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Old December 21st, 2005, 01:15 PM   #61
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Sports Arena Development No. 4

Deleted due to Toledo Blade's request.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:49 PM   #62
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Westgate/Levis Commons/Westfield News

Interesting article in another local paper in regards to the the major shopping areas of Toledo and with their pending redevelopments.

WESTGATE ON THE BRINK
As Westgate struggles, Levis Commons, Westfield surge
By Russ Zimmer
Toledo Free Press Staff Writer

Businesses in Levis Commons are reaping the holiday rewards from the exposure the open-air shopping center in Perrysburg is getting.

"This is huge. This is the future," Italian restaurant Biaggi's managing partner Jason Levy said. "People can't wait to get here."

Several managers in the center, from dining to children's clothing, all said sales have been strong this season.

Rick Clayton, general manager of Books-A-Million, said the store is preparing for the final sales push leading up to the location's first Christmas in Levis Commons.

"Traffic is great, the customers are great and the sales are excellent," Clayton said.

A good mix of retailers and strong promotion of the shopping center has brought out more people this season to Brighton Collectibles, assistant managing partner Cindy Tyson said.

The weather hasn't affected customer flow significantly,

the managers said, and the close parking to the businesses make the center that much more attractive.

On snow days, restaurants and the movie theater see increased business and, once "cabin fever" sets in, people just want to get out of the house, Levis Commons marketing director Casey Irons said.

Horse-drawn carriage rides and Santa strolling around the storefronts are events designed to make the center feel "like being inside a snow globe ornament," Irons said.

"Even with the weather, the events the center has have brought in a lot of people," Sharon Thomas, manager of Strasburg Children, said.

About 40 percent of the primary customers are coming from the Perrysburg area, Irons said, but some are noticing a different trend.

Customer traffic from Toledo shoppers is increasing,

according to Levy.

"This time of the year is like our Super Bowl," Levy said.

The area's largest mall, Westfield Franklin Park, is seeing a holiday sales surge.

"We have seen a number of new shoppers along with the new

expansion and new retailers," said Sara Young, marketing director for Westfield Corporation.

Managers of Westfield stores such as Brookstone, Ann Taylor and Build-A-Bear are reporting a strong sales season, according to Young.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:50 PM   #63
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Westgate Shopping Center Development News No. 5

Here is an article in another local paper that talks about the feelings of Costco coming to the redevelopment plans of Westgate Shopping Center that is located in West Toledo near the University of Toledo campus.

WESTGATE ON THE BRINK
Costco at Westgate: A titanic change

By Alan Cohen

"It was the night before Costco and all through the town, not a creature was stirring, not even a Carty ..."

While much of Toledo is sleeping, a giant "box" labeled Costco has been placed under our area's most traditional business tree, Westgate Village Shopping Center. It hasn't been opened yet, but once the "present" is unwrapped, there will be no returns or exchanges. Westgate is advertised as "Your Neighborhood Specialty Center," but a Costco will fast make the shopping center at Central and Secor just another crossroads.

Adored, abhorred or ignored, the invasion of stores such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club is like living in a world shared by giants.

Why does it have to be at Westgate Plaza? People point out there are alternative vacant sites within walking distance (Showcase Cinemas, Foodtown Plaza) that would encourage an independent and giant business balance in the area.

Westgate is and has been an integral heart and soul of the surrounding residential community as well as a commercial home of dozens of independent businesses. Like the neighborhood bar on "Cheers," everybody knows your name. In the case of former 22-year tenant, Bassett's (which saw the warnings and left), they even knew your personal health.

It is not hard to compare the endangered shopping center's current state of uncertainty to the last voyage of Titanic. As the big ship Westgate and the gigantic iceberg called Costco are getting closer, shopkeepers are trying to keep a happy face during the holiday season, but everyone knows there is a collision ahead.

The lights are up at Westgate. Holiday music pours out of the sidewalk speakers. There is an air of celebration and fun.

Then, there's that big shiny package lying there. It may be too late to resist it, now that so many political kids and local media have hyped it as a "must-have" present. It whirls (higher-than-average boxstore wages), it spins (low product prices) and it relieves landlords of hassle and fatigue (one solid giant monthly rent check).

Maybe it should come with a warning label; "This product may be hazardous to small local businesses and surrounding neighborhoods."

"They heard Costco exclaim as it rode into sight, Merry Christmas to all and to Westgate ... Good night?"
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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:52 PM   #64
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Westgate Shopping Center Development News No. 6

I guess this paper is really focusing on the Westgate development news in all angles--here is another article:

WESTGATE ON THE BRINK
Independents deal with uncertainty

By Scott McKimmy
Toledo Free Press Staff Writer

With Toledo City Council approval of Costco Wholesale Corp.'s development plans at Westgate Village Shopping Center, independently owned businesses move closer to losing a niche to market their specialty wares.

The debate surrounds the publicity the situation has received in the media, according to Donna Cohen, co-owner of the Happy Badger. She said Westgate management claims the decline proves the need for change, but she believes it's all part of the agenda.

"The say that Westgate is dying, but I think it was murdered," she said.

Cohen and her husband plan to move their store early next year, but not by choice. The niche the plaza has provided can't be duplicated anywhere in the city.

"We really love Westgate; I've always wanted to be at Westgate" she said. "To me it's the epitome of the creative small business niche. It's just sadly ironic that of all the plazas in our whole town, it has to be Westgate."

Many tenants suggest Westgate spokespeople blame poor occupancy, but proprietors such as Jerry Johnson of The Vineyard claim otherwise. Reasons behind the center's demise fall on the management and owners' shoulders.

"[Westgate] left the impression that the retailers are abandoning the center; that's why they've had to go this way," Johnson said. "We aren't abandoning it; we're being forced out because they haven't been willing to write any leases or do anything for the last five years. So they really haven't put any money into the center to maintain it."

Liz Holland, president of Abbell Credit Corp., a Chicago firm that owns Westgate Village, confirmed the change in leases, saying both parties can terminate with a predetermined amount of notice. The policy allows flexibility while Westgate negotiates the development.

"That's both to enable us to redevelop as well as to give our tenants the opportunity to move to another location on their time frame," she said.

Holly Podzinski, owner of Red Sky Surf and Snow, said the encroachment of big-box stores with out-of-town owners leaves little room for independents. Costco's arrival marks yet another chain elbowing the small retail business owner in the ribs.

"It seems like all the independent stores in Toledo are getting pushed out by all these big-box stores so all the Toledo dollars are going somewhere else. So I'm just not real pleased about that at all," Podzinski said. "There's nothing that can be done; we just seem to be forced out."

Holland said she must consider tenants' credit history because of the size of the loans her company will make to finance the project. Westgate could accommodate every business owner meeting the credit requirements.

"Because we are going to be borrowing a great deal of money to do this project, I'm going to have a lender looking over my shoulder and making sure that every lease that I sign is with a credit-worthy tenant. Because the only way I can pay that lender is if I can collect the rent," she said.

Neil McGregor, owner of Port Royal, expressed his stance against the project because of the impact on small business. While Costco will appeal to many local shoppers, he said, small retailers will struggle.

"It's just another big box. For the people who like big boxes, that's great. It'll change the texture of retail not only at Westgate, but all of Toledo," McGregor said. "It's another indicator of the demise of independent businesses. I'd like to see more independent businesses, but that's not happening."

Westgate management met with storeowners in the plaza to make arrangements for some merchants to stay. But, according to Jerry Grindstaff, owner of Culture Clash, the inevitable increase in rent further discourages independents.

"I'm not sure that Costco is the answer, although I certainly feel that Costco is a better alternative than some," Grindstaff said. "But I think what we're finding sad here is the lack of concern for the small, independent stores. Obviously, they're going to make changes, which will create a situation that will make it less advantageous for the small, independent store."

With many owners planning relocation or already leaving, the fate of Westgate may draw bleaker for those remaining until March, when development is expected to begin. Ben Savino, owner of The Toy Store Collector's Gallery, said he anticipates departing after the holidays, mostly because of the dramatic inconvenience of packing up for about 12 to 16 months during the construction process.

"In general, the independent business man is very disappointed in the fact that for years Westgate was going to be developed with the specialty-store neighborhood community plan in mind," Savino said. "And now what Toledo is going to get is a big-box, mass-merchant store that will take a significant amount of land and space and leave very little room for the independent specialty store."

Holland said plans consist of two phases, allowing tenants to relocate temporarily to other units within the plaza while new units are under construction. No tenants will be forced out of business, she said, for longer than it takes for them to move.

Compounding the problem has been a lull in holiday sales, which has hurt the small-business owners, according to Out of Africa's Francis Nimene. He said he'll have to relocate. Another move, his fourth, after low revenues from the shopping season, will have its impact.

"Last year at this about this time, this place was booming. Because of this bad news, people are not coming here any more," Nimene said. "My neighbors had to move. That reduces the traffic. Most people who come here buy from us and buy from them. Since they moved, we have lost

50 percent of our customers."

The paramount issue for Ben Roby, sales manager for Hardware Unlimited, is whether Toledo really needs another big box. And how does it affect Toledo's economy?

"Simply and plainly, I think Toledo needs more shopping centers with small shops where people can walk around and take their time outdoors, and needs less of the box stores because you lose sight of the local economy when you do that," Roby said.

Holland countered by saying the big-box format applies to any larger retailer and should not be confused with discounters. A big box is a big box, she added, citing the former Lions Store as an example.

"And there's no question that the vacant Dillards store is a bigger box than the box we're proposing to rebuild on that site," Holland said. "Now when you look at the type of tenant that we're bringing in, we're not duplicating something else that's already in the Toledo market."

As a result, not all shop owners completely oppose the arrival of Costco. John DuVall, owner of Honey I'm Home, expects a good draw from the box-store crowd if he decides to remain. He said his main concern surrounds losing the plaza's independent flavor, which management has addressed to him.

"I'm not opposed to Costco. I would prefer if it wasn't here, but if it is then I'm hoping they're going to work with independents here to try to keep that flavor," he said. "I talked to the owners, and they said that's their goal. They want to keep some of the small businesses here as well as bring in a big, national chain that would be a big draw."

Sami Saleh, of New York Collection, emphasized the lack of information from Westgate management throughout the ordeal. He noted his reluctance to move, especially considering that management has said little to help tenants form plans.

"It's been known all over the city that Costco's already got the plaza, but the management of the plaza's not saying anything. All they said was they were gonna let us know by the end of the year what they're going to do. But obviously it's a done deal," he said.

Holland said no contract has been signed yet, and Westgate intends to notify tenants when a deal has been reached officially. She said she answers tenants' questions as thoroughly as possible, but the public already knows most of the information available.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:53 PM   #65
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Westgate Shopping Center Development News No. 7

Oh my--another piece on this story; I have a feeling the editor of this paper has personal sentiments toward the glory days of Westgate and he is very wary of the new plans for redevelopments.

WESTGATE ON THE BRINK
Westgate tenants may feel relocation pinch

By Scott McKimmy
Toledo Free Press Staff Writer

The development of Westgate has led Miranda Johnson, owner of Papaya Island, to wonder if area commercial property owners have taken the opportunity to raise rates excessively. Tenants who decide to return after Costco opens face potentially high rent, as much as twice the current rate.

"We don't know how much rent is going to be. I'm expecting it to be at least double," Johnson said. "We've told Westgate we're interested in coming back when they rebuild, because we do expect a lot of people, but you know money talks, and it really depends on how much it costs."

She's priced area property and cited an average of about $14 per square foot. At locations across from Westgate, she said she looked at rates of about $16 to $18 plus common area maintenance fees of $3.50 per square foot.

"If I wanted to rent a 1,000- or 1,200-square-foot store over there, it was going to cost me well over $2,000 a month, which to Costco or Stein Mart or McDonalds that's not a lot of money, but to mom and pop it is. I'd be paying a whole lot more for a whole lot less space than I have now," she said.

Current demands don't necessarily justify higher rents, according to Johnson, because of the abundance of suitable locations throughout the area. Certain features affect price as well, such as convenient parking, road access and security. However, she said none of the current available sites compare dollar-for-dollar to Westgate.

"There are just tons and tons of small shopping centers around Toledo. I can't believe they're building them all over, then they wonder why they're half empty," Johnson said.

Glenn Fitkin, owner of Cricket West, said his rents have remained the same since raising them "a little bit" about six months ago. He thinks a rise in demand may spur an increase in the next two or three years. While rents are lower along parts of Sylvania Avenue about a half-mile north, he said his are still below those at Westgate because of the smaller shops he has as tenants.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 01:06 PM   #66
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Westgate Development News No. 8

Deleted due to Toledo Blade's request.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 07:50 PM   #67
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I am enjoying reading all that is going on in the Toledo area.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 08:41 PM   #68
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St. V's Contruction Picture Update No. 2

The day after Christmas 12-26-2005, I took some shots to see the progress of the St. V's Heart Center construction and here they are:



This is the skywalk that is being built to connect the new Heart Center to the existing hospital:

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Old December 26th, 2005, 08:48 PM   #69
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Maumee River Crossing/I-280 Bridge Update No. 2

Here is an update shot of the I-280 Bridge project (looking westward)--notice all the snow but most of it was melted from an all day rain on Christmas Day and also take a look at the level of the existing freeway to what it's going to be once the project is completed:



This shot is from the mouth of the Swan Creek which goes into the Maumee River as you can see far in the background of the picture there is the main pillar of the new bridge:

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Old December 26th, 2005, 08:56 PM   #70
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Pictures of the Old South End Toledo

The Old South End Toledo neighborhood was always known historically as the dominate Irish neighborhoods with a lot of storefront buildings and churches. Old South End is about a mile south of downtown along the Broadway Street corridor. Today it's occupied with the older generation Irish groups and a large influx of hispanic population. This neighborhood is fighting to keep older buildings and rehab them as they often fall to victim to new construction or abadonment. I took a few pictures of this area and I'll keep posting more in the near future:





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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:06 PM   #71
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Pictures of the Lagrange Neighborhood

This is a small post which I will be adding a lot of pictures in the near future to show distinctions of this area. The Lagrange neighborhood which has a large Polish population and holds the famous Polish festival every year which is one of the largest in the area. Today this area is consists of older Polish population groups along with the African American population. The neighborhood association in this area is the most active Community Development Corporation in the entire city--they do a good job in keeping homes rehabbed, their mini-downtown clean and kept-up, and promote heritage of their neighborhood.

This is the new neighborhood library that was opened up earlier this year which signals a renewal committment to urban redevelopment:


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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:43 PM   #72
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Toledo City Schools Development News and Pictures

This is worthy to discuss the rebuilding of Toledo City Schools since this is the costliest construction project in the history of Toledo. Here are a few notes about this project and I will update with pictures of demolitions and constructions as this project progresses. This program is called Building For Success which is the single largest building project in the history of the City of Toledo. Funded by state and local monies, this $800 million program to rebuild and renovate all district schools will transform the landscape of Toledo and improve educational opportunities for generations of students to come.
This massive and complex project started in 2002, projected to take approximately 10 to 12 years, which has involved many decisions and actions by thousands of people. There are nearly 37,000 students that goes to Toledo City Schools with 9 high schools, 8 middle/junior high schools, and over 40 elementary schools. Some school will be renovated, some schools will be closed and not replaced, and some schools will be replaced with newer school buildings:


The Westfield Elementary School which is located in the Old South End neighborhood--right now the school is being demolished to make way for a new school building:




The Glenwood Elementary School which is located in the Old West End neighborhood--this school is also being demolished to make way for a new school building:



The Robinson Junior High School which is located in the Old West End neighborhood as well--this school will be going from junior high to middle school with a new building; notice the old building (in the first picture) also stands until the new school is open then it will be demolished:






Here are some of the schools that made the cut from being demolished--these schools will undergo massive renovations:
Scott High School (located in Old West End neighborhood)


Old Orchard Elementary School (located in Old Orchard/Westgate neighborhood):


Harvard Elementary School (located in south Toledo the affluent part of the city along the river):


Here are some schools that were the first to be rebuilt with new schools with redention of the drawings (I will post pictures in the near future):
Oakdale Elementary School (located in East Toledo):


Ottawa River Elementary School (located in Point Place neighborhood far up north near the lake):


Waite Middle School (located in East Toledo):


There is one school that is not sitting very well with the residents and alumnis as they advocate to save this building; the school district is planning to close this school with no replacement:
Libbey High School (located in Old South End neigborhood):
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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:49 PM   #73
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Toledo Hospital Construction Pictures Update

I took this picture on 12-26-2006 on a cold morning to show the progress of the construction for the Toledo Hospital expansion which will be adding 600 new jobs in the hospital with a new 8-floor structure; for more information you can see previous posts in this thread about this project:

You can see they've got three huge different beams for the elevators--I guess they start this part of the project before installing steel beams to make the framework of the actual 8-floor structure; first picture is looking north, second picture is at the exact spot, and the third picture is looking south:


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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:53 PM   #74
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Glass Pavilion Construction Pictures Update

Here is the updated pictures which is the progression of the new Glass Pavilion Museum which will be open this coming Summer of 2006 across the street from the world-famous Toledo Museum of Art; you can see earlier posts in regards to this project:

This pavilion structure will be all glass (no steel, no wood, no concrete will hold this structure together); and yes I mean ALL GLASS!:

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Old December 26th, 2005, 10:04 PM   #75
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Warehouse District Developments and Pictures

Here are some updated pictures of the Warehouse District which lies right south of the downtown area; this area was revitalized with the brand new baseball stadium which opened in 2003; you can see earlier posts in regards to this topic and this area will also be my new home which I will be moving into this area few days after the New Year's holiday:

Ottawa Lofts which was converted from warehouse to lofts a few years ago; this lofts is nearly 100% occupied; this is located on Ottawa Street right along the Maumee River:


Going south on Ottawa Street from the Ottawa Loft, I saw a perfect spot to take a cool shot which shows the underneath of the Anthony Wayne Bridge (looking east):


This a skyline shot of downtown from the Warehouse District looking north:



This is a skyline shot of the Warehouse District from the riverside looking west:
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Old December 26th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #76
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Special Bonus Pictures (Snow Day 2005)

Here are some cool shots I took today on 12-26-2005 right after the snowstorm on Christmas evening:

Madison Street skyline looking east from standing near the downtown library:


Rows of shops along 10th Street near the downtown library with retail and offices:


Good stock of rehabbed storefronts along Madison across from the downtown library:


Downtown library which was renovated and expanded three times its size back in 2000-01; beautiful place to spend for a day inside and out:


St. Clair Street skyline looking south and you can see the historic renovated (2001) Valentine Theatre to the right of the picture:


Downtown skyline from the east side of the river from where the Marina District will be built with a combinations of residential, commercial, retail, boating, restaurants, entertainment venues and recreational trails with over $200 million of investments into this project (see earlier posts in regards to the Marina District project)--whomever moves into the Marina District will have a great view of the skyline which would be priceless:
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Old December 27th, 2005, 02:28 AM   #77
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Westgate Development News No. 9

Deleted due to Toledo Blade's request.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 05:02 AM   #78
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Those skyline shots are gorgeous!!
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Old December 27th, 2005, 08:29 PM   #79
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Westgate Shopping Center Development News No. 10

From our local CBS affiliate for following-up on Carty's press conference yesterday:


City Leaders, Business Owners Disagree with Finkbeiner
Dec 27, 2005, 01:50 PM EST

TOLEDO -- Just Monday, Mayor-Elect Carty Finkbeiner was making waves about the proposal to build a Costco store on the site of the soon-to-be demolished Westgate Village Shopping Center. But while Finkbeiner says he doesn't want the Costco built there, shop owners and other city leaders are saying we need the economic progress.

Haney Elassar of the Coney Island Restaurant welcomes a Costco store at Westgate. He realizes some surrounding residents might oppose a big box store in the neighborhood but thinks it's good for development. "I think when Costco comes, we'll have more business from Costco for shopping areas and the offices across the street," said Elassar.

Neil McGregor of the Port Royale Cigar Shop agrees Costco would create a new dynamic for the Toledo retail scene. But he says Westgate owners have kept him in the dark about future plans, so he will move to a new location next year. "How expensive is it going to be? How much square footage could I afford here with a new operator?" asked McGregor. "I don't have any idea. I had to look after our continuity."

Jerry Johnson at The Vineyard is leaving Westgate, too. He thinks Westgate should remain a shopping center for locally owned, small businesses. "I have nothing really against Costco," said Johnson. "But I believe that it's destroying what the center has always been."

Any new development for Westgate must be approved by the Toledo-Lucas County Planning Commission. Members are expected to take a look at it next month. The current L-shaped site will be replaced by four buildings -- one of them Costco. There will also be space for smaller, locally owned businesses like the ones you now find at Westgate.

Toledo City Council member Ellen Grachek represents the area and disagrees with Mayor-Elect Finkbeiner. "My thoughts are that we're looking at a $40 million dollar investment and 200 good paying jobs," said Grachek. "So once we go through the plan commission process, we're looking at a really good revitalization for the entire area."

Ultimate approval must come from Grachek and the city council.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 08:36 PM   #80
illmatic774
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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yay carty!

seems like the only thing left for downtown to accomplish is attracting the businesses back. I'd imagine that with the arrival of baseball season, (mud hens) many of the renovated buildings would be filled again.
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