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Published: Thursday, 8/9/2001

Building near Hens new nest to offer retail, Internet outlets


Lucas County commissioners have agreed to sell a county-owned building along St. Clair Street near the new Toledo Mud Hens stadium to a man who said he will develop a retail outlet on the first floor and rent the second floor to two Internet-related companies.

The purchase price is $142,500 and the proposal from James Smythe, head of Habitech Security, to the county includes his estimate of about $335,000 for refurbishing the property.

He said yesterday that he intends to develop the first floor of 19 North St. Clair into a shop featuring baseball memorabilia and other items, a gallery for local artists, and probably a cafe that might feature coffee, ice cream, and fudge.

Mr. Smythe said the retail operation would be run locally because he's not interested in a franchise operation. The second floor will be rented to TotaLink Network, Inc., and Aurora, both local computer companies.

He said that after learning that buildings near the downtown ballpark were for sale, "I looked at the [Main Toledo-Lucas County Public Library] and the apartments downtown and decided the train's leaving the station and decided toget on."

Mr. Smythe said financing for the project would be through traditional banks. He intends to begin refurbishing the building next month with a March target completion date.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the commissioners, said she was pleased with the offer, adding that Mr. Smythe intends to refurbish the exterior of the building to fit in with others in the warehouse district.

She said negotiations are ongoing for some of the other county-owned buildings. The county has four more along St. Clair and two at the corner of Monroe and Huron Streets.

Commissioner Harry Barlos said that Mr. Smythe's proposal "was just what the commissioners have in mind" for the area.

He said the retail store will add to the activities available to people going to a ball game or in the area at other times, and the second-floor businesses will add to "a business-pedestrian" community that he said he hopes grows in that area.

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