2.5 Acre Sustainable Signature Park to be Named UpTown Green

The UpTown Association’s recently announced signature park project has been officially named UpTown Green. “The new name embodies what the sustainable park project is all about,” said Julie Champa, Executive Director of The UpTown Association. “The name was selected by the Association’s Board of Directors because of the two-fold meaning of the word “green,” first as an open park space and second as a national movement in sustainability.” 

Funded by a $1.5 million grant obtained by the City of Toledo from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund and $500,000 in matching funds by community partners, the 2.5 acre park is being created on 15 underutilized parcels on Madison Avenue between 18th and 20th Streets. It is being designed and engineered by Mannik & Smith Group. Removal of asbestos-containing materials and demolition of two structures is complete. The removal of close to 2 acres of impervious asphalt will begin in the next few months. Recycled materials from demolition have been used as clean hard fill in former basement cavities and crushed brick will be used to pave park paths.

UpTown Green will be the first sustainable urban park in Toledo with features to reduce environmental impact and dependency on resources. Amenities being considered include:

• A bioswale and rain garden to provide sustainable stormwater management including capture of roof water from the adjacent 4-story building (a future UpTown development project) into a cistern and then released over time, feeding the bioswale and rain garden. Directing stormwater in this way reduces runoff, cleanses the water and decreases dependence on the City sewer system.

• Use of native plantings known for their adaptability and lower maintenance requirements will be the focus of all plantings within the park. Once established, native plants need fewer fertilizers, pesticides and watering, thereby benefiting the environment and reducing maintenance costs.

• Use of recycled materials for park amenities such as tree stumps for benches and crushed brick for walking paths.

• Using the principles of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for new construction in developing the park site, maximizing sustainability.

Catalyst for Change
UpTown Green is near the neighborhood’s residential buildings and will serve as a green-link between the Old West End and the Mercy College campus and the growing Adams Street Arts and Entertainment District and downtown. The park will offer a safe, publicly accessible space that will benefit the community and prompt surrounding investment. “UpTown Green is the first step in a larger vision of change and will act as a catalyst for major investment in the neighborhood,” added Champa. “The park project is the positive tipping point for UpTown and its capacity for growth. Most residential spaces in UpTown are full and demand is growing.” A future phase of the project includes renovation of the four-story, 24,000 square foot building adjacent to the park. 

$1.5 Million Grant to Create Urban Park in UpTown (scroll down for images)

NOVEMBER 18, 2011, Toledo, Ohio – The City of Toledo has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) for creation of a park at Madison Avenue between 18th and 20th Streets in the UpTown neighborhood. The grant will fund environmental cleanup of the land and four-story historic structure, demolition activities and revitalization of the property as a signature park. The award to The City of Toledo was made possible, in a major part, due to a partnership with The UpTown Association in collaboration with other key partners including Local Initatives Support Corporation (LISC) and The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. in preparing the grant application and securing matching funds of $500,000.

This grant is funded from The Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund’s recently established Sustainable Reinvestment Pilot Track for projects with sustainable reuses. This track provides up to $1.5 million for the cleanup demolition and infrastructure activities on projects in one of the three categories: Sustainable Infrastructure (Signature Parks and Green Infrastructure), Urban Waterfronts and Cleanfields/Brightfields (Wind and Solar).

“We are excited by this opportunity to make a significant impact to UpTown” said Julie Champa, UpTown Association Executive Director. “The neighborhood will have a much needed green space for our residents created by transforming 15 derelict properties that have been an eyesore for years.”

The UpTown Association held a community brainstorming meeting in October to gather ideas and uses for the park and building, and plans to hold additional meetings. “To date, the UpTown Development team has created a conceptual plan for the park developed for the grant application. Further input and refinement of the plan will help to create a space that best fits the needs of our community,” commented Champa.

The UpTown Association, Inc., which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is the community development corporation for the UpTown district of Toledo, located between Toledo’s central business district and the Old West End. It is roughly bordered by 10th, Jackson, Adams, Woodruff, Collingwood and Washington. The association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

Park Project Summary

UpTown Association approached The City of Toledo and identified the property bounded by 18th/20th Streets and Madison Avenue as abandoned/blighted properties and asked for assistance in obtaining funds to clean up the approximately 2.5 acres, which includes three vacant commercial buildings surrounded by vacant parking lots. 

The City provided assistance to assess the property through environmental assessments that identified two underground storage tanks (USTs) and friable asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the three buildings. Redevelopment has been hindered by presence of two dilapidated buildings and deteriorated parking lots.  The City and its partners believe that this revitalization will prompt additional investment in a neighborhood on the tipping point between boon and blight and will both stimulate job growth and enhance the quality of urban life in this unique and historic area.  

Through community and interested party involvement, a series of meetings culminated in a vision of a park setting to refresh the neighborhood and establish a center for local artist and artisans and consistent with UpTown Association’s adopted neighborhood plan. A preliminary conceptual drawing captured that vision complete with a rain garden, amphitheatre, art walk, and space for artisan’s kiosks among other amenities.

The site is proximate to important neighborhood anchor amenities including the Toledo Public Library Main Branch, Toledo School for the Arts, the Avenue of the Arts and various art studios and restaurants. This project scope of work incorporates a mixture of publicly accessible green space and creative enterprise space.

With that end use and vision in mind and with the support of the UpTown Association and their group of interested parties, an application was prepared and submitted for a Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund on the Sustainable Reinvestment Track.  The grant application included City matching funding sourced from Transitioned Brownfield Remediation Assistance Grant dollars for asbestos abatement and demolition of the two dilapidated buildings and requested $1.5 million in grant monies to fund asbestos cleanup of the third building, removal of the remnant pavement and other environmental actions in order to establish a signature park in the heart of UpTown. The properties are owned by the City of Toledo effective July 2011 through a donation of the properties from the Lucas County Land Bank.  

 Notes from brainstorming meeting regarding potential uses for park building.

Four-story building at the corner of Madison and 18th to remain as part of the park. Building will be remediated and redeveloped as a future project.

Two-story building to be remediated and demolished. 

Abandoned surface parking lot at park site. 

One-story building at 321 18th Street to be remediated and demolished. 

Abandoned surface parking lot at park site. 

Four-story building at the corner of Madison and 18th to remain as part of the park. Building will be remediated and redeveloped as a future project. 
Two-story building to the left to be remediated and demolished. 
Rear view of four-story building at the corner of Madison and 18th to remain as part of the park. Building will be remediated and redeveloped as a future project. 

Abandoned surface parking lot at park site. 

Abandoned surface parking lot at park site. 

UpTown press conference to announce $1.5 million dollar grant for park site.