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A vacant and blighted former nursing home in North Toledo was knocked down Monday to the cheers of neighbors who plan to replace it with an arboretum.
A city excavator started razing the former Arbors of Toledo, 2920 Cherry St., after Mayor Mike Bell and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz told reporters how the Lucas County Land Bank obtained the property.
Once the property has been cleared and backfilled, it will be given to the Bronson Place Association for neighborhood reuse as a community garden and arboretum, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
“It was seriously delinquent in its property taxes to the tune of over $100,000,” he said. “It was owned by an investment fund based in South Florida, it was purchased for speculative purposes in 2010, and almost immediately started not paying its taxes.”
The 100-bed facility closed in 2010. About 120 workers lost their jobs when the facility closed.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the owners were willing to transfer the property in lieu of paying the back taxes.
“The investor, Ohio Arbors Holdings, which is a subsidiary of Millennium Management, I think was willing right away to transfer the property to the land bank and others, but was maybe not as willing to help pay for some of the demolition,” he said. “In the end, we were able to work out a deal where they not only transfer to us the property, but also transfer $50,000 to us to assist in the demolition.”
The demolition will cost about $125,000, which includes about $30,000 for asbestos removal, said Toledo spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei.
In addition to the $50,000 from the former owners, $34,000 came from federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 funds, and $12,000 came from Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Asbestos remediation was handled by the city's environmental services department. The city will pay the balance.
Mayor Bell praised the collaborative effort of the city, county, Mercy, and the neighborhood group.
“I come past this place so many times and was just waiting for the opportunity to see this either become functional again or what's occurring today,” Mayor Bell said of the demolition.
Mercy plans to contribute toward some of the cost of establishing an arboretum on the property.
“It is our hope the green space about to be created here will be a fitting reflection of the beauty of the Calvin Bronson Estate, which once sat on this land,” said Rita Piekutowski, secretary of the Bronson Place Association. Mr. Bronson was a tobacco manufacturer in Toledo in the mid-1800s.
The land bank was created in August, 2010, but did not start acquiring properties until February, 2011. By its third anniversary, it had acquired more than 1,200 properties — of which about 740 were transferred to adjacent property owners.