Chris Meyer, account manager for Tipp City’s Energy Optimizers USA, approached the Port Authority for the financial help.
The old steam boiler required full-time oversight by an engineer when it was operated, mostly in and around business hours between November and April. Continuing that oversight, and continuing to fix the boiler, was too expensive an option.
“They had a room with an open window in the brick, so they (the monitoring engineer) could look in,” Meyer said.
The area is known for open-air art studios and outdoor markets. Stroll through the red brick structures, and it’s easy to see how unique it is. Tall windows give painters’ studios plenty of light. Eighteen-foot-high ceilings hover overhead. A cargo elevator doesn’t quite look like it will move — until it does.
“You go over there, and you see this space has an interesting feel to it,” Port Authority Executive Director Jerry Brunswick said.
Meyer said the investment is being structured as a PACE project, where the cost of new energy equipment is repaid for up to 20 years via an assessment added to a property’s tax bill.
The new heating units are on order and are expected to be delivered before Christmas, Meyer said. They will be installed after winter.
Built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, much of the complex once was a paper mill, the former home of International Envelope. The building is owned by Front Street Building LLC, a company formed by Zimmel and Katherine Miller in 2001. Zimmel Miller, who worked in construction and real estate, died in 2006 at 87.
The buildings are full, and there’s a waiting list of would-be tenants.
“It’s 100 percent full, which is an amazing thing in Dayton,” Meyer said. “Not only that, she has a waiting list.”
Plenty of prospective tenants are “amazed” at the what they see on Front Street, Smith said.
“That’s really what we’re trying to do — just get that word out there, to get everybody to see what the hidden gem in the Gem City is,” she said.