The rain held off and we walked up and down and around St. Clair Street, my grandson Josh and I. It was the 9th Annual "Wander the Warehouse District" day, and it was fantastic.
The downtown has changed a lot since I left the city in 1985 and returned in 2011. I lived in the Old West End then, a lovely oasis of Victorian homes, but our downtown was just hanging on as I recall. Revitalization projects emerged, with lots of hope, on the waterfront, around it, and then, sadly, collapsed. Now it seems the decline has reversed again, at least somewhat. I've been to a Mud Hens game at Fifth/Third Field; attended Art Walks, visited galleries, shops and restaurants, and this weekend wandered around the Warehouse District. The buildings look beautiful. A friend took us into her office building, which also houses the unique urban home of a lovely couple--gleaming hardwood floors, high ceilings, huge windows, a brilliantly designed space by creative architect Paul Sullivan, Jr. A stunning vision realized. A fabulous re-use of a once-neglected but historic building. The owners' art, especially the glass art, is exquisite, and so is the rooftop garden with its view of the Maumee river and the Toledo skyline. Urban Chic, for sure, as a story about this home in the August 2007 issue of inToledo (mounted on the wall as you enter the building), tells it.
While I am stunned by the changes, those who live in the Warehouse District would like to see even more progress than has been made in the last decade. More residences, more shopping options, more of those elegant old buildings restored.
It's not Portland or Pittsburg or Fort Wayne yet, but the "New Urbanism" has a foothold in Toledo. The Warehouse District exemplifies it.
Can all the public and private interests, the neighborhood associations, people with vision, work together to move Toledo's downtown into a bright urban future? I heard this question over and over as we walked and talked around the District. Some friends told me that TEDx Toledo was asking the same question, and will be holding its annual conclave on September 19 to hear talks about "reimagining" Toledo. Vision and hope spring eternal!