Dayton to spend $2.5M to repair crumbling downtown office tower

Scaffolding has been installed around the South Main Street and East Fourth Street sides of the Centre City building to protect the public. Pedestrians use the covered walkway on Tuesday afternoon. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Scaffolding has been installed around the South Main Street and East Fourth Street sides of the Centre City building to protect the public. Pedestrians use the covered walkway on Tuesday afternoon. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Dayton has authorized spending $2.5 million to make repairs to a vacant downtown office tower with a crumbling façade that has attracted the interest of some high-profile developers.

The city will secure and stabilize the Centre City building at 40 S. Main St. to protect the health and safety of the public and prepare the property for redevelopment, said Todd Kinskey, Dayton’s director of planning, neighborhoods and development.

“The current owner has not made the necessary repairs to ensure public health and safety and has been cited with nuisance orders,” Kinskey said.

Multiple groups over the years have proposed to redevelop the Centre City building, but those projects went nowhere.

However, two of the partners behind the highly celebrated Dayton Arcade rehab project are interested in the property.

The Dayton City Commission recently approved an ordinance amending the city’s appropriations for the year, which included $2.5 million for improvements to the Centre City building.

The building, also called the United Brethren Publishing House, is 21 stories and has been vacant since 2012.

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The scaffolding and covered pedestrian walkway along the South Main Street side of the Centre City building in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The scaffolding and covered pedestrian walkway along the South Main Street side of the Centre City building in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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The scaffolding and covered pedestrian walkway along the South Main Street side of the Centre City building in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The city has put up scaffolding around the South Main Street and Fourth Street sides of the building, which is meant to protect pedestrians from falling materials from its deteriorating exterior.

The city is looking at improvements that could include selective demolition, abatement, building stabilization and structural and other kinds of repairs, Kinskey said.

“The final scope of work will be developed and the procurement process will occur early in 2022,” he said. “We may choose to use a third party to help manage and expedite the process.”

The city is making one last attempt to work with the building’s current owner to secure and stabilize the building to protect the public and ready it for reuse, Kinskey said.

Kinskey said if that effort is unsuccessful the city will move forward with necessary repairs and may pursue legal action to seek repayment.

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An ambassador with the Downtown Dayton Partnership walks through the covered pedestrian walkway along the Centre City building that uses scaffolding to protect people from falling materials. The building, at South Main and East Fourth streets, is in severe disrepair. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

An ambassador with the Downtown Dayton Partnership walks through the covered pedestrian walkway along the Centre City building that uses scaffolding to protect people from falling materials. The building, at South Main and East Fourth streets, is in severe disrepair. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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An ambassador with the Downtown Dayton Partnership walks through the covered pedestrian walkway along the Centre City building that uses scaffolding to protect people from falling materials. The building, at South Main and East Fourth streets, is in severe disrepair. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The owner is 40 S Main Dayton LLC, which is associated with American Investor Immigration Funds LLC.

A representative for the company did not immediately return requests for comment on Tuesday.

The company bought the property in 2016 with plans to create new apartments and commercial spaces, which were to be aided by funding from the state historic preservation tax credit program.

But the Centre City building forfeited $5 million in state historic tax credits it won years ago after the project failed to meet certain benchmarks of progress.

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The Centre City building at 40 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton. The 21-story office tower has been vacant for years. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The Centre City building at 40 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton. The 21-story office tower has been vacant for years. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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The Centre City building at 40 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton. The 21-story office tower has been vacant for years. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The owner applied for $5 million in state historic tax incentives in the last funding round but did not win an award.

Cincinnati-based Model Group has a purchase agreement for the Centre City building with its owner, but the firm needs several key funding sources for the project to proceed, said Lasserre Bradley III, the Model Group’s president of development.

This is a large and complex project that needs financing including state historic tax credits and Transformational Mixed-Use Development Tax Credits, Bradley said.

If funding is secured, the property will be transferred to a new development entity controlled by Model Group and Cross Street Partners, which is the lead developer behind the Dayton Arcade project, Bradley said.

The arcade reopened earlier this year after a 30-year closure, and its apartments and private offices are all full and most of the work to transform the complex’s southern buildings has been completed.

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The Centre City building in downtown Dayton at 40 S. Main St. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The Centre City building in downtown Dayton at 40 S. Main St. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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The Centre City building in downtown Dayton at 40 S. Main St. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Developers propose spending about $74 million converting the Centre City building into 200 new housing units and 53,000 square feet of commercial space on the first, second and third floors, according to 40 S Main Dayton’s application for state historic tax credits.

The application says that Model Group would be the future developer, owner and manager of the property.

The application also says that the building has fallen into “severe disrepair,” which puts its future in jeopardy and poses a risk to life and safety.

More than five years ago, the city agreed to spend about $750,000 to help stabilize the arcade buildings and prevent further deterioration and weather damage.

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