New version of Toledo Talk

    June 24, 2005

St. Clair Street - For those who aren't aware of the changes in downtown Toledo, here are a few pics of what's happening along one small area in the warehouse district. Other streets downtown are worth checking out too, such as Adams, Erie, Huron, etc. Even though the farmers market, the Mud Hens, and festivals like the Taste of the Town are downtown, a lot of people in the area don't make it to downtown Toledo. I don't understand why. It's much better than it was five years ago, and it continues to improve. And it's not all bars either. And yes, I know downtown Toledo is both sides of the river.

It's easy to complain and belittle. That comes natural to us. It's harder to praise and complement and identify the good parts of the city. We'll rant that we need a regime change in the government. Then when it happens, we'll complain again and demand another change.

Some people aren't waiting for the perfect government to be installed because it won't happen. Some are forging ahead and trying to make the city a better place, and I don't think enough time is spent giving credit to the people who are building up the downtown.

I think these are some of the reasons why people don't visit downtown Toledo:

[] Traffic
[] Parking
[] Crime
[] Nothing to do
[] One-way and two-way street confusion

Unless there's a major event downtown, I don't think traffic and parking are problems. Mileage will vary with where you are going, but along Adams Street and in the warehouse district, I don't think parking is an issue.

Traffic? This isn't Atlanta or Boston. It's not hard navigating downtown once you've driven around it a couple of times. It's not that big. You definitely have to keep an eye on which streets are one-way.

Go down early on a Sunday morning when nothing is open and traffic is sparse to scope out what's downtown.

The Toledo City Paper used to sponsor the Adams Street Amble, which was meant to get people to check out the businesses along Adams street. They were held one Thursday per month year-round. I don't know if the ambles still happen or not, but maybe something like that is needed again somewhere downtown if it doesn't already exist.

Anyway, I'm sure some yahoo will claim I'm some kind of paid cheerleader for downtown, but that's hardly the case. I've seen the downtown change over the past several years, and I think it's a cool place. One area I like a lot is St. Clair Street in the warehouse district shown below.

I'm not a photographer, and I didn't spend much time taking these pictures, so that's why they're kind of lame. We need photodan to take some real pictures of downtown Toledo. Click on the thumbnails for the larger pictures.

The 20 North art gallery

Still some good buildings with space available.

Businesses listed on the door in the above building.

Industrial hardware store.

I toured one of these townhomes, and it was damn nice. Your vertical "home" stretches from ground level to the roof. Nice view from the rooftop patio. You have to like stairs though.

Looking back down St. Clair toward SeaGate.

posted by jr to other at 4:50 P.M. EST     (9 Comments)

Comments ...

Interesting architecture related topics today.

Here are my comments:

That first picture of the Seagate Center demonstrates perfectly the problems with it and why you see no pedestrians in the picture. An entire city block is occupied by nothing more than a 4 story(?) masonry wall with only mechanical louvers breaking up the facade at eye level. The detailing is absolutely horrid. There is nothing that encourages passer-bys to even want to engage with this building. If it wasn't for the Seagate logo, it could pass for a prison or a Soviet weapons factory.

Now about those townhouses. I despise those townhouses. In fact, I am an architecture student working towards my masters degree and I used this site for my thesis because of these townhouses. I've never been inside of them, and they may be nice on the inside, but they are horrible on the outside and the city should be discouraging this type of building. It is nothing more than a bad suburban development in the downtown. There is nothing with these townhouses that interacts with the nearby street and surrounding city. In fact these buildings appear to turn their back to it's surroundings. The builder went so far as to use iron fencing to completely separate this development from everything including the sidewalks along St. Clair Street. Windows placed at ground level are non existent and other windows are off scale, so the projection of life or "eyes on the street" is taken away. The architectural detailing is way off and present no pattern or order at all. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that this is a block in a prime location and the developer, who probably builds tons of units like this out in the suburbs, ignored the rest of the city entirely. I feel bad for people who sunk their wealth into these homes, as I would be surprised if they ever see a return on that investment.

As for that last picture, through my thesis research, I came across a picture of that building on the northwest corner of St. Clair and Lafayette and I must say the architect (or whoever remodeled that building) did an amazing job and knew what they were doing. It was a very run down building which I would've considered taking a wrecking ball to.

posted by Kevin at 10:12 A.M. EST on Sat Jun 25, 2005     #

About all I know of the outside of the townhomes is the developer used the same or similar brick color that's used for the Mud Hens stadium. He wanted the townhomes to fit into the warehouse district a little better. Each townhome is physically a separate building. Hence the name "home." The facade covering the outside makes it appear like the homes are in much larger buildings, but there is supposedly a tiny amount of space between each home.
posted by jr at 04:00 P.M. EST on Sat Jun 25, 2005     #

Thanks, jr.

I'm actually considering a project documenting parts of the downtown area. I've started shooting some night photos already. I'm just not sure what direction to take it yet.


posted by photodan at 06:31 P.M. EST on Sat Jun 25, 2005     #

Those are sharp photos, photodan. Keep it up. Tell Toledo's story as it exists today. Did you see Russ Lemmon's column on Sunday?

"Loyal reader David pointed me to the Web site of the Black Keys, an underground rock band that made a tour stop at a downtown club earlier this month. Fans from throughout the Midwest posted comments about their Toledo experience. Once again, we paid a price in word-of-mouth advertising for our foot-dragging on downtown development."

"An excerpt from one fan's posting: "We arrived downtown around 6:30. … Our plan was to check out the city, grab dinner, have drinks, and then go to the show. Quite the contrary. We couldn't find jack [expletive] that was open. The downtown part was deserted. Ghost town. Dead. I made the joke that maybe we were in a zombie movie and as soon as the sun set, we would get attacked. It was eerie." "

You know, maybe the "underground" crowd should venture above ground for a change. Could downtown Toledo be better? According to the building owner I talked to the other day, the answer was an emphatic yes. He said Toledo has made progress over the past few years, but it could be a lot better today if it wasn't for all the politics and absurd restrictions. Blame city government not the business people and the developers.

But still, saying there's nothing to do in downtown Toledo is admitting intellectual laziness.

"We couldn't find jack [expletive] that was open. The downtown part was deserted."

I'd like to know if these people were actually in Toledo. Maybe they thought they were in Toledo, but were in fact in another city. They couldn't have looked very hard. They must not have traveled very far in their search. Were their eyes even open? Maybe these undergrounders have been below so long that they have evolved into a species that doesn't need eyes. Didn't they find one of the alternative weekly newspapers where they were staying? Did they ask a local for help? Was it 6:30 p.m. or 6:30 a.m.?

Does anyone else believe there is jack shit open in downtown Toledo on a random evening any time of the year?

posted by jr at 10:00 P.M. EST on Mon Jun 27, 2005     #

I wouldn't take too much of what Russ Lemmon says seriously. They should put his non-media watchdog columns on the funnies page. Something I read last week was that he was trying to convince the east-siders to give up on the arena and go after casino gambling. A casino would be a disaster if it was brought here. He has also been a big cheerleader in the past about making all of Lucas County part of Toledo. Lemmon has alterior motives to make Toledo look bad to get his ridiculous schemes considered.
posted by Kevin at 11:09 P.M. EST on Mon Jun 27, 2005     #

Also, what Russ Lemmon failed to mention was that most people who complained were upset about the venue itself. Complaints about the city were secondary to complaints about the Bijou and its staff.

However, when you're traveling out of town for a show like that, a bad experience at a venue will definitely affect the overall impression of the city where it's located.

posted by valbee at 01:47 A.M. EST on Tue Jun 28, 2005     #

The current issue of the Toledo City Paper contains an article about an organized bar hopping event.

"The Bounce encompasses the Downtown quadrant around Jefferson Avenue, Superior and Huron streets and includes clubs -- nearby Margarita Rocks, Ice Bar, Club Rain, Fuze, Barcode at Fuze, The Emporium and Club Eclipse -- within walking distance of each other."

"Since its inception last summer, the Hub Bounce has made the Thursday night Downtown nightlife scene explode. The Hub Bounce has a cover charge of $5 for all eight clubs, on Thursday nights from 9 p.m. - 2:30 a.m."

posted by jr at 01:02 P.M. EST on Wed Jun 29, 2005     #

" “There is not another living space in Downtown that defines our city, embraces artistic cultures and has an upbeat sense of self-expression than Riverwest Townhomes,” A.A. Green Realty partner Mark Remeis said."

"Remeis also said the growth of the Downtown, particularly in the area of Riverwest, is phenomenal. “Every month you get more and more businesses and restaurants. Just on the St. Clair strip, you have a coffee shop, a spa and a market that went in.” Residents are growing, too, as nearly half of the town homes in River West are sold. One huge benefit of living Downtown: tax abatements."

" “We offer 15-year tax abatements,” Remeis said. “And the abatement stays with the unit, so if I were to buy a unit and live here for five years, the next person gets the remaining 10 years.” Each unit is built-to-suit, with every part customizable. It takes approximately two months to move in after customization options are selected. Each unit has three floors and a staircase leading to a rooftop penthouse and private deck."

posted by jr at 01:02 P.M. EST on Thu Jul 14, 2005     #

Toledo's hyper-sensitivity to jokes.

From a Macon Telegraph writer:

"I should have learned a long time ago never to make fun of where people live. I once described a nearby town as so small that both city limit signs were on the same pole. Last week, I broke my own policy. In a column meant to evoke sympathy for Florida - a state reeling from hurricanes, shark attacks and voting fiascoes - I wrote: "I never thought I would feel sorry for Florida. North Dakota, maybe. ..." Then, Sunday, I wrote a column about the adventures of tipping. I always tip the skycaps who check in my luggage at the airport because "I want to make sure my bags end up in New York - not Toledo, Ohio." "

"By that afternoon, I had a phone call from a news producer at an NBC station in Toledo. He had seen my column on the Internet and wanted to interview me. Was I, by chance, taking a shot at Toledo? He said folks in Toledo have been rather defensive ever since that John Denver song a few years ago: "Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio, is like being nowhere at all." No, I stammered. I'm not cracking on Toledo. I've learned my lesson. Again."

posted by jr at 09:11 A.M. EST on Fri Jul 22, 2005     #

<< Older Karyn McConnell Hancock    |    USA Today snide comment on Toledo Newer >>

This is an old topic and is no longer allowing comments.

home | about | archives | customize | contact | forums | post | search

© 2003-2007
All posts are © their original authors.