Editor's note: This version corrects the estimated cost of the project.
An expanded Swamp Shop, a rooftop patio, and restaurant with a high-tech arcade are among the ideas being kicked around by the Toledo Mud Hens for a multimillion dollar project to develop empty buildings on St. Clair Street near Fifth Third Field.
Joe Napoli, president and general manager of the minor league baseball team, announced Tuesday that the Mud Hens are working with investors on a $10 million to $15 million expansion and renovation project near the ball park.
The proposal includes restoring a pair of three-story buildings on St. Clair adjacent to the stadium as well as the old Spangler Candy Co. building across the street.
So far, the project participants are the Mud Hens, Lathrop Co., and Tom Porter Architects, and the plan involves more than $1 million in buildings and other property the Mud Hens acquired two years ago, Mr. Napoli said during the monthly meeting of the Toledo Warehouse District Association.
“This is a very exciting project that we are working on,” he told about 40 members of the neighborhood and business group.
Under plans detailed by Mr. Napoli, a structure adjacent to the four-story Spangler Candy Co. building would be demolished and a smaller structure would be built to house an elevator and stair system to service a refurbished and repurposed Spangler building.
Also, the Mud Hens would improve and enhance the parking lot on Monroe Street, between St. Clair and Summit streets, and rehabilitate the three-story buildings on St. Clair near Washington Street, adjacent to the stadium complex.
All the buildings, including one once occupied by Consumers Plumbing, which the Mud Hens are seeking to have razed, have been vacant for more than 30 years.
“We have watched as the Warehouse District has flourished all around us,” Mr. Napoli said later in an interview with The Blade. “Unfortunately two buildings adjacent to Fifth Third Field have just never been developed. So out of a sense of community, we asked ourselves who is going to develop these buildings. The more we thought about it, the more we felt we are probably the most likely candidate to develop these buildings successfully.”
Mr. Napoli said the organization has started work on applications to obtain state, federal, and new market tax credits to help cover the project’s cost.
“The Mud Hens are in the early stages of that process. That process has just started,” he said. “It is a challenging process. But we think we have all the right partners and consultants lined up to help us to get this accomplished.”
An expected construction date wasn’t given. However, Mr. Napoli said he is looking at the project to be completed between late 2015 and the summer of 2016.
During the Warehouse District Association meeting, Mr. Napoli said a potential repurpose of the buildings adjoining Fifth Third Field include expanding the Swamp Shop, possibly doubling the size of retail space in the fan-wear store and a “Dave and Buster’s” type of restaurant and bar with games and arcade for youngsters and adults.
The roofs of all the buildings, including the Spangler structure, are being studied to determine the feasibility of supporting roof-top patios for viewing Mud Hens games and other events, he said.
Mr. Napoli said potential development would include loft apartments and condos, restaurants, and retail and commercial uses, and input would be sought from the community.
“There will be opportunities when we would like to have public and business forums so people can share some of their ideas and thoughts,” Mr. Napoli said. “We are looking at all the possibilities in those buildings for space to be used.”
The razing of the old Consumers Plumbing building would require the Mud Hens asking for a demolition permit and a review by the Downtown Overlay District. The request also would go before the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission for a recommendation to city council.
Mr. Napoli said the Mud Hens had hoped the wood-framed building could have been rehabilitated and incorporated into the proposed development, but that was ruled out because of structural problems, including a buckling facade.
“That has been very stressful for us. The reason we built the ball park here was to revitalize downtown and see the renovations of buildings,” he said. “But the roof is in terrible shape. We decided that we are going to demolish the building. It was a very stressful decision. We wanted to be very considerate of our Warehouse District neighbors.”
The Warehouse District Association has thrown support behind the demolition as well as the overall proposal to rejuvenate the one-block section of St. Clair.
“This is one whole side of the street that is finally going to have something vibrant and active,” said Diane Keil-Hipp, president of the association.
The proposal to remove the Consumers Plumbing building was reviewed by the association’s architectural review committee.
“We are excited about the whole project. But, we recognized, that in order for the whole project to come to fruition, the Consumers Plumbing building needs to be razed,” Ms. Keil-Hipp said.
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