Assistant general manager of Ye Olde Durty Bird KC Saint John looks at Fifth Third Field from 28 N. St. Clair St.
To put it in baseball terminology, the Toledo Mud Hens’s $21 million Hensville project is rounding second base, with its eye on home.
The Halfway to Hensville event was held Tuesday to mark the halfway point in the redevelopment of old buildings and a parking lot in the Toledo Warehouse District into retail, office, restaurant, and event space.
Local, state, and federal officials, bank executives, and other dignitaries gathered on St. Clair Street outside Fifth Third Field to get a glimpse of the project’s progress.
Renovations at 28 St. Clair and the 130-year-old structures at 3 and 9 St. Clair, which will become the entrance to an expanded Swamp Shop souvenir store and restaurant, began in March.
Work began in early August to transform a former parking lot on Monroe Street adjacent to 28 St. Clair into an outdoor festival and events park that will be called Hensville Park.
From a stage near the Lathrop Co. construction trailer, Joe Napoli, president and chief executive officer of the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye, told the audience that Hensville is continuing the ongoing rejuvenation of the once sparsely populated warehouse district.
Mr. Napoli said that the warehouse district had only seven residents and about six businesses in 2002 when Field Third Field opened.
Since then it has added nearly 700 residents, old buildings have been renovated into lofts, apartments, and restaurants, and more than 60 businesses have opened, he said.
Artist's rendering of Hensville from 28 N. St. Clair St.
“Our goal was to spur economic development and to get the community excited again about the warehouse district, downtown Toledo, and the Toledo region,” Mr. Napoli said. “Today those dreams are being realized yet again.”
The Mud Hens are being assisted in the project with $3.5 million in state historic preservation tax credits and $3.9 million in federal historic tax credits.
The Local Initiative Support Corporation, or LISC, is assisting the nonprofit organization with $6 million in new market tax credits. PNC Bank is contributing an additional $2 million in new market tax credits.
Michael Rubinger, national president and chief executive officer of the New York-based national organization, said several years ago a blogger described the warehouse district as part of Toledo’s “discarded urban past.”
“What a difference a few years make,” he said. “Today the warehouse district is attracting new jobs, businesses, visitors, and residents.”
Neil Neukam, Walleye executive vice president and general manager, informed the audience that the video scoreboard in right field will be dismantled and removed at season’s end, offering unobstructed stadium views to 28 St. Clair, which is to be called the Fleetwood Building.
The building’s second and third floors, each offering 5,000 square feet, are being marketed for office space. The fourth floor will have banquet facilities with access to a rooftop deck overlooking Fifth Third Field.
“You are going to see some amazing views into the ballpark,” Mr. Neukam said.
The building at 28 North St. Clair Street, which is mid-renovation, was open for tours.
Hensville Park, Mr. Neukam said, can accommodate up to 3,000 people for events, including concerts, parties, movie nights, and community activities.
The Mud Hens are paying for the park with a $1.5 million state grant.
The expanded Swap Shop at 3 St. Clair will provide an additional entrance into Fifth Third Field. A second store, Holy Toledo, in the building will have an additional line of clothing and novelties with a Toledo theme. The second floor will be leased for office use and the Roost in Third Field will be expanded into the building’s third floor.
The Mud Hens will open a new upscale restaurant, Nine, on the first floor at 9 St. Clair. Open year round, it will have access to a rooftop patio for dining and party space and will be accessible to the Roost.
Mr. Napoli said the entertainment district should attract about 125,000 to 250,000 people annually in addition to the 900,000 who attend events and games at Fifth Third Field and Huntington Center.
“I think three to to five years from now that 250,000 range will be achievable,” he said.
Patrick Stutler, project engineer for the Lathrop Co., said the buildings’ 19th-century construction is presenting challenges in completing the renovations, especially because of restrictions required by the National Park Service for the historic tax credits.
“You don’t know what you are to find,” he said. “It’s an always changing project,”
The construction schedule calls for the buildings and park to be ready for the Mud Hens home opener in 2016.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.
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