Downtown renaissance sparked by the Mud Hens continues with new investments

The continued redevelopment of downtown involves big projects and small businesses.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 7:01 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - When the Toledo Mud Hens first moved downtown, it was a much quieter place.

In the 21 years since, there’s been considerable growth in restaurants, bars, retail and residential space. As well as other large developments and investments that are aiding in the continued growth

The rebirth of downtown Toledo was sparked in large part by the game of baseball.

“There is strong evidence that whenever there is public realm investment, private investment follows. Twenty years ago, Fifth Third Field was that public investment,” said Sandy Spang, the Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Toledo. “That’s what private investors are looking for, permanent attractions that will bring people downtown.”

The Mud Hens helped spark the business boom that continues today with small businesses in places like Fort Industry Square and the Warehouse District. It also includes permanent attractions like the Huntington Center and the newly renovated Glass City Center

“There is so much excitement right now about the Glass City Center improvements bringing bigger and better conventions here and, in turn, bringing more customers to the small businesses around it,” said Spang.

The River Walk is a $200 million-dollar Metroparks Toledo project expected to help continue attracting investment.

“When you have people come to enjoy the River Wall and the new park on the east side, afterwards, many of them will want a coffee or lunch,” said Spang. “That is the kind of traffic local businesses need.”

What started when Fifth Third Field knocked one right out of the park for downtown development continues today on a number of levels.

“It’s not just one element,” said Spang. “With the businesses, apartments, bars, restaurants, and shops, we are building neighborhoods. They all interact and support each other.”

Spang says another exciting element of the renaissance downtown is the residential component.

She says people of all ages are moving downtown. She adds that redeveloping Madison Avenue’s Spitzer and Nicholas buildings will add more living options in the next few years.

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