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Published: Tuesday, 1/6/2004

North Towne zoning could include residential use

Plans for reviving the former North Towne Square mall could include new residential development, under a recommendation of the city s plan commission staff.

A California developer plans to rezone the failed shopping mall and its out-lots at Alexis and Telegraph roads to mixed-used, a classification that would allow everything from retail to office, light manufacturing, and warehousing.

The plan commission has asked the developer to consider one additional use: residential.

“A lot of the older shopping centers are going to more of a mixed use with a residential element. You want that because it adds more people to the site,” said Robert Davis, the deputy director of the Toledo Plan Commission staff.

Nationwide/Northtowne Real Estate Investment LLC, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., has requested CMX - community mixed use - for most of the shopping area surrounded by Skyview, Mel Simon, New Towne Square, and Teletowne drives. The exception is 21st Century Super Fitness Center in the former Montgomery Ward store, which the partners do not own.

The troubled mall at Alexis and Telegraph roads, now called Lakeside Centre, was purchased last year by Beverly Hills businessman Sammy Kahen and Jack Kashani from Simon Property Group of Indianapolis for $980,000.

Mr. Kashani also bought the former Dillard s store for $200,000 and had purchased the former Elder-Beerman store for $550,000 in January, 2000.

The North Towne rezoning was to be on Thursday s plan commission agenda but is being deferred for 60 days at the developers request.

Mr. Davis said the developers plan to revise their request to make it conform to the zoning classifications that will replace CMX zoning. A major rewrite of the zoning code is pending before City Council, and a vote may be held as early as the end of this month on that rewrite.

The plan commission has proposed that the developers consider townhouse or apartment development along Teletowne, Mr. Davis said. Residential uses increase demand for the stores and services in the facility, and would lend it a neighborhood feel, a report by the plan commission staff says.

Charles Hiller, a lawyer for the owners of North Towne Square, said the developers are open to the idea of residential development, but don t have a specific plan for it yet.

“They re of a mind that they are open to anything that there s a demand for,” Mr. Hiller said.

He said potential residential uses could be a hotel, motel, or multifamily housing on an outer lot, not inside the mall.

Converting under-used commercial space and half-empty parking lots to “urban village” housing is a concept getting increasing attention in the city, such as in a proposed redevelopment of the Westgate area, at Central Avenue and Secor Road.

North Towne Square opened in 1980 on land that used to include an airport, but never achieved its developers hopes of being on a par with the three existing malls.



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