Renovations to downtown’s historic Pythian Castle soon will begin, but crews first must secure its tower, the building’s signature fixture.
Building owner Dave Ball, who acquired the castle at Jefferson Avenue and Ontario Street from the Lucas County Land Bank in November, said the Gothic turrets that top the building had shifted over the winter, and needed to be stabilized before work could commence.
The 1890-built structure was built by the fraternal organization called the Knights of Pythias, who left in 1951 after selling the building to Greyhound Lines.
The building hasn’t had tenants since the 1970s, and has fallen into disrepair, with the roof deteriorated and the tower unstable.
Renovation work can’t start until the tower is secure, Mr. Ball said, as it wasn’t safe for crews to work underneath the tower. He said he was lucky that Toledo didn’t have heavy snowfall this winter, as the deteriorated roof and tower put the whole building at risk.
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“Every time we had a storm come through I was worried about what might happen,” Mr. Ball said.
When Mr. Ball bought the Pythian Castle for $300, he also received a check for $247,300 from the Land Bank to stabilize the structure and fix the roof. Crews were at work Monday installing a steel skeleton structure to support the tower; once complete, that will then allow crews to start removing rotted wooden structural supports by using a grapple bucket to reach into the interior.
After that, work can begin rebuilding the interior, fixing floors and the roof.
What will eventually inhabit the building isn’t yet know, Mr. Ball said, as it’s not possible to bring potential tenants on tours through the structure. Stabilization work will likely take most of this year. After the building is stabilized enough for marketing tours, potential clients can be lined up.
The first two floors will likely be commercial. The top floor could handle residential units, but if a client wants to put office space there, that could work, too, Mr. Ball said. He also owns the next door Greyhound bus station.
The check from the Land Bank comes with strings attached. Mr. Ball must produce a certificate of occupancy within three years, otherwise he must repay the money. If all goes to plan, that criteria will be met by the end of the year, the clients will be lined up next year, and final renovation work will be done in about the following year.
The building across the street was also a Land Bank project. The old Burt’s Theater, which housed Caesar’s Show Bar, was purchased by IBC Inc. in 2013. The roof, which had also deteriorated and caused pieces to fall onto the sidewalk, was repaired by the company.
Joe Marck of IBC said renovation plans have been somewhat delayed because the company started several other projects that are more immediately marketable, including the Erie Street Market, which was purchased from the city in 2015.
The company plans to devote much of this year to completing projects in the Warehouse District, and hope to begin detailed work on Burt’s Theater next year, Mr. Marck said. Aside from the roof, the building was largely structurally sound.
IBC also now owns a connecting building, and Mr. Marck said the company is considering joining the two structures and renovating them in residential properties.
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