Chemical contamination from years of factory operations at the former Jeep site in central Toledo has been cleaned up, and soon the remnants of old building foundations will be gone.
Now the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which has overseen the property’s cleanup, is about to start what it hopes will be the site’s future.
The agency began soliciting for bids Friday for a contract to build 1,500 feet of roadway and install utilities from Central Avenue into the southern portion of the 111-acre property it bought in 2010 from a Chrysler Corp. asset-liquidation company, property it now calls the Overland Industrial Park.
Port officials said bids will be opened March 15, and construction will start in the spring.
“This new roadway will serve as the main entrance into the site until the Ohio Department of Transportation completes Phase 2 of the I-75 interchange project,” the port authority said in a statement, referring to an as-yet unfunded, $160 million state project on I-75 that would include reconfiguring the Jeep Parkway/Willys Parkway interchange — a primary access point to the Jeep site.
The roadway and utilities project’s $1.325 million estimated cost will be funded fully by about half of a $2.8 million Ohio Department of Development Job Ready Sites grant the port authority received last year for infrastructure development there.
Once the road and utilities are finished — expected by early fall, if not late summer — the port authority plans to build a speculative building, suitable for warehouse or industrial use, toward the property’s south end.
The port authority’s board of directors in late September approved a preliminary architectural and infrastructure planning contract with Harmon Family Development Corp. to design the building, for which port officials hope to have a tenant lined up before construction starts but have stated an intent to build even if they do not. Harmon was expected to take six months to finish the preliminary design.
The port’s Overland Industrial Park concept features a string of industrial buildings along the property’s east side, all with access to the adjoining Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. The site’s western area along the Ottawa River, used for Jeep plant parking in recent times, is unbuildable and shown in the concept as a park, although Matt Sapara, the port authority’s vice president for facilities development, said the port authority has asked for state permission to install “alternative energy components in place of the park.”
“It appears that we will be heading in the direction of solar panels, although we don’t have 100 percent clarity on this point,” Mr. Sapara said.
The port authority paid $95,000 to buy the site from OldCar Co. Liquidating Trust and has since spent about $2.8 million, paid for from state and federal grants, to remove polluted soil, old foundations, and other remnants of the factory complex that then-DaimlerChrysler closed in 2006 after relocating its remaining operations to the Toledo Assembly complex on Stickney Avenue.
Mr. Sapara said pollution removal has been finished and the port authority is preparing documents to submit to state officials to formally complete the remediation process. Contractors are wrapping up the other demolition work on the site, he said, noting the port authority so far has recovered about $160,000 worth of scrap metal from the site.
Last year, the port authority bought a vacant, decrepit warehouse on neighboring property along Central Avenue, and during a board of directors meeting Thursday, Mr. Sapara provided a brief update on efforts to acquire another blighted property nearby.
The port hopes to remove both buildings to make the Overland site more attractive, but its effort to acquire the second property on Central has been thwarted recently by the intervention of a mortgage holder whose claim significantly exceeds the site’s current value, Mr. Sapara said.
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