Monday, July 25, 2005

Things not so bright and cheery Downtown

Interesting when all of the Toledo Mayoral Candidates have talked about making Downtown Toledo more successful then this article comes out.

Seems some of the business owners that agreed to paying a higher assessment don't feel they were given correct information. More threats to leave downtown, which already has a high vacancy rate for office space.

Some information from the article:

The "special improvement district," which was approved by a 12-0 City Council vote in January, has been a goal of Downtown Toledo Inc. since the creation of the downtown master plan in 2002. Its assessment fees, based on street frontage and building value, are expected to generate about $550,000 annually for the next five years.

State law requires property owners representing 60 percent of the front-footage in the district to sign a petition supporting the district. DTI had signed on 63 percent by the end of last year - including the properties belonging to Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois, Toledo Edison, KeyBank, Sky Bank, and the Spitzer Building.

Although the businesses within the district are not required to pay assessments until next year, DTI sent a letter in January to all business owners who supported the district asking for an early payment equal to half their annual fees in order to "move forward."

To date, only 19 of the district's 108 owners have chipped in, an amount totaling just $42,718.
The city has received 20 letters saying the assessments are unfair, with some business owners threatening to leave should the tax go through.

Gary Wahl, chief executive officer of the Roulet Co. on Madison Avenue, is vehemently opposed to the district. "We are already paying taxes. It's a double tax," he said. "If this stands, we're just going to close and move out of Toledo."

John Shousher, a partner with Adam Huron Partners LLC, owns an Adams Street building currently housing the Magic Wok restaurant. He said the roughly $2,000 a year in assessments being passed on to his tenants will make it difficult to attract new ones.

His tenant, Bill Baroudi, also sent a letter to the city, complaining that the unexpected cost would hurt his chances of survival during the "critical first year of business."

As a corner property, Mr. Shousher will get assessed for frontage on both Adams and Huron. Other owners complained that alleys were assessed as frontage, which they say was not expected.

Allan Schall, president of Toledo-based Modern Enterprises Inc., which owns two buildings on St. Clair Street across from Fifth Third Field, said he originally signed over his support for the district - but now he's changed his mind.

"When it was presented to me, my understanding and expectation of what this would cost me was different than what it turned out to be. Several times more," Mr. Schall said. "It could have been my fault in misunderstanding, it could have been miscommunication, but if I knew when I signed the petition that the costs were going to be this high, I wouldn't have signed it."

The city's assessment equalization board will meet for the first time at 10:30 a.m. in council chambers tomorrow.

Hopefully they will get some answers at tomorrow's meeting, I'll update when I hear more. To me thought, it doesn't make sense if you want businesses to stay or to move downtown to not make sure they have all the information, and that their complaints have not been addressed.

I wonder what Mr. Wilkowski's take on this is, since he feels the way to get people to move downtown is to offer tax credits for those who decide to reside downtown.

UPDATE: Found the answers to my own questions, Wilkowski's Plan for Downtown


Cyberseaer said...

Gee, screwing the small businessman when he is keeping the comunity alive. I say, let the tax go through and make the Downtown area of Toledo become a ghost town. Sometimes I wonder if the elected officals really care about the community that they are supposed to help run smoothly.

I didn't read the link about the Downtown Plan, becasue I knew I would get a headache and I have things to do tonight. Like watch Hell's Kitchen. Let the TV give me the truth. ;)

Lisa Renee said...

lol C, That's part of the problem already is businesses are leaving downtown. It just seems counter productive to charge them more when the burbs seem more than happy to offer a cheaper price.

I understand the reasons behind the DTI trying to do this because other cities have done this with good results, but it appears how much they thought it was going to cost ended up being different than what they were charged.

Sixty-three percent of them did agree to it else it would have never taken place so now it comes down to was their misinformation and if so what can be done about it.

Me4Prez said...

Sounds like downtown Des Moines. The people all come in from the suburbs to work and then go home and don't add anything to the downtown economy so it has become run-down causing businesses to move. Then taxes have gone up for Des Moines' residents but not for the people who actually use it so more people move to the suburbs and there is less for downtown.

Lisa Renee said...

We have a Convention Center downtown, and they moved the Mud Hens from the burbs into a still new stadium which was built downtown. They have been arguing for years where to build the new arena for our hockey team, right now it's just right across the river from downtown and has needed to be replaced for quite some time.

Changing warehouses into some really nice loft homes has started, but if the businesses keep leaving all the hard work that has been done to get people to go downtown will be lost. We have COSI downtown as well as the Farmer's Market. There was some real progress being made but it seems like every step forward ends up with two back.

They have to do more than the "if we build it they will come", they need to concentrate on "when they come let's try to keep them"


Me4Prez said...

Same in Des Moines. They spent a lot of money turning buildings into nice lofts and townhomes, but let everything decay around it because of businesses leaving. Now, there are nice places and nothing else nice around many places

Lisa Renee said...

Some of the lofts are awesome, if it weren't for the school related part of having kids, I would love to live down there.

I could homeschool, but then I would become even more insane that I presently am.