Effort to revive Lorraine Hotel takes another step forward

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    The Lorraine Motor Hotel, June 2, 2017, in Toledo, Ohio.

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  • The vacant Lorraine Hotel cleared the first hurdle in its quest for revival on Thursday when the Toledo City Plan Commission unanimously approved a zoning change that will allow the prospective developers to move forward with the project.

    The project is being represented by Everett Gransberry and Monika Moss-Gransberry through Walnut Ventures LLC out of Cleveland. Mr. Gransberry told the commission that they are in a purchasing agreement with the listed developer 1117 Jefferson LLC, the listed owner on the staff report.

    The building, constructed in 1925, is listed as being located at 1109, 1111, and 1117 Jefferson Ave., as well as 137 N. 11th St., and 122, 126, and 132 N. 12th St. in Toledo’s UpTown district. The structure has sat empty since September 2019. 

    Ms. Moss-Gransberry added that they are in the “due diligence” period of the purchase agreement and have been in talks with Marriott for potential development. A representative from Marriott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “We look forward to having a beautiful space,” she said.

    The plan commission staff report shows intentions to turn the building into a 105-room hotel, complete with a first-floor cafe, rooftop lounge, and lower-level speakeasy. 

    Commission Chairman Ken Fallows said that he was “intrigued” by the speakeasy idea and told the developers that they have “a lot of work” ahead of them.

    Part of the approval recommendation suggested that the plans for the hotel fit in with the “UpTown Master Plan” by the Toledo Design Collective to revive the entire neighborhood. Elizabeth Ellis, studio director at the nonprofit urban planning group, said that the new Lorraine could follow other nearby projects. They include redevelopment of the Jefferson Center and the expansion of the Toledo School for the Arts.

    “Having people down and around that area, as well as what’s happening with some of those other redevelopments, having more activation around the site, just really only enhances the entire district,” she said in an interview.

    The next step is for the zoning change to be considered by Toledo City Council. It is scheduled for further discussion at a zoning and planning committee meeting on July 13.

    Also on Thursday, the commission approved plans to demolish an existing parking garage at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, at 2213 Cherry St.

    It was a unanimous approval from the commission aside from commission member Kristopher Ball recusing himself.

    The approved site plan is valid until 2024. Mercy Health vice president of business development and advocacy Matt Sapara recently said that the goal is to have the project done by the end of this year.

    Officials from the hospital and the plan commission staff have indicated that the garage is facing structural issues. The current plan, which was recommended for approval by staff subject to 29 conditions, would be replaced with a 127-space lot, according to the commission staff report.