Over the past five years I found myself bogged down as I finished a pair of graduate degrees. The pursuit of higher education has opportunity costs, though, and one of the negative aspects of full-time, year-round graduate student status is that life in the real world continues without you.
Thus I found myself on South St. Clair street today looking around as if I had never set foot on the downtown thoroughfare. There were a whole hoist of new businesses that have sprung up in the past few years on a street that used to boast little commercial activity, in large part due to the construction of Fifth Third Field and the new Lucas County Arena.
The buildings in Toledo's Warehouse District date back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and many of these old structures possess a great deal of architectural appeal. The close proximity of the ballpark and arena have been a boon to district businesses, and there is a vibrancy in the area that was missing for many years.
I wanted to try out Home Slice Pizza, as I had not yet eaten lunch, but unfortunately the place is closed on Mondays. I instead sauntered over to Downtown Latte and sampled a carrot cream muffin and a double espresso. The place had about a dozen customers, which is not too shabby for the post-lunch late afternoon, and the muffin was fresh and delicious.
There was a steady stream of foot and vehicular traffic in and out of the businesses on South St. Clair, yet parking was available on the street and at nearby lots. The last time I remember walking on this street was a few years ago, and I seem to recall only one tavern being open at that time. Today I could have visited a couple of pubs with food, the aforementioned coffee shop, a gift shop, and several other of what appeared to be thriving businesses.
I used to work within two blocks of this area a decade ago, and at night South St. Clair would be empty except for the occasional person walking to a loft apartment and the usual coterie of vagrants wandering about. While the area was not exactly a high-crime zone, I never really felt comfortable at night, and I used to keep my fists clenched and walk with an attitude while going to my car.
These days the street seems downright busy. I am not sure if businesses are exactly raking in the cash, but I can say that Toledo's Warehouse District is a helluva lot busier than I recall from the year 1999.