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Published: Tuesday, 7/18/2006

Dillin to lead $150 million plan for Toledo's Marina District


City of Toledo leaders have a new leader and a new $150 million plan to remake the 125-acre Marina District project a vision that includes new housing, an amphitheater, ice rink complex, and entertainment district that would link with International Park, The Blade has learned.

The new plan marks the return to the waterfront development of Larry Dillin, who was identified today as master developer.

A favorite of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Mr. Dillin is the developer behind the successful Town Center at Levis Commons development in Perrysburg and current plans to renovate Southwyck Shopping Center in Toledo.

Mr. Dillin s specialty has become building entire neighborhoods that mix retail and entertainment.

He said today that some previous plans for the district lacked an over-arching vision for not just the 125 acres along the Maumee River but also the surrounding East Toledo neighborhood, which has been flailing economically for years.

What hasn t come together yet is that overall vision, Mr. Dillin told The Blade today. We only get one chance to get it right. What happens in the Marina District now is going to define Toledo for several decades to come.

The vision which emphasizes housing, public projects, and a bike-and-walking path along the river s edge would raze the Toledo Sports Arena, which currently sits at the foot of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. That land is too valuable to be a box surrounded by a parking lot, Mr. Dillin said.

His taking over of the project, which still must be approved by Toledo City Council, signals a new chapter for the snake-bitten development that began near the end of Mayor Finkbeiner s second term as strong mayor in August, 2000, and became a major failing for former Mayor Jack Ford s administration.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who was elected, in part, on his campaign to get the Marina District project moving again, tried and failed earlier this year to attract major retailer Bass Pro Shops as an anchor for new development on the fallow land.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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