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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2010

Port Authority agrees to buy former Jeep factory site


The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors has approved a $95,000 purchase of the former Jeep factory site in central Toledo from a company that Chrysler Corp. set up to dispose of surplus property.

The resolution passed Thursday morning by the agency board also sets aside $225,000 from port authority reserves to pay for "environmental insurance coverage," though that money is expected to be reimbursed from state and federal grants.

The tentative purchase, which still must be signed off by OldCar Co. Liquidating Trust and port authority officials, involves 16 parcels totalling 111 acres that run along both sides of Jeep Parkway between Central and Berdan avenues. The property has been vacant since Chrysler demolished the old Jeep complex there after having moved all of its local operations to its industrial complex on Stickney Avenue in North Toledo.

The port authority resolution notes the site has superior freeway access and an adjoining major rail line, and is highly visible to 125,000 passing motorists on I-75.

"It's a signature piece of property," port President Paul Toth said, recalling family trips from Michigan that included driving by "that old, run-down Jeep site" when it was an active plant.

"We look forward to the opportunity to clean that up, redevelop it, and create jobs for the community," Mr. Toth said. "It has rail access and unbelievable highway access."

While the site has some cleanup needs after decades of industrial activity, the port president said preliminary evaluations by state and federal environmental officials show no pollution from the property has been released onto adjoining property.

"Any issues there, we believe we can deal with," he said.

A draft resolution submitted to the port board after it discussed the acquisition in executive session Thursday morning included a passage stating that "based on research involving developers and site selection professionals, it is likely that the end user of the property will be an alternative energy manufacturer."

Port directors agreed, however, to delete that passage so that other potential site buyers would not be discouraged from pursuing interest in the property. The "alternative energy manufacturer" was not publicly identified.

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