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The Michael V. DiSalle Government Center needs more than $7 million in repairs and deferred maintenance, including to the building’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, according to an October, 2013, facility assessment report by KZF Design.
Even so, the city of Toledo intends to make an offer to purchase the building this week, according to Joel Mazur, the assistant chief of staff to Mayor D. Michael Collins.
“We are preparing to make an offer to the state to take ownership,” Mr. Mazur said.
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The 22-story building, also called One Government Center, was completed in 1983 and is run by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. It houses state, county, and city officials and costs $4 million a year to operate.
The city occupies 172,000 of the building’s 511,255 square feet of space and eight of the 22 stories.
Mr. Mazur said he expects the purchase price of the building to be $1 but recognizes that the city will inherit the deferred maintenance costs, as well as annual operating expenses.
“The cost — both operation and maintenance-wise — are a large factor,” Toledo Law Director Adam Loukx said.
The city’s decision to purchase the property makes sense because Toledo will have more control over how it pays for the costs, Mr. Mazur said. Even as a tenant, he said, the city would be paying for rising maintenance costs through higher rent.
“We’d control our own destiny with what happens to the building ... and we’re confident in taking that role,” Mr. Mazur said.
The facility assessment report breaks down the maintenance costs into categories of 1 through 5, with category 1, called “life safety,” being the most urgent. Repairs totaling $330,820 fall under the life safety category, while $461,250 in work falls under category 5, or “energy saving options.”
One of the more pressing “life safety” repairs calls for fixing some granite slabs around the building. Cracks and fallen or uneven material there can create a tripping hazard or create puddles, the report indicates.
Costs are also assigned priority levels of A, B, and C, with A being top priority items that should be addressed “within the next couple of years” according to an email from a Department of Administrative Services representative. Some $484,630 of the $7 million total has been classified in the “A” category.
Department of Administrative Services officials, who currently run the building, have reviewed the report but said it was too soon to address when they would respond to each maintenance issue.
“We’re looking at all of the recommendations that came from the assessment,” Pete Gunnell, chief facilities officer, said.
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City officials have analyzed the report since the state provided it to Toledo this spring.
“We had our own facilities manager take a look at it,” Mr. Mazur said, “... we also had some members from the private sector take a look at it as well.”
The largest area of cost in the report is in upgrading the building’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, which will cost $3.2 million all together. The bulk of that work has been assigned a priority level C.
But there are more immediate concerns for the city.
“There are leaks in the windows,” Mr. Mazur said. “There are leaks in the building and some of the offices. That’s something we’d like to address sooner rather than later.”
Details are being worked out about how much rent the city would charge to the state and the county, but Mr. Mazur hopes that all the government agencies operating in the building would remain there.
At the same time, the city hopes to use its savings from no longer paying rent, as well as the rent it will receive from the other tenants, to pay for the lion’s share of the deferred maintenance costs.
“The whole idea of taking ownership of the building is that we would actually be saving money,” Mr. Mazur said.
Another option the city would consider is renting space to a private business if it became available. The state is legally only allowed to rent to government entities.
And the city would not share ownership with any other government entity. Originally, the state had approached the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority about a sale, but port officials said they would not consider purchasing the building as long as the city was interested.
“The port authority is aware that the city is evaluating the property and as long as that is happening we are no longer participating in those discussions,” said Holly Kemler, port authority communications manager.
Despite the costs and issues detailed in the report, Mr. Gunnell remained optimistic about the building’s condition.
“Overall we consider DiSalle to be a very well-maintained structure,” he said.
Many issues in the report are not immediate problems and may not need to be addressed for a few years. As such, Mr. Gunnell stressed that he did not expect a massive repair effort.
“There is no large-scale renovation for DiSalle projected or expected at this time,” he said.
The city’s approach would likely be incremental.
“It’s a matter of prioritizing the immediate needs and intermediate needs,” Mr. Mazur said.