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Toledo City Council’s economic development committee discussed Monday the proposed establishment of the city’s fourth community-entertainment district and sent the proposal to council for possible approval when it meets May 6.
The addition of the 108.89-acre Midtown Community Entertainment District would create a single integrated zone designed to attract up to 15 community-type bars and restaurants to the city’s downtown and warehouse district areas. That could create more variety for the estimated 4,000 people living downtown and the area’s visitors, according to William Thomas, the head of the Downtown Toledo Development Corp.
“It brings together the other three community entertainment districts ... ,” said Councilman Rob Ludeman, chairman of the committee. “It allows the proprietor of the new establishment to apply for a liquor license and get it much cheaper than the normal liquor license. It allows them to put extra money into the building, the fixtures, that type of thing.”
During the meeting, Councilman Larry Sykes voiced concerns that those taking advantage of a cheaper liquor license may be those who may later either “flip” the license to operate a different kind of business or otherwise fail to maintain the facilities.
Mr. Thomas and Councilman Ludeman addressed that concern by saying that the quality of the existing entertainment establishments downtown commands a higher quality of clientele that in turn is conducive to smaller, more family-oriented, community-type establishments that serve not just drinks but also quality food.
“Because we have a certain different synergy downtown, with the Walleye and the Mud Hens, these businesses for the most part have grown up around those areas, except for uptown which has its own identity,” Councilman Ludeman said. “And I think the quality of their ownership is just like cream rising to the top, that these are good people and they want to make sure that they run a good establishment.”
The proposed district is bounded by portions of Summit, Huron, Monroe, Washington, Lafayette, Market, Michigan, Washington, and Cherry streets; Swan Creek, and the Maumee River.
Established since 2005 in the downtown and in the warehouse district, Mr. Thomas said the three existing community entertainment districts combined have 17 liquor-license establishments (including the Huntington Center and the Mud Hens stadium that each have multiple permits) and have a potential for 23 more.
Councilman Sandy Spang said during the meeting that serving food appears to be the common thread for many of the downtown liquor-license establishments.
Councilman Ludeman agreed.
“You want to come down and have something to eat before going to a show, or going to a movie at the Valentine, or going to the Walleye or the Mud Hens,” he said. “So I think it’s a little different kind of clientele.”
Committee members also discussed technical details of the project and the process of liquor licenses issued by the state, after which Councilman Ludeman recommended that the issue be sent to the council for approval. No one objected.