During their regular meeting on March 15, 2021, Sylvania City Council approved a New Downtown Market Analysis and Master Plan. The Plan analyzes the recent growth and redevelopment of our downtown, and develops a vision for future needs and opportunities to continue improving our downtown. The study also considers what permanent changes may be needed as a result of the pandemic.
The study was done by Michelle Johnson of Environmental Design Group of Akron. Michelle grew up in Sylvania, and brought experience and expertise in what makes downtowns successful for both businesses, residents living there and the community as a whole.
The study process had been underway for over a year. Downtown businesses and property owners were invited to review the plan as it was developed and offer their ideas and input.
The study contains an analysis of the mix of downtown businesses and living opportunities, and suggests what is needed and possible to continue the recent growth and success. Five downtown areas were studied for possible redevelopment, as well as potential infill improvements.
Studies such as this have occurred in Sylvania about every ten years, and have proven useful for taking stock of where we are and what the future could hold. They create discussion and ideas.
The masterplans are visions and possibilities to encourage current property owners, businesses and developers to invest in downtown Sylvania.
The first studies I remember date back to the seventies and eighties. I can remember downtown Main Street still serving as the US 223 truck route. Heavy trucks rumbled through downtown, utility poles and wires obscured the buildings, many of which were being used for little more than warehousing.
That first study resulted in rerouting US 223 and removing the semi-truck traffic, the poles and the wires. The decorative sidewalks and street lights were installed and building facades were improved with a combination of public and private grants, loans and investments.
The next study envisioned a way for downtown Sylvania to compete with the new shopping malls being built in the area. Mayor James Seney promoted building anchors at each end of the downtown, much like shopping malls have anchor department stores. In his plan, the south end would be anchored with a new hotel and the north end with a local history museum complex.
It took a long time, but what great progress has been made! Our downtown is thriving with new investment, new businesses, reconstruction of historic old downtown buildings and the construction of new buildings. It has become a hub of community business, cultural activities and civic pride. Just recently, downtown Sylvania was voted the Best Suburban Downtown by the Toledo City Paper.
The study is available for viewing on the City's website: CityofSylvania.com.