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Published: Friday, 10/12/2007

Dillin unveils revised plan for Marina District; rowhouses, retail mingle in new urbanized version

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

More urbanized, with echoes of Boston, Philadelphia, and Venice, the Marina District s newest incarnation emerged yesterday this time with a construction timeline and a commitment of private funding.

Larry Dillin, developer of Levis Commons in Perrysburg, said yesterday he will front the $75 million that he said would pay for the first phase of residential, retail, and commercial construction in the Marina District.

Mr. Dillin s commitment marks the first time private financing has been pledged to the project.

He said construction on the first 550 units of rental and for-sale residential units will start in the spring, with occupancy in 2009.

Joining Mr. Dillin for the announcement were Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and other city and community officials who have been involved in the riverfront revitalization project.

The revised drawings portray a denser street grid than the draft version developed last year, he said.

The new plan we re unveiling is going to have more urbanity. It focuses on creating critical mass. It focuses on creating great community gathering spots, Mr. Dillin said.

The developer said he will build four-story apartment buildings with offices and retail stores at ground level that will center on a large public, riverfront plaza that he likened to the Piazza San Marco St. Mark s Square in Venice. That portion of the project was estimated at $50 million.

In a joint venture with Dillin Corp., brothers Alan and Wayne Nowakowski will develop about 150 three-story, for-sale rowhouses that they said are a type that might be found in Boston or Philadelphia. That complex is expected to cost $25 million.

Mr. Dillin estimated that prices for the for-sale dwellings would range from $150,000 to $250,000, while Alan Nowakowski said he hopes to offer units for as low as $125,000.

The Nowakowskis, who call their firm Brownstone Row Development, developed Evans Landing in Luna Pier, Mich. The development offers rowhouses with a Lake Erie view.

The developers and Toledo city officials hope the initial 21-acre phase generates enough excitement to fuel development of the Marina District over the next seven to 10 years.

We have to come out of the chute strong, Mr. Dillin said. He projected about 40,000 square feet of retail space in the first phase.

City Councilman Rob Ludeman, a real estate agent, said he believes the project will appeal to people who like boats and their nonboating friends, and people who look for a pedestrian-oriented environment.

It s very European with the narrower streets and tall buildings, Mr. Ludeman said.

The 125-acre proposed Marina District is on the east bank of the Maumee River, bounded by Front and Main streets, and I-280. Three previous proposals since the project was conceived in 2000 failed to advance one of them involving Mr. Dillin.

In the meantime, the Marina District largely has been cleared of environmental pollution, except for Toledo Edison s large, decommissioned Acme Generating Station. The city has built a marina, and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is nearing completion of a $3.1 million marine passenger terminal for Great Lakes passenger ferries and cruise ships.

Mr. Dillin s project builds on a planned $10 million city investment on a riverfront street and riverside park aimed at impressing future investors and residents.

Mr. Dillin is expected to oversee an additional $15 million investment in the riverfront park and drive that would be financed by diverting property tax revenues generated by the project to pay off bonds, a practice known as tax increment financing.

Mr. Dillin said he and his designers changed the plans after getting constructive criticism from urban design specialists at a meeting he attended with Mr. Finkbeiner in Miami in February.

One change was to scale back the swoopiness of Riverfront Drive, with its ample green space and large parking lots, to create a straighter drive that will be broken into smaller, more walkable blocks.

The city is deeding over to Mr. Dillin 65 acres of the district in exchange for his commitment to follow through on at least $50 million in private investment.

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



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