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With the snip of a ribbon, the University of Toledo’s Gateway Project officially was in operation Thursday morning.
As about 100 people listened to remarks from University of Toledo officials, students scurried along the sidewalks and muscular runners zipped by the massive project at the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road. A two-story, 18,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble Booksellers anchors the facility, which is home to a variety of shops and services.
Some of the businesses are already open and others plan to open their doors in the coming weeks.
Officials hope the area will become an epicenter of student activity, said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the university. Additions to the area include Great Clips, Jimmy John’s, Starbucks, and Yogurt U.
The hustle and bustle around the Gateway Project is a welcome change from what the area once was, Dr. Jacobs said.
“The transformation on the corner has been absolutely remarkable,” he said, adding that the demolition of a gas station and fast-food restaurants has improved the area’s overall look and feel.
The Gateway Project has been in the works for 20 years and came to fruition in the last five, said Matthew Schroeder, vice president of real estate and business development for The University of Toledo Foundation.
The foundation worked with the university to complete the $12 million project, which was constructed during the last 10 months.
The facility contains 48 loft-style apartments and can house up to 112 people, Mr. Schroeder said. About 97 percent of the apartments have been leased, he said.
Paulette Bongratz, president of the university’s student government, said the university and foundation were very receptive to working students’ needs into the project.
“This project shows the power of the student voice,” she said to the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting.
The project isn’t just a boon for students — it’s also been good for businesses as well. Barnes & Noble has seen a steady stream of foot traffic from students and people living in nearby neighborhoods, said Colleen Strayer, the general manager of the store.
“Business has been very good,” she said. “We love this location.”
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