University of Toledo officials Wednesday broke ground on a $12 million commercial complex on the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road, hailing the project as a giant step toward invigorating campus life and the surrounding neighborhood.
Called the “Dorr Street Gateway Project,” the complex will be anchored by a large Barnes and Noble Booksellers store at least two stories tall. Other tenants that have signed up to occupy the space are Gradkowski’s Sports Grille, Great Clips, Starbucks, and an as-yet unnamed banking center and sandwich shop. Student apartments will occupy the upper floors.
The retailers are expected to open their doors next July, said Matt Schroeder, vice president for real estate and business development at the University of Toledo Foundation. The student housing, consisting of 48 apartment units, will open in August, 2012, he added.
“Today was really a culmination of four or five years of community planning. It involved the University of Toledo foundation, faculty and staff but also a lot of hard work with the neighbors,” Mr. Schoroeder proclaimed. “Today was a celebration of what we hope is not only a first phase development ... but really a catalyst and a transformation opportunity.”
Financing for the project comes from the foundation, which manages endowments to the university. The foundation is partnering with Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties to develop the site. During the planning process, the foundation consulted with students, city of Toledo officials, and neighborhood residents.
Located next to the University of Toledo’s main campus, the complex promises to be a popular hangout for students and give the area a more college-town feel than it currently has, student government president Matt Rubin said. Although there are a few college-oriented businesses near the university, the new retail space will make the area significantly more student friendly, he added.
“It means that students are going to have the opportunity to enjoy the community more than they have in the past,” Mr. Rubin said,noting that students are very supportive of the project. “This is going to be the hub of all student life.”
Toledo Councilman Wilma Brown, whose district includes UT, could barely contain her excitement about Wednesday’s ground-breaking. After more than a decade of working to revitalize the Dorr Street corridor, including spearheading reconstruction of the road and sidewalks, Ms. Brown said the Gateway project lifts those efforts to a new level.
“It’s good for the university as well as the neighbors and it’s going to be the gateway for the City of Toledo,” Ms. Brown said.
Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett