COLUMBUS — Area business and political leaders have submitted a $17 million wish list of local community-improvement projects to the state for potential construction funding, including $6 million toward creation of “Mudville” around Fifth Third Field and the final phase of Promenade Park improvements.
For the first time since 2008, the state will include community projects in its borrowing-fueled, two-year capital budget, and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce wants a piece of that for projects in Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties.
The chamber’s “white paper,” compiled by a local committee, asks the state to pick up $3 million of what is now a $21 million price tag to revitalize the Warehouse District around Toledo’s minor-league baseball park. It asks for another $3 million toward what is expected to be Promenade Park’s $9 million third phase.
Both projects are intended to draw visitors to games, concerts, shopping, street festivals, and recreation in downtown Toledo, as well as woo possible permanent residents.
“Candidly, we haven’t been provided a dollar amount for a likely total for the region,” state Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said. “I’m not aware that any region has been told what to expect in terms of a total dollar amount.”
Still, if history is a guide, the list will exceed available funds.
In addition to local priorities, capital budgets typically include maintenance and new projects in state buildings, parks, and universities; art facilities, and historic sites.
Ohio’s current capital budget totals $1.7 billion but includes no community projects. There was no capital budget at all for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 because of tight borrowing constraints.
The last capital budget to contain money for community projects, $120 million of them, totaled $1.5 billion in 2008.
The estimated price tag for the “Mudville” project is up significantly over the $10 million to $15 million estimate first presented in August.
Joe Napoli, the Mud Hens’ president and general manager, said the higher price tag is related to a streetscape plan to turn part of St. Clair into a pedestrian mall and to convert a parking lot across the street from the convention center and next to Fifth Third Field into an area for concerts and festivals.
“We’re very bullish about this being an economic-development tool to reward those who have invested earlier over the last 10 years and hopefully to persuade more people to invest downtown,” Mr. Napoli said.
The nonprofit baseball team, which would own the facilities, plans to redevelop three long-vacant buildings, and has received approval to demolish the 122-year-old Consumers Plumbing building.
The project anticipates new dining and shopping venues, new commercial tenants, and rooftop party decks and dining that Mr. Napoli said would give the district a “Wrigley Field perspective.”
Wrigley Field, the home of major-league baseball's Chicago Cubs, is known in part for buildings across the street beyond its outfield that have rooftop seating with ballpark views. The immediate neighborhood, Wrigleyville, is home to a mixture of bars and restaurants, many of which have sports themes, and apartments.
The attractions could draw 100,000 to 150,000 people to the district, on top of the roughly 540,000 a year who now attend Mud Hens games, he said. The goal is to break ground by year’s end, if historic tax credit approval comes through in time, and to have the project completed in time for the start of the 2016 Mud Hens season.
The third phase of Promenade Park’s $14.5 million remodeling is expected to cost about $9 million, a third of which the chamber hopes the state will fund. The project will increase the riverfront park’s size and ease its slope to the Maumee’s waters.
Among the chamber’s other top priorities are:
● $2.7 million toward a $4.7 million work force-development center involving the University of Toledo and both Northwest and Terra state community colleges.
● Nearly $2 million toward a new $5 million, 25,000-square foot kitchen at the Northwest Ohio Food Partnership Center for Feed Lucas County Children Inc.
● $1.5 million toward a $5 million effort to promote dual-enrollment opportunities for area high school students via technology improvements at the Bowling Green State University Math Emporium.
● $1 million toward an $8.3 million Fulton County Visitor and Heritage Center museum that will co-exist with a new Ohio Department of Transportation facility north of the Ohio Turnpike on State Rt. 108.
● $600,000 toward $48 million in renovations to the Toledo Zoo Aquarium for a leafy sea dragon exhibit and a new aquarium “touch-tank” on the BGSU campus tied to internships in marine biology.
● $300,000 toward a $2.5 million extension of the Sylvania River Trail along Ten Mile Creek.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.