Vibrancy Initiative Launched

Monday, October 18, 2021

Mayor and Economic Development Team Launch Trio of Investment Opportunities to Spur Neighborhood Development

Throughout Toledo’s neighborhoods, retail corridors that once provided goods and services to residents, created jobs, and enhanced the sense of place and community have long-standing vacancies.

Hundreds of commercial and mixed-use buildings have vacant first-floor units and blighted facades. Broadway Avenue in the historic Old South End, for example, has over 20 commercial spaces stand empty.

Many first-floor units have been vacant for years or decades, often due to the cost of the upgrades required to bring the spaces into compliance with current building safety and Americans with Disability codes.

Additionally, in the last year, crumbling, unsafe facades resulted in the closure of portions of Monroe Street and Main Street.

The Vibrancy Initiative aims to improve the City’s vitality by providing strategic investments in the improvement of commercial buildings that catalyze further investment and job creation.

The Vibrancy Initiative introduces the Façade Improvement Grant and the First Floor Whitebox Pilot. The introduction of these programs will create job-ready spaces where entrepreneurs can occupy revitalized buildings, and strengthen neighborhoods as more goods and services are available nearby. Additionally, it will preserve structures and reduce blight as boarded-up buildings are proactively repaired and reopened.

“Last week, I announced the Toledo Recovery Plan. It has millions of dollars dedicated to parks and playground investment, lead water line replacement, planting of trees, new street lights and investments in clean lead healthy homes,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “The dollars dedicated to the Vibrancy Initiative will round out these neighborhood investments that residents want and need,” he said.

The location of the announcement today was 1217 Broadway. The property owners, Maria and Duane Rodriguez-Winter, have purchased and renovated buildings in the Old South End for the past 25 years, including this location. “While investing in restoring these historic buildings has been an adventure, it also has been costly, with many surprises and setbacks.” Maria Rodriguez-Winter said.

Maria continues; “We purchased 1217 Broadway, with the idea of putting in a business such as a Latino restaurant. The result should be a business that creates a healthy and safe environment for its employees and customers, while benefiting the neighborhood and the entire Toledo community.”

Commissioner of Economic Development Sandy Spang said, “ The combination of these incentives will make neighborhood corridors like Broadway come back to life while creating new jobs and small business development.”

White Box Grant Pilot

  • Will help property owners like the Rodriguez-Winters bring vacant commercial first-floor spaces up to current building code, fire safety code, and Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements
  • Will create a functional "white box" space ready for customization and occupancy by a business.
  • Pilot program provides a matching grant of up to $50,000 for first-floor, interior renovation expenses. Building owners are required to provide a 30% match, and must either occupy the space as a business owner or actively market the space for lease.
  • Currently, buildings on Broadway Avenue are eligible to participate in the pilot, however we intend, with additional ARPA funding, to extend this program to all low-to moderate income areas of Toledo and increase funding limits to $75,000.

Facade Improvement Grant

  • Designed to address the exterior condition and appearance of commercial and industrial buildings, which directly impacts the vibrancy and stability of the surrounding area.
  • Will help property owners transform the façade of commercial and industrial buildings located in low- to moderate-income census tracts throughout the city.
  • The Facade Improvement Grant (FIG) program provides a 50% matching grant of up to $40,000 reimburse eligible expenses.
  • These programs, joined with our Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement program, which abates a portion of property taxes on qualified improvements, will be valuable tools to bring vibrancy to our neighborhood commercial corridors.

More information can be found at