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No Need To GTC: It's Toledo

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
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9,329
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31
This old Bear is not an official planner, but I can tell you things about Ohio's 4th largest city (6th largest metro).....

In the early part of the 20th Century Toledo was in the Top 20 in population. It was growing fast. Automobile manufacturing and automobile parts manufacturing were natural follow-ups to Toledo's 19th Century position of "Wagon Capitol Of The World".

But, something happened. A lot of the jobs.....and the people.....flocked to Detroit or Chicago. Toledo stopped growing.

In the 1960's T-Town took on an aggressive annexation policy. Township after township was grabbed and Toledo's population started to shoot toward the 400,000 mark. The 1970's started a long demise in manufacturing jobs, which continues today.

Toledo was the smallest city with the most Fortune 500 Headquarters. It had about seven (7).....but most of those are gone. Champion Spark Plug, gobbled by Cooper Industries. Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company grabbed by England's Pilkington. Owens-Illinois grabbed by KKR, then sold back. Questor Corp. bought by who-the-heck remembers.

Owens-Corning is still here, bankrupt filings and all. Toledo Scale is now in Columbus. Toledo still makes Jeeps.....for the Germans.

Many Toledo residents moved on, mostly to those places that a lot of "rust belt America" moved to.....south and southwest.

Those that stayed enjoyed the best and put-up-with the worst that a small metro can provide:

Toledo residents have very little sprawl to deal with. Central Avenue in west Toledo (and Sylvania Township), the south suburb of Perrysburg, Monroe Street at the area's only super regional mall. Thus, getting around is pretty quick and easy.
(Toledo has it's share of expressways that allow the residents relatively easy movement. Of course, they were designed with 1960's traffic projections and even a non-growing town has increasing vehicle traffic.)

There actually are some interesting things to do in T-Town, including one (1) of the Top 10 at museums in the U.S., the most-complete zoo in America, visiting Tony Packo's restaurant (you had to watch multiple episodes of Mash to understand).

Crime is consistent with a city of this size. A high percentage of folks own their own homes. Many areas of the actual city are very nice residential areas.

Probably the toughest issue that Toledo folks deal with is the image of the city: Nowhere-Ville. And people like me perpetuate that line with long, rambling internet posts.

More later about the (heh heh) "Glass Capitol Of The World".

Bear
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
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Let me add a few things.....

Walleye Capitol Of The World, in Lake Erie, just east of town.
First-ever "Labor-Industry-Citizens" Committee, formed in late 1940's.
One (1) of the best metro park systems in the states.
Extensive rails-to-trails in town, suburbs, and throughout NW Ohio.
(If this counts.....) Ohio's 2nd or 3rd richest suburb....Ottawa Hills.
Danny Thomas (if you remember him)
Theresa Brewer (ditto)
Klinger
Leader in solar-glass technology.....even still.....
Tom Sholz (architect of great rock group Boston) (from Ottawa Hills)
Huge coal-shipping facility
Large port (for general cargo)
Katie Holmes (suburb of Sylvania, drinks still at bar I go to, Frogtown's)

Bear
 

boiker

Cyburbian
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3,890
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Bear Up North said:
More later about the (heh heh) "Glass Capitol Of The World".
Bear
Toledo may be the "Glass Capitol of the World", but there is a rusted sign at the city limits of my hometown that claims the same.

Owens-Illinois largest plant (based on what I know) was located in my hometown.. at it's peak employing over 3,500 workers. Presently, 350 workers. My Dad still working there 36 years later.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
Don't worry, Toledoans can all work as software engineers. No wait, THOSE jobs are being off-shored, too. Maybe you can all be "artists." No, wait, art is controversial and "shouldn't" be supported by government grants, so...

My hometown is Fort Wayne, Indiana. In some ways, it has fared a little better than Toledo, but it shares many of the same problems. For example, Lincoln Life Insurance Company was for years a major corporate citizen: prominent office campus downtown, civic charities, involved local executives, hundreds (over a thousand, actually) good, varied jobs. It was bought by a Philadelphia company and consolidated operations-and those consolidated operations are not in Fort Wayne. Similarly, Dana Spicer Axle (1500 employees at one point-most gone to Mexico).

Back on topic: I still remember my childhood trips to the Toledo Zoo. Fantastic. And, since I like art glass a lot, the Art Museum's collection is pretty neat! And, Toledo has some beautiful suburbs (I really like Perrysburgh and the estates along the Maumee River).

Still, overall, I'm glad I live in evil California now.
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
What, then, is the solution?

The plight of small and mid-sized midwestern cities like Toledo, Fort Wayne, Flint, Erie, etc., is much lamented. These places seem to be at a natural disadvantage economically.

What solutions might work to stem population loss, decrepit building stock, dead dowtowns and dying neighborhoods? Any thoughts?

Personally I think exploiting the resources of colleges and universities would help. In Kalamazoo, MI (where I grew up), they've only recently begun to view Western Michigan University as an economic engine for the area, rather than just a bastion of rowdy students. However, this was done out of necessity - The Upjohn Company (Rogaine!) was a great company to have in a company town. They're gone, and what is left is a fragment in the huge Pfizer drug empire.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
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ChevyChaseDC said:
The plight of small and mid-sized midwestern cities like Toledo, Fort Wayne, Flint, Erie, etc., is much lamented. These places seem to be at a natural disadvantage economically.

What solutions might work to stem population loss, decrepit building stock, dead dowtowns and dying neighborhoods? Any thoughts?
The solution may be, as inspired by my chats with Mendelman, to build from within. Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit from within the community. Make the citizens of the communities the catalyst for development and job growth rather than waiting for the relocating corporate headquarters or factory.

What made the cities grand in the past was the innovation and drive the ancestral citizens had. What helps keep them in their rapid or gradual decline is waiting and depending on outside businesses to come to aid.

Only recently are these industrial cities realizing what they do have. Just like Kalamazoo, Peoria has finally realized the benefits of a respected private university, and three large hospitals, a federal research lab, and an innovative medical college. Plans are implemented and progress is being made to encourage growth from within.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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midwestern doom and gloom?

I didn't mean to sound too gloomy about Fort Wayne. It has many advantages. It's a little farther (than Toledo) from a "big city," so it really is a regional center for retail, professional services, and the like. It still has a strong manufacturing base of smaller companies-how long they'll last in today's world of 1.50/day industrial labor, I don't know. It has a strong arts community, some neat neighborhoods with extremely cheap prices, far better public schools than California (the forty languages in one grade issue is not QUITE as bad in the midwest).

My concern remains that the opportunities for entrepenurship are being steadily reduced. Sure, there are always niches for people more clever, visionary, and hard working than I. But, it seems that almost every segment of the economy is being consolidated, franchised, "rationalized." And, the entry capital seems to get higher and higher. I have no answers-and it isn't just the midwest and the United States. I read yesterday in the New York Times about how Japanese companies are rapidly outsourcing almost of their electronics manufacturing-and now the engineering and marketing-to China. Just like the rest of the world.
 

DecaturHawk

Cyburbian
Messages
880
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22
I like Toledo, in spite of the fact that it's the only city where I have been victim of a crime. I was there for a music festival in 1994 and was parked downtown, in a fairly well travelled area under a street lamp. In spite of this, my car was broken into (they smashed the driver's side window) and stole my tapes and few other small items (including a leatherette case that resembled a day planner which I bet they thought would contain cash or credit cards. What a surprise those thieves got when they opened it and found my copy of the Bible! Oh well, they probably needed it more).

Still, I loved the ethnic feel of the city, some nice architecture downtown, a gorgeous cathedral, etc. They had (as I remember) a Rouse-style "festival marketplace" that I believe never caught on. Was it developed into something else?
 

Bear Up North

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The Portside Festival Marketplace was a huge flop. After a year or two it closed and was empty for a few years. Finally, a science museum was placed in the building. The museum has been very popular, all year long, especially with busloads of school kids.

For years the downtown side of the Maumee River was a popular weekend (in the summer) attraction. Beer festivals, art and music festivals, etc., all helped fill the transient boat docks lining the shore.

However, a few years ago a group of local restaurant folks started building big restaurants and bars on the other side, calling the area "The Docks". It is very popular in the summer and actually stays quite busy during colder times.

Now, local officials are arguing about whether or not to tear-down the aging Sports Arena (a minor league hockey facility) and build a new arena, new riverfront housing, some retail, etc.

Toledoans argue a lot.

Bear
 

Super Amputee Cat

Cyburbian
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28
Bear Up North said:
In the early part of the 20th Century Toledo was in the Top 20 in population.
Actually, for a census year, the highest ranking was 26th in 1920. Perhaps it may have acheived 25th during the middle part of a decade, but it was never in the Top 20.
 

mangler

Member
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What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

always,
mangler
 

BKM

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mangler said:
What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

always,
mangler
My brother is a Valporaiso University alum. :)
 

Bear Up North

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mangler said:
What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

always,
mangler
This Bear has lived in NW Ohio all his life (except for a short stint in downtown Chicago). I can't put my finger on any single "thing" that is frustrating about T-Town.

Being close to and somewhat dominated by Detroit probably didn't help its' image. People "in the know" from other places are aware of Toledo's highlights, such as one (1) of the most complete zoos in the world or one (1) of the best ten art museums in the country. But after they look at the polar bears or the El Greco they speed back to home base.

Toledo does not have much night life.....probably a big deterent to younger folks. Toledo doesn't have "pizzaz".....but what midwestern rust belt smaller city does?

Toledo usually makes the news when something bad happens.

Bear
 

DetroitPlanner

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Took a drive through Toledo last weekend and here are some of my thoughts from the drive. I in no way saw all of the City so these should be considered casual observations.

The area around the Erie Street Farmer's Market and the ball park are really picking up steam with new businesses and housing. Many of the older warehouse buildings in the area are perfect for adaptation as lofts and it looks like quite a few conversions are going on. The loft conversions will help stablize downtown's base for retail and may add some variety.

I echo Toledo having a great museum and zoo. These treasures are things cities three times its size would be proud to have.

I did notice some construction in the park across Monroe from the Art Muesum, Bear or Cat, can ya fill me in? That looks like a project thats been going on for a while but not getting anywhere.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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DetroitPlanner said:
I did notice some construction in the park across Monroe from the Art Muesum, Bear or Cat, can ya fill me in? That looks like a project thats been going on for a while but not getting anywhere.
It's supposed to be a big glass museum, but has met much neighborhood opposition from residents of the adjoining the Old West End. I haven't heard anything about the project being delayed but will look into it.
 

Bear Up North

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Trinity Moses said:
Is that Polish neighborhood on Lagrange Avenue still there?
Yes, the neighborhood is still there. Still quite a few folks of Polish heritage in the hood.

The Catholic Diocese of Toledo recently announced the closing of a number of churches and schools. St. Hedwigs, which many people consider the "center" of the neighborhood, will see its' elementary school closed.

Every summer there is a huge festival held on Lagrange Street. Lots of beer consumed. :b: :b:

Bearski
 

Bear Up North

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Just Call It O-I

Today, 4-13-05, one (1) of Toledo's Fortune 500 headquartered companies announced a name change. Owens-Illinois will now be known as O-I.

Duhhh......we have been calling it that for years.

O-I is the largest manufacturer of glasss containers in the world. They recently peddled their plastic bottle business. The company that bought the biz actually came in and bought quite a few homes of Toledo area residents who they wanted to stay with the new company. Those folks were transferred to the new company's locale.....somewhere back east, me thinks.

Owens-Illinois, Owens-Corning-Fiberglass, Libbey-Owens-Ford.....all at one (1) time were Toledo-based Fortune 500 HQ's. The Owens name is from a dude named Michael Owens who, many years ago, developed some sort of glass manufacturing equipment.

O-I is in Toledo's newest and tallest skyscraper, located on the river, at a nice 30-or-so stories. Owens-Corning is also downtown, in a low-slung building that looks like a strange boat. It is a newer building.....having replaced the Owens-Corning skyscraper that is in the center of downtown.....now mostly empty.

O-I will be announcing very soon whether or not they will renew their lease on the big downtown building. Most of their area employees work at a tech center in suburban Perrysburg. Toledo and Perrysburg are fighting for these jobs.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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On Tuesday, 4-19-05, Toledo's power brokers approved a plan that will place over one-hundred rental and purchase housing units in downtown Toledo, right on the Maumee River. There is an old electric-generating "steam" plant that has been part of the downtown Toledo skyline forever and a day. The insides of that plant will be converted to rental lofts. An addition on the building will have units that can be purchased.

There are some other pockets of warehouse loft living that has been popping-up in the downtown area. Kind of impressive for a city of this size.

The steam plant project has two (2) prime investors. One (1) is NBA basketball player Jim Jackson, a Toledo native. He has been a continual investor in the Toledo area, including investments in the central city. (He went to junior high school with my son.....although they didn't know each other. Hey RJ , I could take him.)

A son of a friend of our's recently bought a loft in downtown Toledo. He loves the location, the size of his loft, the freight elevator he has to use to get to it.

Bear Actually Reporting Positive Toledo News
 

Bear Up North

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Bear Up North said:
Today, 4-13-05, one (1) of Toledo's Fortune 500 headquartered companies announced a name change. Owens-Illinois will now be known as O-I.

O-I will be announcing very soon whether or not they will renew their lease on the big downtown building. Most of their area employees work at a tech center in suburban Perrysburg. Toledo and Perrysburg are fighting for these jobs.

Bear
Today, 5-5-05, OI announced that they are leaving their downtown Toledo skyscraper and moving to their Tech Center land, located in suburban Perrysburg, OH.

The good news for the metropolitan area is that the large corporation stays. The bad news for downtown Toledo is the loss to the suburbs of this world HQ and all of its' jobs.

Even though there are some positive things happening in downtown Toledo, this will leave Toledo's two (2) tallest buildings virtually empty. A few years ago, Owens-Corning moved its' world HQ to a low-level building near the main core of downtown, on the river.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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An Obvious Example

The recent news here in Toledo.....OI Corporation leaving their 32-story glass skyscraper for the suburbs.....serves as an obvious example to Cyburbia residents. An obvious example of "what"? Many of the things that are discussed on these pages are part of the OI story.

Many posters talk about the demise of the central business district, especially in mid-sized metropolitan areas and especially in rust-belt cities. The OI building, known as One Seagate Center, was built in the mid-1980's, with a vision that it would just be the first of a number of new tall buildings that would rejuvinate the downtown Toledo area. Tacked-on next to Seagate was a beautiful Rouse-designed festival marketplace, Portside. A new hotel popped-up in the same block.

Portside Festival Marketplace, an idiotic excursion with the wrong products at the wrong price in the wrong place, died a few years after opening. (Many Cyburbians won't agree, but, IMHO, pop-in a gambling casino in place of a festival marketplace and you'll have people in the central business district.....seven (7) days a week.)

The business world changed, too. Owens-Illinois was bought by New York investors and the company went through a number of "re-focuses". Those investors bailed (at least partially bailed) and the company has been shedding some of its' businesses (such as plastic bottles) to focus on the glass that it was famous for.

Corporate campuses are the new world for many Fortune 500 corporations. In downtown Toledo, Owens-Corning Fiberglass (can you say "Pink Panther"?) moved a few years ago to a campus-style low-level building on the river, in downtown. They left vacant their original home, a 30-story building that was built in the late 1960's and is a really ugly view of the style of skyscraper from that period of time.

Downtown Toledo will have an empty skyscraper (Owens-Corning) at one (1) end of downtown and an empty skyscraper (Owens-Illinois) at the other end. Both corporations stay in the metro, both go to campus-style headquarters, and one (1) goes to the suburbs.

Perrysburg, one (1) of the more-upscale Toledo suburbs gets OI. The corporation already has offices and employees in a business park there. Now they will have a world headquarters, a suburban location, free parking, etc. In an ironic twist, the same business park also is home to the area's newest (and only) "lifestyle center". So it will still "feel" like a downtown......at the lifestyle center.

BTW.....Dana Corporation, the other of Toledo's three (3) remaining Fortune 500 world headquarters, has been in a campus-style environment in west Toledo for about twenty (20) years.

Note: Other remaining "area" Fortune 500 firms include Cooper Tire & Rubber (Findlay, 35 miles south) and Tecumseh Products (Tecumseh, MI, 30 miles north).

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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Auditoriums, Arenas, Etc.

On Thursday, 6-2-05, consultants hired by the city of Toledo, recommended that if Toledo builds a new arena it should be built in downtown. The two (2) sites competing are in downtown, adjacent to The Convention Center and Fifth Third Field (considered one of the best minor league ball parks) AND in the proposed Marina District development, which is on the east side of the Maumee River.

Toledo's ancient Sports Arena holds about 7200 people, for minor league hockey, some concerts. Most communities with a metro of Toledo's size have at least one (1) newer arena-type venue of at least 10,000 seats, with the money-making skyboxes.

Funding, hopefully without public funds, is still a big question mark. The local groups that want the east side location tend to be the hockey crowd. Most Toledo business leaders seem to favor the downtown location.

The new facility would be a better place for concerts, hockey, some other events that now by-pass Toledo because of the small and old Sports Arena. There are other venues, such as Stranahan Center ( a theater for Broadway shows, etc.), Centennial Hall (a 1976 building on the campus of the University of Toledo, which seats about 8000 and has a poor design and no lucrative skyboxes), and The Convention Centre, which is a smaller building suitable for small trade shows.

If it was in Bear's hands, I would push for State of Ohio involvement in building a facility, downtown, that would be part of the University of Toledo, serving as a replacement for Centennial Hall. Then, convert Centennial into an indoor practice facility for UT.....bringing that school into the 21st Century.

Side-note: Toledo built what was called The Civic Auditorium, many years ago. It was located in the near-downtown area and was the original site for conventions, events, etc. Poorly-designed, it never really was a success. Then, the expressways were built close-by, funneling traffic around the area where the Civic Auditorium is.

The building was re-invented a few years ago as The Erie Street Market, with some nice resturants, shops, etc. But it continues to struggle because of the afore-mentioned traffic routing, horrible "press", and a retail clients in downtown Toledo that just don't exist.

Finally, most people agree that Toledo will always suffer when it comes to venues for sports and entertainment. Detroit is just an hour north. Chicago is just a few hours west. Cleveland is just an hour and a half east.

Bear
 

DetroitPlanner

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Bear Up North said:
Side-note: Toledo built what was called The Civic Auditorium, many years ago. It was located in the near-downtown area and was the original site for conventions, events, etc. Poorly-designed, it never really was a success. Then, the expressways were built close-by, funneling traffic around the area where the Civic Auditorium is.

The building was re-invented a few years ago as The Erie Street Market, with some nice resturants, shops, etc. But it continues to struggle because of the afore-mentioned traffic routing, horrible "press", and a retail clients in downtown Toledo that just don't exist.

Finally, most people agree that Toledo will always suffer when it comes to venues for sports and entertainment. Detroit is just an hour north. Chicago is just a few hours west. Cleveland is just an hour and a half east.

Bear
You just need to market the glass outlet in your market to us Detroiter's! It would help if you could fill the place with red-wing and big yellow block M outlined in blue beer glasses.

I never knew that that was the function of that building. I knew it served a function, but thought it was some sort of bus transfer place/garage. You're right that is an odd layout and location for a convention facility. Seagate is much better.
 

Bear Up North

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Old West End Festival

My bad.....I should have mentioned this a few weeks ago, so those interested could have planned for it.....

Toledo's Annual Old West End Festival kicks off tomorrow morning, 6-4-05, and continues through Sunday. This wonderful event is usually attended by about 50,000 people who love older homes, a unique neighborhood, and arts and crafts.

Toledo's Old West End is America's largest turn-of-the-century neighborhood. It has the largest collection of Victorian homes east of the Mississippi River. In addition to the Victorian collection, the neighborhood is filled with homes that fit into the description of craftsman style and arts and craft style.

Many neighborhood residents have been working on their beautiful homes for years. I had some friends who lived in the Old West End. Their homes were incredible, with beautiful woodwork, stained glass, etc. Wow!

If you are close enough to make the trip, you should check this neighborhhod out.

Sorry for the short notice.

Bear
 

ICT/316

Cyburbian
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Bear, A few questions about T-Town. Does the city limits cross the Maumee River to the east? If so, is the CBD on both sides of the river or mainly on the west side? Also, do you have link that shows a map of the city limits (not Mapquest, it does seperate other cities!).

Bill

____________________


“Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you're doing and listen. Cannonball!”

- Ron Burgundy
 

Bear Up North

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ICT/316 said:
Bear, A few questions about T-Town. Does the city limits cross the Maumee River to the east? If so, is the CBD on both sides of the river or mainly on the west side? Also, do you have link that shows a map of the city limits (not Mapquest, it does seperate other cities!).
ICT/316 .....yes, the city limits include areas on the east side of the Maumee River. That side of the river includes The Docks (nice restaurants or bars all lined-up facing the skyline across the river), The Marina District (on the planning board forever, with our without a new arena at that location), some grain elevators, famous Tony Packo's restaurant (of MASH fame), and rows and rows of small houses. The big oil refineries are on the border between suburban Oregon, OH, and the east side of Toledo. The Port of Toledo's General Cargo facilities, including one (1) of the largest port cranes in on the Great Lakes ("Big Lucas") is also located here. I don't have the exact figures but I would guess the east side population to be about 50,000 (of Toledo's 325,000).

The central business district is indeed on the west side of the river. When you cross to the east on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge (Cherry Street) you are then on Main Street. Some of the buildings along Main are pretty interesting, although many have seen better days. There used to be a couple great bars along Main Street. :b: This Bear dated an east side woman who lived just off of Main, in a basement apartment. Richard Nixon was president when that was going on. :-c

Sorry, I am not aware of a map that shows city limits.

Bear
 

Bear Up North

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Westgate Shopping Center & Costco

Westgate Shopping Center, once Toledo's most prestigious address, is going bye-bye. For a number of years this west Toledo center has been dying. The large department store that anchored the center has closed. Many popular stores have moved or closed.

This Bear grew-up a few blocks from Westgate. This center, built in the late 1950's, was part of my life for a long time, as were the strip centers and stores surrounding Westgate. We even played in the woods in an area right next to the present-day Sears. Bike paths, berry patches, a wooden fort.....the kind of stuff that young boys dream of.

The Chicago owners are finalizing a deal with Costco. Westgate will be torn down and the new Costco, and some other stores in adjacent strips, will go up. This will be Toledo's first Costco.

The local newspaper, The (Toledo) Blade, published an article about Costco. I have to say, I am impressed. With less stores than Wallyworld's warehouse arm, Sam's Club, Costco is a big leader in sales dollars $. And they do it by buying into a philosophy of paying very-decent wages and benefits.

Their average wage is $17 an hour. For health care they pay all but 8%. A worker with some overtime will make more than $40,000 in a year. Their CEO, who started the Washington state company in the mid-1980's, pays himself about $300,000 annually. In these days of high CEO pay and very little respect for many CEO's, that is very unusual. And refreshing!

Wall Street keeps telling Costco that they pay too much. But Costco's share value keeps climbing and climbing. Imagine that.....a big box that actually believes in paying full-time high wages.

Anybody have any thoughts or contrary opinions on Costco? Have you lost a traditional shopping center in your burg?

Bear
 

ICT/316

Cyburbian
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Toledo needs to annex every thing out west to the airport. It doesn't look like there is any thing in the way of stopping it. Maybe politics or law.
Where is the West gate Shopping Center located in the city? What mall is at the NW corner of I- 475 and State 2?

Bill

____________

“Big deal! I am very professional!”

- Ron Burgundy
 

Luca

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Bear Up North said:
The Chicago owners are finalizing a deal with Costco. Westgate will be torn down and the new Costco, and some other stores in adjacent strips, will go up. This will be Toledo's first Costco.
The local newspaper, The (Toledo) Blade, published an article about Costco. I have to say, I am impressed. With less stores than Wallyworld's warehouse arm, Sam's Club, Costco is a big leader in sales dollars $. And they do it by buying into a philosophy of paying very-decent wages and benefits.
Their average wage is $17 an hour. For health care they pay all but 8%. A worker with some overtime will make more than $40,000 in a year. Their CEO, who started the Washington state company in the mid-1980's, pays himself about $300,000 annually. In these days of high CEO pay and very little respect for many CEO's, that is very unusual. And refreshing!
Wall Street keeps telling Costco that they pay too much. But Costco's share value keeps climbing and climbing. Imagine that.....a big box that actually believes in paying full-time high wages.
Anybody have any thoughts or contrary opinions on Costco? Have you lost a traditional shopping center in your burg?
Bear
I looked up Wal-Mart and Costco on my systems. They have comparable P/E ratios and sales growth. However, while Costco has a return on equity of 8-13% over the apst few years, Wal-Mart shopwed 21-22%. Partly this is due to Costco being less leveraged (equity is 80% of capital, as opposed to Wal-Mart's 60%) but finrancially, yes, Wal-Mart looks the better bet. One objection to their business model is that if they piss enoough people off they could end up getting 'lynched' ( a bit like Standard Oil or Microsoft). I must say 17$ to stack shelves sounds high. I'm not sure there is somethign wrong with the world if someone whose skill level is to stack shelves should be able to afford a middle-class lifestyle. I'm also nto sure if you can get a really good CEO, reliably, on 300K. That said, msot multi-million CEOs are grossly overpaid relative to results. But 300K.....? I bet eh gets other comp???
 

Michele Zone

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Bear Up North said:
Anybody have any thoughts or contrary opinions on Costco? Have you lost a traditional shopping center in your burg?
I have not been following this thread but I have some thoughts on Costco :) :

With throwing away so much of what I own due to my allergies and respiratory problems, in recent weeks I have begun taking my 18 year old shopping with me. He has the same respiratory problems and a keener sense of smell and other assets. Costco is one of a handful of stores he has pre-approved for me to shop in regularly. Most stores have been pronounced "too contaminated" for me to go to regularly. He announced that "even the FLOORS are clean!" and noted how amazing that was. He says it is cleaner than the base exchange, which previously had been one of the stores he approved of the most (but now I am being encouraged to shop elsewhere -- like Costco).

As for Luca's comments about paying someone big money to stack shelves, well, I tip baggers a lot better since I was so sick. I used to have no problem carrying my groceries to the car myself but that often isn't true these days. An awful lot of people do not have the strength and stamina to perform hard physical labor. I recently bought a heavy shelf at Costco. A male employee there loaded it onto a pallet for me and a different male employee put it in my car. I didn't have the strength for it -- and I am not a petite woman, nor particularly weak (even though I am a lot weaker than I used to be -- but I used to lift weights and do gymnastics). I think if you are in that minority of folks who is physically capable of performing hard physical labor 8 hours a day, 40+ hours a week, you ought to be making a comfortable middle-class wage.
 

lopsidedfrock

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ICT/316 said:
Toledo needs to annex every thing out west to the airport. It doesn't look like there is any thing in the way of stopping it. Maybe politics or law.
Where is the West gate Shopping Center located in the city? What mall is at the NW corner of I- 475 and State 2?

Bill
Bill,
Westgate is located at the corner of Central Avenue and Secor Road in west Toledo.

The "mall" at the nw corner of 475 and 2 is Spring Meadows. It's just a strip mall (with target, kroger, tjmaxx, fashion bug, big lots, guitar center, sam's club, media play, etc) in the undifferentiated soulless sprawl of Springfield Twp. I know it all too well, living there for the past year. *sigh* On a side note, the new-ish Farmer Jack southwest of Spring Meadows also on 2 is closing this week I think. Next door there's a newly constructed Menard's. It's no surprise, that Farmer Jack was always overpriced and empty, and couldn't compete with kroger diagonally across the street.

-Bill
(clevelander living in toledo but working in cleveland at the moment)
 

BKM

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Michele Zone said:
I have not been following this thread but I have some thoughts on Costco :) :

With throwing away so much of what I own due to my allergies and respiratory problems, in recent weeks I have begun taking my 18 year old shopping with me. He has the same respiratory problems and a keener sense of smell and other assets. Costco is one of a handful of stores he has pre-approved for me to shop in regularly. Most stores have been pronounced "too contaminated" for me to go to regularly. He announced that "even the FLOORS are clean!" and noted how amazing that was. He says it is cleaner than the base exchange, which previously had been one of the stores he approved of the most (but now I am being encouraged to shop elsewhere -- like Costco).

As for Luca's comments about paying someone big money to stack shelves, well, I tip baggers a lot better since I was so sick. I used to have no problem carrying my groceries to the car myself but that often isn't true these days. An awful lot of people do not have the strength and stamina to perform hard physical labor. I recently bought a heavy shelf at Costco. A male employee there loaded it onto a pallet for me and a different male employee put it in my car. I didn't have the strength for it -- and I am not a petite woman, nor particularly weak (even though I am a lot weaker than I used to be -- but I used to lift weights and do gymnastics). I think if you are in that minority of folks who is physically capable of performing hard physical labor 8 hours a day, 40+ hours a week, you ought to be making a comfortable middle-class wage.
[ot]Thank You, Michelle.

Too many comfortable, educated middle class professionals assume that they "deserve" so much more than the "working class." They forget how draining working in a more physical job can be-especialy given the noise, dirt, often nasty and overbearing bosses, lack of air conditioning, etc..

Given how much waste is spent on the white collar side of things, I cannot accept the argument that the guys working the shelves need to live in poverty in order for parasitical white collar executives to earn yet more money. This is the naive side of me, and I understand "the market" does force a degree of discipline. But, how much do the overeducated and pampered folks-and I include myself in this class-really contribute that much more to society or even their employer? Much of modern professionalis seem to be engaged in suing each other, inventing justifications for salary and benefit increases, manipulating rules, colluding with "competitors" and manipulating financial instruments in ever more arcane towers of fantastically spun fantasy for the coupon clipping investment class (and our own retirement mutual fund managers, of course :))

Plus, one can argue that the boom era saw much less gap between the top and the bottom, and the economy as a whole, one could argue, worked better, Of course, there werfe other reasons for this (WWII destruction of competitors, but) So....if Costco can afford to pay reasonable wages, more power to 'em. You won;t catch me in WallyWorld if I can avoid it.[/ot]
 

Michele Zone

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BKM said:
[ot]Thank You, Michelle.

Too many comfortable, educated middle class professionals assume that they "deserve" so much more than the "working class." They forget how draining working in a more physical job can be-especialy given the noise, dirt, often nasty and overbearing bosses, lack of air conditioning, etc.. [/ot]
You are welcome/my pleasure.

When I was in my twenties, I lived in a third floor walk up in Germany. I had an infant and a toddler. The infant was 9 1/2 pounds at birth (and almost 27 pounds on his first birthday -- and didn't walk until he was 14 months old, so I was still carrying him). I walked to the grocery store with the infant strapped to my chest, an empty back-pack for the groceries, and my toddler holding my hand. Because I had small kids and it was a third floor walk up, I generally carried the trash out on my way to the store, for efficiency. By the time we were done shopping, my toddler usually did not feel up to walking home. So, with an infant strapped to my chest and backpack now full of groceries and often carrying a bag of groceries in one hand as well, the toddler rode home on mommy's shoulders. The infantrymen who knew what it was like to carry a 60 pound ruck sack respected me. :-D Now, on a good day I can carry my groceries to my car parked out front of the store and on a bad day I am so grateful for baggers taking it out for me.

So, IMO, folks who think that hard physical labor does not deserve to be paid well just don't understand what that is really worth. Having had that kind of strength and stamina and lost it, I have no delusions: I know that such physical ability is worth as much as white collar labor. I didn't need a college education to live well when I was younger because I had boundless energy and could get by on 6 hours sleep a night, 6 days a week (as long as I slept until noon on Saturday). Now, I have no choice but to figure out how to do things with more brains than brawn because the brawn is gone. For most folks, if they live long enough, that becomes true at some point -- just usually not as dramatically and obviously as for me. (As I have said before: I was walking 6 miles in the desert 2 - 3 times per week less than 6 months before ending up bedridden.)
 

bflo_la

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Off-Topic.

Thanks Michelle and BKM. My step-sister and I had this same discussion last night while I was reading Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".... Why shouldn't someone be able to be a waiter or a shelf-stocker and support a family, vacation, have a decent standard of living. Does sitting on one's ass in H.R. or mid-level management entitle one to feel elite?
 

boiker

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[ot] Continuing the off-topic discussion, I firmly belive that if we are to continue to export the labor intensive, blue-collar jobs, substitutes need to be provided. I believe that retail and the associated functions of retail are the "new blue-collar" job and that a union revolution is pending. These people in low-paying retail jobs need to unionize and get better wages..something comparable to the guy earning $15-20/hr on the assembley line pushing a button and inspecting parts. I realize that there was more to the union revolution of the late 1800s early 1900s in America than pay, but as time change, so do the terms. Costco should be commended for providing appropriately priced goods, and properly compensated execs and staff.[/ot]
 

Bear Up North

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Welcome to lopsidedfrog, from a Bear that was born and raised in "Frogtown". Nice to see you posting on this thread.

The frog is correct about Westgate being at the corner of Secor Road and Central Avenue. My family moved to a new ranch house in 1955, on Isha Laye Way, six (6) blocks west of Westgate. The center was just being built, and as I said, we played on the construction site. The original center was L-shaped, with a 2-story anchor at the corner of the "L". That anchor was Lion Store, which my mother single-handedly kept in business all through the 1950-1970 time period. ;-)

I don't recall what year that they added a third story to the Lion Store. And the consolidation that hit all retail in the 1980's and 1990's took away The Lion Store, as they were purchased by Dillards. Eventually this building became a Dillards For The Home, but soon closed. Everybody was shopping at the huge regional mall, Franklin Park Westfield Shoppingtown Something Or Other. Franklin Park was only a few miles northwest of Westgate.

Westgate was very popular as the premier shopping location for Toledo all through the 1960's and on in to the 1970's. Then, shopping malls started to move the retail trade away from Westgate.

In the early 1960's the entire area around Westgate filled with stand-alone department stores (Sears, Lasalles), numerous strip centers, an office park complete with 4-lane main highway, large movie complexes, motels, restaurants, medical centers. It was as if downtown Toledo decided to move to the Westgate area......Westgate became the vital business district.

The actual shopping center portion originally had a couple grocery stores, numerous shoe stores, a candy store (yum), and a Kresge's 5 & 10 (parent of K-Mart). This Bear broke an ankle on the small hill behind Westgate. :-c This Bear worked part-time while going to college at the Little Ceaser's Pizza, at the strip center near Westgate. This Bear was stopped by the police for drag racing, across from Westgate. (I wasn't drag racing. How could you drag race in an old pink Plymouth Valiant?)
_____

As for Costco, and the comment from luca/B] about just "stacking shelves" may not give full credit to the detail involved in the work that many people have to do. Sure, a lot of the traditional "labor" jobs that just involve some physical work and not a lot of skills will be part of their environment. But progressive companies will get their employees involved in developing effective procedures, utilizing state-of-the-art warehouse management systems, train and lead lower-level employees, organize a very visible workplace so it doesn't deter from the shopping experience, and adhere to safety regulations and procedures that are unique when you place patrons and product in warehouse aisles, together. Believe me, they don't just stack shelves.

Bear
 

robdale

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East SIIDE

Bear-

I'm a proud eastern Toledo suburbanite who grew up in (where's) Northwoood & now lives in Oregon. I'm a letter carrier who delivers on the East Side. Suffice it to say, the eastern end of T-Town hardly gets any decent residential/commercial development due to its reputation. Oregon is perhaps the leader in current development, but at the expense of precious farmland. In fact, "The Ball Works" driving range on Navarre Ave. has the Grim Reaper's shadow approaching it. I've found out that a new National Amusements Theater complex will be replacing it. RIGHT NEXT to historic Sundance Drive-In, one of the few left in the country. What a shame. Maybe if these developments were to occur INSIDE of Toledo's limits, it could spur more. Nah. The east side is too run-down for that to even occur. Only the Marina District project could save it. If it ever happens.

My two cents...
 

DetroitPlanner

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Is the sundance on Highway 2? I passed it last weekend on my way to put-in-bay!

I'd propose that givent that the east side is much smaller in population than the west side there is not much you can do about this. It is tough to go from one side of the river to the other. I'm sure east siders cross the Maumee bridges more the west siders do.
 

BKM

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Have to admit I really enjoyed my drive two weeks ago up the Maumee from Fort Wayne to Toledo with mom. Beautiful towns along the river-Perrysburg is quite nice (I prefer the pre-war neighborhood along the grid streets near downtown over the newer McMansions, myself).

Was shocked, despite Bear's comments, about how DESOLATE downtown Toledo remains. Downtown Fort Wayne is also very torpid, but the physical decay is not quite as evident (partly because much of the fabric has been removed).

Toledo Art Museum-awesome!! Got there too late, so barely tapped the galleries. Loved the Ancient art room-the Greek painted pottery is amazing (makes the Acoma stuff I collect seem simple!)
 

Bear Up North

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As BKM mentioned, downtown Toledo can appear pretty dang desolate. Having grown-up in the 1950's, I can remember going downtown on the bus, with Mom and my younger brother. All of the stores were downtown, so that's where we shopped.

Downtown Toledo had about six (6) major department stores, about ten (10) movie theaters, numerous resturants and cafeterias. All gone now.

There are some signs of life. There are a number of warehouses that have been converted to lofts, and some of these places have waiting lists for young professionals who want to move into them. Everytime an older tavern closes, another seems to open to take its' place.

The area around the new baseball stadium is vibrant in warmer weather. Not so much when it is cold and the baseballs are put away. There are a lot of commercial vacancies in downtown. Many of the former downtown tenants stayed in the Toledo metro.....they all moved to office parks in the suburbs.

My favorite Chinese restaurant is still hanging on.....The Golden Lily.

Bear
 

DetroitPlanner

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Rumpy Tunanator said:
Is it Detroit, MI?
Personally, I would say there are a lot of paralels between the two cities, though Detroit in unquestionably bigger, with a lot more people working downtown. Downtown Detroit though is less avoidable by suburbanites than downtown Toledo. It is still the entertainment center for the region (3 Casinos, Ford Field, Tiger Stadium ... err Comerica Park, and Joe Louis, the major live theatres are all downtown, as well as symphony hall and the opera house, many restraunts are downtown too including the obitquous (sp) Hard Rock Cafe, as well as blocks of restraunts in Greektown), our major bank is Headquarted downtown (Comerica) as well as General Motors, and Compuware, it is also the home of OnStar and has a huge EDS presence.

Yet there are parts of downtown Detroit that are undoubably empty, yet there are also parts like Toledo that are seeing quite a bit of development (Riverfronts, Lofts in warehouses, stadiums).

Both Cities have great market areas (Erie Street in Toledo, and Eastern in Detroit). Both also have metropark systems, ports, world class Art Muesums, and world class Zoos (legacies from the past that we cherish)).

Too often in our quest for the newest we neglect our past. I think one of the things that frustrates people most about places like Detroit and Toledo is that they remember they were once truely impressive spaces. Now with suburbanization of the populace, they are seen as the economic drags instead of the centers they once were.
 

BKM

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DetroitPlanner said:
Too often in our quest for the newest we neglect our past. I think one of the things that frustrates people most about places like Detroit and Toledo is that they remember they were once truely impressive spaces. Now with suburbanization of the populace, they are seen as the economic drags instead of the centers they once were.
"Neglecting the past" wouldn't be so bad if we were building something worthwhile today to "replace" it. We are not-at all. Very few midwestern cities' commercial districts today exhibit nearly the quality of the pre-war peak. I mean, come on, is Southfield anywhere near as well-built, urbane, and high quality as downtown Detroit near its peak? That's certainly true of my hometown (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Fort Wayne had a wonderful downtown. Coliseum Boulevard and the miles of awful strip malls are what inspired me to be a planner (before middle aged cynicism set in to make me realize that fighting the strip mall/build it cheap culture is a lifelong, probably "hopeless" battle :) )
 

Rumpy Tunanator

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DetroitPlanner said:
Personally, I would say there are a lot of paralels between the two cities, though Detroit in unquestionably bigger, with a lot more people working .................
Umm, I was just messing with the Bear about the GTC thread relation. Settle down there;)
 

lopsidedfrock

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dear everyone

i'm moving within the toledo city limits on thursday, off central avenue in the old orchard neighborhood, near the above-mentioned Westgate shopping center. goodbye springfield township, i'm never looking back!

here is a picture of the house, c/o the lucas county auditor's website:

 

Super Amputee Cat

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Welcome to Toledo, Lopsided, and welcome to Cyburbia as well! I live in South Toledo now, but used to live in West Toledo, near Monroe & Douglas.

We have had quite a few people post here from the Toledo area, but only the Bear and I seem to be regulars. Here's hoping that you will be one too.

Check out all my postcards of Toledo on my Cyburbian postcard site (in my sig)
 

BKM

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Super Amputee Cat said:
Welcome to Toledo, Lopsided, and welcome to Cyburbia as well! I live in South Toledo now, but used to live in West Toledo, near Monroe & Douglas.

We have had quite a few people post here from the Toledo area, but only the Bear and I seem to be regulars. Here's hoping that you will be one too.

Check out all my postcards of Toledo on my Cyburbian postcard site (in my sig)
Do you live near the zoo, SAC? That's a nice neighborhood!
 

Super Amputee Cat

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BKM said:
Do you live near the zoo, SAC? That's a nice neighborhood!
No, that's about three miles away. I live in the far southwest part of the city, near Southwyck Mall.

The neighborhood you mention is probably Harvard Terrace, one of the best areas of South Toledo to live.
 

lopsidedfrock

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hey everyone

i'm a regular lurker here.

i chose medicine over planning (biology and chemistry undergrad). i go to Medical University of Ohio. before i was accepted there i got accepted to Cleveland State's master's of urban planning, design, and development program. i think i'm still "enrolled" there, i get their mailings once in a while at my mom's house, and if i decide to quit med school i have a school to fall back on.

i'm living on Garden Rd. at the Whispering Timbers apartment complex until tomorrow. pretty close to you, SAC.

most of toledo's western edge bums me out (near springfield twp), but i can pretty much get behind the area where i'm going now. it's closer to the core. there are also SIDEWALKS which seem to be few and far between in the area around Heatherdowns.
 

Bear Up North

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More Bad News For Downtown Toledo

This week the downtown Toledo area was administered another in a series of "hard jabs". The big "Rib-Off" event, held for years and years in downtown Toledo, along the shores of the Maumee River, is moving to the suburbs.

The event is moving to the Lucas County Fairgrounds, in suburban Maumee, OH.

The group that sponsors the Rib-Off indicates that space, convienence (central location for the metro), and parking all are reasons for the move. The two (2) candidates for Mayor of Toledo are both expressing anger and sadness over the move. One (1) candidate is also blaming the other candidate (who is the incumbent) for the move.

This event's move is not unlike moves of offices and retail to the suburbs. Parking, space, and......this is the "biggie".....your "audience" lives in the 'burbs.

BTW.....maybe turnabout is fair play. Maumee was the home of the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team for many years. Five (5) years ago the Hens moved to a neat new stadium in downtown Toledo. The Hens used to play at Ned Skeldon Stadium, an ugly olde ballpark that is next to the Fairgrounds complex.

Bear
 
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