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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2002

Toledo to mull improvement of riverfront


Peter Gozza is hoping that the thousands of people who flock to see the Tall Ships next July will see something more pleasant on Toledo's riverfront than the muddy lot that used to be the Federal Building.

A $100,000 allocation now pending in Toledo City Council would fund the design and engineering of a central plaza and amphitheater that would cover the site of the old building down to the Maumee River. The whole project is expected to cost $3 million.

Part of the work could be done before the fleet of at least 17 Tall Ships ties up in Toledo July 17-20. Organizers expect the $2.4 million display to draw at least 150,000 people to the downtown.

“My goal is to get that waterfront [improved] so when the Tall Ships come sailing in for [Ohio's] bicentennial, we'll have someplace for them to anchor,” Mr. Gozza, who is president of Downtown Toledo, Inc., said yesterday.

The seven-story Federal Building at 234 North Summit St. was demolished in February, 2001.

The $100,000 would pay for a consultant to do the design and engineering of a plaza that would stretch from Summit to Water Street, which would be relocated closer to the river. The consultant also would produce a request for proposals for residential and retail development that is planned adjacent to the central plaza, Mr. Gozza said.

The Ford administration introduced the ordinance requesting $100,000 last week. It is expected to receive a first reading by city council on Tuesday and could be voted on Oct. 22.

Mr. Gozza said his organization will apply for grants from public and private sources but also will expect city support for the estimated $3 million price tag.

Jay Black, Jr., the city's chief operating officer, said the city will provide some funding, but Downtown Toledo, Inc., will “have to raise some serious money.”

“That is not going to be a totally city-funded project,” he said. No one has spelled out what the city's share is likely to be.

The riverfront development would be the first step of 15 years of improvements recommended by the Downtown Toledo, Inc., master plan that was adopted earlier this year by city council.

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