New version of Toledo Talk

    July 24, 2007

Central city project delay - "Toledo leaders allocated $270 thousand of your money to build townhouses in the Central City. Now one year after Mayor Carty Finkbeiner trumpeted the project, there's still nothing but an empty lot. The politicians insist it will be built. But the developer is nowhere to be found."

"Last year, we were told, the renaissance of the Dorr Street neighborhood would begin. But today, there are no condos and no townhouses at the corner of Dorr and [Smead]. And no clear answer about when the brownstones will be built."

"Neighbors say, they doubt anyone will pay $87 thousand or more for condos in a neighborhood riddled with crime and drugs. The mayor says people are committed to buying, and that's all the bank needs to get the project financed."

June 27, 2007 Blade story 'Other Dorr St.' talks seek renewal strategy:

"Councilman Wilma Brown said the part of Dorr that runs through the central city is the gateway to the university area and needs the same attention. Ms. Brown has supported the development of townhouses along Dorr, near Smead Avenue, called the Brownstones. She said she hopes construction will start soon, but investors are looking for the presale of two units to get the project going."

July 16, 2007 Glass City Jungle posting that pointed to a Toledo Journal story about the June Dorr St. meeting. Naturally, the Toledo Journal story no longer exists. Toledo Journal stories disappear after a week or two. Their site has been that way for years. Annoying.

But here's the missing July 10, 2007 Toledo Journal story via Google's cache:

"Rev. Raymond Bishop also told the crowd that there are some who want the efforts of the fledgling Dorr Street Coalition to fail. They are the people intent on keeping Toledo’s African Americans in “dysfunction” and dependent on businesses owned by non-blacks, he said. “There are groups of people that prosper on our dysfunction. Hear what I’m saying to you. It is in the best interest of many institutions and organizations that we do not do well," [Pastor Bishop said.]"

"The Dorr Street Coalition is an outgrowth of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union’s plans to build its own building and vacate a rundown plaza on Dorr. Members want to see black-owned businesses and middle-income housing return to what they call “Main Street” and, more recently, “The Other Dorr Street” – the length between the downtown and Parkside Boulevard, where the University of Toledo community begins."

"The task ahead is daunting, exemplified by The Brownstones on Dorr Street, a townhouse project that was supposed to have its first six-apartment building open by December of last year. A groundbreaking was held in August 2006, but white-owned banks have declined to offer development loans."

"One of the town hall speakers, Councilwoman Wilma Brown, openly wondered if banks would withhold their financial support if the townhouses were situated in Perrysburg or Maumee."

Well, based upon the Brownstone Village at Levis Commons, the answer to Wilma's question is probably "No."

So is the problem with the banks or with the politicians making false promises? The WNWO story states, "But the developer is nowhere to be found." The groundbreaking was nearly a year ago. Where's the developer? Has a developer been selected? Was Larry Dillon chosen for the Marina District and Southwyck projects before all the financing was available?

This area of Dorr St seems to be mostly in the 43607 zip code. Here's an interesting Google Maps Mashup at Enter a zip code. The app draws the boundaries for the zip code and provides census info.

ZCTA: 43607

Population: 26,379
Population White: 5,882
Population Black: 19,296
Population Hispanic: 452

Households: 12,270
Avg. House Value: $48,300
Avg. House Income: $25,161
Persons Per House: 2.41

Southwyck Mall is located at one end of the 43614 zip code

ZCTA: 43614

Population: 30,181
Population White: 26,335
Population Black: 2,370
Population Hispanic: 951

Households: 14,255
Avg. House Value: $111,800
Avg. House Income: $42,080
Persons Per House: 2.16

posted by jr to other at 11:27 P.M. EST     (10 Comments)

Comments ...

This article adds some further information,

Councilwoman Wilma Brown introduced her pet project - the Brownstone Townhouses on the corner of Smead and Dorr two of which must be sold sight-unseen before banks will finance the construction.

When searching Brownstone Townhouses I discovered:


Obviously someone within the City has to know who Dorr Street Brownstones Corp is since they would have been the ones to get the check. I can't find any other information on them though online.

posted by psyche777 at 12:50 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

So, has the check been written?
posted by Pi314C at 03:57 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

Wilma Brown is the queen of her district as is shown by the fact that she has no challengers to her Council seat this fall. Therefore, she can blovicate until the cows come home.

Of course, the chief blovicator, candidate Carty, promised the chicken in every pot. Any two-bit politician can do that.

I still have to ask: why were the citizens of Toledo so ignorant when they voted for Carty the 3rd time?

posted by Man_with_the_muck_rake at 06:55 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

why were the citizens of Toledo so ignorant when they voted for Carty the 3rd time?

I think it's like a pendulum...swinging from one extreme to the other...

posted by MaggieThurber at 09:24 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

Time to reset the clock
posted by Chad at 09:42 A.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

Those that doubt that anyone will buy a new condo in that crime riddled area are correct I believe.
The only way you'll "sell" any of those is if the "buyers" get some type of government (our money) assistance to do so.
The trouble with that is the same as with many low income housing projects, the people that live there, for the most part, don't feel any pride of ownership and trash the place.

The same people that bitch about wanting more business's, government spending, etc. in their neighborhoods are the ones whose kids are the criminals destroying it.

posted by JeepMaker at 12:42 P.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

About this alleged organization called "Dorr Street Brownstones Corp," psyche777 said: "I can't find any other information on them though online."

That's odd, right?

It's good that Aaron Brilbeck at WNWO informed us that: "[T]he developer is nowhere to be found."

But the next step for one of the local media orgs that's interested in news, is to find the developer or the organization. Dig up proof that this org exists or does not exist. Shake down the administration. File open records requests.

Ask local officials about this. When Czarty gets back from vacation, stick a mic in his face and ask him about Dorr Street Brownstones Corp and the money.

What happened to the money? A trail must exist, right? Where's the developer or the organization? Dorr Street Brownstones Corp. must be officially registered somewhere, don't they?

What's the experience of the developer? Has the developer built other apartments in Toledo or in other cities? What's the status of this Dorr St development? Get a statement from the developer about why the first apartment building didn't open last December. This is tough to do when "the developer is nowhere to be found."

Why is the developer lost? If this org and developer truly exist, then it should be possible to get them on camera or get them quoted in a newspaper story. Otherwise, it's hard not to wonder if this project was a sham, and the taxpayers got ripped off.

Transparency. Good buzzword, but weekly or at least monthly updates about this and other taxpayer-supported projects, like the steam plant, is the kind of important information that should be posted on the City's Web site.

In the spring of 2005, Ford and City Council gave Jackson's company $300,000 to renovate the steam plant.

Jan 2006 Blade update about the steam plant project:

"The developers are planning 77 rental units in the existing building, and 34 for-sale units in an addition to be built facing the Maumee River. The deal included $300,000 in city funds, most of which has been spent, city officials said."

April 22, 2007 Blade steam plant story:

"Under their agreement with the city, the former Steam Plant, at Madison Avenue on the Maumee River, was supposed to be ready for occupancy this summer. Instead, the building sits as empty and unlived-in as the day they made that commitment."

People are suppose to be living in or using the steam plant building now.

May 1, 2007 Blade op-ed titled Running out of steam?:

"Toledoans have waited for development at the steam plant longer than we've waited for the Marina District project, and - dare we say it? - longer than the "project from hell," the repairs to the Martin Luther King Bridge."

From that April 2007 Blade story:

Troubled projects

"Still, examples of city-assisted projects that didn’t live up to rosy predictions are all around them:"

• The Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, which is under a reconstruction that is likely to be finished two years later than initially planned.

• The former Portside Festival Marketplace, opened in 1984 and closed in 1990, and now housing the COSI science museum.

• Two underperforming high-rise apartment buildings — the Commodore Perry and the Hillcrest — on which city taxpayers now pay the annual debt.

• The 113-unit Riverfront Apartments, at only 67 percent occupancy seven years after the building’s renovation.

Couldn't the Erie Street Market be added to the list of projects that didn’t live up to rosy predictions? Actually, the ESM did live up to or exceed expectations temporarily. The ESM peaked in 2001 or 2002, and then it went downhill.

From a Dec 2003 Blade story about other taxpayer-supported housing projects in Toledo:

"Mr. Finkbeiner said Mr. Hirt had let down the city with his troubled redevelopment of two apartment buildings - Museum Place and Commodore Perry - that have cost the city $2.4 million, and counting."

And counting. 3 1/2 years later, how high is the count?

And with this Dorr St apartment project, we have another city-assisted project that is more than six months behind, hasn't even started yet, and has a developer that is nowhere to be found. But hey, at least we have flowers at major gateway intersections in the city.

posted by jr at 02:15 P.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

Man_with_the_muck_rake asked: "... why were the citizens of Toledo so ignorant when they voted for Carty the 3rd time?"

Same thing could be asked about people like Betty Shultz and Rob Ludeman, and how they got elected time and time again. Rob is term-limited out after this year. Betty, somehow, has been on Toledo City Council since Jimmy Carty was president, and she's still complaining about Toledo's computer system being powered by punch cards programmed in Fortran.

posted by jr at 02:25 P.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

and she's still complaining about Toledo's computer system being powered by punch cards programmed in Fortran.

Now there's the truth!

posted by Man_with_the_muck_rake at 09:31 P.M. EST on Wed Jul 25, 2007     #

Looks like Fred LeFebvre may be the only one in the media trying to determine if the Dorr Street Brownstones Corp. is a real organization or fiction and if the $270,000 can be located.

Fred made a Jul 31, 2007 posting at Swamp Bubbles about his e-mail conversations with city officials. And what a shock, he's not getting any answers. And that's because A). city officials don't know anything about the alleged Dorr Street Brownstones Corp, and they don't know what happened to the $270,000 or B). city officials simply don't want to tell anyone what's going on.

Council person Wilma Brown could not provide the answers to Fred's questions. How can the Council person who represents the area that this project is suppose to take place not know what's happening?

Brian Schwartz somehow intervened. I'm not sure what any of this has to do with Schwartz. Fred never contacted Brian. Anyway, here's one thing Schwartz said to Fred via e-mail:

"You will be provided any documents to which you are entitled under the Ohio Freedom of Information Act. Keep in mind, this law does not require us to create a document for you. Nor does it require us to answer questions."

Fine. Then maybe a bunch of citizens should go downtown and make the request. Just remember, you do not have to give your name nor a reason why you are making the records request. If the city official doesn't comply, then the city is breaking the law.

I like this part from Brian: "... to which you are entitled ..."

Like some of this info is classified. What's so secret about a brownstone development project and 270,000 taxpayer dollars?

The secrecy that obviously surrounds this makes it seem like this whole thing is a fraud, and that possibly the money was stolen. Where's the developer? The city should be able to provide paperwork that shows what happened to the $270,000, right?

Surely someone on Council should know something about this. They voted for this funding.

posted by jr at 07:29 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 31, 2007     #

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