Another Mud Hens season has passed, and a building adjacent to Fifth Third Field at Monroe and Huron streets remains empty.
Myron Stewart, owner of the building, said yesterday he hopes to begin remodeling the structure at 519 Monroe St., within a few weeks. It s unlikely the restaurant he plans there will be open by the first game of the 2004 season on April 8.
“I feel the heat that I want to get it done,” Mr. Stewart said. “The city and the county have a right to say they want to get the thing done. I want to get it done because we have the stadium there.”
The scope of the project has changed during the year. Mr. Stewart said he will remodel 519 Monroe but no longer plans to replace the former Brenda s Body Shop next door, which was razed in October, 2002.
At the time of the razing, he said he would put a new building on the Brenda s site that would be in keeping with the architecture of the Warehouse District. He said yesterday his new plans call for adding an outdoor patio to the restaurant at 519 Monroe.
“It was never financially feasible; I was just going to do it,” Mr. Stewart said of constructing a building.
Razing the Brenda s building has been controversial since the time Lucas County received a demolition permit in March, 2002, as part of its plan to sell the building to Mr. Stewart. Toledo delayed demolition of the building for 60 days, but it couldn t stop it from coming down.
Kathy Steingraber, executive director of the Toledo Warehouse District Association, said she was disappointed to hear that the building won t be replaced, but she never thought it was going to happen anyway. She fought the demolition last year, but was somewhat mollified when Mr. Stewart announced plans to replace the Brenda s building.
“We lost a remarkable building, regardless of what people think,” she said. “It added a lot to the neighborhood. There just isn t enough interest in preservation.”
Harry Barlos, president of the county commissioners, said he likes Mr. Stewart s plan of having a patio. He said patio areas are in short supply downtown, particularly around Fifth Third Field, a county-built venue that opened in 2002.
The commissioners sold the Monroe Street buildings and five others surrounding the ballpark in hopes it would revitalize the area.
Mr. Barlos said he met with Mr. Stewart Monday, because he was concerned about the lack of progress at the building. He said he came away from the meeting encouraged by the plans, but he hopes there will be some action soon. “Obviously, that was a very visible corner - one that drew a lot of excitement,” Mr. Barlos said.
The purchase agreement Mr. Stewart signed with the county calls for the remodeling to be completed in two years from the day of closing, which puts the deadline at June 20.
If the work isn t completed by that time, improvements to the facade could be finished by an association made up of the owners of the other buildings around the ballpark that were purchased by the county.
The association then could assess Mr. Stewart through a lien.
Mr. Stewart, owner of the Toledo Journal and an investor in local Church s Chicken franchises, said he ll make the June deadline.
He said he has been delayed, because it has taken time to investigate different partnerships and franchises. He said he decided to work with a local chef and develop a restaurant that would offer casual dining in keeping with its location near the ballpark.
“It will be something for adults and something for kids since we have the baseball stadium,” Mr. Stewart said. “Being by the ballpark has a big impact on that. We also want to cater to some of the workers downtown.”