The Hicks-Hudson administration wants property tax breaks and an areawide name change to help spur long-desired redevelopment of the former Southwyck Shopping Center site and nearby property in South Toledo.
Toledo City Council on Tuesday reviewed a proposal to designate the area Hawthorne Hills, the original plat name for the area that includes the vacant former mall property, as a community reinvestment area and authorize tax exemptions for remodeling and new construction.
“This is an effort to increase the area’s competitiveness,” said Brandon Sehlhorst, the city’s manager of real estate.
The community reinvestment area, if approved by council, would be roughly bounded by Swan Creek, Heatherdowns Boulevard, the Ohio Turnpike, Cass Road, and Plum Leaf Lane. It would allow Toledo to offer tax incentives for economic development and job creation, Mr. Sehlhorst told council during its agenda review meeting.
It would be the 10th community reinvestment area in Toledo.
Bill Burkett, the city’s economic development commissioner, said property owners in a community reinvestment area get a portion of property taxes for new construction or renovation abated.
“The school [district] is not harmed because Toledo Public Schools already has an agreement for these,” Mr. Burkett said. “If it has a value of more than $1 million, that requires a supplemental agreement with the school system.”
Community reinvestment areas were introduced in Ohio in 1977 — and revised in 1994 — as an economic-development tool run by municipal and county governments.
“A housing survey has been completed, which indicates that reinvestment has been discouraged, and that there are structures located within the proposed designated area in need of remodeling and areas available for new construction to encourage economic stability, the maintenance of real property values, and generating new employment opportunities,” stated the ordinance council was asked to review Tuesday.
Councilmen lauded the idea Tuesday.
“I am a fan of CRAs, but I want specifics,” said Councilman Tom Waniewski, who asked for a report on how much would be saved by developers or property owners under various situations.
Councilman Rob Ludeman said the city should “get away from calling that [area] Southwyck,” noting the neighborhood’s previous name.
“The most important thing for me is to see Hawthorne Hills, not Southwyck,” he said.
Councilman Sandy Spang also praised the idea to encourage a name change.
Toledo City Council agreed last year to sell the former mall site after the city administration negotiated a $2.8 million deal with an unknown buyer represented by Louisville Title Agency. But the buyer terminated the deal months later because the city was unwilling to extend a due-diligence period, a notice of termination said.
The city bought the former Southwyck site in 2014 for $3.25 million when then-Mayor D. Michael Collins pushed through a 7-5 council vote to approve the purchase.