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Published: Thursday, 4/11/2013

City to rezone urban property for UpTown Green project

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A concept model for the UpTown Green space. A concept model for the UpTown Green space.
UPTOWNTOLEDO.ORG Enlarge

Toledo's City Plan Commission today voted unanimously to rezone property in the UpTown urban district from office commercial space to parks and open space, allowing a park project for the property to move forward.

The goal of the project, called UpTown Green, is to promote sustainable recreation and development in an environmental park setting. The property consists of 2.5 acres located within the borders of 18th Street, Madison Avenue, Laburnum Lane, and 20th Street.

It is slated to open at the end of this year.

The project is a collaboration between The UpTown Association and the City of Toledo. The green space is expected to include a splash pad, walking paths, a performance area and several natural enhancements, such as a bioswale and native plants. A bioswale is an alternative to storm sewers, which will help improve storm water quality.

Additional water conservation elements will also be utilized.

“We're looking to install a cistern,” Ms. Champa said. “We anticipate being able to utilize stormwater that comes off of the roof."

The performance area will also include a back-drop for outside film projection, in addition to athletic areas for such games as disc golf.

Funding from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund in the amount of a $1.5 million grant, is helping the project get off the ground. The grant pays for asbestos surveys, environmental assessments, removal of contaminated soil and groundwater and other remediation projects. While the space will focus on nature conservation, it is also expected to create a safe and accessible link between the Old West End and the campus of Mercy College, with Adams Street and downtown.

Julie Champa, executive director of The UpTown Association, said the project has the potential to affect the community in several ways. 

“We do anticipate that it will spawn further economic development in and around that area,” she said. "We looked at this area and it was just a perfect fit for us.”

Mannik & Smith Group is designing and engineering the park, which has been in the planning stages for a few years.

“We've been working for the past two years, in putting together amenities that we think are going to be beneficial to the neighborhood,” Ms. Champa said. That has included the hosting of community forums where residents told the association what they wanted to see most of the property.

It is anticipated that ground will be broken in late May. A tentative completion is scheduled for the end of the year, she said, although she said the date could change depending on construction schedules. Trees and perennials will be planted in 2014.

In addition to bringing major investment to the neighborhood, the park is also aimed at bringing UpTown district out of the shadows. 

“I think it's an exciting project,” Catherine G. Hoolahan, vice chair of the plan commission, said during the meeting.

 A second phase of the project, includes fixing up an existing nearby building that could include restaurants and other retail facilities. Ms. Champa said while grant funding will pay for the park, The UpTown Association will be responsible for raising money for the building, located at 1810 Madison Ave. The now-vacant, four-story building was used for commercial office space. 

Contact Kelly McLendon at kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-206-0356, or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.



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