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New riverfront development project has most Tiffinites excited – except for one local investor

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TIFFIN — A planned riverfront development project received a “green light” to go forward on Tuesday, after the Tiffin City Zoning Board of Appeals approved applications from Florida-based developer & entrepreneur Ed Hernando.

Tiffin River Front Development LLC plans to build both a creative loft living complex and a full-service hotel/condominium facility at 15 E. Market St.

Ed Hernando is a Heidelberg University graduate, former captain of the football team, and current member of Heidelberg’s business school advisory board. He has been working with the city and economic development officials on the project concept since early 2017.

Hernando submitted applications to the Tiffin City Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain a variance allowing for the maximum building height for the project to be increased from six stories to nine, a variance to reduce yard setbacks from 68 feet to 0 feet, and a variance to increase the maximum allowed number of units in the building from 63 to 111.

Hernando cited the city’s prudent planning in the purchase of the Stalsworth and Livery property in 2013 and the 2016 Downtown Strategic Growth & Development Plan among several reasons to invest in Tiffin. “It is evident that Tiffin is a community investing in itself and its future, and I want to support its growth and development with this large-scale project,” he said.

The five-member Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-1 to approve Hernando’s applications, with the board chair, Dennis Eberly, abstaining from voting due to a conflict of interest.

A handful of community members spoke out in opposition to the project — including John Kerschner, vice president of project development for Alpha Capital Partners, which is owned by National Machinery chairman Andrew Kalnow.

Kerschner argued, on behalf of Kalnow, that the riverfront project, including the construction of a high-rise building, would “change the look and feel” of Downtown Tiffin and “block the view” of the Seneca County Joint Justice Center. Kalnow recently announced his intentions to open a downtown boutique hotel of his own, providing a potential explanation as to why he is opposed to Hernando’s project.

Mayor Aaron Montz previously said that Tiffin is open and prepared for this kind of development. “The Tiffin Riverfront Development will be a transformational project in the heart of downtown Tiffin building upon the already strong momentum the community has experienced over the past several years,” he stated.

“It will provide unique housing and lodging for new and current residents while serving as a catalyst for additional investment in the future. This further builds on other major transformational projects in the downtown like the Frost-Kalnow Amphitheater on the East Green, future splash pad, and newly renovated lofts and storefronts,” Montz continued.

The Creative Lofts will be located on City Lot 6 across the river from Kiwanis Manor and will offer affordable lofts geared toward young professionals and graduates from the local communities, encouraging young people to stay in Tiffin post-graduation to live, work, launch businesses, and make Tiffin their home.

The Downtown Residences & Hotel will be located on City Lot 4 on the site of the former Stalsworth Hotel and Livery and provide the ultimate in elegance and spa living for condominium owners and a boutique hotel experience for guests. The project includes a restaurant lobby and bar, conference space for events, banquets and weddings, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant. It is estimated that the Downtown Residences & Hotel will have 50 full-service hotel rooms, 45 condominium residences, and four to five penthouse units. This is subject to change.


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