City considering demolishing shortened smokestackWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Updated with response from HUD, comments from Marc Gerdeman and comments from Lisa Ward.
The City of Toledo received Sept. 9 the approval it sought from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to potentially demolish the rest of the recently shortened smokestack at the former Toledo Edison power plant site in East Toledo.
The 75-foot stack will likely remain for now, but the approval from HUD gives the city the option to demolish it in the future without jeopardizing the HUD grant used to fund the project, said Marc Gerdeman, brownfield redevelopment officer with the City of Toledo’s Division of Environmental Services.
“If there’s any future redevelopment at the site, it may be removed, but for now it’s going to stay,” Gerdeman said. “I don’t really see it in the future being knocked down anytime soon. We’re keeping it until we hear otherwise from the mayor’s office.”
After two stacks at the site were imploded July 16, the city planned to shorten the remaining stack to about 100 feet. However, the Aug. 29 implosion left the 297-foot stack around 75 feet instead, including its 48-foot concrete base, said Bill Burkett, city commissioner for economic and business development.
“We knew there was a possibility depending on how that stack fell that there could be some additional damage,” Burkett said Aug. 29. “It looks a little short, we know that.”
Oklahoma-based Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp. was contracted by Cleveland-based B&B Wrecking by the City of Toledo to perform the implosion. A week after the implosion, B&B Wrecking returned to the site to even out the remaining brick to a uniform height.
Although the resulting height is still within the project’s planned scope, which called for stack to end up at 100 feet give or take 25 feet, many feel the shortened stack looks too short, Burkett said.
“The consensus was aesthetically we did not meet the preservation goal of keeping enough brick,” he said. “I think people thought with 50 feet of brick, aesthetically, it would look more like we were preserving a stack, but with only about 20 feet of brick you kind of lose that preservation affect.”
The city, with input from other groups including the Marina District Architectural Review Committee and the nearby National Museum of the Great Lakes, is now working to decide whether the leave the stack as it is, turn it into a lighthouse motif as has been suggested by Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins or tear it down.
In the meantime, B&B Wrecking will return to the site to put a cap on the stack, Burkett said. The cap will be made of “marine-grade plywood,” he said, and will help protect the stack from damage caused by water seeping between bricks and then freezing and thawing over the winter.
The implosions, along with cleanup at the site and the preservation of a guard house structure, was funded by a $475,000 federal grant awarded to Toledo by HUD in fiscal year 2009.
The scope of the original project called for retaining a portion of one stack along with the guard house at the front of the site as historical preservation. The guard house, which had its roof replaced and windows boarded up, has been preserved for possible future use, Burkett said.
In order to consider demolishing the shortened stack, the city needed to request permission from HUD to modify the scope of the project.
If HUD had declined to allow the city to modify the project, the stack would definitely have remained, Burkett said, as the city would likely have been asked to reimburse the grant funding if it was demolished.
“If they want their money back, the stack will stay like it is,” Burkett said. “If we get permission from them … we’ll probably move ahead and take it down.”
The estimated cost to demolish the rest of the stack, including the concrete base, is $40,000, Burkett said. Where that money would come from has not been determined, but could come out of the city’s economic development fund if an economic development project is developed for the site, he said.
“A lot of it depends on what the plans are for that area,” Burkett said. “What we do next is figure out what’s next for the Marina District.”
The Marina District Architectural Review Committee approved the city’s plan to leave a 100-foot stack, but had preferred the preserved stack be higher than 100 feet, said City Plan Commission Director Thomas Lemon, a member of the five-person committee, which reviews developments in the Marina District overlay.
“There was a preference to keep the stack a little higher if possible,” Lemon said. “It was more in keeping with historical appearance and function.”
Lemon said there has not been another official committee meeting to discuss the site, but several members have weighed in since Aug. 29 to say they might support demolishing the stack.
“Since it turned out a little lower than what they had planned — although still within the tolerance — there is some support for removing the entire stack,” Lemon said. “At least one or two members feel that might be the best resolution at this time.”
Lisa Ward, public information officer for the city of Toledo, said the mayor still favored the idea of turning the shortened stack into a lighthouse motif, but nothing had been decided yet.
Lemon said the committee is generally not in favor of Collins’ idea to turn the remaining stack into a lighthouse motif, although there has not been an official vote.
“I think the ARC would prefer it maintain more of the original look of it as much as possible,” Lemon said.
Once the city hears back from HUD, the architectural review committee will set up a meeting to discuss, Lemon said.
Burkett and Lemon stressed no final decisions have been made.
“What we’re going to do with it, we don’t know just yet,” Burkett said. “We’ve been discussing options.”
Tags: Architectural Review Committee, B&B Wrecking, Bill Burkett, City of Toledo, D. Michael Collins, demolition, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp, East Toledo, HUD, Implosion, lighthouse, Lisa Ward, Marina District, Marina District Architectural Review Committee, power plant, smokestack, Thomas Lemon, Toledo Edison