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      Removing blighted properties the key to business expansion

      The City of Toledo's plan to purchase and raze the vacant Clarion hotel is part of an overall strategy to spur economic activity throughout the city.Director Matt Sapara of Economic and Community Development said it starts with vacant properties. "It starts with the redevelopment of that Reynolds Road corridor; we really need to take down some of those blighted properties," Mr. Sapara said.

      On Tuesday, the Toledo City Council unanimously approved a proposal for the city to buy the Clarion hotel from the Lucas County land bank. Once the city gains possession of the hotel off the Ohio Turnpike, the building will be demolished.At-large city councilman Rob Ludeman lives less than a mile from the Clarion. "It has impeded some other development and that came to the light with the new store that wanted to go into the K-Mart store," Mr. Ludeman said.

      A high end furniture store told city officials it would move into the former K-Mart building only if something would be done with the Clarion hotel. Councilman Matt Cherry from District 2 took one of the businessman on a tour of the area. Cherry said the businessman did not like what he saw. "The investor that was at the K-Mart site that day saw people going in and out of Clarion hotel that were not supposed to be there," Mr. Cherry said.

      The cost to demolish the Clarion hotel is $842,000. The city plans to obtain a state grant to pay for those costs.