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Published: Saturday, 4/5/2008

Whitehouse project gets nudge forward

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Five-year-old plans to build a $150-million retail village and residential development in Whitehouse may move forward soon with groundbreaking for a site for an area megachurch.

Developers of the 160-acre Whitehouse Square project on State Rt. 64 on the east side of Whitehouse in southwest Lucas County said a timetable looks good to begin construction in June or July on a satellite site of CedarCreek Church. The church is being developed by Squires Development Co. Ltd.

After that, plans look good for a medical building, said Ray Wood, project manager for JCT Enterprises Inc., the project's lead developer.

Dennis Recker, Whitehouse village administrator, said developers have approval for the overall project, and indicated they'll submit a plat map for approval in May, followed by a site plan. If both are approved, building permits could be issued to let church construction begin in midsummer.

"The [Whitehouse Square] concept itself is a wonderful one," Mr. Recker said. "The question is when it occurs. We think sooner, rather than later."

In early 2003, developer Jack Laskey proposed the $50 million, 60-acre village-like project that called for shops, condominiums, and more. When that failed to attract tenants or other investors, Mr. Laskey proposed a year later to devote half the acres to homes and villas.

About two years ago Mr. Laskey left the project, which was taken over by his partner, Cam Smith, who now owns JCT Enterprises. Two other Whitehouse landowners, Neil Rupp and Jeff Chamberlain, joined the project, which now has 160 acres and has been redesigned to house local retail, an artisan colony, housing, and parks.

The developers are working with the Anthony Wayne Youth Foundation, which controls an adjacent 160 acres, to develop a recreation area with parks, athletic fields, trails, and a community center.

The new Shops at Fallen Timbers is bringing area residents closer to Whitehouse, which helps, and developers found artist colonies can help draw people and can be fostered by grants, Mr. Wood said.

But probably the biggest bit of good news is an Ohio Department of Transportation plan to build a new U.S. 24 between Napoleon and Waterville that will have four lanes and pass close to the Whitehouse Square project. The bypass is to be completed by 2011.

"If we didn't have the new U.S. 24 coming in, we'd be somewhat marginal in what we could do," Mr. Wood said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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