Randy Oostra, ProMedica CEO, and Robin Whitney, vice president of property acquisition and development, tell The Blade’s editorial board about plans to move ProMedica’s headquarters to downtown Toledo and build a parking garage in Promenade Park.
The number of jobs ProMedica plans to move downtown could balloon to as many 2,500, the health-care company’s top official told The Blade’s editorial board on Thursday.
“Ultimately, we are looking for a site to accommodate 2,500 people,” Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s chief executive officer, said, describing a second phase of the company’s move that would require finding office space and parking not yet identified.
The revision is the latest change to the firm’s $40 million plan to renovate the century-old Toledo Edison Steam Plant along the Maumee River and consolidate administrative employees from 17 different locations into that vacant building and the adjacent KeyBank Building.
The company originally said 800 people would occupy its new downtown campus — including those at its current corporate headquarters on Richards Road.
Robin Whitney, ProMedica’s vice president of property acquisition and development, told Toledo City Council’s parks and recreation committee Tuesday that 1,000 jobs would be housed in the former steam plant and KeyBank Building.
Of those 1,000 jobs, 625 would be new to Toledo.
One hundred would be newly created jobs, and 525 would come from the suburbs.
Five hundred people will be in the steam plant, including Mr. Oostra, whose office is planned to be in a three-story waterfront addition added to the historic structure.
Mr. Oostra said the second phase of its relocation would include moving employees from Paramount, an affiliate of ProMedica that is in Maumee’s Arrowhead Park. There are about 540 Paramount employees.
Of the 1,500 jobs in the second phase, about half would be new to Toledo, Ms. Whitney said.
Mr. Oostra said the company is pursuing options to purchase other buildings downtown but has none currently.
“The second phase will require us to use other parking,” he said. “We will have to be very creative.”
The most controversial component of ProMedica’s plan is its intention to build a parking garage in the southwest quadrant of Promenade Park with total space for about 750 vehicles. It would occupy 14 percent of the park.
The company wants the parkland at no cost, along with property north of the steam plant that now is an amphitheater area south of the Imagination Station science museum. The company also wants the city to vacate the Water Street dead end north of Madison Avenue and an unbuilt stub of Madison east of Water.
Mr. Oostra acknowledged there is some opposition to building the garage in the park, but the company examined other options and argued none were suitable.
“For us to make a $40 million investment, we need to secure a base of parking,” he said.
The property includes a 0.83-acre parcel in Promenade Park. An additional 1.33 acres in the park would be included, but the company would grant a permanent public easement back to the city. The property north of the steam plant is about 1.2 acres, said Stacy Weber, spokesman for Mayor D. Michael Collins.
Mr. Oostra said the company plans to “adopt Promenade Park” and wants to revive CitiFest, an organization that planned events downtown.
“If we don’t do this, what else is going to happen in the next 30 years that is different from today?” he asked.
The company has agreed to spend $2 million to “restore and improve Promenade Park and the parking site,” according to a proposed memorandum of understanding. Of that, $1.5 million would be spent to restore the parkland disturbed by building the underground section, which would extend under the park. The remaining $500,000 would be used for improving the rest of the park.
The proposed deal includes a clause that would require ProMedica to reimburse taxpayers for the current value of the conveyed public property if the company ever sells it. Mr. Oostra said the city would be given the first right to buy back the property.
City Council is expected to vote on the memorandum of understanding with ProMedica on Jan. 20.
Mayor D. Michael Collins said his administration would do anything it could to help the company.
“I firmly believe the presence of ProMedica downtown will set forth a new era for what downtown Toledo will look like,” he said.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, after learning about ProMedica’s plans to eventually relocate the employees who work for Paramount from Arrowhead Park, said renewed development of downtown Toledo is ultimately good for Maumee.
“I have to be concerned, but I’m also confident we can do a good job of attracting other businesses because we have very high occupancy rates,” Mr. Carr said.
He also questioned the wisdom of Toledo agreeing to give such a large chunk of income tax receipts from ProMedica employees back to the company as a part of the agreement to get jobs and redevelopment of the site.
As a part of the deal, ProMedica wants Toledo to enter into a “Toledo Expansion Incentive Program” agreement with it.
Under that program, one-third of new income-tax proceeds from new jobs on the site would be rebated to ProMedica.
Mr. Carr admitted Maumee also offers tax rebates to businesses as part of incentive packages to move there, but he said the size of this proposed rebate would be unprecedented in northwest Ohio, and it further amps up the bidding wars between local communities for jobs.
“All we are doing is bidding against each other to move jobs. We are not bringing new jobs into the area,” Mayor Carr said.
Huntington Bank also announced plans Thursday to move 75 employees from Maumee to its downtown Toledo headquarters to join 78 employees already working there.
Staff writer Marlene Harris-Taylor contributed to this report.
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