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Loan approved for downtown water farm

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    Jason Goss, with Sunforest Building Building Company, left, and Jerry Debien, with Sunforest Building Company, smooth the concrete in the drainage area in the aquaponics organic urban farm next to the downtown Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo on Wednesday.

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    Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo.

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    Austin Morrin, a Balance employee, prepares a meal for a customer at Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo on Wednesday.

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    An Asian taco is served up at Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo.

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    Outside the aquaponics organic urban farm next to the downtown Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo.

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    Jerry Debien, with Sunforest Building Company, smooths out concrete in the future aquaponics area near the downtown Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo.

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    Bob Muir, left, and Dan Jones, both of Toledo, eat lunch at Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo on Wednesday.

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  • BIZ-BALANCE09-14

    Jason Goss, with Sunforest Building Building Company, left, and Jerry Debien, with Sunforest Building Company, smooth the concrete in the drainage area in the aquaponics organic urban farm next to the downtown Balance Pan-Asian Grille in Toledo on Wednesday.

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The owners of Balance Pan-Asian Grille moved a step closer Tuesday to their dream of urban farming with the approval of a $405,000 Lucas County Builds loan to construct an “aquaponics” facility downtown that will grow fresh produce.

By a unanimous vote, the funds managers approved the 10-year, 3 percent loan for Balance owners Prakash Karamchandani and HoChan Jang, who will use the loan and additional funding to construct the 8,168-square-foot organic urban farm. Total cost of the project is $715,000.

“This is a great step forward for Balance Grille and our progressive (innovative) Balance Farms initiative. We are proud to collaborate with Lucas County, the City of Toledo, and Great Greens to implement the first vertically-integrated restaurant concept in the country,” Mr. Karamchandani said after learning the loan had been approved.

“This project aligns with our mission to “bring happiness through food” by connecting the dots for our community members, providing them a visual representation of how fresh produce is locally grown and served,” he added.

Lucas County Builds is a job creation and investment fund started in 2016 by Lucas County Commissioners, the Northwest Ohio Building Trades, the Carpenter’s Council, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the Regional Growth Partnership.

RELATED: Bringing new Balance to downtown dining options

During Tuesday’s meeting of the fund partnership, Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken, Carol Contrada, and Tina Skeldon Wozniak all acknowledged having eaten at Balance Grille and said the unusual project is the type of investment Lucas County Builds is seeking.

“This will add diversity to our loan portfolio,” Mr. Gerken said. The fund already has provided loans to Dana Inc. and Detroit Manufacturing Systems for new manufacturing plants at the Overland Industrustrial Park in Toledo.

According to its loan request, Balance will use Lucas County Builds’ loan to buy equipment and construct the aquaponics farm in space inside a retail center owned by the Eyde Co. and connected to Eyde’s Tower on the Maumee building at 239 N. Summit St.

Balance plans to buy a small aquaponics firm, Great Greens, which is now operating an aquaponics farm in the Uptown neighborhood near downtown Toledo. Great Greens will develop and manage an aquaponics farm that will be 15 times larger than its current operation.

Using proprietary technology, the farm will circulate water through vegetable growing areas and fish ponds where waste from the fish will enhances the water with nutrients required by the plants.

Balance plans to use 70 percent of the produce grown by the aquaponics farm and sell the remaining 30 percent to clients. The owners are building the farm to insure quality control over their restaurants’ ingredients.

Besides the loan, Balance will spend $100,000 on the project while the Eyde Co. is contributing $210,000.

Construction of the project already has begun.

Contact Blade Business Writer Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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