Home store. Most of the rest of the mall will be demolished and new residential buildings and anchor stores built. The first of those could be ready by the autumn of 2007.
This is all very encouraging. Of course, since good ideas for Southwyck have been presented in the past, Toledoans are understandably reluctant to celebrate just yet. But a developer with a track record has designs on the place, and that could finally turn Southwyck around.