An $18 million expansion of a warehouse at Ironville Terminal by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and a $12.8 million maritime museum in the Marina District took steps toward becoming reality in 2013.
The port and Midwest Terminals of Toledo hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the warehouse, commemorating the third and final phase of construction on the 180 acre site, which was to make it ready for business this winter. When completed, the total project will have provided up to 100,000 man hours of skilled construction labor for the community.
The development of Ironville, also known as the Chevron property, was financed with a public and private investment involving state financing mechanisms utilized by the port along with new market tax credits.
|John Daugs, an exhibit builder, works on an ice panel for what will be one of the Great Lakes
museum's many exhibits. (Press file photo by Stephanie Szozda)
The redevelopment of this land will provide new space for unloading ships and new lay down areas for cargo, which will allow the Port of Toledo to continue as a leader on the Great Lakes,” said Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Without the help of local, state and federal agencies who believed in this project and administered the programs to help with its financing, the redevelopment of this riverfront site would have not been possible.”
Phase three includes the installation of a multi-modal delivery system. Once completed, the newly installed conveyor and material transfer system will create efficiencies through rapid freight unloading nad is capable of handling any dry bulk material. Self-unloading ships will discharge into a .65 cubic yard hopper, which feeds a conveying system and mechanized radial stacking system.
Phase three also included the construction of a 19,000 square foot warehouse, which has a clear height of 39 feet and will contain two rail spurs and an overhead crane. Officials say the warehouse will allow Midwest Terminals to be prepared for any type of business that may present itself. An additional 5,000 feet of rail for loading operations was also installed.
“Once completed, the site will open up access to a second Class I railroad, which will provide customers with a more efficient and cost effective supply chain, and through this, will grow the Port of Toledo and generate more opportunity for job creation,” said Betty Sutton, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.
‘Smithsonian’ of Great Lakes
While under renovation, an open house was held for the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which will open this spring at its Maumee River front location next to the Toledo Maritime Center and the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship.
A feasibility study commissioned by the Great Lakes Historical Society and the port authority found that between 41,000 and 60,000 visitors will visit the museum annually. At a combined admission and per visitor store purchase figure of $12.50 per person, 41,000 visitors would generate about $500,000 annually for its operations.
Total annual revenue, including membership, endowment and charitable giving, and grants are estimated at $1.225 million with expenses estimated at $1.075 million.
The museum plans to use original artifacts and images coordinated with both low-tech and high-tech interactive experiences to tell the story of the Great Lakes. The experience is to be both educational and entertaining.
“This will be the Smithsonian of Great Lakes maritime culture,” Paul LaMarre III, director of the Monroe (Mich.) port, said. “It is only fitting that it is in the port of Toledo, which is commonly referred to as the capital of the lower lakes, anyways. But, this project has come a long way and has overcome many hurdles to bring together many assets of maritime history and culture to present the total package to future visitors.”
Art, music, and a land bank
Closer to land, on Main Street, at least one person, District 3 councilman Mike Craig, is starting to think out of the box to develop the Main-Starr business corridor, and people are listening, although not everyone likes the idea.
Craig’s idea — to bring more music and art to Main Street and he brought Robb Hankins, CEO of ArtsinStark, the Stark County Arts Council, to an open forum to let business owners hear how it works.
Hankins played a major role in turning around similar business districts in nine communities across the country.
“He’s done this before and I just kind of want people to understand that this isn’t just something that I’ve come up with and that it’s some wild idea that I have,” Craig said. “This is an idea that he has used…and it’s worked. Other people have used it all over the nation and it worked. And, I am happy to steal their idea.”
Perhaps one of the biggest improvements to East Toledo comes from the demolition of old housing stock. The Lucas County Land Reutilization Corporation, or land bank, increases property values by tearing down dilapidated homes with little value and turning homes with a tax delinquency to new owners for rehab. Demolition removes properties of little value from the housing stock thus increasing the value of remaining properties.
In 2013, the land bank demolished 60 houses in East Toledo. There are typically at any time close to 100 homes in East Toledo identified for demolition.
Cindy Geronimo, land bank director, said “It’s a fluid list that keeps changing. Some may come off because of an appeal.”
In July 2011, the land bank was awarded a $3.6 million grant from the Ohio Attorney General. With matching funds from the City of Toledo, the land bank had $6.8 million available through December 2013.
In partnership with the city, Geronimo expects close to 900 buildings city wide to be identified for demolition by the land bank each year, which is about half of the 1,800 vacant and abandoned homes that had become nuisance properties prior to the start of 2013. She expects about 600 per year to be demolished, double the 300 per year the city was demolishing before the land bank was created. She said the city is also doing demolitions, including after a fire and other emergency situations.