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Published: Friday, 11/22/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Port board approves lease for second coke plant parcel

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A second piece of the former Toledo Coke Co. site in East Toledo could soon be leased to an Illinois-based petroleum distributor.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors Thursday approved leasing two Front Street parcels to Seneca Petroleum Inc. for 20 years plus two, five-year company options.

If the deal is finalized, Seneca’s leasehold on the former coke-works site, which the port authority bought in 2004 and since has spent millions of dollars to clean up, would more than quadruple in size, from just under 11 acres to just more than 44 acres.

Seneca now operates a small tank farm on the west end of the Toledo Coke site, which the port authority bought from Pittsburgh-based Beazer Corp. for $900,000 in 2004. A port staff report said the additional land will allow Seneca to build more tanks and possibly add railroad tracks into its facility.

Matt Sapara, the port authority’s chief operating officer, said Seneca has approved the lease terms before port directors voted Thursday, with a contract-signing still to be held. Seneca officials authorized to speak to reporters were not available for comment Thursday.

One of the two parcels is 10.854 acres used to be part of the Interlake Iron works, west of Seneca’s current site. It has Maumee River frontage and is surfaced with crushed stone.

The other is 22.8 acres to the east. It abuts a Norfolk Southern railroad line and has water access, although Mr. Sapara said a dock there is unlikely because it is close to a railroad bridge.

The smaller plot will be leased starting at $5,500 per acre annually, while the larger plot’s annual lease will start at $4,500 per acre. The smaller plot is more valuable because dock and surfacing improvements make it “shovel ready,” Mr. Sapara said.

The total lease price will start at $160,812, while an escalator clause provides for increasing lease payments, based on the Consumer Price Index, starting in 2015.

Mr. Sapara said he did not have the total value handy Thursday for cleanup the port authority oversaw at the old Toledo Coke site, which over years of heavy industrial use became contaminated with toxic compounds such as benzene, naphthalene, petroleum hydrocarbons, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons before the plant closed during the mid-1990s.

But as of mid-2011, cleanup expenses had reached $2.68 million, paid for with federal and state grants, and at that time more work remained to be completed.

Site cleanup was finished with the recent issuance of a No Further Action letter by environmental regulators, Mr. Sapara said.

The property is one of three major “brownfield” sites the port authority is redeveloping after cleanups. The authority also owns the former Gulf Oil refinery site immediately downriver, part of which is now home to a new bulk-materials terminal, and the 111-acre Jeep factory site off Jeep Parkway between Central and Berdan avenues, for which an industrial park is proposed.

William Carroll, chairman of the port authority board, said the Seneca deal puts most of the old coke works land back to productive use.

“It’s land right now that has just been sitting fallow,” Mr. Carroll said. “They’ve been a good tenant, and now they’re expanding.”

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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