TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The former Elder-Beerman site continues to sit vacant at Central and Secor, but that could soon change if a developer gets its way.
"Secor, as anyone knows who drives by there, there's a lot of activity there," Toledo City Councilman Sam Melden said.
Melden and other councilmen are considering a 15-year tax abatement, valued at $970,000, for California-based developer Niki group to demolish and rebuild the site. A T.J. Maxx and Bob's Discount Furniture would then occupy the new 50,000 square-foot retail space, creating more than 60 jobs.
To make it all happen Melden says the current site needs major asbestos remediation.
"There's about just over $1 million of asbestos in the building that they're trying to remediate before they can move forward with the development," Melden said.
While city leaders believe a tax break could help with the costs, those who live in the area are a little leery.
"We do need to stop shifting the tax burden from corporations onto the backs of Toledo citizens," a West Toledo woman said at a public forum.
Dozens of West Toledoans turned out at the Sanger Branch Library on Tuesday to voice their concerns on the proposed tax deal.
"It's a fast growing area, one of the fastest in Toledo," a West Toledo man said of the Secor and Central corridor. "None of these businesses or their landlords asked for an enterprise tax exemption."
Neighbors also questioned whether Toledo needs more stores similar to others in the city.
"Given the intensity of retail development in this area, while at the same time witnessing a collapsing brick and mortar economy, the City of Toledo should be careful," a West Toledo woman said.
Meanwhile, others are simply tired of seeing the site sit empty and want to see progress.
"If we look at it as a blight issue, hopefully, we can see it maybe in a different light," another West Toledo man said.
They are concerns that Councilman Melden says he's taking back to Government Center as council considers future tax abatements in the city.
“There’s an aspect of this that’s trying to be responsible about the revenue that the city collects to meet the services and the needs of our constituents," Melden said.