City accepting bids for Erie Street Market through Feb. 13Written by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
With a financial track record as varied as its checkered history, the Erie Street Market has been put on the market by the City of Toledo.
On Jan. 23, the city issued a formal request for proposals (RFP) seeking interested parties. It had already received an offer from Sustainable Local Foods, a Columbus-based produce grower with a Toledo growing space currently located inside the Erie Street Market.
“What I want to do is ensure that the largest possible economic impact for the city is in that location,” said Matt Sapara, director of the city’s department of development. “The market is going to decide that. The RFP was very broad, and if someone wants to put in retail — terrific. If someone wants to go in there that can create jobs and other economic impact, that’s great too. It’s whatever is best for the city.”
Sapara declined to disclose the price offered by Sustainable Local Foods. The company was unable to be reached for comment.
The Erie Street Market is located in the Warehouse District, immediately south of Downtown. The area has seen significant growth particularly since the arrival of Fifth Third Field in 2002.
The building originally opened in 1908 as a food distribution center for wholesale fruit and vegetable farmers, then was redesigned in 1927 when an auditorium was added for exhibitions and entertainment — a precursor to today’s SeaGate Convention Centre. Formerly known as the Toledo Civic Auditorium, the venue’s stage was once graced by icons like Elvis Presley and boxer Joe Louis as well as host to numerous auto, bridal and flower shows.
The outdoor farmers’ market was added in the 1940s, and the indoor wholesale portion was eliminated in 1966 when the city converted it into a warehouse for the Natural Resources Department.
Its latest reincarnation in 1997 turned the building into an ultimately unsuccessful retail center with a food, craft and antique market, all anchored by the still-present Libbey Glass Factory Outlet.
Starting in 2010, the city tried to operate two event spaces at the building. But by 2012, all retail ventures aside from the Libbey Outlet were gone and the halls were closed.
Representatives of the Toledo Warehouse District Association believe a return to retail is what’s needed.
Last year, Lucky’s Market, a Colorado-based grocery chain, expressed strong interest in the Erie Street Market but those plans did not come to fruition.
“We’re still wanting to see retail, specifically, a grocery in that location,” said Diane Keil-Hipp, Toledo Warehouse District Association president.
“We don’t have anything in the works, but that’s still our desire. While the city owns it, we’re working with them to try and recruit different markets. We brought Lucky’s to the city to work with, but if it’s sold to an individual or business, we’ll attempt to forge a relationship with them.”
Keil-Hipp said interest in the Warehouse District remains strong, and she hopes for something more than a corner market, but not necessarily a large-scale supermarket.
“Kind of a neighborhood market,” Keil-Hipp said. “There’s still tons of interest in living in the Warehouse District. We get requests all the time [asking] what’s available down here, and in October we had 2,400 hits on our website. Living here is in great demand.”
Sapara said interested groups have until Feb. 13 to submit proposals. Bids will be opened Feb. 17.
The sale of the site would not include the Farmers’ Market or the parking lot, Sapara said.
“Other people have expressed interest, but nothing written yet,” Sapara said. “When we get those proposals back, we’ll put together an analysis.”