Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Key buildings downtown still abandoned

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The vacant Spitzer Building at the intersection of Huron Street and Madison Street in Toledo.

THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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The next time you’re stopped in traffic at Madison Avenue and Huron Street on the way to a Walleye game, a Friday-evening concert at Promenade Park, or some other event that evidences downtown Toledo’s revitalization, look up and look around. 

Why are three-fourths of the buildings at that historic intersection allowed to languish in decay?

The Spitzer Building and the Nicholas Building, which California businessman Koray Ergur owns, loom across the street from each other. Attempts to either redevelop them or force Mr. Ergur to part with them have come to nothing.

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And then there is the city-owned Nasby Building, which was ugly enough before crews launched a project to remove asbestos-filled panels from the beautiful old facade. The asbestos may be gone, but it now looks even worse, as if work crews wandered off one day halfway through the project.

No matter who wins Toledo’s mayoral election next month, the mayor must make redeveloping this intersection a priority. 

Virtually everyone involved in city planning, downtown development, and city politics agrees that this intersection — this development Death Valley — is key to downtown development. Yet nothing happens.

The Nicholas Building is a splendid one, and in excellent shape. The Spitzer is an architectural gem, that must not be lost. The Nasby is historic, yet the city seems to be as poor a custodian as an out-of-town landlord. What will it take to get movement in this vital part of downtown?

The 20-year master plan for downtown Toledo created by the 22nd Century Committee last year called this intersection the “Four Corners” and specifically recommended developing the city-owned Nasby Building for residential use. That makes sense. What’s the delay?

Meanwhile, someone will need to persuade Mr. Ergur to either get off the dime or sell to someone else who will. The Spitzer must be shored up and saved before it is further damaged, or even lost. 

But the city should get its own act in order with the Nasby now

The leadership of the city has utterly failed at Four Corners, and it is inexcusable. Regardless of who is elected mayor next month, there has to be a change of approach and intensity regarding this empty canyon in the heart of downtown. There must be action.

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