On Wednesday, July 14th, the third and final presentation for the Toledo Master Plan — a plan detailing how to rebuild and revitalize downtown Toledo — took place in the McMaster Family Center at the Toledo-Lucas County Library.
The presentation was put on by a team of urban development consultants along with the 22nd Century Committee. The plan included 12 action items that were decided upon based on the public’s input from the first two meetings alongside the consultants’ collective expertise in urban development projects.
Below are the major points that stood out to us:
1. Reigniting the Riverfront
The riverfront space downtown is currently underutilized and quite frankly, bland.
The Master Plan suggested a network of parks along the riverside as well as entertainment, arts, and cultural destinations that would boost the activity on the riverfront. As it stands today, downtown’s park presence is about 2% of the entire 1,600 or so acres that make up downtown. The plan calls for increasing the park network to eventually take up 20% of downtown.
The riverside parks would include docks to encourage boaters to congregate on the river downtown, dock their boats, grab a quick bite to eat, go shopping, etc.
Bringing the river back to life is a critical part of the plan as a whole, as it serves as a great incentive to drive people downtown. If done correctly, it would allow for future downtown projects to build on the existing momentum, which has been most recently exemplified by the success of Hensville, which was built off the momentum of the thriving nightlife scene that has take place downtown in recent years.
2. Boosting Retail Presence Downtown
In the plan, the consultants found that Summit Street & Huron Street would be prime locations to increase downtown’s retail presence. In addition, the elimination of one-way streets in these key areas may prove to be a positive strategy to help facilitate retail success downtown as data has shown that retail stores don’t tend to fair well if located on a one-way street.
The retail strategy as outlined in plan also involves tax credits and other incentives to subsidize storefront rehabilitation. Whatever the strategy, there’s definitely an a argument to be made that boosting downtown’s retail and shopping presence would not only make downtown a more attractive place for people to visit, but also provide a more attractive place to live.
Also, according to the plan, revamping downtown Toledo’s entertainment and event centers will create an environment that benefits surrounding retail stores. Once again, it’s all about creating incentives that drive activity downtown.
3. Small Business and Start-Up Incubation
This could quite possibly be the most important segment of the entire plan. The future of Toledo’s economic health will rely heavily on our ability to encourage and fund innovation and good ideas that will allow for local growth and job creation. To put it simply, our future depends on entrepreneurship, small business growth, and tech & innovation.
In addition to facilitating innovation and job creation, developing a thriving startup culture will help retain local talent as well as attract new talent to our city. The Warehouse district offers an attractive set-up to turn old, unused buildings into office space and incubation centers.
The plan suggested shared office space that mixed different start-ups from different industries to create an environment of discussion that could lead to new ideas and innovations.
These are just a few of the many proposals the Master Plan calls for, but we believe these three points serve as the cornerstones of the overall vision to revitalize downtown Toledo. The fact of the matter is, all 12 focal points in the plan are interconnected and rely on one-another in order to succeed. To learn more about the Master Plan and its 12 points visit www.downtowntoledoplan.com