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Published: Saturday, 3/31/2012

City proposes deal on Maritime Plaza

United North would receive $143,000

BY TONY COOK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The sale of One Maritime Plaza, a seven-story office building on the Maumee River, has drawn controversy. The sale of One Maritime Plaza, a seven-story office building on the Maumee River, has drawn controversy.
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The Bell administration has proposed giving $143,000 in proceeds from the sale of One Maritime Plaza to United North, the community development organization that sued the city this month over the deal.

The proposal appears to be part of a broader settlement that the city, United North, and other parties are still finalizing.

The sale of the seven-story office building on the downtown riverfront raised controversy this year.

The administration of Mayor Mike Bell brokered a deal under which a trust affiliated with the American Maritime Officers union, the current owner, would convey the building to the city, which then would sell it for $143,000 to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which has its offices there.

The port authority also would make $757,000 in upgrades to the building, which has a leaking roof and problems with its heating and air conditioning system.

United North objected to the deal, which was negotiated without its involvement, because it was supposed to receive repayment from a $2.5 million federal Urban Development Action Grant that the city awarded to the American Maritime Officers Pension Plan to help finance the building's construction in the early 1980s.

The union, however, contended that it never made enough money from the building to trigger repayment. United North maintains that it should receive repayment from the sale proceeds, and it filed a lawsuit to that effect.

The parties have been negotiating a settlement since then, and on Friday they released a joint statement saying they've suspended legal action and are attempting to resolve the dispute.

"The parties' representatives are confident that, within 30 days, a proposed solution can be advanced to their respective council and boards for consideration," the statement said.

Terry Glazer, executive director of United North, said he supports the newly proposed transfer of $143,000 to his organization but would not comment on any other issues still being discussed.

Those issues could include the fate of the historic St. James Hotel, a vacant North Toledo building owned by the union that United North is interesting in rehabilitating.

As part of the original deal put together by the city in January, United North would have received the building, but Mr. Glazer said his organization wouldn't be able to renovate it without more money from the sale of One Maritime Plaza. The One Maritime Plaza building was appraised at $900,000 "as is," much higher than the proposed $143,000 sale amount.

Matt Sapara, vice president of the port authority, said the renewed negotiations are "very conceptual right now."

"There could potentially be other components to it," he said.

He and the other parties declined to discuss further details.

"I can just say the pending litigation has been suspended and we're working to reach a proposed solution with all consideration in the next 30 days," said Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman for Mayor Bell.

City council is scheduled to discuss the proposed payment to United North at its agenda meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Paula Hicks-Hudson, who represents the part of North Toledo where United North would use the money, said she was glad to hear a resolution to the dispute might be on the horizon.

"It's a good thing because if everything works out it will provide some additional resources to that area to hopefully save and work toward developing that part of District 4," she said.

D. Michael Collins, chairman of council's law committee, said he was surprised to see the item on the agenda. He hadn't been advised or briefed about the negotiations or the proposed ordinance, he said.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson said she hadn't received any additional information, either.

Contact Tony Cook at: tcook@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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