Compared to a decade ago, Toledo's downtown is jammed with people - 2,000 or more living in new apartments in and around the downtown. Compared with the dreams of city planners, downtown still has a long way to go.
The good news for those looking to live the urban experience is that there are apartments and condominiums available, and more on the way.
“I see a lot of things happening in next six to 18 months,” said Ted Jones, acting city housing commissioner. “There are a number of people working on various deals, which I'm not at liberty to speak about. All of them are market rate housing.”
Advocates of downtown have long dreamed of a modern urban village, with artists' lofts and busy streets.
Starting under former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Toledo's downtown started to acquire a residential feel. Four vacant high-rise buildings were converted into residences for renters during the late 1990s.
The new mayor, Jack Ford, said he wants to see the number of downtown dwellers grow to 10,000 people.
Last year, local builder Francis “Mac” McCarthy opened the newest condo opportunity in the near downtown area - 100 South Huron St. in the Warehouse District.
A former warehouse, the olive-green building has 27 units that are about half sold.
Occupant Breneman Blaine, 60, said he came to Toledo 15 months ago as executive director of a medical agency. He said that with his wife still living in a condo in Covington, Ky., he wanted a low-maintenance residence in a downtown setting.
“When I went looking last summer, everything they showed me was 10 miles from downtown,” Mr. Blaine said. He said his wife spied 100 South Huron St. from the Anthony Wayne Bridge and it was just what he wanted.
“I just don't want to deal with the traffic,” he said.
He said the units are “different.” They open onto an outdoor atrium. The building is reasonably close to the Farmer Jack supermarket on Cherry Street, and is in walking distance of Promenade Park, the Maumee River, the Erie Street Market, and the new baseball stadium.
Several major projects are on the drawing boards, or nearing completion, for new housing.
The largest is Uptown Arts along Adams Street. Marketed to students and young professionals, it would constitute a brand new urban village on the corridor between downtown and the Toledo Museum of Art.
The first phase, Uptown Arts I, will soon have 52 apartments available in a new complex on 13th Street. Next to open will be Uptown Arts II, a 65-unit apartment complex on its own city block at Franklin Avenue and Adams Street.
Toledo City Council is considering a development proposal to convert the former Toledo Edison steam plant on the city's waterfront into a 99-unit upscale apartment building, financed in part by federal historic building tax credits.
And last year, city voters approved a ballot issue that cleared the way for Columbus developer Frank Kass to start on a $175 million project on the east bank of the Maumee River. The project - the Marina District - would include a new sports arena, marina, restaurants, stores, and apartments and condominiums.
In East Toledo, is the proposed Starboard Side condominiums project - 24 riverfront units selling for an average of $273,000.
Previous downtown housing projects backed financially by the city included requirements that at a portion of the units be rented to people with low to moderate income, in order to obtain federal housing financing.
New projects will have to rely more on the market and on private financing and less on government loans, city officials say. That will ensure that future residents have disposable income, a requirement for attracting retailers to the downtown.
Some of the residential opportunities currently downtown are: