Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Thing's First - Fiberglass Tower Redevelopment

Toledo's much maligned Fiberglass Tower/HyTower/Tower on the Maumee/Vast Expanse of Nothingness finally looks like it has a future.

The state of Ohio has approved a $3 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, which will go towards asbestos removal. Asbestos was used for fireproofing during the building's construction in the 1960's and is seen as the biggest obstacle in transforming the tower from an uninhabitable building to a building that no one is likely to habitate.

I write my own jokes, but in all seriousness, it's a big step in saving 1/3 of the Toledo skyline. Eyde Co of East Lansing, the buildings current owners, obviously find a skyscraper more valuable than a parking lot and are looking at possible $35 million renovation. The renovation could include condos, office space, a hotel and possibly restaurants.

That, or some entrepreneurial company could find that the 392,000 sq ft of space a real bargain (eh hmmm, First Solar, Xunlight, etc). Either way, it's a step in the right direction.

Now if we could only get the airport closer to downtown.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Downtown Toledo I-75 Gateway

Proposal: Developing a Main Downtown Toledo Gateway from I-75 Highway

Downtown Toledo lacks a main downtown gateway road interchange that allows people to easily enter and leave the downtown area. A main gateway should be designed to provide easy access for those who live, work, and visit downtown. In addition to creating simplified driving routes, the main gateway would assist further development of the downtown area. The gateway would fuse the entrance ramps and exit ramps to and from I-75 to the same interchange system. This localization, and creation of a full interchange, will allow investments into businesses and city beautification to be centralized and focused in an effort to increase effectiveness.

Current ODOT Developments

ODOT is currently in the initial stages of modifying the Upton/Central ramp configuration, which should benefit Toledo Hospital and, to a lesser extent, The University of Toledo. However, ODOT has also promoted the idea of either closing the Berdan Ave exit and routing traffic to Willys Parkway or closing Phillips Ave and Willys Parkway and creating a full interchange at Berdan. These developments benefit the traffic flow at the I-75/I-475 interchange by increasing the number of lanes and reducing incoming traffic from surface streets. However, ODOT plans neglect current flow on surface streets by introducing greater traffic volumes on two lane roads without center turn lanes, on roads such as Upton, Jackman, Willys Parkway, and Berdan. The area is nearly stagnant in terms of business and residential growth while, and the proposed changes could actually hurt businesses by reducing easy access.

Existing Downtown I-75 Interchanges

The current Downtown Toledo setup utilizes several mid-century access points that provide no real benefit to the downtown area. Ohio Department of Transportation has decreed that all future highway ramps to be full interchanges, while all current downtown ramps are partial interchanges:

To Downtown (exit ramp): 1) South Collingwood 2) Anthony Wayne Trail
From Downtown (entrance ramp): 1) 14th St

To Downtown (exit ramp): 1) Indiana Ave (Main exit) 2) North Collingwood
From Downtown (entrance ramp): 1) Anthony Wayne Trail 2) South Collingwood

Proposed Downtown Gateway

The main Downtown Toledo I-75 gateway should provide easy access to the downtown office buildings, 5/3 Field, the future arena, the Seagate Center, the Erie Street Market, and the bridges across the Maumee River. The gateway would need adequate space for a full interchange with as little demolition as possible. The gateway should provide a scenic view of Downtown Toledo and provide simple, efficient traffic flow.

The Downtown I-75 Gateway would achieve the goals of the project by being developed south of downtown at the I-75/Anthony Wayne Trail interchange. The Anthony Wayne Trail interchange is classified as a partial interchange as it lacks half of the directions of a full interchange. The location and current road setup make the AW interchange the most desirable. Railroad tracks once took up much of the land heading into the Warehouse District, and with their removal, there is a large amount of available land around the area. The redevelopment of the interchange would allow for traffic from both the Anthony Wayne Trail and I-75 to enter Downtown Toledo and disperse to intended destinations. The gateway area between the interchange and downtown would be renovated and a small park and boulevard developed, with 3 lanes per direction.

Proposed Loop

A downtown loop can then be developed using the streets that connect to the AW Trail, as north Anthony Wayne Trail turns into N. Erie St. loops by the Lucas County Courthouse and returns to South Anthony Wayne Trail via N. Michigan St. The loop itself is already in place and can be advertised as a central investment area. The north loop provides access to downtown condos and lofts, the Warehouse District, 5/3 Field is one block from the loop, as will be the new arena. Serviced by the south loop are the Lucas County Courthouse, administrative buildings, the downtown library, the Greyhound station, S, the Pilkington building, as well as a gas station prior to the I-75 entrance ramp. The loop also provides easy access to The Greenbelt Parkway and thus I-280.


1) The new gateway development requires the demolition of the current AW Trail/I-75 partial interchange. Modifications could be made to the current structure to accommodate four more ramps, but a new interchange would allow the entire system to be brought to ODOT code.

2) The Nebraska Ave bridge suspended over this interchange will be removed with a turnaround built west of I-75 and Nebraska Ave will be demolished to S. Erie St on the east side of I-75.

3) I-75 entrance ramp at 14th St. and I-75 exit ramp at Indiana Ave. will be demolished. The Toledo Museum of Art/Collingwood partial interchange will not be affected.

4) One or two warehouses near the I-75 interchange, depending on the radius of the entrance and exit ramps.

Benefits of Gateway and Loop

The development of a singular access and egress point for Downtown Toledo will allow proper allocation of investments into the future of downtown. The creation of a main traffic route will generate maximum exposure of different business and developments located in the area. The AW Trail/I-75 ramps to downtown currently pass by the major residential developments in downtown (The Bartley Lofts and proposed Triangle Building), thus increasing exposure of the buildings. Increased spending on advertising in the area should be expected, as well as growth of transient oriented businesses such as restaurants and gas stations. The beginning of the loop south of downtown increases awareness of the long neglected, but very valuable, buildings of the Warehouse District and the Berdan Building. People traveling to and from downtown have more of a reason to pass near the Erie Street Market than with the current access routes, thus increasing the long term viability of the project.

The Northbound gateway to downtown provides scenery that most expect of Toledo, with warehouses and early century brick buildings backed by the HyTower and One Seagate. Drivers traveling from South Toledo to downtown from the Trail already experience the views and routes that all drivers would experience with the development of a full interchange and downtown gateway. Many of the original individuals responsible for the growth of Toledo lived south of downtown along the river, in the Old West End, and in Ottawa hills. With the further sprawl of business professionals to the suburbs such as Sylvania, Maumee, and Perrysburg, access and egress to and from downtown is important for businesses looking to locate in Downtown Toledo.


The main disadvantage of the Downtown Toledo gateway is the increased traffic volume created by reducing the number of ramps to the expressway. This can be offset by designing the appropriate number of lanes for the gateway and I-75 entrance and exit ramps.

Eliminating certain ramps will reduce the volume of traffic that passes by businesses on the current layout. Currently, very few transient related businesses exist near the partial interchanges. Fastenal, The Salvation Army, FleetPride, and to a lesser extent Bob’s Tire, could be effected by the change. This is addressed by keeping the Collingwood Ave partial interchanges open and promoting flow to the Toledo Museum of Art, The Old West End, and therefore down Monroe St. The current 14th Ave onramp is insufficient for the areas needs and businesses would actually benefit from its demolition, as overflow traffic would flow to the Collingwood ramps in addition to the AW/I-75 interchange.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who says Toledo doesn't have density?

marked by compactness or crowding together of parts

In doing research for this blog, I ran across a little piece of Toledo history that is still standing today. One of the main gripes I have ran across is the relative lack of density in Downtown Toledo. Check out this gem located off Swan Creek (I-75 & Nebraska).

The majority of Downtown Toledo looked similar to this, snaking around the natural resources that were the Maumee River and Swan Creek. The reason? Real estate was at a premium near the heart of the ever growing metropolis, especially on the waterways. Most have been replaced by the single level steel warehouses that we all know so well.

An almost comical contrast between Toledo then and Toledo now can be seen in the photo above. This photo is not doctored in anyway. In fact, you may be able to see it in person on southbound I-75. Dense, brick structures meet 70's inspired, low income housing.

If you are looking to preserve a little bit of history, publicly or privately, I would encourage that you look at this opportunity.

What to look forward to @ Next Step Toledo:
  1. Master Plan for Downtown Toledo
  2. Revamped traffic flow for Downtown and outlying areas
  3. Modern home/building designs
  4. Updates relating to Toledo business development
Stayed Tuned.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Next Step Toledo

Next Step Toledo

Who We Are: We are dedicated to serving the best interests of Toledo, Ohio and its citizens through developing ideas, protecting history, and promoting the future.

Our Goals: Developing ideas for future developments and renovations. We do not wish to present only what is being done, but what should be done represented by drawings, pictures, plans, and words.

This blog is a medium for sharing ideas, plans, insights, and examples for the following topics in Toledo:

The Future
  1. Modern building designs & planning
  2. Roadway/Railway/Seaway planning and improvement
  3. Contemporary architecture progression
  4. Downtown Toledo business and living
  5. Retail/Business developments (Marina District,
  6. Areas that require extra attention (Traffic flow, lack of investment, urban activity)
  7. Attracting businesses and families to Toledo metro area
The Past
  1. Preservation of neglected and historic Toledo buildings/neighborhoods
  2. Master plans for areas of significance (Old West End, Old Orchard, etc)
  3. Current projects underway protecting Toledo's past
  4. Design and Planning that has failed or does not serve purpose any longer
  5. Buildings/Places unknown to Toledoans

We Need Your Ideas.

Please feel free to inform us of your ideas, plans, or drawings relating to any of these topics below. We will post these and credit you with ownership.