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Published: Thursday, 4/15/2004

Accord may save 3 sites downtown

Fifth Third Bank and downtown Toledo advocates have reached an agreement that could save three Huron Street buildings from demolition, the head of the Toledo Historic Districts Commission said yesterday.

The compromise would require the city to authorize the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority to build a parking garage on the south side of Erie Street between Adams Street and Madison Avenue.

Council's zoning and planning committee agreed to continue a six-month moratorium on the demolition of 319, 321, and 323 North Huron as recommended last month by the Toledo Plan Commission. The moratorium ends June 30.

Steven Shrake, chairman of the Toledo Historic Districts Commission, told the committee that a meeting earlier this week involving representatives of Fifth Third Bank, the Toledo Design Center, and the parking authority resulted in an agreement to study the feasibility of a new garage.

The garage could be built with a secure delivery area reserved for Fifth Third Bank and a new Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority stop also on the first floor.

Fifth Third has filed for a demolition permit to level the three buildings and replace them with a courier drop-off and parking lot to serve its regional operations center. It has said 140 jobs would be moved to its location on Monroe Street in Sylvania Township if the request for a parking area is turned down.

Clayton Johnston, president of the parking authority, said a new garage might serve and even spur a localized need for parking in the area centering on Erie and Madison.

He said a parking garage could be built in 12 to 14 months, once the authority has control of the property. It would be financed by revenue from garage users.

Council President Louis Escobar supported the negotiations but bristled at being told the city would have to agree to build the garage within 14 months to retain Fifth Third's business downtown. "I do not like being held hostage to do something in a certain period of time when I have no control over the property," he said.

Councilman Bob McCloskey questioned the need for additional parking in the downtown and said he favors letting Fifth Third go ahead with its demolition plan.

Also yesterday, the committee recommended full council approval of rezoning a residential lot at 1927 Genesee St. behind Tony Packo's Cafe and vacating a portion of an alley. The restaurant plans to add a banquet and catering hall and new parking spaces along Front Street.

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