South Toledoans last night let Mayor Carty Finkbeiner know that they want the Southwyck Shopping Center revitalized - and soon.
The continued lack of progress on Southwyck's redevelopment dominated the mayor's second town hall meeting - this one held in the mall. About 200 people attended the two-hour session.
Mr. Finkbeiner said he and developer Larry Dillin are arranging meetings with the mall's owners - Bill Dillard in Little Rock and Sherman Dreiseszun in Kansas City - to get them to agree to turn over control of the mall to Mr. Dillin.
In the meantime, Mr. Finkbeiner urged the audience to help drum up merchants who might like to expand into Southwyck. "By next Christmastime, I'd like to have this place much more filled up," he said. "If we keep Dillard's here, we have a chance to bring in others," he said.
Griff Watkins of South Toledo said the owners didn't seem to be acting very aggressively to fill their own mall. And he wondered why any merchant would locate in Southwyck if Mr. Dillin's plan is to tear down and replace much of the structure as part of his $100 million plan.
Mr. Dillin, who joined the mayor and almost all of his directors and commissioners at the center court in the mall, said he would take any new merchants he could, and then work to "reposition them in a revitalized project as it starts to come together."
George Simon, president of Stautzenberger College on Southwyck Boulevard, said his business may have to move.
"This is our home. Our commitment is here. It's getting tougher and tougher to keep that commitment," Mr. Simon said.
One very young participant had a suggestion for store owners. Edana Ottney, 6, of South Toledo, was placed upon a chair next to the mayor to express her mind.
"I was thinking maybe if they lowered a little bit of the prices, people would come more," Edana said.
To start the meeting, Mayor Finkbeiner led off with a prayer, during which he had everyone present hold the hand of his or her neighbor.
Mr. Finkbeiner disclosed that he plans to have the city's fire hydrants repainted.
The mayor invited the audience to cheer for their preferred hydrant color between red/yellow and Midnight blue/gold.
He said other colors are being considered for a planned repainting of the city's 10,000 fire hydrants. He said his preference is red.
The last time Mr. Finkbeiner was mayor, his preference was green and white.
The mayor got in a joke about the shower installed recently in his office at a cost of almost $10,000.
He told the audience they could use his shower for $1 to help the city pay its bills.
In response to a written complaint from the Southwyck Neighborhood Association about an alleged nude dance bar, Club XS on South Reynolds Road, Law Director John Madigan said the city filed suit in Toledo Municipal Court Dec. 29 charging the club's nude dancing violates the city's zoning ordinance.
Mr. Madigan said it could still take two or three months to get a decision from the court.