A Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority consultant’s concept for redeveloping the former Jeep assembly complex in central Toledo calls for 930,000 square feet of industrial space along the site’s eastern edge while establishing a park along the Ottawa River.
The plan being unveiled during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the site has the same basic layout as one the port authority’s board of directors discussed in February, but the main buildings are larger and linked together. The revised plan also sets aside the southwestern corner of the 111 acres at 1000 Jeep Pkwy. for expansion of State Paper & Metal, a project for which state officials last week announced grant funding for environmental cleanup.
Five large buildings in the plan range in size between 126,000 square feet and 200,000 square feet, while two smaller buildings of 24,000 and 30,000 square feet are sandwiched between three of the big structures. All are shown as having railroad spurs connecting to a Norfolk Southern main line running along the property’s eastern edge.
The earlier version showed four 150,000 square-foot buildings and two 50,000 square-foot structures.
The plan, developed by Toledo Regional Architects, Contractors, and Engineers, shows Willys Parkway being extended to a roundabout or traffic circle in front of the complex, with another roadway running the length of the site in either direction from the circle to Central and Berdan avenues.
Part of the Berdan link would use the existing Jeep Parkway route, but some of that existing road would be removed and become part of the riverfront park, planted with native vegetation and featuring a multi-use trail, shelters, and interpretive stations detailing the area’s history. Officials have said the designated parkland cannot be redeveloped because of its location in the Ottawa River flood plain, although about 4.5 acres of it is identified as “upland area reserved for possible future commercial use.”
An Overland smokestack remaining from the old Jeep plant, once Willys-Overland, is to be kept, while a “solar farm” is proposed for a former trailer lot on the north side of Berdan.
The port authority bought the property from a Chrysler liquidation company in October for $95,000, and has since lined up about $6.1 million in city, state, and federal grant funding to clean up pollution left over from factory operations at the site. Chrysler moved its Jeep operations to its North Toledo Assembly complex early last decade and razed the Jeep Parkway facilities in 2007.
The site is one of the most visible industrial properties in all of Toledo, with I-75 running along the Ottawa’s opposite bank.