Toledo's Warehouse District could be adding retail in the empty Berdan Building as the owner prepares to sell it and other nearby buildings that surround Fifth Third Field.
David Root, who once had a vision of developing the area into a SoHo-style community called Huron Street Village, is preparing to sell the buildings, several of which have existing businesses with leases, including the Bronze Boar and Grumpy's restaurant.
The block-long Berdan Building on Washington Street between Huron and Erie streets, is empty and would be ideal for a retail center, said Keith Brown, one of the developers of the Bartley Lofts at 745 Washington, one block west of the Berdan Building.
Mr. Root has asked the Toledo Plan Commission to rezone the buildings and several parking lots from limited industrial to commercial downtown, which would bring them in line with other properties in the district.
"We encouraged [Mr. Root] to rezone those properties. We're planning on working on those projects, but I'm not at liberty to say exactly what the [projects] might be," Mr. Brown said.
The soon-to-be open Market on St. Clair, 30 South St. Clair St., which plans to sell upscale coffee, wine, beer, and grocery items, also needs to be zoned as a convenience store. General Manger Tony Jayne said he hopes to open the store, which is in the St. Clair Historic Village development, this month.
The plan commission meets at 3 p.m. today in Toledo City Council chambers in Government Center.
Mr. Brown said the Berdan Building "does not lay out well" for condominiums, and a retail center there could be supported by residential properties already in existence and those being proposed for the area.
Mr. Root was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Jerry Parker, said the rezoning request was a prelude to the sale of the structure and associated properties.
He said a specific deal has not been struck.
Mr. Brown said several ideas for the building have been discussed among various developers, but an investors' group has not been put together.
Connie Horne, an owner of Grumpy's, said she has not seen Mr. Root in three years. She said her restaurant was one of the first projects in the area. "We brought everyone down here to the street. We like it here," she said. "I don't know what his current plan is, but it was going to be a block like SoHo. .●.●. Then he started selling off the buildings."
Mr. Brown said that if he ends up involved with a project with the buildings, Grumpy's and other existing businesses would be preserved.
"We love Grumpy's. That's just the kind of business that's needed down here," he said.
Mr. Parker said existing leases would survive any building sale.
Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick