Decades ago, the Continental Baking Co. on North Summit Street filled the Historic Vistula District neighborhood with the smell of fresh bread.
Kevin and Ambrea Mikolajczyk now want to breathe new life into the 93-year-old building that long ago baked loaves of Wonder Bread and sweet-tasting Hostess Cakes.
The Toledo couple's plan for converting the three-story structure into a mix of rental units and commercial office space has made the final list of applicants in the latest round of Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits.
Their request to the Ohio Department of Development for $1.1 million in financial incentives through the state tax credit program would assist in restoring the 82,000-square-foot building for use as market-rate loft apartments and commercial office development.
Mrs. Mikolajczyk said the nearly $5.7 million project would be the most expensive and largest endeavor for ARK Restoration & Construction, which she owns with her husband.
In the past 10 years, the couple has renovated and preserved about nine multi-family apartments — mostly in West Toledo and the Old West End — and they now manage and rent the 64 units within the buildings.
"We are both Toledo-born and raised. We really want to see the best for Toledo. That is why we decided to stay here," she said.
They plan to create 24 loft apartments, offering one- and two-bedroom units and at least one three-bedroom apartment. Most units would have access to private roof decks and parking for residents would be available inside the building on the first level. A large lot next to the building was purchased by the owners to provide green space for residents.
Mrs. Mikolajczyk said the proposed development would be respectful of the building's historic features. Improvements, she said, would include new energy-efficient window that are correct to the original industrial green single-glass pane ones.
Plans call for four one- and two-story loft units on the third floor. The second floor's 15 one- and two-story lofts would keep in tact exposed steel trusses and columns.
The roof-top decks for the second floor apartments, Mrs. Mikolajczyk said, would offer views of the Maumee River and the downtown Toledo skyline.
"This will be nothing like the downtown Toledo area has seen as far rental apartments. We are offering a very unique product for a very unique building," she said. “Kevin and I are confident in the product we are putting out and that people will want to come and live.”
The owners also intend to have commercial spaces of 2,000 and 3,000 square feet on the first floor for possible use as restaurants or small businesses.
Until the late 1970s, the building was owned by Continental Baking and was used in the firm’s bread-making operations. A company that sold and serviced photocopying equipment bought the structure in the 1980s and operated offices there until about 2000.
A Cleveland developer later acquired the building and was awarded state preservation historic tax credits in 2007 for a proposed $3.67 million conversion into residences and commercial space. However, the project failed to move forward because of financing.
Mrs. Mikolajczyk said the project has been given the green light for the tax credit award through the two initial phases of the application process. Final awards are expected to be announced in late December.
If approved, ARK Restoration & Construction plans to begin work on the building in the spring and have units available to rent in early 2020.
The company recently purchase the building from the Lucas County Land Bank for $115,000.
David Mann, land bank president, said conditions for the sale of the property require that the new owners submit a plan to develop the building, finance the project, and complete the work.
"We are really hopeful to see that building get redeveloped," he said. "That neighborhood has been identified as the next growth area for redevelopment. The best chance for that to happen, like the way old buildings have been renovated into housing in the Warehouse District, is to have old industrial buildings refurbished into high quality apartments."
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