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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2003

Another building rescue in sight


A North Toledo woman with an interest - and a success - in reclaiming historic structures has set her sights on one of the Vistula neighborhood's most prominent buildings, known as “the Big House.”

Susan Burkett, president of the Historic Vistula Foundation, and her partner, Stuart Cline, have won accolades for the renovation of their home, the Raymond-Ketcham House at 329 Chestnut St.

Now, Ms. Burkett has an application on the Toledo Plan Commission's agenda for today to change the zoning of 802 North Huron St. from multi-family residential to commercial mixed use.

Her plan is to lease the building for use as a salon and day spa.

The three-story building at Walnut Street and Huron, known in the neighborhood as “The Big House,” was constructed in the 1870s by Theodore Casey, who was a partner in a downtown grain company.

Later, it was turned into St. John's College. The college closed during the Great Depression. The building is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Toledo's Mareda, Inc., a low-income housing group.

Ms. Burkett's application received a favorable recommendation from the plan commission staff. The rezoning must be approved by the five-member plan commission.

The staff said that, with renovation likely to cost $250,000, the building will never be rehabilitated for multi-family housing.

Because it is in a historic district, the project will need a certificate of appropriateness from the historic district commission. The effort has the backing of NorthRiver Development Corp.

The building is in the Vistula Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been empty since 1986.

The salon and spa are to be operated by separate business tenants under a lease on the first and second floors.

Ms. Burkett has made an offer to the diocese to purchase the old building.

An attempt was made three years ago to convert the building to a bed and breakfast, but the developer could not assemble the needed financing.

The plan commission is considering a couple other commercial proposals today. Among them:

w An IHOP restaurant [International House of Pancakes]is proposed on Talmadge Road, just north of Sylvania Avenue.

The plan calls for a nearly 5,000-square-foot building on the west side of Talmadge where Orchard Drugs and The Charcoal House restaurant once stood. A preliminary drawing of the plan was approved in July.

w The Matthew Vincente Salon on West Dussel Drive in Maumee is proposing to relocate to a former medical office building that is vacant on Garden Road near Manley and Perrysburg-Holland roads in South Toledo.

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