The City of Toledo announced last week that developer Larry Dillin is close to securing $3.6 million in funding to purchase nearly 58 acres of land in the Marina District for vertical development and a river front park.
The funding is mostly from West Coast private investors, said Cheryl Hardy of Hardy Communications, a Levis Commons company which provides public relations and media support for Dillin Corporation.
“He promised that stretch of land right there will be the finest waterfront anywhere in the Midwest,” Hardy said. “They are going to start work on the park. Landscaping was supposed to start going in this fall or this spring.
“I think that he has had some encouragement from other cities that he’s been in that have waterfronts that do a really great job with their festivals. For example, he’s working in a town that has 30,000 people, this little city that’s on a river, and they have somewhere between 72 and 92 festivals every year and they draw three or four million every year to these festivals.
“So Larry said, looking at that, let’s get this park done because that makes a lot of sense. So it gave us a lot of options, and that was the first step. We’re not talking about vertical development yet, but we’re talking about movement and right now movement is movement.”
The announcement that Dillin is just now finishing securing investments is past his June 1 deadline, but City of Toledo public relations director Megan Robson acknowledged that it was “good news” during a time when the city is facing severe budget cuts.
At a press conference last week, city officials cut a ribbon dedicating the completion of Riverside Drive, and Mayor Carleton S. Finkbeiner took about 75 to 80 guests on a tour.
City development director Don Monroe said after the installation of about 150 street lights, Riverside Drive, which runs the length of the 128-acre Marina District, will be ready for traffic. The mayor also unveiled a new road sign for Riverside Drive at the press conference.
General contractors Miller Brothers and Poggemeyer Engineering assisted the city with the construction of the road. The road runs nearly one mile and cost $5 million to construct, including street lights and grading. It was funded by a $1.5 million grant the Ohio Department of Development secured by State Rep. Randy Gardner and a $3.5 million loan from the State Infrastructure Bank.
“Larry Dillin guarantees this loan both personally and corporately and no city funds were used on this particular aspect of the project,” Mayor Finkbeiner said. “This marks an exciting time, as the site is now ready for commercial development and family residential use.”
The new park, which also runs the entire length of the Maumee River on the east banks, should be available for public use by the spring of 2010, Monroe said. The $10 million investment to landscape and construct the park is being funded by grants from the State of Ohio and Dillin, Monroe added.
“After much work and commitment, the environmental issues for Riverside Drive and the riverfront property have been remediated and the soil that once contaminated this ground has been cleaned off,” Mayor Finkbeiner said. “As you look towards the Maumee River, you will see the riverfront area has been cleaned up significantly. Trash, debris and the reshaping of the riverfront has been improved dramatically for better drainage.”
Joel Mazur, Senior Environmental Specialist for the city, announced two grants totaling $675,000 from the federal government for continued remediation of the former Toledo Edison Acme Power Plant. The city still needs about one million dollars in funding to have full remediation of the structure, Monroe said.
At the press conference, Mayor Finkbeiner thanked representatives Peter Ujvagi and Gardner, members of Toledo city council and former mayor Jack Ford for their involvement in acquiring funding.
In addition, officials announced the opening of Toledo Skyway Marina for the season.
“The Maumee River serves as one of Toledo’s most valuable economic and recreational resources,” Finkbeiner said. “With boating season now upon us, the Toledo Skyway Marina further cements our riverfront’s status as one of Northwest Ohio’s great entertainment centers.
“The Skyway Marina provides not only a great view of our new Veteran’s Glass City Skyway Bridge and our cityscape, but low cost dock rates and 77 brand new, high-quality floating docks that can accommodate boats up to 50 feet in length,” the mayor continued. “This state-of-the-art marina is a ‘one stop shop’ for Toledo boating enthusiasts featuring a fully stocked convenience store, fuel pumps, power service, and even shower and laundry facilities.
“We know that many families will be scaling back their entertainment spending this year due to this economically challenging time. Therefore, we have reduced our seasonal docking fees by 15 percent. Small watercraft can dock for $638, while large watercraft can dock for $2,040.
“We are also keeping our transient dock fees low. There is absolutely no charge for any docking lasting less than one hour. All-day docking fees are only $10 and several riverfront restaurants, including The Docks, provide free land transportation,” the mayor concluded.
The city has hired James Ragan as the marina’s first dockmaster. Ragan served as the seasonal manager of Promenade Park from 2000-06. He operated two marinas where he taught sailing, safe boating classes, and acted as dockmaster.
“Jim brings his marine mechanic knowledge, experience and know-how to this position and we look forward to him filling up the marina with boaters this summer,” Finkbeiner said.