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Published: Tuesday, 9/6/2005

Sports Arena site part of downtown?

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A request would rezone the Sports Arena site as  downtown commercial. 
A request would rezone the Sports Arena site as downtown commercial.
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Toledo politicians like to assure East Toledo business owners that the east bank of the Maumee River is part of downtown.

A river runs through the downtown, they say.

Now a measure pending before the Toledo Plan Commission would make it official at least in the zoning books.

The city of Toledo and Toledo Sports Arena owner Tim Gladieux are requesting that the zoning of the sports arena property be changed to downtown commercial, or CD.

It would be our first extension of the downtown commercial zoning across the river, according to Stephen Herwat, executive director of the Toledo Plan Commission.

Currently the Sports Arena parcel is zoned industrial, unchanged since the first zoning code took effect in 1923, Mr. Herwat said. The Sports Arena is a legal nonconforming use.

Mr. Gladieux promised to have the zoning updated when he agreed last month to sell the arena to the Lucas County Improvement Corp.

The LCIC took out a 90-day option to buy the property for $5 million.

The LCIC is expected either to buy the property itself or allow a friendly buyer to acquire the site to ensure it is developed as part of the Marina District project.

Mr. Herwat said the downtown zoning was sought only because it is considered more flexible than mixed commercial, or CM, the zoning originally requested.

The plan commission meets Thursday.

Uses permitted in downtown commercial include first-floor residential, indoor recreation, such as a racquetball club, and gas stations. Mr. Herwat said a gas station is not likely to be proposed.

Mr. Gladieux s real estate agent, Steve Serchuk, said the new zoning will permit residential, retail, entertainment, and recreation development.

One future use that appears increasingly unlikely is sports arena. The city s arena developer, Pizzuti Cos. of Columbus, has advocated a downtown location instead of the present site.

City and Lucas County officials began meeting Thursday to form a committee to select a site for a future arena.

Mr. Serchuk said he has been meeting with possible developers in Columbus, but has no specific development plan in mind for the present arena site.

The downtown commercial [zoning] offers the broadest possible uses and the most flexibility, he said. Plus, the other issue, it s always been maintained that the downtown is separated by a river, so the downtown commercial zoning kind of reflects that the riverfront is part of the downtown.

Mr. Serchuk is a member of the Toledo Plan Commission. He said he will be absent from the meeting at which Sports Arena rezoning is discussed.

Also on Thursday s agenda are:

• A request to rezone a large industrial parcel next to the Toledo Zoo for a charter school.

The Toledo Academy of Learning, now at 301 Collingwood Blvd., is seeking a change from general industrial IG to neighborhood commercial, or CN, for a 22.7-acre parcel at 671 Spencer St. The plan commission staff is recommending disapproval, saying the site should be retained for industrial uses.

• A preliminary drawing review for a retail development, including a Dollar General Store, at 825 Holland-Sylvania Rd. A previous plan for a car wash was rejected by City Council s zoning and planning committee last year.

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



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