Board to Begin Negotiations for Commodore Building

By Deb Buker

The Perrysburg Board of Education announced last week that negotiations will begin soon with the Commodore Preservation Partnership for a new use for the Commodore Building.

In a statement released on Friday, the board requested that the partnership submit a multi-use plan for the Commodore Building.

"While this means the entire project will not be committed to community use, the board has informed them [Commodore Preservation Partnership] that a community arts use component will be a condition of the transfer," stated the release.

Also, the board will consider other proposals if initial negotiations with the partnership are not successful.

Last month, the preservation group made two offers to the board of education for purchase of the property. The first offer was for the western half of the site and a second offer for the entire site. The dollar amount was not disclosed. Attorney Lane Williamson is representing the Commodore Preservation Partnership in the negotiations.

The partnership team includes George Lathrop, W.W. Lathrop Company; David Miller and Robert Cavalear, River Trace Developers; Kate MacPherson, MacPherson Architects Inc/2MA; and Tony Clark, Focused Effort.

At a presentation made to the board of education on Thursday, April 12, Mrs. MacPherson, president of Historic Perrysburg, told board members that the team was formed specifically for the Commodore project.

"We are calling it Commodore Place. We founded it [the partnership] because we love this old building and we believe the site offers unique opportunities. It is very special to the community of Perrysburg and we all have very strong personal and professional connections in Perrysburg. We wanted to bring our professional experience to this project," said Ms. MacPherson.

The group is interested in working with the board of education and community groups to produce a master plan, a community-based purpose for the entire site which would be self-sustaining and a win-win for all stakeholders, said Mr. Lathrop last month at the presentation.

The vision for the partnership's project is multi-generational, mixed-use, urban village site concept. The group plans to adapt and reuse the original 1894 Louisiana Avenue building into living areas. They believe the auditorium should be used-never be changed-and the gymnasium needs to be enhanced. They also believe the science wing needs to be removed.

"It is a concept that would sustain and enhance a significant location within urban Perrysburg," said Mr. Lathrop. "We believe the residential anchor would serve not only the Commodore site, but provide a connector to the civic end of Louisiana Avenue. Commodore Place would balance the statue of Commodore Perry at the north end. Our vision is for a residential and mixed-use structure becoming a unique urban living, learning, serving, and gathering destination."

The partnership team believes that it will take six months to do a "proper" study of the project.