Feb 7, 2006

Mayor Finkbeiner: Get It Done!

Photos by historymike

(Toledo, OH) Westgate Village, for those outside of the Toledo area, is an aging strip mall on the west side of the city. The vacancy rate is over 50%, and the quality of tenants that remain leaves much to be desired. Moreover, the site is without a true anchor.

The owner of the complex, Abbell Credit Corporation of Chicago, submitted a design to the planning commission that would renovate the shopping center. The key to the deal is the national retailer Costco.

Since taking office, Carty Finkbeiner has been dragging his feet and creating obstacles to the deal. Yesterday he announced that he will petition Toledo City Council to impose a 180-day moratorium on any development projects at Westgate.

This idea is of dubious value to the project, and the mayor runs the risk of aggravating Costco into seeking a suburban site for their outlet. Given the fact that the city has lost a significant portion of its retail base to Perrysburg, Springfield Township, and soon Monclova Township, the mayor's stance is puzzling.

While Mr. Finkbeiner's dreams of "urban villages" are creative, this is not the time to quibble over minor amenities for pedestrians. Mr. Mayor: get out of the way of progress, and live up to your campaign promises of getting results.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree.

Its easy to point to the 50% occupancy, but much of that is a result of the impending doom that Westgate owners have been promising to its retailers. Businesses are'nt going to stay in a location that is trying to drive them out.

Costco is a massive corporation that adds hundreds of stores every year with a history of disregard for the communities they target, spurring quite a few serious protests. They are also a company with a history of discriminatory labor practices.

I certainly agree that something should be done with Westgate, but this is definitely the wrong way to go. maybe we should be investing more in local businesses with an actual interest in the long term health of our community, rather than giving our money to some corporate parasite that merely sees us as another feeding tube.

historymike said...


There is nothing I would like to see more than an end to corproate welfare in the form of tax abatements.

However, I do not believe that Toledo has the financial well-being to be a test-case for standing up to the multinationals. The city is needs every dollar it can get.

Also, the picture you paint of Costco might better fit a true parasite like WalMart. At least Costco pays decent wages, allows unions, and gives more back to the community.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

Toledo would be more than capable of bringing in businesses without the tax abatements if they would let the landowners do what they want. Most companies would probably break even if they got no tax abatement but weren't required to design a particular way for a particular locale, especially something as stupid as making an American shopping center more "pedestrian friendly."

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

And here are various research studies on the impact of Wal-Mart in a community, most of which show neutral or positive changes (there are a couple negative ones).

That being said, I still don't shop there. But that's out of personal disgust, not because a corporation can be inherently "evil." They're only as evil as their customers will let them be.

Lisa Renee said...

There were an estimated 850,961
small businesses in Ohio in 2004. Of the 231,374 firms with
employees, an estimated 98.3 percent, or 227,339, were small

Interesting pdf Here What's really interesting is the only category for Ohio that had a net increase rather than a net decrease in employment was small companies with 1-19 employers. (Page 2 last column)

Small businesses need to be encouraged if the Toledo economy is going to grow. That's the key, not places like Costco to a real overall solution. Other states have found as well that their only net growth area was small businesses. Taking a place where small businesses could have flourished if encouraged/supported and making it so they can't afford the rent, nor does Costco want them, doesnt' encourage small business growth. Not to mention small business owners have a personal investment in not only their businesses but typically their city as well.

historymike said...

I agree, Lisa.

But Costco is coming to NWO whether we like it or not. I'd rather it be in the city limits than go out to the 'burbs. It could be the sort of magnet that revitalizes the Wstgate area.

Jason Sonenshein said...

Is Thackeray's Bookstore still there?

historymike said...

Sadly, Jason, Thackeray's closed a few months ago. The arrival of Borders created a strange situation, since Borders happened to be Thackeray's major wholesaler.

Rather than compete against its supplier, Thackeray's wisely bowed out, and Toledo lost its last major independent bookstore.

Lisa Renee said...

I guess my point is as long as we keep focusing on Costco's rather than paying attention to where the real net growth jobs are we are going to keep playing the big box shuffle.

Lucas County needs to develop it's resources that it has right now, which include alot of people with alot of ideas, they don't need abatements, they just need help getting information on all of the resources out there. They need a government that will encourage and support small businesses and encourage county residents to frequent local businesses rather than try to entice big boxers in given the real profit there doesn't stay in Toledo. Make small local businesses successful? More money stays here.

Anonymous said...

I am still mourning the passing of Thackerays. It was my favorite place in all of Toledo.

BTW Mike, as a writer, I am shocked and dismayed at your abuse of the English language! Did you not know the proper way to write it is "Git R Done"!

I saw it on a truck window. It must be correct!


Hooda Thunkit said...

Costco, as well as WalMart are not the problems that many make them out to be, at least, not in Toledo.

Toledo's problems begin with its dysfunctionial politics and politicians that have allowed a meglomaniac back into office so that he can micromanage all business within his domain, not just the City and County governments.

Now in all fairness to Carty, he made no bones about his intentions; he ran on the "Carty Gets Results" slogan; what he did leave out though was the disclaimer that you may NOT like Carty's results, but results you will get...

All hail King Carty II.

Or, if you prefer,

All hail Carty the Passionate...

Carty Get Results!

Hoo Boy…

Oh yeah, Down with Corporate Welfare.