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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

Jefferson site removed from teardown list

Old Central Post Office may be sold, TPS board members say

Toledo Public Schools board members say several possible buyers have expressed interest in the century-old Jefferson Center. Toledo Public Schools board members say several possible buyers have expressed interest in the century-old Jefferson Center.

The Jefferson Center was saved from the wrecking ball Wednesday after the Toledo Board of Education removed the historic building from a demolition list.

The former Central Post Office, opened in 1911, was scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year. Though it hosts hundreds of Head Start students, district officials were not sure if the building would have a future use. And, like Libbey High School, if demolition did not start by the end of the year, the district would lose funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission for the work. Toledo Public Schools then would be responsible for any possible demolition, along with maintaining the building while it is still open.

But board members rallied around the building, and three called a news conference last week to announce they would bring forward a resolution to save the center. They noted that the building at 13th Street and Madison Avenue has a tenant -- it is leased by the Economic Opportunity and Planning Association of Toledo and houses about 500 children in the Head Start program -- and that several prospective buyers have come forward to purchase the building.

At a special board meeting Wednesday, the board approved the resolution to remove Jefferson from the demolition list, and authorized the district's business manager to explore uses or the possible sale of the building. Board member Larry Sykes said that three organizations have expressed interest in the building, though he would not reveal them, saying they don't want their names publicized yet.

"The issue with the Jefferson Center is that it's got a lot of notoriety lately," he said, "and my preference is that this doesn't become a circus."

Board President Bob Vasquez said that any possible deal would have to become public eventually.

All four board members at the meeting voted for the resolution. Board member Jack Ford did not attend.

The former Central Post Office was designed by architect James Knox Taylor. In 1966, the school district bought it from the federal government for $1 on the condition that it be used for educational purposes.

The district operated the building until 1970 as the Jefferson Center for Vocational Rehabilitation. In 1970, it became the district's alternative school. It was closed after voters rejected a 6.9-mill levy in 2000.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

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