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Published: Saturday, 6/21/2008

Pizza chain to refurbish building next to ball park

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Michigan pizza restaurant chain yesterday ended more than seven years of frustration over a single downtown Toledo building.

Pizza Papalis Chicago Pizza announced plans to turn the vacant building at 519 Monroe St. near Huron street, next to Fifth Third Field, into its first restaurant outside of Michigan.

"It's next to the ball park, and this is where it is happening," said Joe Sheena, Pizza Papalis president.

For years, the building was a sore subject for Lucas County commissioners.

The three-story building, which is adjacent to the left-field entrance to Fifth Third Field, was sold to Toledo businessman and weekly newspaper editor Myron Stewart by the commissioners in 2001 - along with an adjacent building at 523 Monroe St. - for just $15,000.

After six years of promises to turn the vacant, 9,700-square-foot building - which previously was a topless bar - into a restaurant, Mr. Stewart put the building up for sale for $360,000 more than he paid Lucas County for it.

The building was sold last year for $160,000, according to the Lucas County auditor.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said he was delighted the building would finally be refurbished.

"It's a great building, and it needs some work, but Monroe Street downtown is really coming back," Mr. Finkbeiner said before a groundbreaking ceremony.

The company plans to build an outdoor patio next to the building - formerly the site of Brenda's Body Shop, another topless bar at 523 Monroe.

Mr. Stewart last year said he spent about $36,000 to tear down the former Brenda's Body Shop.

Lucas County officials had intended to demolish the building when the baseball stadium was being built, but members of local historical preservation groups aggressively opposed the plan.

Instead, the commissioners at the time incorporated the baseball field's design within the confines of the buildings and spent several hundred thousand dollars sprucing up the surrounding buildings in order to make them easier to sell.



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