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Published: Saturday, 10/29/2005

Warehouse District's Berdan Building set to get $16M facelift

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In another sign that Fifth Third Field has sparked a renaissance in the once-dilapidated Warehouse District, local developers are planning a $16 million rehabilitation project for the shuttered Berdan Building.

Parkstone Berdan Building LLC has undertaken the renovation of the structure at 1 South Erie St., at Washington St., with plans to turn it into office, retail, and possibly residential space.

Lucas County officials approved a $500,000 loan - money Commissioner Pete Gerken referred to as the largest amount ever loaned by the county to a nongovernmental entity.

"The track record of the developers is good. This is a low-risk, high-return investment," he said.

Among the partners involved in Parkstone Berdan Building LLC are Robert Gersten and Joe Swolsky of Park West Development Inc. and Daniel Sandwisch and Mike Denman of Timberstone Group. The partnership is responsible for the neighboring Bartley Lofts condominium project.

The $1.35 million acquisition includes the 130,000-square-foot Berdan Building, two parking lots, and the former Root Outdoor Advertising Building.

According to information released yesterday, the developers have performed a feasibility study and an economic impact study, and called the results "very promising."

Although once a potential part of the project, the buildings housing Grumpy's restaurant and the Bronze Boar are not included in the sale, Mr. Swolsky said.

He added that the project will allow the developers to finish what they started months ago when they began transforming an empty building into the Bartley Lofts.

"I just think the Berdan Building is one of the great assets of Toledo," Mr. Swolsky said.

The developers asked the county for a loan because there was "not sufficient conventional financing available to make the investment worthwhile," a result of the fact that the building has long been empty.

Commissioners unanimously supported the loan, which will be taken from general operating-fund money earmarked for economic development.

A condition of the low-interest five-year loan is a provision for repayment if the development isn't completed within three years.

"There are provisions in this contract that were not included in some of the contracts done for property around Fifth Third Field - properties that are still undeveloped - and those provisions protect the county and guarantee repayment," Commissioner Maggie Thurber said.

Kathleen Steingraber, executive director of the Toledo Warehouse District Association, labeled the Berdan Building "one of the signature buildings in the Warehouse District."

"We've been waiting a long time for somebody to take on that project," she said. "It means there is promise for further investment in the Warehouse District."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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