The Berdan EffectWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a number of “big empties” dotting the Toledo landscape, but this summer has brought news of activity that should inspire cautious optimism.
In June, the Eyde Company, Toledo City Council and the administration of Mayor Mike Bell began exploring the complicated funding systems that could transform the former Fiberglas Tower into the “Tower on the Maumee,” which could offer housing and retail space. It was recently reported that the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority could transform the old Jeep plant’s 111-acre site and clean it up for productive use.
At an Aug. 25 Economic Development Committee meeting, councilman Rob Ludeman led a discussion with Brad Peebles, commissioner of economic development, on the efforts of Landmark Management of Cleveland to rehabilitate the Berdan Building on Washington Street.
As reported by Lisa Renee Ward at Glass City Jungle, “Landmark RE Management of Cleveland [is] interested in re-developing the Berdan Building … to make it high-end market-rate apartment units.”
Many of the same issues involved with the “Tower on the Maumee” are involved with the Berdan Building: historic tax credits, federal Section 108 funding, HUD loans, the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative and other sources of funding. There are questions about how much authority council and the city have to utilize some of these funding sources. And while some might wonder if there is enough demand for Downtown housing to justify the work and city involvement, it should be agreed that even the consideration for such investment is a positive sign and an indicator that the slow but encouraging growth of Downtown continues.
Yes, there are still some “big empties” to deal with — the riverfront steam plant remains one of the region’s most frustrating examples — but the relative flurry of activity this summer shows there is great behind-the-scenes action starting to come to light. How much city and taxpayer involvement is warranted will have to be determined case-by-case, but for now, at least the wheels are turning and the rust is being shaken off.
The Tower, Jeep Plant and now the Berdan Building could greatly benefit from this development, which means the city and its citizens will have opportunities as well.
We encourage Bell, Ludeman and Council to aggressively pursue these projects and focus on partnering with the private sector to make these plans and visions a renaissance of reality.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.