$5 million sought from state for Jeep Experience


Jim Provance - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)



COLUMBUS — Area lawmakers and business leaders are asking the state to pony up $5 million toward Toledo’s proposed $40 million museum celebrating all things Jeep.

The “white paper” wish list of projects for Ohio’s next two-year capital budget to be adopted this spring also seeks $5 million for construction of a 1,200-seat, 18,000 square foot ballroom addition to the SeaGate Convention Centre and other renovations to the current structure.

The funding requests for Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties was put together by a bipartisan committee through the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The local process was created a number of years ago to provide a united front for the region in trying to bring home the bacon rather than have local projects and their respective lawmakers fighting among themselves.

The capital budget sets aside $2.6 billion, mostly financed through borrowing, for construction, renovation, and equipment upgrades at state parks, universities, and government buildings. The spending plan is expected to set aside $150 million over the next two years for community projects such as museums, theaters, historic sites, non-profit organizations, local parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, and sports facilities.

The $5 million for The Jeep Experience would be applied to the development and construction of the 56,000 square-foot, interactive museum at an as-yet undisclosed location in metropolitan Toledo.

A non-profit organization is working toward construction of The Jeep Experience, a 56,000-square-foot building at an as-yet undisclosed location in metropolitan Toledo. Approval of the full amount requested through the white paper would represent 12.5 percent of that.

Backers of the proposal have predicted it could create 12 full-time jobs, 12 part-time positions, and four executive positions and bring in more than $6 million a year in revenue. It is expected to include live attractions such as an off-road trail where Jeeps may be driven. Food service and a hotel are also under discussion.

Groundbreaking is expected later this year with a 2022 opening planned.

This marks the first capital budget for state Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D., Toledo).

“It has shown me the need for capital improvement dollars in our area,” she said. “I’m very grateful to the chamber for hosting the event for us to hear about all of those projects.”

That need is greater than the $150 million that will be made available, she said.

“The Jeep Experience has been talked about for a long time…,” she said. “When I see Jeep, I see Toledo. I look at the Experience also as workforce and economic development for our area. I’m prepared to have The Jeep Experience in the hometown of Jeep rather than someplace else.”

The application describes a vision for the museum building as a glass window “super garage” concept with doors that can be opened at times for an indoor-outdoor experience. It would include 33,000 square feet of space to accommodate more than 80 vehicles at a time.

Should it receive the full $5 million requested, there are no plans to come back for more help from the help in future capital budgets.

The convention center project received $500,000 in the last capital budget cycle. Lucas County described the project in its application as part of a broader attempt to make Summit Street and the Maumee riverfront more pedestrian friendly.

The county estimates the total expansion and renovation project at more than $40 million.

Some of the other bigger-ticket requests include:

Toledo Museum of Art: $2.5 million for heating and air conditioning upgrades. Total project cost: $5 million.

Toledo Zoo: $2 million for the entry complex and tiger and bear exhibits. Total project cost: $9.5 million.

YWCA of Northwest Ohio: $2 million to renovate existing building to improve safety and living conditions for victims of domestic violence and increase capacity for families. Total project cost: $11.5 million

Ohio Robotics Research and Training Center: $1.5 million for additional equipment and training stations to help improve skills of workers for manufacturing industries. Total project cost: $22.7 million.

The Glass City Enrichment Center: $1 million to renovate an existing building for programming and operations for the new Glass City Metropark. Total project cost: $22.7 million.

Imagination Station: $1 million for improved access to the facility and to create an outdoor public engagement experience. Total project cost: $12.2 million.

Mosaic Lodge Community Center: $1 million to establish a community center in Toledo’s Old South End. Total project cost: $2.1 million.

YMCA of Greater Toledo: $1 million to renovate the Wayman D. Palmer Community Center. Total project cost: $2 million.

Lourdes University: $775,000 to improve the campus entrance to support renovations to the Health Services Building. Total project cost: $19.4 million.

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Jim Provance

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

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