Toledo’s Revitalizer—Kathy Steingraber Looks Back at the Warehouse District

. November 30, 2018.
Kathy Steingraber was honored with the Warehouse District’s Cupola Award in recognition of her revitalization work.

Over 20 years ago the Toledo Warehouse District Association (TWDA) took on the task of renovating a group of unoccupied buildings on St. Clair near Lafayette, with hopes of generating interest in the area. In those early stages, many considered the effort futile. But if you believe Kathy Steingraber, former director of the TWDA, she knew the revitalization of downtown would eventually be a success.

Once we completed the total renovation of the former Civic Auditorium, and it became the Erie Street Market and the Libbey Glass Factory Outlet and I saw the response to that work—up to 600 people each weekend coming on buses—I thought it was going to be a big deal. I really was extremely hopeful and expecting things to kick off well.”

Long term version

In 1997 Steingraber convinced the Association to invest in the set of five buildings which is now St. Clair Village, a bustling collection of businesses and residencies. Early success in the Warehouse District helped generate considerable excitement about the downtown area, bolstered by the arrival of Fifth-Third Field and other projects.

“I can’t tell you the comfort and the pride that I feel in what’s happened here. I just feel so glad that other people have seen the tremendous effort, the historic preservation and revitalization of older neighborhoods (which has brought) joy, and other benefits. It makes the city healthier.”

To acknowledge her impact and her legacy, Steingraber was honored at a celebration with the Cupola Award in recognition of her contributions to the Warehouse District. “It was a total shock, and extremely rewarding. I don’t want to say I was humbled by it, because I’m probably not a real humble person,” she said with laugh.

I have always wanted to… be someone who did something meaningful, successful, served people in the finest way possible, and met the goals of all of those people, while meeting my goals, so we can co-exist and co-enjoy all that we’ve done together.

What do you admire in people? A willingness to work hard with energy to do positive, good things. I love positivity, I hate negativity—it’s a waste of our time and our energy.

What is your pet peeve? Negativity, and laziness.

What is something that most people don’t know about you? Probably that I married at the age of 15, completed high school and graduated from college years later, raised four wonderful, bright kids, and have an amazing family, which I enjoy.

What are the words you live by? The words of Helen Keller. I can’t quote it directly, but I should be able to, because I read it every morning. Helen Keller once said, very prolifically, ‘I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I will do everything I can.’

What advice would you give to the younger you? Don’t be so sensitive. Take negative opinions at face value, and examine them, and see where you can work to change those negative opinions—about yourself, or about something you care about.

Who is someone you’d like to meet? I used to say, as a young woman, Harry Truman, he was amazing. And, I am so full of compassion, I thought Mother Teresa… I also admire Dwight Eisenhower—he was so keen, and so sharp.

Bonus Facts

What’s your favorite food? Mashed potatoes and gravy, and chicken and dressing.
Favorite movie: Song of the South.
Who do you most admire? My husband.

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