The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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After 35 years and millions of investment, River East Economic Revitalization Corporation has closed its doors.

The East Toledo-based Community Development Corporation assisted and educated the local business community, created and maintained jobs, operated a business incubator, and redeveloped existing buildings and vacant land, in particular, brownfield sites.

A recent real estate assessment on the Lucas County website had 53 properties listed as being owned by River East Corporation, but former board members say those properties have been sold or have been negotiated for sale and are awaiting closing.

“Fifty-three properties is a lot — that basically has been whittled down to nothing,” said Neil MacKinnon, an east side businessman who served over 10 years on the board. “We didn’t file for bankruptcy and we worked out agreements with the creditors and everybody has been very creative working with us.”

River East is best known for The Docks in International Park, the renovation of the historic Weber Block at Main and Front, Starboardside Condominiums, and its role in nurturing the proposed Marina District.

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The Oregon Economic Development Foundation is cautioning its members to beware of an individual who is contacting businesses claiming to be conducting a survey for the city.

Gary Thompson, executive director of the Foundation, sent e-mails out to members this week, saying the individual is asking detailed business questions.

“Please be informed that the City of Oregon is not conducting any kind of survey, nor do they have anyone soliciting area businesses. If you receive this call, please handle it appropriately according to your own procedures understanding that the person on the other end of the phone is not from the City of Oregon,” states the e-mail.

Thompson told The Press that the city had contacted him to ask that he send out the e-mails to Foundation members.

The city received a complaint from a local businessman who had received a call from someone identifying themselves as “Keith” who claimed to be conducting a survey for the city. The man asked how many employees were in the business, and wanted to know its annual payroll. When the businessman asked Keith his last name, he hung up the phone.

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The State Fire Marshal has ruled a fire at the Stony Ridge Inn, Latcha Road, was caused by arson and is asking for more information about the blaze from the public.

Investigators were able to rule out all accidental causes for the fire, which was reported about 5:47 a.m. on Feb. 17, and found significant evidence the fire was intentionally set.  The fire marshal’s office said “specific information” about the fire was also gathered during interviews over the two days following the fire.

Now, investigators are asking for other witnesses to come forward and a Blue Ribbon Arson Award notice has been posted at the property. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the identification of those responsible.

No one was seriously injured in the fire, which caused heavy damage to the restaurant and bar of the inn. The nearby hotel wasn’t affected.

“Working together, investigators from all of the involved agencies have been able to put together a clear picture of what occurred Wednesday morning at the Stony Ridge Inn,” said Tim Spradlin, Chief of the State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau. “We believe, though, someone still has more information about the case and we hope they will come forward.”

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At least two of the three owners who partnered to purchase the Weber Block wish to continue renovating the building.

Businessman Bill Lorenzen and his son Justin Lorenzen are two of three partners who purchased the historic building from the River East Economic Revitalization Corporation, which closed and liquidated its assets. 

Justin lived in East Toledo until he was 10 years old, and understands the historic importance of the Weber Block. His family later moved to Oregon, and Justin lives in downtown Toledo now.

The partnership is in business to develop and sell commercial estate, including shopping centers, heavy industrial buildings, and warehouses.

“(The Weber Block) doesn’t really pull a profit right now, but as a kid walking through there and stuff like it is a little bit of nostalgia for us,” Justin Lorenzen said.

“We’re looking forward to remodeling it and bringing it up to speed, and in the next year or so we hope to have it fully occupied or as much as we can. We’re going to have all new windows, probably all new furnaces, and to do that is not going to be cheap.

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Oregon city council on Monday will vote to accept the final tap-in charges for the installation of a sanitary sewer that will serve several parcels in the area of Lallendorf Road and Cedar Point Development Park.

“Along the way, it serves 11 properties,” said Finance Director Kathy Hufford at a Committee of the Whole meeting last Monday. “There is no requirement for property owners to tap in. But when they need to tap in due to septic failure, or they just want to tap in, the fee they have to pay is listed in the ordinance.”

Those fees range from a low of $5,957.39 to a high of $61,368.28.

Councilman Jerry Peach said the project “is of great benefit to property owners.”

“There’s not an obligation to tap in, and the system is there when needed,” said Peach.

Mayor Mike Seferian said the “cash to tap” process is more economical compared to residents petitioning for sanitary sewers.

“This cash to tap eliminates a couple procedures. It would likely be a little more costly if it had been a petitioned project. So it’s probably one of the more economical ways to achieve sanitary sewer and does have the other benefit of paying as you choose to use it,” said Seferian.

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