Battle brewing over United Way building

Reported by Rob Wiercinski -

Posted by Nick Dutton - email

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTOL) - A battle over whether the United Way's headquarters, a building that's been around for nearly 40 years, should be torn down. It's located at One Stranahan Square, near the corner of Summit and Jackson in downtown Toledo.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent a letter to United Way leaders asking them to reconsider plans to demolish their current headquarters.

In the letter Finkbeiner says, "The city and I will assist the United Way in every way possible, except the demolition process."

BONUS: Click here to read the entire letter Finkbeiner sent to United Way leaders.

"I did not see, in the letter, a viable financial solution to this, so we continue to be frustrated by folks who want us to keep the building, but don't offer any alternatives," says United Way of Greater Toledo President and CEO Bill Kitson.

Kitson says renovations would cost 10 million dollars, while building a new facility and tearing down One Stranahan Square would cost a little over 6 million.

The City Historic Districts Commission is weighing in, saying even though the building isn't over 50 years old, it provides value to the downtown landscape.

"We feel it's a signature building that its unique lines have been part of the civic history of Toledo," says Steven Shrake of the Toledo City Historic Districts Commission.

Built in 1969, the United Way Building was a gift of the Stranahan Foundation, but Kitson says the family is on board with their future plans.

"The family actually toured the building and took a look at it and said 'you know, we need to do what's right for the United Way and what's right for the community, so they're supportive of this," says Kitson.

The mayor wants the United Way to move into another existing building downtown. However, Kitson says that option has already been explored.

"We looked at a lot of spaces downtown and with our 211 client base the folks who drive here, come here on bus, we need to be open, we need to be accessible," says Kitson.

While the mayor's letter points out the planning commission has the ability to impose a 6 month waiting period for demolition, Kitson says he expects this issue ultimately to be decided by city council.

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