Las Vegas-style gambling came to East Toledo in 2012 in the form of the 290,000 square foot Hollywood Casino Toledo on the banks of the Maumee River, which opened just after the Memorial Day holiday.
The land-based $200 million casino is on a 44-acre site off the Miami Street exit just west of Interstate 75 and five minutes from downtown Toledo. The casino paid for all road improvements in the area, including new ramps off I-75 and two stoplights on Miami Street.
The architecture reflects the design and décor reflective of the glitz and glamour of 1930s art-deco Hollywood.
“The art deco motif (is) complemented by the latest technology and amenities, including movie trailers and sports and entertainment programming shown on a giant serpentine video wall, plasma screens, and video trees for guests to enjoy while they play,” states a casino fact sheet.
More than 2,000 slot machines, 80 table games, and five restaurants and lounges are expected to attract more than 2.8 million guests annually. There are 2,666 gaming positions and 2,002 electronic machines, and it is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The casino can handle up to 10,000 guests per day.
Owned and operated by Penn National Gaming, it is one of Northwest Ohio’s largest employers with at least 90 percent of its employees from the Toledo metropolitan area.
Thirty-three percent of gross revenue goes to taxes. The casino is expected to bring $25.3 million in projected annual tax revenue for the City of Toledo, Lucas County, and all school districts in the county once all four casinos in Ohio are open.
Great Lakes National Museum
The Great Lakes Historical Society, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the City of Toledo are bringing the National Museum of the Great Lakes to Toledo’s eastern riverfront.
The three entities say the museum, slated to open this summer, say they have worked together to create an integrated experience with the Col. James M. Schoonmaker museum ship and a maritime park. The museum ship, formerly the Willis P. Boyer, has been relocated from its former home in International park to a location downriver next to the museum.
The 14,000 square foot Toledo Martime Center will be retrofitted to house nearly 10,000 square feet of state of the art exhibits on all aspects of Great Lakes history.
The $10 million project has been funded extensively through the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission with a grant worth over $6 million. Further funding comes from private and public sources, including a lease from the port authority for the building for $1 per year and a capital campaign driven by the Great Lakes Historical Society.
It is expected that the museum will serve as an anchor point for future riverfront development as it is adjacent to Edison Park and the new developed Marina Drive area.
Main Street sees change
Businesses say new angle parking on Main Street in East Toledo is an improvement, although one at least one East Toledo resident called The Press to say that bus drivers and some local residents do not like it.
The new parking spaces replace parallel parking spaces, and the new look also includes a reduction of traffic from two lanes to one lane each way and the removal of parking meters.
Mayor Michael P. Bell’s public information officer, Jennifer Sorgenfrei, says to expect an announcement this spring regarding making the changes permanent “provided we can secure the funds.” At that time, the black rubber bump-outs would be replaced with concrete bump-outs.
“When we put the permanent improvements in, it will be more aesthetically pleasing. There are going to be bump-outs at all the intersections and there will be some green areas and planting areas inside the bump-outs, said Dan Steingraber, who is chairman of River East Associates and owner of Steingraber and Associates real estate appraisal firm on Main Street.
Steingraber says the idea came out of a $200,000 grant provided to the Toledo office of the Local Initiative Support Coalition to make improvements to housing, streetscape, and businesses in certain neighborhoods of East Toledo.
In East Toledo, much of the focus right now in residential neighborhoods seems to be more about tearing down than developing, thanks to a $3.6 million grant from the Ohio Attorney General.
The grant, along with matching funds from the City of Toledo, led to the creation of the Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation. The land bank has $6.8 million available through December of this year.
Because of state legislation passed in July 2010, the land bank has the power to acquire and sell foreclosed tax delinquent properties without going through the long court process leading to a sheriff’s sale. It was the second land bank established in Ohio.
Continued funding for the program comes through an increase in the interest rate charge delinquent property taxpayers. County Treasurer Wade Kapsukiewicz estimates annual revenue at $1.5 million.
In partnership with the city, land bank executive director Cindy Geronimo expects close to 900 homes city wide will be identified for demolition by the land bank each year, which is about half of the 1,800 vacant and abandoned homes that have become nuisance properties. She expects about 600 per year to be demolished, double the 300 per year the city was demolishing before the land bank was created.
“Collectively, we are trying to get things done. Hopefully, after taking down 900 homes we can make a difference in the community. There is a lot of frustration. I’m there and I see how hard it is to make changes,” Geronimo told East Toledo Club luncheon guests.
Not all acquired properties enter the land bank’s demolition program. Others may be rehabilitated or entered into an urban gardening program.
Also torn down was The Playdium, a lavishly designed historic recreation center equipped with a theater, bowling alley, and other activities for the Hungarian community.
The Playdium, built in 1902, was designed in the Second Empire Style with Hungarian embellishments and served as a landmark for the Birmingham community for over a century. Originally, it was called Strick’s Hall after prominent Hungarian immigrant and builder John Strick, and renamed The Playdium in the 1940s.
“It was all Old World — Hungarian,” said retired police detective Gene Fodor. “They had the hall upstairs, which was an old hall with a stage, and I was married upstairs there in 1954. There were some good people, including an opera star who sang at my wedding.”