Dayton Children’s Hospital property dispute: What’s really going on?

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Dayton Children’s Hospital property dispute: What’s really going on?

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The land where Dayton Children’s Hospital wants to build a new community health center is the subject of an ongoing dispute between the hospital and the former land owner, with the disagreement on display at a Dayton Plan Board meeting this week.

Dayton Children’s Hospital is suing Lexington developer Garrett Day LLC, run by Michael Heitz, alleging the developer defrauded the hospital when it didn’t properly clear the site at the corner of Stanley Avenue and Valley Street.

Heitz has placed a lien on the property for $40,000, claiming he did the site work he agreed to do before turning over the property to the Dayton Montgomery County Port Authority, which is holding the land on behalf of Dayton Children’s.

The hospital plans to construct a two-story medical center to be called the “Center for Community Health and Advocacy,” to address health problems that trace back to community issues like asthma, hunger and foster care related needs.

The land was once home to Dayton Electroplate, but sat vacant for years as a hazardous eyesore next to Dayton Children’s Hospital. When Heitz kicked off work in 2013 at the 1030 Valley St. site, the city held a ceremony to celebrate the demolition of what was called one of the worst properties in the city of Dayton.

At Dayton Plan Board Tuesday night, Heitz said he is concerned that the land where Dayton Children’s Hospital is planning to build a new community resource center is too contaminated from when it was once Dayton Electroplate’s factory.

“It should be staying industrial. It should not change. Our idea was maybe a trucking company where there wouldn’t be enclosed buildings,” Heitz told the board, saying there is a chemical in the ground that had been used to clean the machines at the former factory.

The board voted in favor of the hospital’s request to rezone the industrial site, though members added that the city will need further documentation in November when city officials consider whether to approve the specific site plans for Beavercreek-based Synergy Building Systems to construct the new medical office.

Jared Barnett, president and CEO of Synergy, told the Plan Board that the developers are well aware of the site’s history, which is “something that’s been taken into consideration.”

Dayton Children’s officials in an additional statement said the Ohio EPA has certified the Stanley Avenue side of the property as clean, which is the site that will hold the new building.

“The side of the property nearest the hospital will be an asphalt parking lot, which caps the ground and will contain any off gassing, which was the EPA’s concern. We will meet all clean-up and containment requirements,” the hospital stated.

Dayton Children’s Hospital says in a claim filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court that Heitz deceived the hospital and the Dayton Montgomery County Port Authority, which is involved in the project and currently owns the land.

The lawsuit said Garrett Day did not meet the conditions for the property that were agreed upon, like removing the concrete foundation. The lawsuit said that along with failing to remove the concrete, that Garrett Day didn’t disclose “open demolition permit problems” with the city of Dayton. Dayton Children’s alleges it then had to hire another contractor to fix Garrett Day’s work.

The hospital and the Port Authority are seeking more than $25,000 in damages and want the lien Garrett Day placed on the property to be invalidated.

Garrett Day states in court documents responding to the lawsuit that it got a demolition permit from the city with the full understanding that “due to the magnitude of the environmental contaminants in the ground and the health hazards associated with the Property” the demolition would be limited to tearing down the ruins of the old industrial building and leaving the cement slab that was once the ground floor of the factory and leaving the foundation.

“The Property had been abandoned for more than 20 years, and not only was it considered by many as one of the worst eyesores in the City of Dayton, but it also had severe environmental contamination challenges and posed a public health hazard,” said the lawsuit counterclaim, filed by Garrett Day.

Garrett Day says hospital officials “falsely and fraudulently represented that the Property would only be used as greenspace, even though DCH planned to build a revenue-generating medical office building.”

Garrett Day said public records indicated the old building had been taken down but the foundation remained in the ground.

“Thus, had DCH or the Port performed even a basic level of due diligence, they would have learned that the Foundation was still present” it stated.

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