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Published: Sunday, 7/31/2005

Still too early for Southwyck celebration

Six super-size Lemmon Drops:

  • Sorry, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, but it's hard for me to get excited about the extreme makeover proposed for Southwyck Shopping Center.

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Larry Dillin developer of Levis Commons in Perrysburg is interested in converting the 33-year-old mall into a trendy "lifestyle center." If anyone can bring new life to the Reynolds Road corridor, he can.

    Here's what I can't get past: Southwyck's owner, Sherman Dreiseszun, is staying put. Knowing that Mr. Dillin must rely on the cooperation of Mr. Dreiseszun makes this $100 million project seem like a long shot from the start.

    Mr. Dreiseszun has burned Mr. Ford twice before. In 2002, Mr. Ford unveiled a redevelopment plan for Southwyck. A year later, Mr. Ford stood proudly as Westfield America Trust, which owns the mall formerly known as Franklin Park, promised to pump up to $60 million into Southwyck's redevelopment.

    Both of those rescue efforts failed, and Mr. Dreiseszun the epitome of an indifferent out-of-state owner has done nothing on his own.

    Mr. Ford is running for re-election; so I can't say I'm surprised by the "Saving Southwyck, Take 3" news conference on Tuesday. It was just way, way premature.

    Take Mr. Dreiseszun out of the picture, and the excitement will be genuine. Until then, it will be manufactured.

  • A headline from July 22: Wal-Mart set to enter area grocery market.

    The store, to be built across the street from Springfield High School, will be Wal-Mart's first "supercenter" in the metro area. In setting up a duel that will be closely watched, the "supercenter" will be within 100 yards of an existing grocery store, the Kroger at Spring Meadows Shopping Center.

    Granted, Wal-Mart didn't get to be the world's largest retailer by avoiding head-to-head competition. But this is the type of in-your-face move that breeds resentment and helps to explain why Wal-Mart has its share of critics.

  • Poor Pete Gerken. In 2001, nearly three years before Wal-Mart would open its first store inside Toledo, Mr. Gerken said bringing Wal-Mart to Toledo would be "the moral equivalent of opening a whorehouse." (He was a Toledo city councilman at the time.)

    I find it ironic that Mr. Gerken is now a Lucas County commissioner. Why? Because by this time next year, there will be four Wal-Marts in the county with only one inside the Toledo city limits.

    I don't know whether he believes Lucas County has turned into a retail Sodom and Gomorrah, but I would like to think that, as a county commissioner, he can appreciate Wal-Mart for being a solid corporate citizen.

  • Toledo City Council approved a $32,500 grant of "development incentive funds" to Myron Stewart to help renovate an empty building on the same block as Fifth Third Field. (Yes, it's the building next to the site of the former Brenda's Body Shop.)

    The Mud Hens played their first game at Fifth Third Field on April 9, 2002. One week later, Lucas County commissioners sold both buildings to Mr. Stewart for $15,000. Given the primo location of the buildings, one might assume the for-a-song purchase price would have been enough "incentive" for Mr. Stewart.

  • Why am I not surprised that accidents on the Ohio Turnpike have increased by 27 percent since the speed limit for trucks was raised from 55 mph to 65 mph?

  • Paging "Bad Carty."

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