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Published: Friday, 3/18/2005

New plan on table for retail, housing

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The former Toledo Edison Acme power plant would be transformed into retail space as part of a plan that includes high-end condominiums, homes, boat slips, and restaurants. The former Toledo Edison Acme power plant would be transformed into retail space as part of a plan that includes high-end condominiums, homes, boat slips, and restaurants.
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The latest plans for the Marina District project, situated on about 120 acres of waterfront property in East Toledo, include transforming the former Toledo Edison Acme power plant into retail space and constructing more than 100 high-end condominiums and up to 170 homes for rent.

A general outline of the new project model - including restaurants, boat slips, and a 200,000-square-foot retail anchor - was revealed yesterday as part of an agreement signed by the developer, Pizzuti Cos. of Columbus; Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, and Jim Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

The three signed a memorandum of understanding that sets forth a general plan of action for site development. Plans include walkway and park space contemplated in earlier proposals as well as condominiums from $165,000 to $300,000 and rental property from $650 to $1,300 per month. The total retail space would be 425,000 square feet and more homes and rental units would be added in future phases six to 10 years away.

"The project is a challenge.

Putting it on paper is easy. Putting it in the dirt is the hard part," William Carroll, Toledo's economic development director, said yesterday. "[With this agreement], everyone states that they feel comfortable that it's going to happen."

Last year, Mr. Ford rebid the Marina District project - which has had several false starts - and chose Pizzuti.

The developer was again tapped by Mayor Ford last month to develop a new Toledo Sports Arena to replace the existing, aged arena located just off Main Street on the east side of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge. Five acres in the Marina District have been set aside for a new arena, but the final location still has not been decided.

A separate boat terminal project has been proposed nearby to try to attract Great Lakes cruise ships to dock in Toledo and to potentially offer water transport services to Detroit and Windsor casinos.

The Acme power plant has been considered a challenge for redevelopment because of the existence of asbestos and other environmental issues. But Pizzuti said it wanted to try to incorporate the building into the design of the retail center.

Ford Weber, acting Toledo real estate commissioner, said that about 30 percent of the plant, or about 50,000 square feet, has been cleaned and is ready to be redeveloped. He said the clean space equals an area about the size of The Docks development, located in International Park across Main Street from the Marina District and existing Sports Arena.

The latest Marina District plan incorporates the former power plant as converted retail space. About 30 percent of the plant has been cleaned and is ready for redevelopment, officials said. The latest Marina District plan incorporates the former power plant as converted retail space. About 30 percent of the plant has been cleaned and is ready for redevelopment, officials said.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

City officials said Pizzuti has not made any promises, saying it would research the idea. Company representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday because Pizzuti offices were closed yesterday afternoon for its annual meeting.

Jim Russell, Pizzuti's director of land development, said in a prepared statement that the company was committed to consulting with the surrounding East Toledo neighborhoods. The exact forum has not been decided, but something akin to town-hall meetings or informal public hearings could be involved.

"The housing elements proposed in the memorandum of understanding are market rate driven, and will provide exciting opportunities for the residents of the Toledo region to enjoy the view of downtown and the riverfront," Mr. Russell stated.

As part of the process, Pizzuti paid for a market study. From that information, which the company has kept private as a proprietary trade secret, the memorandum of understanding was developed.

The next step is for Pizzuti to provide drawings of the project within 45 days and to attract a retail anchor for the development within 120 days or the project could be canceled, the agreement states.

The retail anchor would be something smaller than a department store, Mr. Carroll said. Instead, the store might be more specialized so it could become a destination spot in the same way Cabela's, an outdoor activities superstore in Dundee, Mich., attracts shoppers from throughout the region and beyond, he said. It would not be designed to compete with area malls, he insisted.

"The retail there is to enhance the riverfront," Mr. Carroll said. "You're going to come here to be on the waterfront."

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick

at: ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6077.



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