LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — The Lucas County Land Bank announced "a decade of neglect has come to an end" after its board authorized the land bank to accept deeds to three decaying downtown buildings back in 2020.
A deed transferring the ownership of the Spitzer, Nicholas and Port Lawrence buildings was immediately submitted to county officers for conveyance and recording.
In March of 2021, Land Bank President and CEO David Mann said the sale of the Port Lawrence building was pending, with conditions, to technology consulting company CNWR. The company is headquartered on Summit Street. Mann says he is hopeful the deal is finalized by the end of March.
“For too long, our community has watched these important buildings fall apart from abandonment and neglect, even as demand for downtown residential and commercial uses has skyrocketed. Today’s action is the culmination of years of effort and provides a fresh chance to redevelop these historic assets under local control,” said David Mann, President & CEO of the Land Bank.
The buildings were previously the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Land Bank against Ergur Private Equity Group to collect more than $450,000 of unpaid debts associated with the properties. In early 2020, the Lucas County Treasurer filed parallel lawsuits against the buildings for unpaid property taxes. On June 1, 2020, Judge Michael Goulding appointed attorney Ralph DeNune as receiver for the properties.
“I am proud of the hard work of my team to reclaim these abandoned buildings and create opportunities for jobs and investment in Toledo’s downtown going forward,” said Lucas County Treasurer Lindsay M. Webb, who is also the Chair of the Land Bank’s Board of Directors.
The Land Bank says it intends to partner with the city of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and ConnecToledo, the downtown development corporation, to manage the properties, make stabilizing investments as needed, and market them for redevelopment in an open and transparent process.
“These properties sit on literally the only corner in downtown Toledo where all four original buildings still remain. Without the hard work and intervention of the Land Bank, I always feared that we might lose them. Now we have a chance to bring them back to life for the benefit of all Toledoans,” said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, who is also the Vice Chair of the Land Bank’s Board of Directors.
The buildings were acquired by Ergur entities in 2008-2009, except for the Port Lawrence Building acquired in 2015. During Ergur’s ownership, multiple lawsuits were brought by Lucas County, private creditors, and the Spitzer family related to unpaid debts and an inability to manage the buildings for the benefit of tenants. Since at least 2015, all three buildings have been closed and left to deteriorate in the absence of active management or utility services.
Since its inception in 2010, the Land Bank has returned 4,500 vacant lots, residential homes, and commercial properties to productive use and demolished over 3,000 properties that were nuisances to the community.