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Published: Tuesday, 7/7/2009

Dillin seeks control of Marina District

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dillin Dillin
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The planned Marina District development in East Toledo has cost taxpayers more than $43 million over the past decade or so - which includes costly cleanup of the once heavily polluted land - and developer Larry Dillin urged council Monday to finally step aside and give him control.

"Toledo needs to invest in itself, and we will all be proud. That's the promise I make," Mr. Dillin told a council committee. "It's time for me to take control of the property and get the city out of the way."

The taxpayer cost for the project is a combination of federal, state, and local money. It includes more than $12.4 million in Toledo capital improvement funding.

Council is expected to vote Tuesday on legislation authorizing Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to enter into a second amended development agreement with Dillin Riverfront Properties Inc., Mr. Dillin's business.

"This has been a very long road, and brownfield remediation is not inexpensive," said Dave Amstutz, Toledo's manager of economic development. "It is very expensive but that is the fate unfortunately of a lot of older communities."

Under the current plan, Mr. Dillin would get 58 acres on the waterfront in exchange for $3.6 million. He would need to start erecting buildings by Dec. 31, 2010, to prevent losing the property back to the city.

Under the previous plan, the city would have assisted the project by issuing approximately $3 million in assessment-backed general obligation bonds - which many on council were unwilling to approve this year.

The mayor's proposed agreement authorizes Mr. Dillin to accept the $3.6 million for the sale of property and deposit the money into a capital improvement fund, which is to be used for "reinvestment into the public portion of the Marina District."

Mr. Dillin, under the terms of the new amendment, still will be required to personally guarantee the repayment of a $3.5 million State Infrastructure Bank loan for public improvements.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, who questioned Mr. Dillin vigorously yesterday, said the city could end up obligated to repay that loan should Mr. Dillin default.

Work began in September on sewer lines and the main roadway through the Marina District's $20 million public park area, which includes infrastructure, along the river.

The $11 million park is also to be funded by a $5 million grant from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission.

The commission approved the $5 million grant last year, but a lengthy delay forced the city to reapply for the money, Mr. Amstutz said. The commission votes today on reissuing the funding. The $3.6 million from Mr. Dillin would function as the required matching money for the grant.

The public improvements are supposed to be the catalyst for what eventually is to be a $320 million private development.

According to previously announced plans, the park is to feature a refurbished boat dock area, an amphitheater, and a clock tower.

It is to have an urban sand beach, grassy areas leading down to the Maumee riverbank, viewing areas, and solar-powered lighting. And there are to be concrete walkways extending the mile length of the Marina District project.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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