Diocese grants time for inspection of St. Anthony Church


The Lucas County Land Bank’s request for more time to inspect St. Anthony Church has been granted, giving the the group a chance to see if the historic structure is salvageable. 

Land bank officials now have until noon, June 26, to inspect the church and determine if it is structurally sound.

As part of the offer on the table, the diocese of Toledo would gift the church to the land bank and hold U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) to her offer to cover the cost of removing the construction equipment from the site.

The inspection deadline, which was announced following a meeting between Bishop Daniel Thomas and local officials Tuesday, is the latest development in ongoing talks about the diocese possibly donating the building and its property to the land bank rather than demolishing the church. 

Leaving the meeting alongside land bank President David Mann, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said he suspects June 26 will be the final deadline before parties leave the negotiating table.

“We wouldn’t have been here if there weren’t parties that wanted to save the structure,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “We’ll see if it’s enough progress to get us to where we want to be.”

But despite requests from the land bank for some funding to cover the church’s renovations, the diocese has remained steadfast that it would only pay the cost of breaking the demolition contract, leaving the city of Toledo to find the remaining funds. Mr. Kapszukiewicz said it is “very possible” that Toledo would use some of its Community Development Block Grant allotment from the federal government to restore the church. But city council needs to discuss the matter “immediately,” the mayor said.

In May, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development informed city officials that Toledo would receive nearly $7.5 million in CDBG funds for the program year that begins July 1 — an increase from the $6.7 million allotted in 2017 and the most Toledo has received since 2010. Mr. Kapszukiewicz has said putting that money to use in the community is a goal of his administration.

City council President Matt Cherry said Tuesday he had not heard anything from the mayor on using CDBG funding for the church. Council members would likely consider it, he said, adding they would need more details before the vote.

In the next two weeks, architectural inspectors, including some from the Toledo Design Center, will assess whether the building can be salvaged. Miss Kaptur was hopeful, noting that the roof was replaced a few years ago.

“Obviously, we have a big job ahead of us, assuming the building is structurally sound, to raise the funds that will be necessary in order to accomplish repurposing,” Miss Kaptur said.

Community members have rallied behind the church’s cause since Dec. 2017, when the diocese announced plans to tear down the building that has remained vacant since 2005, citing safety concerns about the nineteenth-century structure.

Contact Hailey Fuchs at hfuchs@theblade.com  , 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @Hailey_Fuchs.