13 min

ReUrbanism Meeting Notes Feb 22, 2007

(My Feb 2007 Toledo Talk post. CP attended this meeting with me, and she spoke briefly. She got meet Robert Brundage too.)

Location: Downtown Latte coffee shop
Attendance: approx. 25 people
Date: February 22, 2007
Time: 5:40 - 6:50 p.m.

Speakers:

  • Bob Seyfang, Architect and Planner – on latest plans and progress related to Downtown and Marina District planning.
  • Paula Ross, UT Urban Affairs Center – on latest news and developments related to the Farmers Market, including a successful grant initiative.

Toledo Design Center

  • Seyfang gave everyone a brochure from the Toledo Design Center.
  • Seyfang said, "A ton of mediocrity exists in Toledo."
    • As to why that is, Seyfang said it's because most Toledoans don't know what good design is.
  • TDC is involved with the Marina District and sports arena projects.
  • TDC is a volunteer staff
  • TDC will temporarily use architects that are not yet registered.
  • TDC does not make money.

Arena

  • Had first meeting with the design firm, HNTB Architecture Inc.
    • It's the same company that designed Fifth Third field.
  • Five firms were interviewed.
  • Arena site has been selected.
    • Near Superior Street and Jefferson Avenue, according to Jan 24, 2007 Toledo Blade story
    • [From Seyfang, I got bits and pieces of the following about the location:]
      • Port Lawrence garage
      • splits Superior St.
      • Frogtown Alley
      • Toledo Trust building on Madison [???]
      • and something about Jefferson.
  • Arena design concern: the roof
    • The buildings surrounding the arena will look down on the arena's roof, so the roof needs more concern than what may normally be the case with an arena development project.
    • Seyfang said the Toledo Design Center will push hard for an attractive arena roof design.
  • TDC doesn't anticipate any issues with the arena design at street level.
  • Need to enable the area around Fifth-Third field and the new arena to be a "great pedestrian place."
  • New arena will cut off Superior Street.
    • Need to make Superior Street a gathering place.
      • Sidewalk art
      • Gardens
      • Outdoor cafes

Marina District

  • Larry Dillin is the Marina District developer.
  • Seyfang described Dillin as being "Terrific."
  • Seyfang said, "Project is going so well ..."
  • Received a $200,000 grant that will help:
    • Garfield Neighborhood
    • Waite High School
    • International Park
    • [and Star??? business something. A building? I'm not sure what Seyfang said.]
  • Seyfang admires the loyalty of the east side community.
  • Seyfang said community support is more solid on the East Side than anywhere else in Toledo.
  • Garfield neighborhood has a lot of rental properties.
    • Goal is to get more home ownership.
  • Seyfang described Waite HS as a "Gem of a building."
  • New Garfield grade school will open in the Fall of '07.
  • Seyfang gave details about something he called "The Emerald Necklace," which starts near the new I-280 bridge.
    • [I think Seyfang said this is or will be some kind of park.]
  • Seyfang said a sculpture tribute is planned for the I-280 bridge workers that were killed during construction in February 2004.
    • An event in May will rase money for the sculpture.
  • The next step for the Marina District project is to secure $25 million for Riverside Drive:
    • a public way
    • Bike trails
    • Walkways
    • street(s)
  • After securing funding for Riverside Drive, the next thing for the Marina District project is Front Street improvement.
  • Seyfang said that through public meetings, citizens have contributed many ideas for the Marina District.
  • One idea is to turn the old Acme power plant into an extreme sports hall of fame.
    • Seyfang said the person suggesting this idea said extreme sports is the only sport where young people can express their creativity. Traditional sports, such as football, basketball, hockey, and baseball require too much structure.

Huron Street

  • Huron stretches from Cherry St to the Farmers' Market.
  • Huron is a narrow street.
  • Seyfang said Huron St. should become Toledo's "Main Street" with streetscaping, outdoor cafes, and new businesses.
  • When talking about the Warehouse and Uptown districts, Seyfang said, "That's where residential is going to happen."
  • Seyfang talked about the charette [public meeting] in the fall of 2005 for the Uptown/Warehouse districts. A lot of good ideas came from that public meeting, but Seyfang said since other projects are taking precedence, he needs help from the public to organize and prioritize the ideas for these areas of Downtown.

Downtown orgs

  • Downtown Toledo Inc. (DTI) no longer exists.
  • A new organization has been created called Greater Downtown Business Parnership, which is geared toward entrepreneurs and corporations.
  • This new org has no paid staff.
  • Some people from DTI are operating this new org.
  • The Downtown Toledo Improvement District (DTID) led by Tom Crothers is still operating.

Live Work Create Toledo

  • A project by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT)
  • More about the Live Work Create Toledo program from Joel Washing of TwoToledos.com :
    • Economic incentive for artists to relocate to certain neighborhoods.
    • Modeled after program used in Paducah, KY.
    • Toledo's program is working with local banks to get them to offer attractive loan rates to the artists.
    • Possibly will create a health care collective for the artists.
    • The Live Work Create Toledo program is still in the incubation stage.
      • Need to do a feasibility study
      • What buildings are appropriate for creating an artists' colony?
        • Possibly buildings on Huron Street could be acquired for artists' studios and residences.
    • Live Work Create Toledo would encourage artists to move into "decaying" areas of the city.
    • Initial target areas to get artists to reside in would be:
      • Uptown area
      • Old West End
    • Program extended to local artists too.
    • Goal is to bring 30 artists per year into the target neighborhood(s).
    • Artists would be required to live in the neighborhood for a year.
    • Advantage of bringing in outside artists is if they decide to move to another part of the country after their residence in Toledo, hopefully, they spread the word about the positive aspects of Toledo.
    • In March, two arts orgs from out of town will be in Toledo to give advice.
  • About Live Work Create Toledo from the ACGT Web site:
    • The program will facilitate the development of incentives to leverage the creative talent of individual artists and our cultural assets to spur economic growth, build community prosperity, and transform our central city neighborhoods.
    • Working with real estate agents, businesses, artists, arts organizations, and homeowners in communities, the City seeks to attract artists and concentrate our existing artist population to become permanent residents and business owners in our central city.
    • The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo is working with the City to develop a package of tax credits, professional development opportunities, and grants and with banks to establish favorable lending terms for artists.
  • Seyfang mentioned a new building will be built, not rehabbed but built from the ground up, in the Uptown area on 22nd street.
    • New building will be an artist's studio and residence.
  • Seyfang said not all development has to be rehab of old buildings.
  • Seyfang said more new building construction is needed.
  • The Uptown area has a lot of vacant space for new building construction.
    • Utilities, of course, are already available, and the Uptown area has good traffic patterns, according to Seyfang.
  • The Warehouse District is mainly rehab of old buildings.
  • Seyfang would like to see some of the vacant parking lots in the Warehouse District be turned over to residential development.

Farmers' Market

  • Paula Ross discussed Toledo's Farmers' Market.
  • Web site: ToledoFarmersMarket.org
  • Ross said the market is an important food system that supports local farmers.
  • The Toledo Farmers' Market sells produce grown by area farmers.
  • The average distance food travels to a grocery chain store is 1500 miles.
  • Cost to rent a stall at the Farmers' Market is $400.00 per season.
  • Project for Public Spaces is awarding the Toledo Farmers' Market a grant.
    • Toledo's market is one of 12 from around the country that's receiving one of these grants.
    • Toledo Farmers' Market partners involved with the grant:
    • The one-year grant will enable the Farmers' Market to:
      • be more comfortable and accomodating.
      • add an outdoor grill to the market.
      • purchase tables, chairs, umbrellas, and flowers.
      • add a sink in accordance with Health Department regulations
      • establish partnerships with more community organizations.
      • be able to hire a part-time person who will be in charge of market activities and promotion. Market activities will include special events on Saturday.
    • Part of the grant's stipulation is for the market to sell more to low-income people.
      • The Toledo Farmers' Market was the first market in Ohio to be approved by the USDA to accept food stamps.
      • $66 million in food stamps is distributed in Lucas County.
      • Goal is to encourage food stamp users to buy healthy, locally grown produce.
  • Question from the crowd: Does the new Westgate Farmers' Market that takes place Wednesday afternoon and evening hurt business at Downtown Toledo's Farmers' Market?
    • According to Ross, vendors did not lose Saturday business.
    • Vendors had a net gain by having markets in two locations on different days.
    • Ross said some customers won't ever go downtown on a Saturday.
    • Other Farmers' Markets may open in Toledo.
      • [Perrysburg's Farmers' Market is Thursday afternoon and evening.]
  • Question: Anything being done to encourage local farmers' to grow organically? Ross said:
    • No local resources exist to encourage farmers to grow more organic produce.
    • Local farmers don't grow enough organic produce that can be brought to market.
    • The Farm Bureau has the power to encourage farmers to grow organically.
    • It's up to consumers to demand organically grown produce.
  • Question: Does Toledo have a program that encourages Toledo restaurants to buy food from the Farmers' Market? The person asking the question mentioned how restaurants in Europe buy food from their local markets. The person also said restaurants in Traverse City do this.
    • Ross said a few restaurants buy food from the market. Participation, however, is minimal.
    • Very few restaurants are willing to take the risk of relying heavily on local farmers.
      • Ross gave as an example the flooded local tomato fields of last summer.
  • A meeting attendee suggested that Toledo create an initiative to promote those restaurants that buy locally grown produce.

Buy local

  • About a buy-local program, John Henry Fullen said Toledo is looking at other cities for ideas, and those findings will be shared in an upcoming ReUrbanism meeting.

BALLE

  • Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
  • Web site for BALLE is http://www.livingeconomies.org/
  • About BALLE
    • BALLE is a growing alliance of businesspeople around the US and Canada, who join local BALLE networks dedicated to building local living economies.
  • Toledo BALLE group is forming.
  • Objective:
    • Keep money local
    • Local development
  • Participating businesses pay a membership fee.
  • Toledo BALLE group will seek advice from the Ann Arbor group, which used to be called Living Economy Network but is now named Think Local First.
  • Requirement of the Toledo group:
    • Needs support from businesses and citizens.

Metroparks

  • In 2006, the Metroparks of the Toledo Area bought land along the river in downtown Toledo.
    • This will be a new Metropark some day.
    • From the Metroparks Web site about the land purchase
      • ... purchase 28 acres of land along the Maumee River in an area near downtown Toledo known as the Middlegrounds.
      • The half-mile of river frontage begins at the Anthony Wayne Bridge and extends southwest of Martin Luther King Plaza. The Norfork Southern Railroad owns a one-half interest in about 9.5 acres of the property.
      • Metroparks will set aside the land and eventually restore the natural area for future parkland.
      • The natural areas on the property will be restored as funding allows in anticipation of it becoming an urban greenspace with a walking trail and scenic views of the Maumee River.
  • Seyfang said planning meetings are scheduled or will be scheduled for this new downtown Toledo park.
  • An attendee mentioned that the Metroparks will soon take control of the Manhattan Marsh Nature Preserve. (map)

Transportation

Downtown two-way streets

  • Citizens are asked to encourage local officials to support Downtown Toledo's two-way street project idea.
  • Jefferson will probably become a two-way street after arena is built.
  • Goal is to also have Madison made a two-way street too.
  • In the past few years, some downtown one-way streets have been made two-way.
  • Two-way streets, supposedly, make it easier for visitors to navigate Downtown Toledo.
  • More downtown visitors mean more support for the downtown businesses.

Downtown Circulator

  • The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) Web site contains info on the Downtown Circulator study.
  • The Downtown Ciculator project has now been given a lower priority than the project linking UT with MUO.
  • The UT-MUO project is now two to three levels highers in priority than the Downtown Circulator.
  • The Downtown Circulator, however, already has federal funding while the UT-MUO project is seeking funding.
  • TMACOG Web site contains their 2005 annual report titled Participation, Cooperation, Action (3mb PDF file) which states:
    • Regional Core Circulator Study Completed
      • In 2005, a multi-year study that looked at the movement of traffic in downtown Toledo and nearby attractions was completed and released. The locally preferred alternative for downtown proposes reintroduction fixed guideway transit (streetcars) in and near downtown, more two-way streets, changes in bus loops and stations, and improved signage and streetscaping.

Trip to Sister City in China

  • Will be going to Qinhuangdao, China.
  • City also known as Chinwangtao.
  • Trip is April 5-13, 2007
  • Cost is $1900, which "includes everything."
  • About 50 people are going.
  • Trip is open to public.
  • Qinhuangdao's population is about 1.5 million, which is small for China.
  • City is located about 100 miles away from Old Dragon's Head, which is what the eastern end of the Great Wall of China is called.
  • The 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing, China.
    • Qinhuangdao will host some early-round soccer matches.
  • In February, Jimmy Jackson visited Qinhuangdao.
    • Jackson has found a couple possible business opportunties for himself in Qinhuangdao.
    • In the future, Jackson may be doing development or business in Qinhuangdao.
  • For more about Toledo's sister cities, visit the Web site Toledo Sister Cities International
    • TwoToledos.com - Web site for the documentary project of Toledo, Ohio and Toledo Spain produced by Jacob David and Joel Washing.
      • Documentary aired on PBS
      • Available for sale locally at Borders Bookstore and the Original Subway Shop.

#toledo - #business - #art - #food - #urban - #blog_jr

By JR - 2408 words
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