Ian Hinsdale's Commentary:

Posted April 1, 2005 (user submitted)

In 1984, downtown Toledo was in rapid decline. Since the 70's, it seemed that everything was either closing or moving out to the suburbs. In 1980, the flagship Lion Store closed, leaving only the suburban mall locations. In 1984, Macy's (formerly LaSalles) closed their downtown Toledo store.

Later that year, a redevelopment project for the city was in progress. A new mall called Portside Festival Marketplace was built on the Maumee River, next to a new hotel. It was supposed to revive downtown, but it was doomed from the beginning. Portside probably had about 80 speacialty shops, but no major anchor stores. Given Portside's location, there was no room to even connect an anchor store. The specialty shops were more upscale and overpriced, in most cases. There also was a lack of recognizable "chain" stores that often draws mall shoppers. Portside became more of a novelty than a necessity.

Portside hung on for a few years, but by the late 80's it was apparent what was going to happen. The mall closed in 1990 and sat vacant for many years. In the late 90's, it became a hands-on science museum called COSI.

Downtown Toledo continues to struggle. New projects such as the Fifth Third Field baseball staduim have been built, but retail is lacking. Toledo's downtown is completely surrounded by impoverished neighborhoods, while the suburbs continue to flourish. The mighty Franklin Park mall in West Toledo has become the premier shopping destination in Northwestern Ohio, and certainly helped to prevent Portside from succeeding.

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