Westgate Planning Issues
A couple items in response to discussions in the media recently.
Westgate Village Shopping Center is NOT being built totally with private investment. When the project is completed, they will have received several million dollars from the State and the City, an amount that will total over 10% of their total development budget. Westgate Village will be developed with a higher percentage of public dollars than the Marina District or Southwyck will be when all is said and done.
It has also been asserted that the owners of Westage Village could have let the shopping center continue to decay but instead chose to invest. Actually they did let it decay for a very long time which had a negative effect on property values and depressed the rates they could charge tenants. If they had continued to allow it to decay, they would eventually have been unable to pay the property taxes on some of the most desirable and commercially viable property in northwest Ohio. They were killing the golden-goose.
At a time when gas prices continue to rise, there is evidence that fossil fuels are contributing to the degredation of the environment, Americans are becoming obese because of overly sedentary livestyles, that many of the stores at Westgate Village are attractive to children between the ages of 13 and 16 who are not able to drive, why not make Westgate accessible for pedestrians? There certainly is a demand.
Certainly a trip to Costco is likely to require that you drive in order to take home large purchases and no one objects to having a large number of parking spaces there. But most of the stores at Westgate do not lend themselves to large purchases, Fiesta Hair Cuts, Barry's Bagels, Starbucks, Rite Aide, Chipotle, and SteinMart come to mind. These customers could certainly walk. Besides, with major bus stops across both Central and Secor from Westgate, many customers are certain to walk.
Toledo's economy lags in part because we fail to plan effectively and this was another lost opportunity. Nobody tried to stop the development at Westgate Viiage and nobody tried to stop Westgate from getting large parking fields. In fact they got permission for far more spaces than would be permitted in cities that are thriving and have stronger planning traditions. What was asked for, just like all projects, was forward thinking that would allow safety and accessibility through good design and planning.