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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2002

Effort to raze ex-topless bar is revived

The former Brenda's Body Shop, right, is just a baseball's throw from Fifth Third Field. The former Brenda's Body Shop, right, is just a baseball's throw from Fifth Third Field.
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Despite opposition from the staff of the Toledo Plan Commission, the Lucas County commissioners still want to tear down the former Brenda's Body Shop so it doesn't mar the ambience of nearby Fifth Third Field.

“It has no redeeming historical value and detracts from the beauty of the ballpark,” Lucas County Commissioner Harry Barlos said about the former topless bar at a meeting yesterday. “It should come down.”

Meanwhile, Myron Stewart, who owns the Toledo Journal, said he wants to buy the Brenda's building at 523 Monroe St., and the building next door at 519 Monroe.

He said he has agreed to buy the 519 building for $15,000 and pay for the cost of demolishing Brenda's.

He said he hopes to place a national ribs franchise called Red Hot & Blue in the remaining building. He also would relocate the Toledo Journal, which caters to an African-American readership, from its offices at 3021 Douglas Rd. to the 519 building.

Waymon Usher, director of the county's economic and work force development office, confirmed the proposed deal, but said the commissioners would have to approve it.

“From what we've seen, he has a good plan,” Mr. Usher said.

The county is scheduled to tell the plan commission tomorrow why it wants to tear down the Brenda's building.

The commission can approve the demolition or delay it from 30 days to six months, but the decision to demolish ultimately rests with the county, according to Steve Herwat, director of the Toledo-Lucas County plan commissions.

He said if the commission delays the demolition request, the county must make a good-faith effort to find a use for the building.

The county applied for a demolition permit on Dec. 20.

If the commission delays the demolition for six months, the county could tear the building down after June 20, he said.

The City of Toledo's Division of Building Inspection recommended in December that it be demolished because it is structurally unsafe.

Mr. Herwat said the staff recommended against approving the demolition permit because the county has torn down 11 buildings to make room for its $39 million stadium.

“There have been other architects who have reviewed the building and they're telling us it's salvageable,” Mr. Herwat said.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the county commissioners, said the building is unsafe and unsightly.

“It's the blight on the block,” Ms. Isenberg said.

Mr. Stewart said he plans to go through with the deal regardless of what the plan commission recommends.

He estimated the renovations for the 519 building would cost $700,000. “You have a really nice stadium, so you want the building to look similar,” Mr. Stewart said. “You don't want to have a bunch of oddball buildings out there.”

Blade staff writer Mike Jones contributed to this report.



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