New version of Toledo Talk


    June 22, 2005

Marina District Neighborhood Charette - From a flyer I received: "Here's your chance to be part of changing Toledo's future! Plan to attend the upcoming Marina District Neighborhood Charette -- a half day interactive planning session that will change the future of the East riverfront forever. We will discuss and gather input on the Marina District development, as well as on how the Marina District can be a catalyst for improvements in adjacent parts of East Toledo and the rest of the City."

When: Saturday June 25, 2005
8:00 am - 9:00 am register - refreshments
9 am - 2:00 pm - Charette

Where: Weber Block, Front and Main Street

What: Your chance to be part of planning for the Future of the Marina District and Surrounding Neighborhood.

Who: East Toledo residents, friends of East Toledo, Downtown Advocates and all Toledoans.

RSVP: Please call and let us know you will be there. Call 419-245-1494.

Sponsored by: City of Toledo, REERC, River East Associates, Pizzuti Corp., with the support of the American Institute of Architects Toledo Chapter.

posted by jr to business at 10:33 P.M. EST     (11 Comments)


Comments ...


jr, Are you going to this meeting? If so, will you please report on it here? I cannot attend because of work. Thanks
posted by SherryET at 12:48 P.M. EST on Fri Jun 24, 2005     #



I thought about going because I'm sure it will be informative and interesting. But I was planning to go to the Crosby Festival arts show at the Toledo Botanical garden on Saturday morning. Saturday is the only day I can go to the art show, and there won't be enough time if I wait until after this east side meeting. I love the local art shows, and I missed this year's Old West End festival.

Even without the art show, I might have been a little hesitant to go because I'm afraid there will be too much discussion about the sports arena. The Marina District project was never about just the sports arena. The arena was one of many aspects to the Marina District project. The east bank will be wonderful without an arena.

If it was promised that there would be zero talk about the sports arena, then I'd go. I'm more interested in the rest of the Marina District project. But you know some will be attacking Pizzuti for producing an alleged bias study. Pizzuti will have to respond the same way Russell did at the two sports arena meetings. Then there will be the talk about how Toledoans voted to put the arena on the east side, and on and on. I'm thinking I would hear too much of the same thing from the sports arena meetings.

Pizzuti has a lot of great ideas about the Marina District without an arena, and I hope the discussion is centered on these other parts of the project. I think the only thing some east-siders see is the arena. They're fogged by the arena. They feel like they're being screwed if they don't get an arena. They need to look past or beyond the arena and see the big picture. The $200 million mural.

posted by jr at 01:30 P.M. EST on Fri Jun 24, 2005     #



I did attend this Marina District planning meeting afterall, and it was informative. I'll write up a report later. The discussions focused on the rest of the project like housing, retail, and recreational development. A smattering of arena talk, but clearly people are looking at the bigger picture. Connecting The Docks to the Marina District is an issue, but it's more than that. They want to connect to the surrounding neighborhoods on the east side out by the new I-280 bridge all the way to the Rossford border.

One thing I learned was the worst place to put a new arena would be on the site of the current arena. That would cause too much of a break between The Docks and the rest of the Marina District. The architect hired by Pizzuti feared that The Docks could "wither on the vine" if a new arena was built where the old one is. In place of the old arena there needs to be a recreational activity center that attracts people year round or restaurants and retail. Centrally locating the arena in the Marina District would also be a mistake, apparently.

If an arena goes on the east side, the only spot that makes sense is where the Blade suggested, which is next to the new I-280 bridge. I'm not sure if the land on the downriver side of the bridge is available or not. The initial plans call for land under the bridge and just upriver of the bridge to be converted to greenspace.

I talked to a local developer who said he has a file cabinet full of research that he has done on arenas built across the country. He said only one new arena has made money, and it was built with private funds. That arena is in Philly. He said arenas subsidized by other monies are financial failures that burden the taxpayers. He said using a new arena as a tool to spur more development and economic growth is a losing proposition. In a way, that makes sense when an arena is "dark" more than 200 days per year. It's too expensive to open an arena for the public to just go in and "play."

This developer told me that if he was Pizzuti and was told to build the arena on the east side, he would pull out of the project. He believes it should go on the west side, but he said he thinks it's going to cost too much money for land acquisition in the warehouse district. He liked the idea from the other day about putting the arena near the train station, since, according to him and others, the land and buildings in that area aren't worth much and will have to come down in 10 years anyway.

I learned that Jim Donnelly of SeaGate owns a lot of land in the warehouse district.

Also, did you know that the fastest growing sport in northwest Ohio is volleyball? Northwest Ohio has 88,000 registered female volleyball players. In the entire state of Ohio, there are 156,000 soccer players, and that soccer number includes males and females. When I write more about today's meeting later, I'll make the volleyball link to a proposed year-round recreational development project that's been pitched to the city that also includes basketball, ice skating, and a skateboarding park.

posted by jr at 04:35 P.M. EST on Sat Jun 25, 2005     #



The next three comments are copies of handouts we received at the meeting last Saturday. Peter Ujvagi organized the event, and he kept it moving on schedule. Each part started and stopped on time. I wonder why Bob McCloskey left around 10:00? He had no interest in Saturday's meeting. Mayor Ford stopped by briefly to say a few words, and that was when Bob left. Ford left around 10:30. I think east siders deserve an explanation as to why their supposed cheerleader, Bob McCloskey, thought the Marina District meeting wasn't worth his time. I'll give more comments about the day later.

Anway, this is the schedule we followed:

East Toledo Marina Neighborhood Charter

Sponsored by: City of Toledo, REERC / REA, Pizzuti and Co.
With the assistance of the Toledo Chapter, American Institute of Architects.

Saturday June 25, 2005

8:00 - 8:45 Registration, coffee and rolls, view resources.

8:45 - 9:15 Opening General Session
Welcome
Discuss goals, process, agenda
History
Introduction of resource team

9:15 - 9:30 Presentation by Pizzuti and Co.

9:30 - 10:30 Group Brainstorming
Ideas, suggestions, concerns, cautions, etc.

10:30 - 10:45 Break - View resources.

10:45 - Break out into two groups -
Imagine the future:
Transportation, traffic, greenspace, housing, commercial development, arena and other options, design standards. Starr/Main, Marina/Arena District, neighborhoods adjacent to Marina District, Star Ave - Main Street Business District, Port to Rossford riverfront.

12:30 - 1:30 Working lunch, general session reports and discussion. Designation of working groups to compile conclusions and identify follow up.

End

posted by jr at 10:58 A.M. EST on Tue Jun 28, 2005     #



This was a handout of goals and a vision for the east side:


East Toledo Marina District Charette

A charette involving key stakeholders and decision makers in the Marina District project can help to facilitate the realization of the following suggested goals and vision for the project.

Goals

[] Reenergize the redevelopment of the Main Street / Starr Avenue neighborhood business district.

[] Strengthen the momentum of river front development begun by the Docks project and Starboard Side [condominiums].

[] Continue to increase the growth of property values that has begun based on the new infill single family housing developments and housing rehab activities.

[] Explore the opportunity to connect the Birmingham neighborhood to the new development through the utilization of land freed up by the elimination of the interchange. This could be used for passive recreation as well as compatible development.

[] Strengthen the idea that has finally emerged that the Maumee River does not divide Toledo but unites it with downtown North Toledo and other developments along the river.

[] Develop a vision and long term strategy for the river front on the East Side from the Rossford city limit to the Toledo Port. A vision that includes a mix of housing from affordable to high end, public access to the river, commercial, entertainment, recreational, and industrial uses.

[] To define the river and our riverfront neighborhoods as assets for our whole community.

[] To make the Marina District the center point for the revitalization of the core city which would include keeping young people in Toledo and the return of residents to downtown living.

[] To make the Marina District Toledo's premier neighborhood and a destination site for not just Toledo's "Upper East Side" but for our whole community.

[] Use the construction of a new arena, or other comparable development as a catalyst for investment and development.


Vision

Like a pebble dropped into a pond, the vision for the Marina project should be that not only will there be new, exciting developments on the reclaimed land but that the plan, design standards, traffic patterns, public spaces, revitalization opportunities, etc. enable the new development to reach into the surrounding neighborhood business and residential communities in a positive way. Like the rings that animate from the dropped stone, progressive adjacent areas to the new development should also be beneficiaries of the investments being made. This can be achieved by using development tools that ensure the Marina District project benefits are linked to the neighborhood. We can look to our own history, to a small extend, and to other successful communities for models.

The Arena location in the Marina District, or any alternative development must be a significant, identifiable net benefit to the project and the East Side.

The financing structure for the full project should explore every opportunity to generate a reasonable source of funding for improvements in the surrounding neighborhood and to provide funds that could be leveraged for long term redevelopment in East Toledo.

The Marina development must be the catalyst for strengthening our focus on the river as a means of uniting Toledo and developing a core neighborhood that will attract residents, young and old back to the city.

posted by jr at 11:00 A.M. EST on Tue Jun 28, 2005     #



Handout discussed in our break out group meetings:

Building a Healthy Neighborhood

After decades of experimenting with other models of city-making, American planners and designers are now relearning the old lessons.

A genuine neighborhood is a complex thing, an 'urban ecosystem.' Planners can only design the physical part of a neighborhood; it's up to the inhabitants to breathe life into it. We make it our place, our community. But the way in which a place is designed and built, the physical form, can either support us or hinder us.

Here are the basic building blocks that create a real neighborhood, give it a strong identity, help make it a place to care about.


Diversity and Mix

An authentic neighborhood mixes - close together - the full range of human activities: living, learning, working, playing, creating, worshiping, and shopping. It offers housing ranges of different types: small and large single homes and two-flat, multiple unit buildings, businesses with apartments above.


Edges, Gateways, and a Center

Clear edges make well defined places, places with character. Boundaries also connect to the surrounding neighborhoods. A Center that defines the neighborhood (a green space, park, art feature, institution, etc.)


Walkable Size and Density

Ability to walk to school, to the grocery, to restaurants, to bus stops close by. Size and density together are crucial factors for a neighborhood to work well. A walkable neighborhood allows children, older people, and non-drivers to be active and independent.

Neighborhood businesses and a good bus system can't survive without a certain threshold of people in a given area, that is, density. Density is measured in dwelling units per acre. Most of our residential blocks average 8 to 15 units/acre. By suburban standards our lots are narrow and small. In fact, most would not be allowed today under current code! Yet this density is what makes possible a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.


Institutions

It's difficult to imagine a long-lasting, cohesive neighborhood without a school. In fact, the location of schools often serves to define neighborhoods. Active churches and other community centers also define neighborhoods.


Parks and Community Places

It is the shared common places that most clearly show the character of a community. Here is where we rub shoulders as citizens. Bike paths, the community vegetable gardens, the street side flower gardens tended by volunteers, festivals, attractive sidewalks, parks and etc.


Business Core

Healthy businesses are vital to a durable neighborhood, businesses located at the core. Businesses provide employment and most daily needs close by; that means fewer car trips and less traffic. Businesses can offer unique services that attract customers from far outside the neighborhood.


Street Grid

Suburbs are laid out as cul-de-sac streets that feed wide, fast collector streets. The result too often is congestion and unsafe streets for bicycles and pedestrians. A grid of streets works better. There are always several alternative routes to take, always a route less traveled for bikes and walking children. Narrow residential streets with on-street parking slow traffic down; many are only 26' to 30' wide. Vehicles are accommodated but without dominating.


Defining Views

Urban designers call them 'vistas' and 'terminated axial views.' These are unique to Schenk-Atwood: the Effigy Mounds on the bluff above the lake when a low sun outlines their shapes, Lake Monona sparkling at the end of a tree-shaded street, the strong tower of St. Bernard's Church above the trees at the bend in Atwood Avenue, the distant Capitol dome lined up right over the new bike path, the ornate dome of the Barrymore Theater, the colorful confusion of coats and sleds on the snow of the Olbrich Park hill. These are memorable views. They are key visual references and at the heart of the neighborhood's identity and character.

posted by jr at 11:02 A.M. EST on Tue Jun 28, 2005     #



Thank you jr for the info. This neighborhood once had everything pointed out in this report. Shopping within walking distance, jobs, like the one I had at Hecks printing that I walked to. Until just recently, we had at least one business on Main street that attracted people from afar and that was The Cake Nook. No one begged them to stay. They moved to Oregon where they have parking for their customers and no bums begging them for money. This city does nothing to keep viable business here.

I just hope that in my lifetime I will see this area restored to what it once was. A clean, safe place to live. I am 47 years old, what does that statement tell you about how slow this City progresses.

posted by SherryET at 08:31 A.M. EST on Sun Jul 03, 2005     #



(Six photos in this comment posting, which will be slow to load for dialup users.)

The grand plan for the east side along the Maumee River is to bring back the feeling of the old neighborhood where a person could walk to the store for shopping and walk to businesses to run errands. I still haven't written up my complete account of that June 25 meeting, but I'll do that this week.

Pizzuti reiterated its initial plan to build 400 housing units over a 10-year period in the Marina District. It would be a mix of townhouses, condos, and detatched homes. It would be a mix of high end and market rate housing. Public spaces and connectivity to existing neighborhoods are important.

But nothing is set in stone, yet. Pizzuti is wide-open to ideas, which is what the June 25 meeting was about. A starting point.

One map of the Marina District displayed by Pizzuti was this one:



It's just a beginning. Something to discuss. In the above map, moving left to right from Main Street to the I-280 interchange, orange is recreation and commercial, purple or whatever that color is, is for residential, yellow is for more commercial, light blue is for the marina and other recreational, and gray is "hospitality."

A lot of the ramps or "spaghetti" associated with the current I-280 interchange will be removed. The initial thought is to make some or most of the gray block area around this interchange green space. The inlet between light blue and gray works well for a marina, which Toledo desparately needs. But these color blocks can be moved around or combined.

Here's a fuzzy aerial photo of the Marina District.



You can see how much land is chewed up by the surface parking lot for the current arena, which is much smaller than the planned new arena. Could the gray block out by the new I-280 bridge be a possible site for a new arena? I wonder who owns the land to the right of the I-280 interchange that contains the five white circles lined up in a row? Could that land be used for an arena if it could be acquired, or is it too far away from the Marina District?


I've heard several people say there's been no progress or no movement with the Marina District project. In my opinion, that's not an accurate statement, although everyone's definition of "progress" is different.

At the two sports arena meetings and at the Marina District meeting, several large photos were displayed that showed the "work" done thus far on the Marina District land. I took photos of those photos, and you can decide if there's been movement with the Marina District project. Maybe our problem is we don't consider anything happening with the Marina District project until we see a new building going up.

But I wonder if people realize that the Marina District land wasn't and still isn't ready for development? This isn't a soybean field. We've been conditioned to see large housing developments pop up overnight in the farmlands. More time and work are required to get the Marina District land ready for development compared to a corn field.




This next photo shows: wastewater treatment plant demolition, storage building demolition, clearing embankment for river walk, pipe removal, clearing Edison Park, removal of breaker buildings, outbuilding demolition, and demolition of oil shed.



Demolition. You don't need to do a lot of demolition work in a soybean field prior to building a housing division.


Listed on this remediation poster: turbine removal, excavation of fly ash pond, transformer removal, backfilling clarifier, removing contaminated soil.



I'm guessing there's not a lot of contaminated soil in a corn field.


Here's a listing of the "no progress" completed on the Marina District land:



So after seeing these pictures, can it still be said with an ounce of intellectual honesty that there's been no movement with the Marina District project? Naturally, the gloom-and-doomer will dance around the answer by claiming that this process hasn't moved fast enough. I don't know anything about the speed of the project, but it certainly looks to me like the Marina District project is moving forward.

posted by jr at 09:53 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 04, 2005     #



On their website, the Toledo City Paper has a summary of the Marine District meeting.

"Large pads of tracing paper were unfurled as 40 local residents gathered in the historic Webber Building on Front and Main streets in East Toledo to collect ideas and discuss planning for the future of neighborhood development. "This is an opportunity for us to dream a little," said State Rep. Peter Uvagi."

"While the future Marina district was the main topic, citizens aired other concerns during the six-hour intensive roundtable. The ideas ranged from developing property at Starr and Main, to a possible hotel development next to the I-280 overpass to worries about gentrification and eminent domain."


"The groups broke off into two rooms; each room lined with blank paper and overlaid maps. Then they debated and wrangled over the merits of all the proposals, as scribes from the River East Economic Revitalization Corp. and LISC frantically copied the ideas to the papered walls. There were cries for more market rate housing, a parking deck, a community center and even a theater complex."

It wasn't quite six hours. It started a little after 9 and ended at 1:30, but the intensive part was correct. And 'ol Bob McCloskey skipped out around 10:00. I guess he wasn't in the mood to dream a little.

posted by jr at 04:37 P.M. EST on Wed Jul 13, 2005     #



These highlights were compiled by the organizers of the June 25 Marina District meeting, which was snubbed by McCloskey.

----------

MARINA DISTRICT CHARRETTE

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS FROM THE JUNE 25, 2005 SESSION


Commercial Development

Project needs to be a mix – connectivity, integrate the old and new including the Acme Plant, sustainability, uniqueness.

Destination retail, housing, neighborhood retail, destination recreation, able to see river from Front Street.

Destination “ Big Box “ – what does that mean.

Great Wolf Lodge.

Theaters.

Put the Farmer’s Market in the Acme Plant.

Year round recreation complex in Acme Plant.

Mix of public and private uses.

More emphasis on housing – less emphasis on retail.

Gambling – why ship money to Canada?

Questions about the competition of suburban development.

Should be a regional “hot spot.”

Should not be a destination point – should be a continuation of the neighborhood.

Include a Library.

Mix of destination and local retail.

How to prevent it becoming like Portside.



Parks and Recreation/Riverfront and Pedestrian Access

New opportunities with the area opened up at the interchange of Front and I-280.

How will the parks be funded?

Bike path (16’) connected to the Buckeye Basin.

Bike lane connected to Ravine Park.

Public access to the river is critical.

Continuous access along the river.

Is continuous access to the river needed?

Public pier for fishing.

Maintain the waterfront.

Need a recreation facility with 2 sheets of ice, indoor soccer (2000 seats) and outside activities.

Ice practice facility needed.

Indoor water park – unique destination.

Extend green space to Waite High School.

Pedestrian connection between the Marina District and the Docks.

Walkway to Sun Oil property.



Marina

Is a marina part of the plan?

Will the marina be public or private?

Is the Marine Terminal included?

Need a small boat marina.

Cruise boat terminal.

I want to live near my boat!

Charter fishing and tour boats.

Boat slips included in condo purchases.

Public marina with overnight facilities.

Transportation for boaters to other facilities (Museum, Zoo, Fifth Third Field etc.)

Cater to boaters.



Sense of Place

Design guidelines needed.

What pieces and what emphasis where?

Image – what should be here.

How cosmopolitan? – density? – walkable – multi-family.

Front porches – small lots.

Maximize view of river from housing.

Consider the Summit Street Corridor Development Plan.

Front Street should be a shopping area.

Front Street should be a boulevard.

Hotel at the north, destination retail, mix housing and retail, and arena or something else at south end.

Develop from west (river) to east.

Make MLK entrance into an incredible entryway.

Gateway at I-280 area.

Entranceway from Main Street.

Have zoning and design standards.



Housing

400 housing units.

Housing is the best use.

Diversity of housing stock – different prices.

Yard and gardening opportunities.

Single family detached housing option.

High rises?

Options for middle income persons.

Need more information on housing options.

More emphasis on housing – less emphasis on retail.

Do not want to see housing – residential doesn’t belong with the development.

Need affordable market rate housing.

Starboard Side 1/3rd built – market rate housing – build market rate housing across the street.

Housing on Miami connected to International Park and Marina District.



Connectivity With the Neighborhood

Link existing projects and neighborhoods together including parks, pedestrian paths and schools.

Project needs to be an extension of East Toledo.

Don’t let Front Street be a barrier.

Connect the project with the neighborhood.

Vehicle access points at Main, Dearborn, Elgin and East Broadway.

Extend green space to Waite High School.

Starr and Main – residential and commercial.

Same look for Marina District and Main Street - streetscape.

Connect neighborhood to International Park.

Redevelop properties facing Front Street – encourage home ownership.

Transportation to neighborhoods – circulation system to Marina District - along river front from Birmingham to Rossford. – ultimately connect to the other side of the river.

Light rail public transportation to connect neighborhoods.



Arena

Section 79 vote called for an arena in East Toledo.

The decision would be to move the arena.

Make the arena decision soon – if no arena in East Toledo – then what?

How much negotiation between the City and County? – comment was – very little.

If not an arena – then what?

Need more than a “two sheet of ice” practice ice house to replace the arena project.

Is there are higher and better use of the land than an arena.



Parking

Parking is a big issue.

Multilevel parking.

How much parking is needed for 400,000 sf of retail.

$1,500 per surface space; $15,000 for garage.

How to provide sufficient parking most effectively.



Acme Power Plant

Leave it up – make it part of the development.

Tear it down.

Turn it into parking, recreation, commercial, housing and a museum.



Property Acquisition

Concern about the neighborhood between Front and Mott being taken.

Need to lock up the Gladieux property.



Other Concerns or Comments

When will it start? – when will it be done?

Focus on what can get done.

Get Going!

Create a signature landmark.

Uniqueness.

City commitment to redevelop neighborhoods – promote home ownership.

How will the entire community be involved in the development process?

People need to be a part of the planning.

Get students and teachers involved.

What can we do to make sure this development doesn’t go the way of other developments?

Need to work together.

View East Toledo as part of the City.

Us (East) vs. We (city).

Can we get something better?

Utilize existing resources.

Convention Center needs to be self supporting.

Pilkington should be a gated development.

Yondota industrial park.

What is the role of the County?

24/7 use of the site.

Homeless living in International Park.

Green building opportunities.

posted by jr at 10:06 A.M. EST on Fri Jul 22, 2005     #



An Aug 13 Blade essay by Peter Ujvagi about the Marina District project and the location of the new arena.

"The district, along with The Docks development in International Park, renovation of the King Bridge, Starboard Side condominiums, and construction of the Veterans Glass City Skyway, would strengthen the idea that the river unites Toledoans instead of dividing us."

"In some areas, impressive if not necessarily high profile, progress has been made. Taking advantage of two $3 million grants from the state of Ohio to remediate the environmental challenges of the marina and arena phases of the project, the city has systematically cleaned and prepared this major brown- field site."

"After at least two false starts, and tough negotiations by Mayor Jack Ford, a developer with the commitment, capabilities, and vision to make the marina project a success has been selected."

"Further movement on the Marina District is stalled on the issue of the arena location. We are now awaiting a second study to determine which location would be "economically" most viable."

"Further movement on the Marina District is stalled on the issue of the arena location. We are now awaiting a second study to determine which location would be "economically" most viable."

"It is time to make some hard decisions - before increasing suburban developments make the Marina district uneconomical. It is time to decide if the arena will be built in the Marina District or relocated to the other side of the river. The arena decision must not be allowed to threaten the entire project."

"There are other options besides the arena, including: additional residential development; expansion of the proposed ice house concept to year-round recreational opportunities; expansion of The Docks concept; other developments that do not need such expansive parking and which attract and keep people in the district longer and bring them there more often than the limited dates of arena events; connecting the Marina District with Main Street, and taking greater advantage of the riverfront to attract people and investments."

posted by jr at 06:32 A.M. EST on Sat Aug 13, 2005     #



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