Waterworks Park development meeting draws community interest Featured

  • Written by  Donna Lueke and Jasmine Cupp

Dave Krebs and Mike Rose at far right, Mayor Leone center standing, Port Clinton City Council members foreground.

Part of the crowd at the Elks on Thursday evening

Thursday evening’s special meeting of Port Clinton City Council, held at the Elks Lodge on Buckeye Boulevard, was attended by over 400 local residents, and media including TV stations from Toledo. The attraction was the presentation by Washington Properties' Mike Rose and David Krebs of AODK Inc. on their proposal for development for downtown Port Clinton and Waterworks Park.

Port Clinton Mayor Vincent Leone introduced Mike Rose, owner of Washington Properties, who has for the past 28 years been working on preserving, adopting and adapting downtown areas. Rose said that since the February meeting where he originally presented his vision for downtown and Waterworks Park, that he has been listening to “everything and everyone”, making adjustments and accommodations such as finding a home for the Port Clinton Lighthouse and opening up more green space. 

Rose sees two main opportunities in Port Clinton—that in the downtown area there are many business vacancies and that Waterworks Park has potential and is in need of repair.

David Krebs, architect of AODK Inc., then presented Wahington Properties’ proposal for Port Clinton, “The Walleye Capital of the World”. “We wanted to build around the strength of the city,” said Krebs. “Port Clinton already receives 500,000 visitors per year.” The objective, Krebs stated, is to keep the visitors in Port Clinton, and to enhance Port Clinton as a gateway to the islands and the lake. 

The Harborfront at Port Clinton 

Concept drawing for Harborfront at Port Clinton. Washington Properties.

Current waterfront. Photo from Washington Properties

The proposal (map shown above) features two anchors, similar to the plan of a shopping mall. The first anchor would be the Waterworks park development, known as Harborfront at Port Clinton, centered around a lodge for fishermen and families, condominiums and retail space. A possible concept for the lodge is that it take architectural inspiration from the former Victory Hotel on Put-In-Bay.

The lodge would have a five-star casual restaurant, banquet facilities, spa, an indoor-outdoor pool and other amenities such. Sponsors such as boat, bait and tackle companies and outfitters would be recruited. 

The existing green space and Derby Pond would be mostly preserved, according to Krebs. The proposal features an amphitheater for concerts and plays and festivals and a public boardwalk and viewing platforms along the Portage River and lakefront. The restored Port Clinton lighthouse would be placed along the river.

Krebs emphasized that Harborfront would be a year-round venue. In the winter there could be community tree lighting, ice fishing, snowmobiling and ice sculpture displays.

Historic downtown

Hersberger building downtown Port Clinton. Photo from Washington Properties.

Hersberger remodel drawing from Washington Properties.

Madison and 2nd, downtown Port Clinton. Photo from Washington Properties.

Madison and 2nd remodel drawing from Washington Properties.

The proposal for the anchor of a restored and rehabilitated historic downtown Port Clinton features upgrading and enhancing the original buildings and storefronts into attractive retail space and lofts. One comment overheard in the audience was that places like Levis Commons in Toledo and Disney’s Main Street have tried to create the Main Street look that already exists in Port Clinton. 

How to get from A to B

The way that Rose and Krebs envision Port Clinton moving from the present to the future is with the cooperation and investment of public and private, large and small entities.

With the two anchors, Washington Properties extrapolated that the area in between would then fill in and develop, building on the success of the anchors.

Benefits to Port Clinton

Krebs summarized the following benefits to Port Clinton:

▪ New residents and weekly stays bring people to support local businesses
▪ Increased fishing business promotes regional charter captains
▪ Park development encourages more local use and community events
▪ Waterfront development anchors the city
▪ Downtown redevelopments become examples of financial stability and act as a catalyst for new business
▪ Port Clinton’s brand identity is reinforced and becomes an example of an active, vibrant downtown

PC Council questions

After the Washington Properties presentation, council president Linda Hartlaub opened the floor to questions from Port Clinton City Council.  

Mike Snider: How does this vision differ from Wooster ten to twelve years ago? (Downtown Wooster is one of the cities where Washington Properties invested in and managed the development. It was visited by Port Clinton City Council members in the fall of 2012).
Rose: There are more opportunities here because of the waterfront. 

Snider: Compare Wooster then and now.
Rose: Everything that I saw in Wooster I see in Port Clinton, but every community is different.
Krebs: There’s already a great asset here. Both Port Clinton and Wooster have the bones already (the architecturally interesting buildings downtown).

Debbie Benko: What is the number of condos planned?
Krebs: We have no number yet. They would be 3 to 4 stories high to stay on the same scale as the city. 

Benko: Is it true the development will only move forward if we sell it to you?
Rose: No. Whatever way the city wants to work with it, sell or lease.

Benko: What is the number of jobs estimated?
Rose: No way to tell. 300 for the construction phase. For the rest, in Wooster 150 jobs were created 1, 2 and 3, jobs at a time.
Krebs: These would be small entrepreneurs. All jobs created here.

Benko: It seems that building B goes north into Derby Pond into public properties.
Krebs: We don’t plan on taking more space. We just don’t have an exact survey.

Ron Auckerman: Is this building going to be done in phases?
Krebs: Yes, the development is too big. It must be done in phases.
Rose: We would move forward on downtown immediately, but not without commitment for the Waterworks Park piece.

Nicole DeFreitas: There have been signs put up protesting any development. In other projects were you able to win over the opposition?
Rose: Yes.

Kathy Mehl: There are a lot of differences between Wooster and Port Clinton. Wooster has a population of 30,000 and a college. Port Clinton has a population of 6000.
Krebs: And Port Clinton has more assets with the waterfront.

Mark Coppeler: Would the lodge be one of the first you have built? There wasn’t retail in the original plan.
Rose: We have built other new construction. Yes, we have added retail.

Coppeler: What would happen with parking?
Rose: Parking is always an issue. We will find solutions.

Coppeler: What about boat parking?
Krebs: A portion of the docks are privately owned and a portion would be public. 

Mayor Leone: When we (Council) visited Wooster we didn’t talk to the developer. We talked to the people and the business owners. It was amazing the compliments we heard about Washington Properties from the residents and business owners.

Public comments and questions

The remainder of the meeting at the Elks Lodge was devoted to public comments and questions. There were several prepared statements of support and non-support. The majority of the statements of concern centered around losing the view of the lake or the parklands at Waterworks Park. 

Several young people spoke in favor of the development, including Zach Fall and Mike Lento. Brooke Argus, a young mother who has moved back to Port Clinton, commented that 85% of her classmates have left because there are no jobs. 

A selection of other questions and comments:

Len Partin: When you talk about the construction taking place in stages, what prevents it from being shut down?
Rose: The development is driven by need. Each phase will answer needs. We would have bonding protection to prevent the building not being completed.

Don Finke: What makes Washington Properties different from other developers?
Rose: Ask the people we have done business with.

Craig Trick: Other communities are beating down Mr. Rose’s door. We can do what Commodore Perry did and seize the moment. Mr. Rose does not need Port Clinton. Port Clinton needs Mr. Rose.

Laura Schlacher, President of Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce, read an email from Wooster: “His (Rose’s) first project for us was a resounding success. Mike has a true vision and understanding of what it takes.”

Rick Noderer: In any of these developments did you take any public park land?
Rose: Every community is different. 

Rose: When you get to my age you do things not for the money. This is my way of giving back. This is what makes me get up in the morning—to make things better. 

Bill O’Donnell: What kind of money are we talking about?
Rose: If you have the idea, you can find the money. It has become easier as I have gotten older.

O’Donnell: Will small business owners have access?
Rose: We will come here and open an office and help other entrepreneurs, as we have done in other communities.

Linda Green: I want to be able to see the lake, and I see the private condos as taking away from the view.
Leone: This plan offers more green space and more views.

Pat Adkins, Port Clinton Superintendent of Schools: I know the difficulty of what you are going through because of what we went through with the (closing and rebuilding and remodeling of) the schools. Hopefully we got it right because we listened. 

Mike Lento: Will there still be access for fishermen (along the river)?
Krebs: Yes. 100%.

Don Clemons: I don’t look at this as competition even though I have a similar business. I look at it as a help, and wish he could start tomorrow. 

Steve Fillmore to Council: The point is follow-through. We can talk about this until the seagulls take over downtown.

Jeff Morgan: I urge council to move forward. I keep saying someday we will get it right. 

Rich Riedmaier: It is time to move on this. Build it and they will come.

Dalton Brand: When will there be numbers put to this project?
Rose: If we decide to move forward.

Brand: What is the next step?
Rose: Typically we will talk with representatives from the City and then they would take it back to Council.

Leone: It goes to Council for their okay to proceed, and if that is given, then to Rose to see what is next.

Before closing the meeting Council President Linda Hartlaub read a letter from Jon Park, Westfield Bank Chairman and CEO and weekend resident of Port Clinton, endorsing Rose as “a strong advocate with great vision and perseverance. I support a partnership of Mike Rose and Port Clinton.”

Port Clinton residents with comments or questions are encouraged to contact their City Council representative at or 419.734.5522 

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