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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2008

Stranahan, Scottish Rite seek resolution

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The concrete barriers that blocked a parking lot during a dispute between the Stranahan Theater and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite have been removed, a visible sign that the two are working toward a resolution.

The entrances to the west parking lots had been blocked for about eight months following disagreement about their use between the Scottish Rite, which owns the land, and the Stranahan Trust, which operates the Stranahan Theater and Great Hall.

The barriers were removed about a week ago.

"We got around the parking lot issue, at least temporarily," said Ward Whiting, executive director of the Stranahan Trust, adding that it's a short-term agreement to allow theater-goers to use those 391 parking spaces through the summer.

The lots have been cleaned up and are in full use "just like they used to be," he said. "It's one less thing to worry about when you have big shows."

The trust and the Scottish Rite have been talking for months and this appears to be a step toward reconciling the larger landlord-tenant dispute, said Thomas Heintschel, an attorney representing the Scottish Rite.

"We're working toward a resolution of all issues relating to real estate," he said.

The Scottish Rite, which moved off the property in October, 2007, has it up for sale. And the trust has a perpetual lease for the portion of the property upon which the theater and Great Hall are located.

The trust has been in talks with the Scottish Rite to purchase the property.

In the meantime, it is going forward with plans for additional parking.

The trust asked the Toledo Plan Commission in June to add about 160 spaces to the northeast area of the site, which is parallel to Heatherdowns Boulevard.

It then went back to the city in mid-October and asked instead for a special-use permit to add a new parking lot with about 420 spaces to the southeast corner of the property, which is closer to the Ohio Turnpike.

The plan commission is to hold a hearing on the request Dec. 4.

There also is a proposal before the plan commission to split the property.

While those involved were reluctant to discuss the details so early in the process, it could allow for the trust to purchase only the land it uses for the theater, Great Hall, and the proposed parking lot, leaving the remaining acreage for the Scottish Rite to keep or sell to another buyer.

Mr. Heintschel said the split is a new development in the overall property issues.

While the Scottish Rite was initially attempting to sell the property all in one piece, separate sales could be an option.

A civil lawsuit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court remains between the two, but the hope is to resolve the issues before the case is set to go to trial in April, Mr. Heintschel said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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