Five historic Toledo buildings, saved and returned to good use 

Thanks to Ohio's historic preservation tax credit program.

Since its establishment in 2007, Ohio’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program has aided the restoration of hundreds of aging buildings throughout the state. In economically depressed cities like Toledo, with a proliferation of older buildings in dire need of preservation, the tax credit has been a boon to developers seeking financing for ambitious redevelopment projects.

Five local projects awarded tax credits

At the end of 2022, the State of Ohio’s Department of Development announced five projects in Toledo that would be awarded tax credits:

  • $94,947 to restore a multi-family residence, built in 1912, at 523 Lagrange Street.  When renovations are complete, the property will house 2 two-bedroom residential units.
  • $192,643 to restore a single-family residence, built in 1860, at 907 Superior Street. Once completed, the structure will house four new apartments.
  • $207,241 to restore a multi-family residence at 913 Superior Street, built in the 1870’s, to house three new apartments.
  • $908,360 to restore a four-story building, known as Burt’s Theatre, at 725 Jefferson Avenue that was built in 1897. The structure will become fifteen new apartments with commercial space on the ground floor.
  • $1,000,000 to restore a warehouse built in 1946, the Craft Master Building, at 328 N. Westwood.  When complete, it will be used for offices, warehousing, and light manufacturing.

IBC Properties projects 

IBC, Inc. owns both Burt’s Theatre and the Craft Master Building – the two largest recipients and the two most notable to Toledo historians. IBC has already completed other local projects, like the building which is home to Souk Mediterranean Kitchen on South Huron St, a former produce warehouse, and the former Old Roadhouse Inn on South Erie St, among others. 

The Craft Master Building is historic for being the place where art and manufacturing came together. It was here that millions of “paint-by-numbers” kits, developed by Toledo-based commercial artist Dan Robbins, were manufactured and stored before being sold all over the world. The building has suffered from neglect since the company’s closure in 2001 – but now, with the assistance of tax credits, IBC is able to begin work on restoring it to good use. It is estimated that the project will cost around $6.4 million and may be completed as soon as late 2023.

“In a bar in Toledo across from the depot”

Burt’s Theatre was built with a unique, attention-grabbing façade based on a 15th-century Venetian palace called the Ca’ d’Oro. The theater itself closed in 1916, after which the structure was used as a parking garage and later, a concert venue known as the Peppermint Club. In the 1970’s, new ownership came along and rebranded the venue The Country Palace, shifting its focus from rock to country. The Palace became famous for being the setting for the inspiration of the 1977 Kenny Rogers hit “Lucille”.

By the 1990’s, the former Burt’s Theatre became the home for Caesar’s Showbar, perhaps the most iconic of Toledo’s gay bars. Unfortunately, the cost of upkeep was considerable, and the club closed in 2010 as portions of the exterior began to crumble. The Lucas County Land Bank sought out parties interested in redeveloping the building and IBC Properties agreed to take ownership with a redevelopment plan with an estimated cost of $8.3 million

“One of the big problems Toledo has had is we have a great stock of beautiful buildings, but most of them have either sat completely empty or in a useful state that didn’t really require (the buildings) to be updated,” said Joe Marck, Director of Downtown Development for IBC. “One of the hurdles that we run into a lot with these old buildings is that the entire thing needs to be overhauled. You’re basically just getting a shell; everything else has to be done from scratch.”

Marck says that funding has been the biggest obstacle, by far – but thanks to the historic preservation tax credits, work is now proceeding and may be completed as soon as late 2024.