Port Authority to own Levitt Pavilion land

An aerial view of the land where supporters hope to build Levitt Pavilion Dayton. Plans call for a 2,564-square-foot performance pavilion on the 100 block of South Main Street on Dave Hall Plaza, as well as a 2,100-square-foot service building on the 100 block of South Jefferson Street. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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An aerial view of the land where supporters hope to build Levitt Pavilion Dayton. Plans call for a 2,564-square-foot performance pavilion on the 100 block of South Main Street on Dave Hall Plaza, as well as a 2,100-square-foot service building on the 100 block of South Jefferson Street. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority trustees voted unanimously Monday to hold title to land set aside for Dayton’s planned new downtown entertainment venue, the Levitt Pavilion, hoping the move will make development there easier.

Under the arrangement, the Port Authority will own the land set aside for the pavilion at Dave Hall Plaza downtown, leasing it back to the city of Dayton and arranging some kind of operating agreement with the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton, a group of local supporters and fundraisers for the project.

“We’ll get ownership, and we’ll be protected from liability,” said Jerry Brunswick, executive director of the Port Authority.

Earlier, just one contractor bid on the project and wanted $3 million more than the estimated building budget for the pavilion.

But more recently, the project was rebid and four companies submitted bids more in line with projected building costs — ranging from $5.8 million to over $6.9 million.

Supporters completed a $5 million capital fund-raising campaign this year.

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“Contractors are obviously spooked by something in the plan because they are bidding so much higher than what the architects have estimated,” said Brad Evers, general counsel for the Port Authority.

The planned outdoor music amphitheater will be built on South Main Street near the Crowne Plaza Dayton and was projected to cost about $5 million. Plans to open the site in perhaps June 2018 will likely be pushed back, Evers said.

Evers believes it’s possible that supporters of the project will meet with contractors at some point to learn more about their bids.

Jeff Ireland, chairman of the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton, said no meeting is planned with contractors.

“I think it’s fair to say we are working with the city and the Port Authority to see if there’s a way we can facilitate the construction process,” Ireland said.

The Port Authority legally can hire a contractor without a competitive bidding process. It was the hope of trustees that the Port Authority could somehow speed the process while lowering costs.

“This is what we do,” said Joseph Geraghty, chairman of the Port Authority’s Board of Trustees.

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