Financial adviser named for SkyWay CenterWritten by Deanna Woolf | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“If you take a look at what this going to be for Toledo, it’s going to be a jewel of the city,” said Dan Boos, president and managing principal of Gorillas & Gazelles LLC.
The former Ernst & Young executive will serve as the financial adviser for the proposed SkyWay Center, an entertainment and hotel venue to be located near the Front Street exit of the new I-280 bridge. He will work to create a fund-raising campaign for the $15 million project and will sit on the advisory board of directors to oversee the startup process.
“We’re looking at creating a fund-raising strategy that is comprehensive and inclusive,” he said, noting board members are being sought.
“There should be an inclusive and rather comprehensive group,” he said. “There are some great leaders here [in the city].”
The idea for the center originated when Michael Drew Shaw, executive director of American Retrospects, began work on a documentary about the bridge two years ago and was surprised to learn there were no plans for a visitors’ center.
“I decided it was time to put plans into high gear,” he said. “We want to give people a reason to get off I-280 and spend some time here.”
According to Andrew Gall, chief of staff with the ODOT central office in Columbus, the idea is unique to Ohio. But as for supporting the project, “at this point, the state will not weigh in,” he said. “We’re not able to be a funding partner for this.”
Nor is that what Shaw wants.
“What really makes this different is that it’s going to be built without taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Our belief is that this concept needs to stand on its own merits financially.”
Architect Bob Stizenstock has developed a design for the SkyWay Center that includes a welcome center with information on the bridge and its construction, a theater, an observation deck, motel rooms and a virtual golf course. A restaurant is planned for the top floor of the building, featuring a view of the bridge. In addition, “the site will have places for RVs in transit and for people who want to go fishing and boating on the Maumee River,” he said.
Shaw recently met with Pizzuti Companies officials to discuss the location of the SkyWay Center, with the Acme Power Plant being offered as a possible site for the center.
“We want to create something that works in concert with the Marina District,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the public feedback for the project has been positive. Project volunteer Scott Francis said he read about the proposed center in Toledo Free Press and “was inspired by the pictures and what he talked about doing. It seems to me that’s what we need here — attractions to bring people into the city,” he said. “It seems that the people of the city need something to be proud of.”