Mayor D. Michael Collins called demolition of the vacant Clarion Hotel on Reynolds Road the beginning of a “blight-free” district in South Toledo.
“This has been a long time coming,” the mayor said Monday at a news conference to mark the start of demolition work on the longtime eyesore.
While no one has expressed interest in buying the property, the mayor also said he expects the city should be able to sell the parcel within six to eight months of demolition.
PHOTO GALLERY: Demolition starts on Clarion Hotel
Mayor Collins emphasized the project’s importance to revitalizing South Toledo, saying that the Clarion, originally a Ramada Inn when it opened in 1974, was once a “vanguard of activity.”
“This is the front door of the city of Toledo,” he said of the area, which sits just off the Ohio Turnpike and was once a booming retail district.
Demolition of the building at 2340 S. Reynolds Rd. has been under discussion for months. The hotel has stood empty since 2009 when the previous owners, Toledo Hotel Investment Group LLC, defaulted on $2 million in loans.
The hotel has since caught fire, been broken into, vandalized, and lived in illegally.
Toledo City Council voted unanimously June 17 to approve a $434,000 bid by the Homrich company of Carleton, Mich., to tear the building down.
City Council has set aside $350,000 from the capital improvements fund and obtained a $200,000 Brownfields grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the demolition.
“This is a very sound business decision,” Mayor Collins said, “because this property will not sit vacant for years.”
Joel Mazur, the mayor’s assistant chief of staff, said the goal of selling the property within months is realistic, but added that “it’s tough to have a vision for a property before the demolition is complete.”
“Hopefully if the market stays strong we’ll be able to do that. And that’s what we’re anticipating,” he said.
The news conference Monday concluded with the tearing out of a few trees in front of the building.
Demolition on the exterior of the building cannot begin until asbestos abatement has been performed on the interior to make sure it is safe, according to Homrich General Manager Nick Straub.
Mr. Straub expects interior asbestos abatement and environmental remediation to take about a month. After that Homrich will tear down the exterior of the building using large excavators, he said.
Given the building’s history of break-ins and illegal residents, the city has taken steps to secure the property prior to demolition. Fences have been placed around the property and a police security camera has been used to monitor the building, but Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago said that even with those measures the building has been “difficult to secure.” Homrich will be responsible for security during the demolition process, he said.
“The contractor is going to have their own security system, their own surveillance, and we’re going to rely on that,” Chief Santiago said, adding that tearing down the hotel is a win for everyone because of the danger it presents if it catches fire again, as it did in June.