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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Maumee: Interest expressed in project to develop Conant Street site

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Maumee did not receive any proposals last week to redevelop the vacant 200 block of Conant Street, but a few local business people say they are interested in doing a project on the site.

The deadline for submitting redevelopment proposals to the city was Thursday. City officials were somewhat surprised not to get any proposals, but said they would followup with developers in the next few weeks to see what problems they had in making plans for redevelopment.

Dan DiSalle, a local real estate investor, said he faced several difficulties when preparing plans for the site, located along the main corridor in Uptown Maumee. He said the land parcel is small and the combination of retail and housing that the city requested does not seem to be in great demand.

"Being that it is such a tight site, we had trouble making the numbers work," Mr. DiSalle said. "Also, some of the retailers we talked to weren't real impressed with the amount of parking."

Bill Anderson, a businessman who owns Dale's Bar and Grille in Uptown Maumee, agreed that limited parking is a problem in redeveloping the 200 block of Conant.

"It's going to be tough getting tenants without more parking," he said.

Mr. Anderson said he worked with a few other potential investors to design a building meeting the city's desire for retail on the first floor and housing or offices on upper floors. He said the building would have cost more than $3 million to construct, which was too expensive to allow them to make a profit.

"The request-for-proposal process is competitive, so we didn't want to come in with anything that was less than grandiose," Mr. Anderson said.

The site still has possibilities, he said, and he would consider designing a scaled-down proposal that might be more financially feasible.

Mark Rasmus, president of Tomahawk Development, said that although he did not submit a proposal to the city last week, he is pursuing a plan to develop the site.

"I've had discussions with and will continue to have discussions with a tenant interested in the entire site," he said.

City officials said they are looking forward to talks with developers and are making some plans to make the site more attractive to investors.

John Jezak, city administrator, said Maumee officials have been in discussions for several years with the Diocese of Toledo about its land along the 100 block of Broadway Street. Mr. Jezak said the city is investigating getting the land and converting it into a parking lot.

The city also is hoping to do a feasibility study later this year about making left-hand turns off of Conant. Most left-hand turns are prohibited, which can make getting around Uptown difficult.

"The city has been working for more than a year to prepare the Conant land, which it owns, for redevelopment. The city demolished a former gas station and office building on the site.

"No matter what happens with that land, at least it looks better than it did with an empty gas station on it," Mr. Jezak said.



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