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Published: Monday, 11/12/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Developer says steam plant project is still a go

Tax credits called key to downtown building

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Water Street Station artists rendering proposed project.  Seven months after announcing plans to transform the historic Toledo Edison steam plant into apartments, a YMCA, and health clinic, the project has encountered delays — but the developer said efforts are still moving forward. A Water Street Station artists rendering proposed project. Seven months after announcing plans to transform the historic Toledo Edison steam plant into apartments, a YMCA, and health clinic, the project has encountered delays — but the developer said efforts are still moving forward.
HANDOUT ARTIST RENDERING Enlarge

Seven months after announcing plans to transform the historic Toledo Edison steam plant into apartments, a YMCA, and health clinic, the project has encountered delays — but the developer said efforts are still moving forward.

David Ball, 53, announced plans in April to turn the downtown riverfront building he owns into 67 apartments and room for a YMCA site and a University of Toledo health clinic.

At the time, Mr. Ball said he expected work to begin in July, but it’s now November, and he said he’s trying to nail down state, federal, and new market tax credits that he said would cover about $9 million of the project’s roughly $16.8 million cost.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about tax credits. That’s what we need,” he said.

Mr. Ball, in phone interviews over the last several weeks, described his efforts to revitalize the steam plant, which has remained empty for more than two decades. He reiterated his commitment to the development dubbed Water Street Station.

“We are still working hard on it; it’s just a big project,” he said.

He said he’s received deposits for 14 of the proposed 67 upper-floor apartments, which would rent for $600 to $1,000 monthly.

“The downtown housing market is coming along really well,” Mr. Ball said.

Putting together the project’s various moving parts and partners is moving a little more slowly.

The YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo is a key potential player. The YMCA wants to move downtown and also reduce the financial burden of its oversized and inefficient Summit Street location, said Todd Tibbits, its chief executive officer and president.

Mr. Ball in April said he would buy the Summit property for $935,000 to facilitate the YMCA’s move into leased space in his project. Mr. Tibbits said a purchase agreement between the developer and the YMCA has since expired, and the YMCA is considering options for its Summit property including putting it on the market or remaining there, at least temporarily.

The YMCA remains interested in a downtown location but cannot maintain both the Summit site and a future downtown facility, Mr. Tibbits said.

“The project is moving much slower than either Dave or the Y had hoped, but it’s external forces outside his control,” Mr. Tibbits said. “The YMCA is committed to continuing to explore a downtown presence. We will continue to look at Dave’s project and explore.”

Officials with the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, also indicated interest in placing a health clinic at the steam plant site.

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor and executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs, said last month no further discussion had been held with the YMCA, with which it could partner at the downtown location.

Plans could include a health clinic, with a family medicine physician, to serve people who live and work in the city center.

“It remains attractive, but we just have to see how it plays out over time. It would still be our goal to try to accomplish this if possible,” he said.

Development plans for the site have morphed since Mr. Ball and then-partner Jimmy Jackson obtained the hulking, smokestack-topped building from the city in 2005.

In 2007, the state approved about $3.1 million in state historic preservation tax credits for a previous version of the project. Those tax credits carried a “project end date” of Aug. 1, 2012, but the developer requested an extension, said Stephanie Gostomski, a spokesman for the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The agency this month approved its staff’s recommendation to extend and increase to $4 million the state historic preservation tax credits for the updated project, including the YMCA and health clinic additions. The project’s change in uses qualified it for additional tax credit funding, said Thea Walsh, deputy chief for the Office of Redevelopment. Mr. Ball said project construction must start by May 15, 2013.

“We’re happy to support the project. We think it will be positive for downtown Toledo. We’re really happy to see it move forward,” said Nathaniel Kaelin of the state’s historic preservation tax credit program.

Mr. Ball said he continues to work through issues related to the federal and new market tax credits he seeks. That includes responding to U.S. National Park Service questions about historic architecture elements that changed from previous plans. An earlier version of the project proposed a new structure to house condominiums in front of the historic building, and Mr. Ball said he is working to resolve those questions and resubmit his plans.

The project received city planning approval in July, said Tom Lemon, Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions director.

“We have been working on getting this project developed for quite a while. It has a wonderful location right on the riverfront,” he said.

The project’s complex history includes the city filing suit a few years ago to try to force developers to begin project work or return the building to the city. Developers at the time pointed to a bad real estate market. Mr. Ball said Mr. Jackson is no longer involved in the project.

Roughly $140,000 in taxes is owed on the Water Street Development site, according to the Lucas County treasurer’s office. Mr. Ball said the delinquent taxes are “from years ago,” and said he is keeping current on a payment plan.

The treasurer’s office reported a down payment of nearly $106,000 made in August on a five-year payment plan, and the office received monthly payments in September and October.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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