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Plabell: Repurposed To Embellish City of Toledo

Rubber products site part of public-private partnership by Toledo that's resulted in another repurposed brownfield site
By Brad White

Toledo, Ohio, or "Glass City," has been very good to me. I got my start in urban redevelopment by acquiring a brownfield site associated with the glass industry, eventually selling it to Penn National Gaming. The Hollywood Casino now occupies the property.

After this lucky success, my partners and I were given the opportunity to develop a couple of brownfield sites in Toledo's Warehouse District. Like in other Midwestern cities, the Warehouse District is a collection of low-rise buildings near to the downtown business district.

Photo by ©2004 Dustin M. Ramsey

In Toledo, this area includes Fifth-Third Field, home of the Mud Hens, and the revitalizing area sprawling away from the ballpark. The local business association is very active with overlay plans and visions for redevelopment.

One of the properties, the Plabell Rubber Products site on St. Clair St.,

is part of a public-private partnership established by the city of Toledo that has resulted in another repurposed brownfield site. Ohio EPA is just now finalizing the environmental covenants on a project that began in 2011.

St. Clair Redevelopment, LLC purchased the property, along with two neighboring buildings, in 2012. St. Clair Redevelopment is a limited liability company owned by prinicpals of Hull & Associates, Inc., based in Dublin, Ohio. Last year, our partnership sold the Plabell property to two local entrepreneurs who plan to grow their local operations downtown.

One of the buyers is a neighbor of the former factory, River East Custom Cabinets, who will expand their existing manufacturing business onto the property south of St. Clair. They are the named end user in the city of Toledo's Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) grant.

The buyer of the portion along Swan Creek is a new business that will build an urban-agriculture facility. The best part of the story is that they will use the old Grasser and Brand Brewery building that has stood on the site since the mid 1800s, and actually closed in 1917, almost 100 years ago.

The demolition and remediation project was financed by the $865,700 CORF grant through the Ohio Development Services Agency (formerly the Department of Development) and a $270,000 match by the city.

The factory was abandoned after a bankruptcy in 2006.In 2009, US EPA performed an assessment and removed hazardous chemicals left in the buildings, and the city acquired the property in default after it caught fire in 2010. After working with the city and local businesses, Hull put together a CORF grant application that was eventually funded by ODSA as part of a public-private partnership with the City. For St. Clair Redevelopment this site is a sister site to another property the group owns on the northern bank of Swan Creek.

That property is a former Columbia Gas property that was formerly the Toledo Gas Light & Coke manufactured gas plant, which is currently participating in another Warehouse District redevelopment involving the Erie Street Market, Hull's downtown Toledo office, and the local farmers market.

Brad White is vice president at Hull & Associates, Dublin, Ohio.

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