The city of Toledo is now studying the possibility of acquiring the 22-story Government Center downtown from the state of Ohio.
“It’d be nice to not have to rely on a state agency to run the building for us,” said Joel Mazur, assistant chief of staff to Mayor D. Michael Collins, who confirmed Friday the city is considering the deal. “We’re still doing a lot of research on the building.”
Toledo and Lucas County use Government Center for their public meeting places, as well as the offices of elected leaders of both entities, including the mayor and most of his staff, the county commissioners, and the county’s treasurer, auditor, and recorder. The building also houses some offices.
Mr. Mazur said the building, completed in 1983 on Jackson Street between Erie and Huron streets and named after former Ohio Governor and Toledo Mayor Michael V. DiSalle, needs about $6 million in major repairs, including new windows at a cost of $1.3 million and new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning for $3.2 million.
He said the city has no intention of taking on an additional cost that would become a fiscal burden.
In May, the state approached the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority about buying the building for $1, and port board officials said they would examine the idea. However, the port authority has taken no action.
The building became an issue locally after the state Department of Administrative Services tried to double the city’s rent, from $6 per square foot to $13.01. The city’s 172,000 square feet would cost more than $2.2 million annually.
The state’s current rent proposal is for $9.18 per square foot, which administrative services says would allow it to break even. The building has about 463,000 square feet.
Toledo uses eight of the 22 floors.
Government Center costs about $4.3 million a year to operate. Those costs include utilities, maintenance, security, and depreciation, and the property also includes the parking garage.
Robert Reinbolt, the mayor’s chief of staff, said Toledo has to weigh the costs and benefits of running the building against its other options, which are to keep paying rent at a mutually agreed on rate or moving out of Government Center.
“It’s a building that’s been around for a while. You have to go into it with your eyes wide open because there are going to be capital expenditures needed,” he said.
“One of the advantages of the city or county owning the building is that the state is restricted from renting it to anyone but government entities whereas if there were others interested in coming in we could rent to them as well,” Mr. Reinbolt said.
Martin Berkowitz, public information officer for the administrative services department, said, “we are continuing discussions with the city of Toledo and working to find a solution that meets the needs of all the parties involved.”
Nadeem Salem, chairman of the port authority’s board of trustees, said the port authority is aware that the city is evaluating the property.
“As long as that’s taking place we’re not participating in any of those discussions,” Mr. Salem said. “We’re happy to assist if need be.”