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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

Southwyck owners anticipate $1.5M loan

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on authorization of a brownfield loan for environmental cleanup at the shuttered shopping center. 'We have been working on this for a very long time, which I think everyone is painfully aware of,' developer Larry Dillin said. Toledo City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on authorization of a brownfield loan for environmental cleanup at the shuttered shopping center. 'We have been working on this for a very long time, which I think everyone is painfully aware of,' developer Larry Dillin said.
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The owners of the Southwyck Shopping Center in South Toledo are willing to accept a $1.5 million loan to help fund asbestos removal from the vacant mall and demolish it by the end of the year, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced yesterday.

"This is a rather momentous occasion in the sense that we have been working on this a long time - since I returned [to office] in 2006," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "We have been working to gain control for two reasons - one, to demolish and, two, to rebuild."

Toledo City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on authorization of a $1.5 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfield loan to developer Larry Dillin to be used for environmental cleanup at the now-shuttered mall.

Mr. Dillin, who joined the mayor outside the mall, said he has been acting as the go-between for the city and the parties who own the mall.

"We have been working on this for a very long time, which I think everyone is painfully aware of," Mr. Dillin said.

He said razing the structure will make the property more marketable for redevelopment.

The nearly 36-year-old mall at 2040 South Reynolds Rd. closed June 30. Just eight stores and the carousel remained when the closing was announced.

Mr. Dillin, the creator of Levis Commons in Perrysburg and the city's developer for the proposed Marina District in East Toledo, said his plans to buy and redevelop the mall site have changed since first announced some time ago.

The redevelopment plan includes a mixed-use development of stores, offices, and residential space much like Levis Commons, and a fountain, pavilion, and clock tower.

"We have some ideas that perhaps double the reinvestment," Mr. Dillin said. The time frame, however, is still uncertain.

"It's very difficult for anyone to predict when the meltdown in the banking industry will subside," he said.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, whose council district includes the mall, attended the mayor's news conference even though he was not invited.

He criticized Mr. Finkbeiner for not communicating the information regarding the loan to him or council.

"I'm excited. It sounds like we are moving forward," he said.

The mall's ownership is divided among three entities. The managing partner is Tom Morgan, of MD Management in Kansas City, Mo., a firm formerly known as Dreiseszun & Morgan.

His uncle, Sherman Dreiseszun, who died in December, was an original operator of the mall. Various trusts of the Morgan and Dreiseszun families now own about half of Southwyck through a firm called S-S-C Co.

The rest is owned by Dillard's Inc., of Little Rock, with the exception of the former Dillard's store, which is owned by the M.G. Herring Group, of Dallas.

William Carr, an attorney for Lewis, Rice, & Fingersh in Kansas City, Mo., informed the mayor in a letter dated Tuesday that S-S-C would "promptly remediate and demolish" the mall if the loan terms are acceptable.

There will be no interest during the first year of the loan and the rate will increase to 5 percent the following year.

Toledo has spent $1.1 million this year for Victorian-style lighting, brick medians, landscaping, and roadway improvements along Reynolds. The city this year also created a facade program for the Reynolds Road corridor to help businesses make exterior improvements and update signs.

Mr. Finkbeiner earlier this summer said the city would invest an additional $1.23 million of federal money in improvements along Reynolds between the Ohio Turnpike and Swan Creek.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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