An aerial rendering of the planned Levitt Pavilion downtown. CONTRIBUTED.

Levitt Pavilion depends on final $500K of fundraising

Organizers behind the building of a planned Levitt Pavilion in Dayton are optimistic that the entertainment venue will become an enduring downtown reality — but all depends on raising a final $500,000.

The hope is to break ground in August, said Dayton attorney Jeff Ireland, who leads a committee of organizers behind the project.

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And that will happen —“unless we can’t raise the final $500,000,” Ireland said Friday after speaking at a I-70/75 Development Association breakfast meeting at Sinclair Community College.

Asked when fundraising may be complete, given the goal of an August groundbreaking, Ireland answered: “I wish I could raise the $500,000 today.”

The pavilion is envisioned on the corner of East Fifth and Main streets downtown on a plaza just west of the Crowne Plaza Dayton hotel, across from the Dayton Convention Center.

The effort has raised $4.5 million and has enlisted a design firm and the crucial support of Dayton city government, Ireland told association members. CareSource, Sinclair and others have offered financial support.

“It’s going to be available as a community resource,” Ireland said.

The idea is to build the venue with the backing of the Levitt Foundation, a national foundation dedicated to enlivening public spaces in American cities. The foundation has already offered $500,000 for construction, Ireland said.

Once operation starts, the foundation would then offer $250,000 for the first year of the new pavilion’s existence, $200,000 for the second year and $150,000 a year after that, until the pavilion reaches its 50th year, he said.

A key foundation requirement: Hold 50 free concerts each season.

Said Ireland, “When you’re leveraging other people’s money and bringing that into Dayton and combining that with your own, I think that makes for a really special project.”

Visitors will be able to bring beer and wine, and Ireland said he expects food trucks to be regulars on site.

If a groundbreaking happens in August, programming would begin in the spring of 2018. He disagreed that the site would be “a threat” to any other venue in the area, including the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering.

“We’ve talked to other arts groups around; we’ve talked to the Fraze,” Ireland said. “We’re not a threat to anyone. We are enhancing, as I think, the quality of life for all of us and building something in downtown Dayton that’s going to be good for everyone.”

He encouraged those willing to support the project — including those willing to offer “significant” support — to go to the local project’s web site, Levittdayton.org.

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