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Published: Monday, 2/8/2010

West Toledo site sought as location for school

BY MEGHAN GILBERT-CUNNINGHAM
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo charter school is seeking to move from its downtown location to a former grocery store in West Toledo.

Horizon Science Academy-Toledo, which rents two floors in the Secor Building, is in the process of buying the former Food Town store in DeVeaux Village, at Sylvania Avenue and Douglas Road.

"This is not an ideal location for a high school," said Engin Blackstone, the school's director. "We just want our own building, first of all, and it will be a nice location for the high school."

A special-use permit is on the agenda for this week's Toledo City Plan Commission when it meets Thursday. A public meeting on the permit will be at 2 p.m. that day in Toledo City Council chambers.

The site at 2600 West Sylvania Ave. is zoned for regional commercial use. The store was part of the former Seaway Food Town chain, which closed or sold all its Toledo stores by 2003.

The planning staff recommends the 58,000-square-foot building be used for the school. "It's good reuse of a vacant building," said Lisa Cottrell, a principal planner with the commission.

Horizon serves about 280 students in grades nine through 12.

It was rated excellent, the equivalent of an A, in the most recent report cards from the Ohio Department of Education.

The school had moved up two notches from continuous improvement to receiving the excellent rating for the 2008-09 school year.

Horizon's management company, Concept Schools, is working out the details of purchasing the former grocery store and its parking lot for $1.4 million.

The school would have use of the grassy area to the west of the building at no cost for three years with the option to buy it for $300,000, said Murat Arabaci, a facilities coordinator with the management company.

An additional $3.8 million would be spent over time to convert the building into a school.

If all permits are approved in a timely manner, the goal would be to renovate enough of the building to serve several hundred students for the 2010-11 school year.

Additional parts of the building would be renovated as enrollment grows, Mr. Arabaci said.

The school's current location on the second and third floors of the Secor Building, 425 Jefferson Ave., provides about 30,000 square feet, so the move would nearly double the space, Mr. Blackstone said.

"It's going to have a lot more opportunities than we have now," he said.

The facility would allow for larger a gym and auditorium, a dedicated parking lot, and an outdoor area that could be used as a football field, Mr. Blackstone said.

The move also would provide a permanent location for Horizon, which is leasing its current space, he said.

"The new facility is going to be a great addition for our school," Mr. Blackstone said.

If the planning commission approves the special-use permit, the proposal will be forwarded to Toledo City Council's zoning and planning committee.

If it is approved there, it will go then to the full council for approval.

Contact Meghan

Gilbert-Cunningham at:

mcunningham@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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