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Published: Saturday, 8/30/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Clarion Hotel demolition set to finally begin

Contractor had to first eliminate contaminants such as asbestos

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sapara Sapara
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Visible demolition of the Clarion Hotel high-rise eyesore in South Toledo should begin early next week — just in time to help stage the nearby former Southwyck mall property for sale, city officials say.

Bill Burkett, commissioner of economic and business development, said the deconstruction of the 10-story building could not begin until the contractor finished eliminating contaminants — everything from asbestos insulation to mercury in the thermostats and batteries in the exit signs.

The final step, he said, was to remove water from the basement that was used to store swimming pool chemicals.

“They’re going to start on the one-story areas — the pool, banquet room, carport — so they can get access to the remaining tower from the outside,” Mr. Burkett said. “I think it’ll take another four weeks to get it sorted out and bring everything to the ground.”

Mayor D. Michael Collins announced the beginning of demolition on July 7, and his staff said the building would likely start to disappear in a month, a deadline that passed three weeks ago. The delay has prompted impatience on the part of council members who asked for an update from the administration last week.

The building at 2340 S. Reynolds Rd. has stood empty since 2009 when 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 Homrich Inc. of Carleton, Mich., to tear the building down.

City Council 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.

Mr. Burkett said the site will either be covered in stone — his preference because it’s less expensive — or will be graded with topsoil and seeded with grass.

Progress on the demolition comes as the Collins administration is issuing a request for proposals to market the former Southwyck Shopping Center site nearby on Reynolds Road.

Matt Sapara, the director of development, said a Request For Proposals, known as RFPs, will be provided to the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership to circulate to its networks of commercial property developers.

The city is about one month into a four-month option to buy Southwyck from its out-of-state owners. Just as real estate agents “stage” a house for sale by making it look appealing, city officials said removal of the dilapidated hotel is one less obstacle to marketing Southwyck.

“It’s significant. Anytime you drive anyone to the Southwyck site you’ve got to go by the Clarion. So as you see more evidence of it coming down and other investment made in that corridor it’s a very positive selling point for Southwyck,” Mr. Sapara said.

Mr. Sapara said the RFP will offer the possibility of a public-private partnership on Southwyck that could include an investment by the city, if council agrees.

One model is the partnership between Mr. Sapara’s previous employer, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and builder-developer Ed Harmon, Mr. Sapara said. The two split the risk on building a new warehouse at Toledo Express Airport, which was then quickly leased. Since then, the port authority and Mr. Harmon are partnering on an additional “spec” building and on the former Jeep assembly plant property in central Toledo.

“We could entertain that, absolutely, with council’s blessing,” Mr. Sapara said. He vowed that the administration would closely scrutinize the background and qualifications of any potential developer to make sure they have the financial capability and a plan.

Mayor Collins on July 19 announced his administration had secured a purchase option, paid for by an unidentified outside party, for the former mall.

The 120-day purchase agreement allows the city, or a third party backed by the city, to buy the 58-acre site for $3,000,209 from the current owners, who are in Kansas and Texas.

The administration envisions corporate headquarters and retail. The former enclosed shopping center closed in 2008 after operating for 36 years.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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