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Published: Friday, 5/27/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

CHINA CONNECTION

Toledo delegation wraps up 9-day overseas visit

Chinese again want to buy Marina District, mayor says

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Dashing Pacific Group Ltd. Chairman Yuan Xiaohong announced on Mr. Bell's final day in China that the Chinese company is again interested in purchasing the Marina District for $3.8 million. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Dashing Pacific Group Ltd. Chairman Yuan Xiaohong announced on Mr. Bell's final day in China that the Chinese company is again interested in purchasing the Marina District for $3.8 million.
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HANGZHOU, China -- Mayor Mike Bell wrapped up his nine-day trip to China Thursday by announcing the deal to sell property in the Marina District is back on and that the interested Chinese investors want an option to purchase even more land on the waterfront site.

Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., which already has purchased the nearby Docks restaurant complex for $2.15 million, put its $3.8 million offer to buy the southern 69 acres at the Marina District in East Toledo back on the table for approval by Toledo City Council. Additionally, Dashing Pacific Chairman Yuan Xiaohong, in a letter signed in Hangzhou, said the firm wants a two-year option to buy the decommissioned Toledo Edison power plant property on the site.

"The option would be for a period of two years from when and if the property becomes development ready, and we would pay a sum equal to the fair market value based on a professional appraisal," the letter states.

Ms. Yuan, an Inner Mongolia native and Shenzhen businessman who has been traveling with the mayor's delegation for several days in China, signed the letter Thursday at the Victoria Regal Hotel in Hangzhou. She signed it "Ms. Yuen Siu Hung," which is another spelling of her name, Mr. Bell said. Ms. Yuan, who was with the mayor Thursday, could not answer questions in the absence of her translator, Simon Guo.

Read More from the mayor's trip at toledoblade.com/ChinaConnection.

READ MORE: Toledo council split over possible Tuesday vote on Marina purchase.

Mr. Bell, who was clearly elated to have the Marina District deal back on track, said the majority of his trip to China was aimed at that purpose.

"This was at least 60 percent, maybe even 70 percent," Mr. Bell said. "We made some other solid leads here, but this was important."

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Scott Prephan, background, Dashing Pacific Group's Toledo representative, visit a room with Chinese treasures Thursday. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Scott Prephan, background, Dashing Pacific Group's Toledo representative, visit a room with Chinese treasures Thursday.
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The mayor on April 15 announced that Dashing Pacific Group, which also includes Shenzhen developer Wu Kin Hung, had taken back its offer to buy the land and canceled, or at least put on hold, plans to build a $200 million residential and commercial development along the Maumee River in East Toledo.

The deal seemed sullied after some members of council raised questions about the sale and proposed conditions on it, including requirements that union contractors do the construction work and that Toledo could buy back the property if it remains undeveloped after two years.

Thursday, Mr. Bell said the deal on the table is the last deal the city would get to sell the vacant property to Dashing Pacific.

"They not only resubmitted their bid, but they are proposing to buy, in projection, possibly 22 acres more of land in the Marina District, so they are going beyond where they were before, so they must really believe in the project," the mayor said. "They have been convinced that council has been more informed about the issue and they are prepared to move forward."

Mr. Bell said Ms. Yuan and Mr. Wu needed to meet face-to-face with himself and his delegation, which included Regional Growth Partnership President Dean Monske and Perrysburg real estate broker Scott Prephan.

"The people who were doing the most jaw-boning, or who were getting the most attention, are the ones who are the most negative," Mr. Bell said. "In Toledo, we actually market the negative minority and we ignore the positive majority, and what I heard was, 'Please come back with a deal. ... We have to stop giving credit to negative people.' "

The Marina District is a former collection of industrial parcels that over about 12 years has been assembled under city ownership and cleaned up for commercial and residential development with $43 million in state and city funds.

The mayor celebrated the deal during his last night in China before he boarded a plane this morning bound for Detroit. The mayor and a delegation of about 12 people have visited Shenzhen, Beijing, Qinhuangdao, and Hangzhou. The number of people with the mayor in each city fluctuated as some left for other places or private meetings and returned.

Dashing Pacific Chairman Yuan Xiaohong examines ancient Chinese artifacts owned by Yuan Jinkang, owner of Shaoxing Huitong Battery Co. Ltd near Hangzhou, China. Dashing Pacific Chairman Yuan Xiaohong examines ancient Chinese artifacts owned by Yuan Jinkang, owner of Shaoxing Huitong Battery Co. Ltd near Hangzhou, China.
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Mr. Monske said the majority of Toledoans and the Toledo business community are behind the deal.

"One thing that really helped is how well this trip has been perceived back home," Mr. Monske said. "People are feeling good about it and that makes a huge difference."

Mr. Prephan, Dashing Pacific's Toledo representative, said Ms. Yuan and Mr. Wu would visit Toledo soon and plan to travel to the city more frequently.

"These are not folks who are coming to Toledo to do a business deal, generate profits, and bring the money back to China," he said. "They are interested in investing in our community and being a part of the community beyond just investing in property."

Dashing Pacific also will become a sponsor of the July 4 fireworks celebration downtown, Mr. Prephan said.

"The essence of this trip from our standpoint was to make them welcome, make them feel that the community welcomes them as a whole -- that is a very big part of Chinese culture," he said.

He said Ms. Yuan and Mr. Wu have been "as open as they possibly would be and the offer is fair."

The mayor's first full day in China was spent with the two investors and included a trip to the rooftop of the 69-story Empire Building in Shenzhen that was developed by Mr. Wu. Mr. Guo, who is also RGP China president, produced a copy of a book Mr. Wu wrote detailing the technical difficulties and government bureaucracy of constructing the building.

The mayor first met Mr. Wu and Ms. Yuan, who are friends and business partners, during his first trade mission to China in September, 2010.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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