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Published: Tuesday, 4/27/2010

Toledo City Council grants demolition of former United Way building

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A majority of Toledo City Council voted Tuesday to deny an appeal filed last month against the demolition permit granted for the United Way's former headquarters downtown.

The 10-1 vote clears the way for the nonprofit agency to tear down the 41-year-old building bordered by Superior, Jackson, and Summit streets.

Councilman Joe McNamara cast the lone vote against allowing the demolition to proceed. Councilman Lindsay Webb was not present. Ms. Webb previously said she would vote in favor of demolition.

Fred Kutz of East Toledo, a former City Council candidate, on March 22 appealed the Toledo Plan Commission's 3-2 vote on March 11, which granted the demolition approval. Council was required to vote on the appeal within 45 days.

Mr. Kutz, a member of the Toledo 20/20 Land Use Implementation committee, at the time said he was not convinced council would allow the building to be razed.

Mr. McNamara, along with Toledo architect Paul Sullivan, joined preservationists in calling for a six-month reprieve for the building.

Council's zoning and planning committee formally heard the appeal on April 14 and the full council voted on it during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The plan commission voted in favor of demolition early last month after more than 90 minutes of discussion, debate, and public comments.

United Way of Greater Toledo officials say the building is a financial drain on the nonprofit's resources and insisted every reasonable effort was made to find interested buyers.

The former Community Services building at One Stranahan Square opened in 1969. The six-story, 100,000-square-foot structure was vacated by the United Way in October, when the agency moved into an adjacent new and smaller $4.9 million headquarters.

During the March 11 plan commission meeting, Bill Kitson, United Way's president and chief executive officer, said he opposed a then suggested six-month delay as it would burden his agency with $100,000 of upkeep expenses and affect funding to other nonprofit agencies that help the needy.

The United Way says that keeping the building has cost more than $200,000 a year. The agency's most recent cost estimate for renovation was $10.3 million. The United Way plans to replace the leveled building with a park.

Years down the road, the park could be sold to a developer and built upon, with proceeds benefiting the agency's nonprofit mission.



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