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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2001

Bids show plans for St. Clair buildings

When the Mud Hens move downtown next year, they likely will have a few new neighbors, including a glass-blowing studio, an antique shop, and a caf .

The tenants would be a welcome change to a string of long-empty and dilapidated buildings along North St. Clair Street that the county has tried to sell for years and two buildings near Monroe and Huron streets that had housed adult entertainment businesses. View the official Toledo Mud Hens Webcam

“But it doesn't mean we will throw anything in there just to have something in there,” Waymon Usher, Lucas County's economic development director, said. “We want the development of those structures to coincide with the new Mud Hens stadium development, so we're not going to rush things.”

The options, which include a combination of shops and offices, are part of three proposals that county officials unsealed yesterday. The county is trying to sell five buildings along North St. Clair that will be outside the right field wall of the Mud Hens stadium that is expected to open next spring.

Most of the buildings were acquired nearly 20 years ago as part of an $8 million purchase for the SeaGate Centre and adjacent parking.

The county acquired two buildings near Monroe and Huron for $550,000 to make way for the stadium. They are for sale as well.

Three developers submitted bids Monday that included plans and prices for five of the seven buildings. But county officials said they aren't worried about the fates of the other two buildings. “As soon as people see things happening in the other buildings and in the ballpark, they'll be clamoring for the other two,” Jim O'Neal, assistant county administrator, said.

He and other county officials said they're not concerned that bids for the buildings were as low as $3,000. It will be costly to renovate the structures - they were built between 1867 and 1887 and have been vacant for years - and it's understandable that the county might have to sell them at a loss.

Secondly, officials were concerned whether developers would offer ideas that would fit into the streetscape they envision surrounding the ballpark and complement the Mud Hens business.

They didn't want to fill the buildings with restaurants that would entice ballpark visitors to eat before the game.

“Then who would [eat] the hotdogs in the ballpark?” Mr. O'Neal said. “We also have to consider the financial well-being of the Mud Hens.”

The three developers making proposals were Michael Moriarty, James Smythe, and Zaleski-Hillenbrand.

The proposals will be reviewed by the county real estate acquisition and development team as early as next week. The panel will make a recommendation to the commissioners soon after that, Mr. Usher said.

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