Toledo Public Schools will find itself the owner of a significant amount of vacant land this year, after dozens of buildings are razed in the conclusion of its building program.
Under the district's Building for Success program, contractors built or renovated 3.5 million square feet at 44 sites, with a final price tag of about $635 million. With all the new construction, dozens of buildings were demolished, leaving the district with scores of vacant plots dotting Toledo.
Maintenance of those lots costs money, and vacant space can prove to be an eyesore. District Business Manager Jim Gant was not sure exactly how much vacant acreage TPS will hold after all the buildings come down, but it's enough that the district is making plans to unload land throughout the city.
"We really are not interested in holding a lot of property," Mr. Gant said. "From a business perspective, I want to try to avoid it."
Although both sides said talks are only preliminary, one party interested in several TPS lots is the city of Toledo. The former sites of Beverly Elementary and Jones Junior High in particular have piqued the city's interest.
Deputy Mayor Tom Crothers said the former Beverly site at 4022 Rugby Dr. could be an "excellent residential site." The area is surrounded by residential properties; part of the space is used as a community park, which Mr. Crothers said the city wouldn't remove.
"We do have some interest [in the former Beverly site], no doubt about it," Mr. Crothers said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Neighborhoods is talking with several Old South End organizations that are interested in the former Jones site on Broadway. No formal proposals have been presented for the site, Mr. Crothers said, but there's been enough community interest that the city plans to possibly act as an intermediary between TPS and the groups.
What the city would give, if anything, to TPS for the properties isn't clear; talks haven't progressed beyond an expression of interest. Mr. Gant said TPS administrators aren't opposed to land swaps with the city, because the entities have done similar swaps before.
For instance, TPS is to gain title to a parcel on Winthrop Street next to Scott High School in exchange for sharing costs with the city for the demolition of a vacant building there. The district is contemplating turning that space into additional parking for the school.
Although TPS will consider land swaps with the city on some lots, others may fetch the district enough on the open market that the school system may hold onto them until the right price is offered. Mr. Gant said it'll be a balancing act between the potential current and future value of a property, and the cost to maintain vacant lots.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.