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Published: Wednesday, 2/27/2008

Wingate looks to expand

BY MIKE JONES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

It took years for Sylvania to get a downtown hotel, and its success is underscored by current negotiations designed to allow for a possible expansion of the facility.

The Wingate by Wyndham opened as a Wingate Inn & Suites on Main Street just south of Monroe Street about five years ago.

City officials had been seeking such a facility for years, but most national operations were interested in putting up a hotel or motel only if it had direct access to an interstate roadway.

The operators of the Wingate said business has steadily increased to the point where they would like to add space, perhaps for additional meeting rooms or a banquet facility. The addition would require the purchase of city property.

Todd Berman, one of the investors in the hotel, said plans for an addition are incomplete because the developers first need to get an assurance from the city that they can acquire property immediately east of the building.

Mr. Berman said there has been a gradual increase in business travel during the week and the hotel has always done a good business with graduations, wedding receptions, and other family gatherings.

Right now, the hotel is limited in the number of people it can accommodate for those events so the owners have thought about the possibility of increasing the size of the building.

One of the concerns of city council is that the public retain adequate access to Ten Mile Creek, which runs behind the hotel.

Keith Haddad, council president, said that in general he favors the proposed expansion, but there are tentative plans for a walkway along the water.

There also have been plans off and on for the expansion of Summit Street south from where it now intersects with Monroe Street, which could have an impact on that area.

The potential pedestrian walkway along the creek includes a bridge to span the north-south banks from the business-oriented north to Harroun Community Park on the south.

Plans are also being formed with the Toledo Area Metroparks for a possible redesign of Harroun Park, particularly considering its future use as home to the Lathrop House, which is in the early stages of renova-tion. The house, a station on the Underground Railroad, has been relocated to the park and is projected to become a tourist attraction.

Mr. Haddad said all of those things will come into consideration before the city agrees to sell the land.

Jim Moan, city law director, acknowledged that the hotel owners have contacted the city about the purchase of land to the east of the hotel, but said he has not yet seen specific plans for an addition.

He added that the property in question is about one acre, but some of that includes the stream and land set aside for a walkway.

Mayor Craig Stough smiles when he considers the irony of an expansion of a facility which many thought wouldn't be successful. "I think it's terrific that it has been successful enough to warrant expansion," Mr. Stough said.

The mayor said the city had actively sought a downtown hotel for at least 10 years prior to the local investors establishing the Wingate.

The mayor said he favors the expansion.

Mr. Berman said he and his partners are aware of the interest others have for the area and said the Wingate wants to be a partner in the development of the area.



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