ProMedica executives and a Columbus developer on Tuesday unveiled plans that would bring residential and commercial development to the downtown Marina District and a mix of retail, market rate apartments, restaurants, and a hotel adjacent to ProMedica Toledo Hospital on Monroe Street.
The two proposed new developments, projected to cost more than $150 million, will bring long-awaited upscale residential living and other amenities to the downtown riverfront and needed housing for Toledo Hospital employees in the former Colony neighborhood.
The Marina District development would have apartments that would sit between Main Street on one side and a yet-to-be-named Metropark on the other side.
The bulk of the Marina District still would be set aside as a Metropark.
Developer Frank Kass, the founder of Continental Real Estate, of Columbus, who created the original Marina District plan more than 16 years ago, is proposing 370 apartment units and a restaurant at Main Street and Riverside Drive in the Marina District in East Toledo, along with a pool and private clubhouse.
In the former Colony, located near Central Avenue and Monroe Street, his team would create a mixed-use development with an extended-stay hotel, apartments, and an assisted-living facility including a unit for memory loss patients.
“Both developments are in long-term iconic Toledo locations,” Mr. Kass said. “To have this opportunity, we’re very happy about it. We have to perform. Everybody has to perform.”
He added later, “It’s going to be tremendous.”
Randy Oostra, president and chief executive officer of ProMedica, said the projects are important for providing housing for the health system’s employees — both near its future $50 million headquarters downtown and in the expanded Toledo Hospital and Children’s Hospital.
He said it was important to have nearby housing options available for up to 300 medical residents who would be studying and working at ProMedica Toledo Hospital.
“Frank has been generous enough to consider investing here. You have to believe we’ve turned a corner,” Mr. Oostra said.
Mr. Oostra said ProMedica’s decision to develop its headquarters in the former Toledo Edison Steam Plant building along the west side of the Maumee River downtown, now under construction, triggered a concern for the adjacent areas of downtown.
“If we’re going to come downtown, we want to make sure things go well,” he said.
He said ProMedica had been assembling the Colony land for about 20 years.
Mr. Kass said the Colony project would include a 120-room hotel on the north side of Central, and 212 to 220 apartments on the south side, with a restaurant and a clubhouse.
He said the hotel would serve families whose members are patients in the hospital.
Have 100 beds
The assisted-living and memory care facility would have space for about 100 beds, with about 30 percent in memory care, and with some retail and restaurants near the complex.
Mr. Kass said ProMedica’s agreement to accommodate University of Toledo medical students would mean additional people needing accommodations and amenities near Toledo Hospital.
“We did not know what the Colony was, but we’re bringing it back,” Mr. Kass said.
“We will bring first quality products here, it will be built with tremendous designs and good building materials, and top brands and great operators,” Mr. Kass said. “That’s what the Colony and ProMedica and Toledo Hospital require.”
The Colony neighborhood project would include a 120-room hotel on the north side of Central, and 212 to 220 apartments on the south side, with a restaurant and a clubhouse.
The Colony area was a hub of economic activity in the mid-20th century, with more than 20 businesses including Brauer's Delicatessen, Lamson’s, a Fanny Farmers candy store, BR Bakers, Colony Foods, The Colony restaurant, Colony Theater, the Colony Bowling Alley, and so much more. Built in 1941 in what was considered a suburban area at the time despite being within the city limits, much of the shopping center was destroyed in a 1944 fire.
It was successfully rebuilt and again prospered for awhile.
Mr. Kass and Mr. Oostra briefed Blade editorial staff in a meeting that included Dave Zenk, executive director of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area; Bob LaClair, chief executive and president of Fifth Third Bank and chairman of the ProMedica board; Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson; Toledo District 3 Councilman Peter Ujvagi, as well as staff members.
Mr. Kass and Mr. Oostra briefed the ProMedica board Tuesday night.
Mr. Kass conceived of the Marina District in 2000 when Carty Finkbeiner was mayor. The property was a patchwork of privately owned parcels, with empty industrial buildings, the former Toledo Edison Acme power plant, and the former Toledo Sports Arena.
Though Mr. Kass’s concept fell through, as did four succeeding development attempts, the Marina District over the next 15 years was assembled into city-owned parcels with buildings razed and contaminated land cleaned. In the process, Riverside Drive was constructed, as was a building for the National Museum of the Great Lakes and a boat marina.
The city spent $43 million to acquire and clean up the land, the majority of that in state grants.
ProMedica acquired the land for $3.8 million from the Chinese firm Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., in 2016, using an option held by the city of Toledo to buy back the land it had sold to Dashing Pacific in 2011.
Continental Real Estate intends to buy 15 acres of the 70-acre Marina District from ProMedica.
During a visit to The Blade, Columbus developer Frank Kass, left, and ProMedica president and CEO Randy Oostra discuss development plans, projected to cost $150 million, for the Marina District and the former Colony.
“What makes it work for us is Metroparks. In a city of your size and a location like that, to try to develop 70 acres would be impossible in my lifetime,” Mr. Kass said.
Mr. Kass said his company would submit requests for zoning and building permits starting this summer with plans to begin construction next year.
The Marina District development would have apartments that would sit between Main Street on one side and a yet-to-be-named Metropark on the other side. He said the rents were still undetermined but said a goal was that they would be $100 to $150 a month less than comparable apartment rents in the suburbs. He suggested rates of $1.20 to $1.25 per square foot for apartments of about 750 square feet for a one-bedroom and 900 square feet for a two-bedroom.
He said most units would be garden apartments, with townhouses with garages facing the Metropark.
The plan would require the city to extend Broadway across Front Street to intersect with Riverside Drive, and Broadway would separate the housing development from the Metropark.
Mr. Kass suggested the city turn International Park over to the Metroparks. He also said he expects that the privately owned Docks restaurant complex would respond to his development with some reinvestment. He called the Docks “better than not being there” but “a little tired.”
“We are very cognitive of our adjacencies at all times,” Mr. Kass said.
He said the project complements ProMedica’s headquarters construction at Promenade Park on the west side of the river that is expected to have as many as 2,000 workers.
“One of the reasons you build apartments like this is to encourage young people to have places to live downtown so they don’t have commutes,” Mr. Kass said. “We’ll be renting to Millenials and empty-nesters. We’re looking at this as a really big opportunity.”
Mr. Zenk said the Metropark land would be acquired in three phases, with 21 acres to be bought at a cost of $1.2 million in 2017, 15 acres to be added for $880,500 in 2018, 17.7 acres to be bought in 2019 for $1,041,338, for total acquisition of 53.7 acres at a cost of $3,154,538.
An additional parcel of 17.8 acres is under option from the city of Toledo with cost not yet determined.
Outside funding for the new riverfront Metropark includes $1,898,471 from Clean Ohio Fund and $1,349,245 that has been requested from Sustain Our Great Lakes.
The Metroparks’ development plan for Phase 1, to be completed in 2018, would cost $3,732,700. That work includes wetlands and bioswales, reforestation and prairie restoration, “instream aquatic habitat restored,” paths and river overlooks, river access for small boats, and recreational opportunities.
Metroparks has scheduled a two-hour public hearing for 5:30 p.m. on June 21 at the East Toledo Family Center.
Mr. Kass used the meeting at The Blade to gain Mr. Zenk’s commitment to getting the Metroparks construction done by the time the apartments are done.
He urged Mayor Hicks-Hudson and Mr. Ujvagi to help keep neighborhood groups from trying to alter the plans.
“Any impediments to the project are not known to me,” Mr. Kass said. “We haven’t seen any stumbling blocks.”
Mayor Hicks-Hudson also said she did not foresee any impediments. She said she was in favor of the city turning International Park over to the Metroparks so it could be developed in conjunction with the new Metropark in the Marina District.
Mr. Kass and Mr. Oostra said they’ve been talking about teaming up on the Marina District and the Colony for more than a year. Mr. Oostra credited Blade Publisher and Editor-In-Chief John Robinson Block for suggesting he contact Mr. Kass. Mr. Kass called his return to the Marina District “a homecoming”.