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Published: 4/11/2005

Vote set on downtown waterside proposal

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Since Mayor Jack Ford announced his choice of developer for the shuttered Toledo Edison steam plant last August, the project has yielded as much construction as it has steam: zero.

But a detailed agreement for converting the 1895 structure in Promenade Park into upscale housing has been submitted to Toledo City Council and is scheduled for a vote next week.

"We have an agreement that the mayor will sign once legislation is passed," said William Carroll, director of economic and community development.

"Construction would start no later than June. We'll probably see some things prior to that, maybe even this month - some work around the buildings, some digging," Mr. Carroll said.

Toledo businessmen Jimmy Jackson and David Ball, who make up Water Street Development Co. LLC., plan 108 to 111 rental and for-sale units, along with indoor and outdoor parking, and rights to 20 boat slips on the Maumee River.

The proposal calls for a contribution of $300,000 in city capital improvement funds to be added to the developers' $19.7 million commitment, for a total $20 million investment.

City Council has scheduled a public hearing for April 18 at 4 p.m., with a vote at council's regular meeting the following day.

Mr. Carroll said the exact uses of the $300,000 haven't been determined. That's a detail council will want, said District 2 Councilman Rob Ludeman, a possible Republican mayoral candidate.

He recalled that Mr. Ford selected the Jackson-Ball team over a Tiffin developer who claimed he could do the project without city cash.

"I need to know a pretty good reason as to why it's costing taxpayers $300,000," Mr. Ludeman said. "You have two good people that are involved, Jim Jackson and Dave Ball, but you can't go on personalities."

Rod Kagy, owner of Tiffin-based KG&R Development, submitted an alternative proposal that called for a health club, a gourmet food store, an outside skating rink, and condos.

Mr. Ball and Mr. Jackson both have developed downtown properties. Mr. Ball renovated the Ohio, Woolworth, and Hylant buildings. Mr. Jackson owns Jackson's Lounge and Grill on Huron Street. Their architect, Jonathan Sandvick of Cleveland, is a recognized designer of historic building renovations.

The administration also plans to sign an agreement with Water Street Development to manage the Promenade Park marina, which includes all the docking spaces from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge to Swan Creek. Twenty slips would be leased for use by occupants of the building, referred to as Water Street Station.

Mr. Ball and Mr. Jackson were selected by Mayor Ford last August, but no development agreement emerged until last week.

Mr. Ball said the delay occurred because the company's first construction contractor estimated costs $10 million higher than the developers had projected.

After that happened, "We did some engineering and modifications. Today our numbers make sense," Mr. Ball said.

The $20 million is "in the ballpark, give or take some modification for steel prices," he added.

Since then, Mr. Ball and Mr. Jackson have split with the original contractor, Rudolph-Libbe Inc., but haven't named a new construction contractor.

Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz, who is chairman of council's economic development committee, said the mayor's office is seeking quick action on the steam plant development agreement.

"I think all of us would like to see action on the steam plant," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. "We're not going to move any more quickly than what would be responsible."

The last development plan, from Somerville Development Inc. of Cleveland, which also involved Mr. Sandvick as architect, was voted down by City Council in 2003 because the plan involved too much surface parking and no public access.

The new proposal provides for 77 rental units in the existing structure and 34 market-rate sale units in a planned addition. Parking will be provided underground, along with 30 spaces north of the building.

As the market demands, the Jackson team would add retail space.

The construction is expected to qualify for federal historic tax credits. The main lobby will have a "grand, soaring four-story space" with a display of the history of the building, according to the agreement.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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