Alliance nearing purchase of Wright factory

An artist’s rendering of the Wright Co. factory restored as a national park unit. In this interior view a ranger guides visitors as re-enactors build a Wright Model B airplane. Image courtesy of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.

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An artist’s rendering of the Wright Co. factory restored as a national park unit. In this interior view a ranger guides visitors as re-enactors build a Wright Model B airplane. Image courtesy of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park may soon get bigger.

Tony Sculimbrene, executive director at the National Aviation Heritage Alliance , said the alliance is hoping to gain control of the former Wright Airplane Factory — located between U.S. 35 and Third Street near Home Avenue — possibly in the next 30 days.

“We are very much engaged” on raising funds to acquire the factory, Sculimbrene said Thursday while touring the site.

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The alliance is the Dayton-based non-profit partner of the national park. The goal is to make the former factory — the first airplane factory in the world — part of the park.

Dean Alexander, superintendent of Dayton’s national park, said the National Park Service has authority to acquire the factory property.

“The plan is, once that’s secured, the federal government would go in and purchase the historic Wright Brothers buildings,” Alexander said.

The alliance is negotiating with Home Avenue Redevelopment, the private entity that owns the factory buildings and surrounding 54 acres of property.

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The historic property is about halfway between downtown and the Veteran Affairs Medical Center off West Third, between Third and U.S. 35, which runs to the south of the site.

Aviation pioneers and Dayton residents Orville and Wilbur Wright built the first buildings in 1910 and 1911 as an airplane production operation. More than 100 airplanes were built there.

The alliance has offered $1 million for the property, Sculimbrene said last year. Home Avenue Redevelopment purchased the site in December 2012 with the intent of remediating the site’s environmental issues and selling it.

The land for decades was also home to Inland and Delphi manufacturing plants. The Delphi plant was torn down in 2013.

The alliance said last year it will sell about seven acres to the Dayton Metro Library for a new branch. One hope is to bring a developer to bring advanced manufacturing to one of the site’s parcels.

Alexander said area residents should be proud to have the park, which is anchored on West Third Street, around Williams Street, but also has visitors centers at Huffman Prairie, Carillon Historical Park, a Paul L. Dunbar memorial and Hawthorn Hill in Oakwood.

“If they bring their friends and families down, great,” Alexander said Thursday, the day before his retirement from the National Park Service. “The situation in this immediate neighborhood has improved markedly since the park was established.”

A message seeking comment was left with a developer with brownfields development firm Hull & Associates/Home Avenue Redevelopment.

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