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Published: Friday, 12/13/2002

Steam plant developer alters plans for project

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Plans for the former Toledo Edison steam plant downtown have been scaled back to eliminate an overhanging deck.

The redesign has delayed getting approval for historic tax credits by as much as 90 days.

But it also will reserve city riverfront parkland and save the city $800,000 in economic development funds.

Skip Chodak, the developer of Water Street Station, said he had the luxury apartment project redesigned recently to avoid using an $800,000 loan from the city's federal Community Development Block Grant.

The new design eliminates an addition that was to be built on the Maumee River side of the steam plant. That addition was to include a restaurant.

“The [block grant loan] was putting a tremendous fiscal strain on the city. The funds I felt would be better used in the arena of affordable housing,” Mr. Chodak said.

“We now have developed the units within the integrity of the building itself. The project has been generally enhanced. Every unit now has a river view, whereas before that was not true,” said Mr. Chodak, vice president of Somerville Associates, Inc., of Mission Viejo, Calif.

Ted Jones, Toledo's acting director of housing, said he believed Mr. Chodak's motivation had more to do with avoiding the federal red tape that would have come with the use of the federal funds.

The money will be reallocated for economic development projects, acting neighborhoods Director Ford Weber said. He noted that the city's development agreement calls for construction to start by June 15.

The redesign reduces the number of units from the original 99 to about 76. It has caused a delay of between 60 and 90 days in getting financing. Mr. Chodak said construction still should begin in the spring.

The proposed deck addition 20 feet above Promenade Park had bothered some officials who saw it as creating an unattractive and potentially unsafe space below.

City council approved the $10.6 million project by Mr. Chodak and Cleveland-area architect Jon Sandvick in February. That agreement included the city's offer of an $800,000 low-interest loan.

The developers are counting on tax credits equal to about 20 percent of the cost of the development. The State Historic Preservation Office in September approved the building as eligible, but the agency has not yet been given the architect's plans to allow final approval.

Mr. Sandvick said the plans had to be redrawn after Mr. Chodak decided to forego the city loan.

“It actually provides for more green space and takes up less into the park area. It preserves more of the park and we'll still be bringing the building back to glory,” Mr. Sandvick said yesterday.

He said a scheduling problem with the state historic preservation office was not the reason for the delay. The application for federal tax credits was to be on the agenda of the historic preservation office advisory board in Columbus last week, but the item was inadvertently left off the board's agenda. The board doesn't meet again until March.

“As it turns out, it won't matter, because it won't go to construction until spring. If we were trying to close [on financing] in January, that would be a problem,” Mr. Sandvick said.

The city acquired the old plant on Water Street in 1997. It has been out of use since 1985.

Water Street Station is seen as an anchor of the Promenade Park redevelopment envisioned by Downtown Toledo, Inc.



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