"... have to travel several miles to get to a grocery store from where I live. I don't know what the big deal is about these stores."
Well, it's nice to have food.
If I lived and worked downtown, I would probably be walking to work and not driving. I would also want to walk to the produce stand, the bakery, the deli, the barber shop, the newsstand, the book store, the hardware store, a clothing store, etc. Walk, walk, walk. Walkable neighborhoods need more than bars and sports stadiums, especially for those who don't care about bars and sports. A reason for living in the downtown of an urban center is not having to drive. Walk or take the bus to get around.
Sometimes I walk from home to the little Everfresh Market produce stand, located on Sylvania Ave near Elmhurst Rd and to Zavotski's Deli, located in the DeVeaux shopping center. Both stores are roughly the same distance from home. It's a over a 1.5 mile round trip walk, so it's reasonable.
Food is probably one of the most common purchases. When only a few items are needed, it just seems stupid to have to drive all the time. But that's the landscape today. People like shopping at big chain stores and buying a truck load of groceries in one trip. And big chain stores need more room, than what's available in neighborhoods. The days of small, neighborhood shops satisfying most of our needs are probably gone, or they're dwindling. We're a driving society not a walking one.
If I lived downtown and walked to work, but I had to drive for just about everything else, then why not live somewhere else with a home on a nice plot of land?
When you're comparing living in downtown Perrysburg versus downtown Toledo, downtown Perrysburg wins because it's more walkable. Downtown Perrysburg has bars, restaurants, diners, the coffee shop, some retail stores, the river, the library, a nice grocery store, my barber shop, the hardware store, the farmers market from May into October, First Friday's in the summer, walleye fishing right now, 577 Foundation, etc.
Maybe the best location in Toledo for a walkable area
It's not the Warehouse District nor Uptown. It's not or won't be the Student Village area nor the Marina District. Those are or will be good walkable spots, but I'm talking about the best possible
walkable area in Toledo.
In my opinion, the best area in Toledo that could one day be somewhat like downtown Ann Arbor or Bowling Green or even like downtown Perrysburg or Maumee would be a street appropriately named Main Street, which is located in East Toledo.
The specific walkable area I'm referring to would include Main St between Front St. and Starr Ave, and then Starr Ave going east to Parker Ave. This several block area is mostly lined with small to mid-sized buildings. It looks like the downtown of a small town. Unfortunately, many of these east side buildings are empty.
Walkable for visitors means park once and then walk the area, browsing, shopping, dining, enjoying entertainment, etc., instead of driving from place to place. A visitor would spend a morning or an afternoon or an evening checking out Main Street and Starr Ave. The walkable area should contain a mix of businesses that provide something for someone at any time of the day, and not just a bunch bars that get active at night.
Walkable for the residents means providing the basics like a grocery story, a hardware store, a barbershop or hair salon, the types of businesses visited weekly and monthly by the area residents. Visitors probably won't drive to the east side Main St to shop at the hardware store. But if the east side Main St. contained stores, restaurants, and entertainment not found elsewhere in the area, that would attract visitors, and who knows, they may wander into the hardware store.
The side streets along Main/Starr do or could contain additional businesses, which would increase the walkable area. The side streets looked nice and tree-lined with most containing housing up to the buildings, making for a cozy area like a small town.