Amid a lobby stripped of furniture and every trace of long-time tenant Owens-Illinois Inc., Toledo's premier downtown office tower changed ownership yesterday.
The riverfront One SeaGate is now owned by an affiliate of insurer RVI Group Inc. of Stamford, Conn., Lucas County records show.
A newly formed company called One SeaGate LLC took control of the 32-story building for $1 million and assumption of a $32 million mortgage from Newkirk Realty Trust Inc., a Boston real-estate investment trust.
"Our goal is to continue to maintain it as Class A space," said Darrel Seife, an RVI representative.
With O-I's departure this month to a new headquarters in the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg, One SeaGate is about half empty. The Toledo glass container maker announced 1 1/2 years ago it would be leaving the downtown base by the end of this month.
RVI hopes to have an announcement soon about new tenants, Mr. Seife said. However, he declined to identify prospective occupants or to discuss the possibility Fifth Third Bank will rent a large block of space.
Fifth Third officials have repeatedly expressed interest about moving into the skyscraper, but need to find a buyer for their current downtown quarters in Fifth Third Center on S. Huron Street at Madison Avenue.
Now a new marketing team moves in to try to lease space in the 25-year-old building. The effort will be led by Cushman & Wakeman, New York, and Michael Realty Co., Toledo.
"You'll see a management office opened in the building on Monday," said Michael's Nancy Lehmann.
John Bridges, property manager for Cushman in Detroit, was to be in Toledo over the weekend to set up the office in the One SeaGate concourse and to take control of the building. He has had extensive experience converting buildings that, like One SeaGate, formerly served as corporate headquarters into multiple-tenant buildings, Ms. Lehmann said.
The departure of bottle-maker O-I was not amicable.
Both sides have been unwilling to discuss details of the dispute. O-I spokesman Carol Gee couldn't be reached yesterday.
"There are pending issues with O-I with respect to their transition from the building, and those issues are not resolved," said Mr. Seife, of RVI. "There is an ongoing dialogue."
Besides lobby furniture, O-I took tables and chairs from a lunch area in the building's concourse and movable walls from its former space and other vacant offices, Ms. Lehmann said. The Fortune 500 firm apparently dropped demands that remaining tenants buy office partitions from the company.
"It has been a tenuous two weeks for the tenants, which is unfortunate," Ms. Lehmann added.
In an odd parallel to the larger dispute, Toledo police were called yesterday to mediate a dispute between a pair of business partners who were closing their office in the building.
One man unsuccessfully tried to get police to stop a moving company from carting away paintings, file cabinets, and other contents of the office. Police officers explained that the matter was a civil dispute.
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