East End hopes to replace ‘ugly’ Xenia Avenue home with something beautiful

A nonprofit that says it owns “the ugliest building on Xenia Avenue” believes its new multimillion dollar facility will be a very attractive community anchor that will be a gamechanger for the East Dayton community.

“We are really crowded here,” said Jan Lepore-Jentleson, executive director of East End Community Services, a subsidiary of WestCare Ohio. “I think we’ve got the ugliest building on Xenia Avenue, and that’s not the image that we want to project.”

She said, “We want our new facility to be attractive and warm and welcoming, and we finally have an opportunity to do that.”

East End Community Services, at 624 Xenia Ave., expects to break ground this spring on a new facility that will be more than twice the size of its current home.

The nonprofit has raised about $5.2 million in capital funds to renovate two connected warehouse buildings it has acquired into a colorful new facility, offering 17,250 square feet of space. The buildings are across from East End’s current headquarters, which has about 8,000 square feet of space.

Funding sources for the project include the city of Dayton ($1 million), Montgomery County ($750,000), plus more than a dozen philanthropic and charitable foundations.

East End hopes to raise about another $1.1 million.

Additionally, the omnibus funding bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last year also contained $1 million for East End

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, requested the federal earmark, which are now called Congressionally Directed Spending or community project funds.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Turner, who visited East End on Thursday, said this federal funding is highly competitive across the country, and this award underscores the importance and strength of this project.

“That $1 million will go a long way to help the expanded services, as the programming here is expanded,” he said.

Turner, however, was among the 200 Republicans in the U.S. House who voted against the omnibus bill. Only nine House Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

East End said it plans to use the money for “whole family” programming, including expanding its work with kids and teens.

East End already has multiple after-school programs, which seek to expose kids to career opportunities.

East End has operated out of the same building since it launched about 25 years ago.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The building was once used as a feed grain operation, and its appearance has not improved with age, despite some beautification efforts, like murals that were painted on the sides, supporters said.

But East End, one of East Dayton’s best-known nonprofits, plans to spend more than $6 million to renovate the warehouse buildings and then redo its current building into a community wellness center.

This will be one of the largest investments the area has seen in years.

“The whole point is we can stay on Xenia Avenue, which has been our goal forever,” said Lepore-Jentleson.

The new facility will take about nine months to construct. Renovations on the existing building should be completed by the end of 2024.

East End primarily serves residents in Dayton’s inner east neighborhoods, which the organization says are among the most distressed parts of Montgomery County.

East End helps people in poverty and who struggle with addiction, food insecurity, housing stability, employment and other challenges.

“Children do best when their families thrives, and families thrive in solid, safe communities,” Lepore-Jentleson said. “That’s what we have always been about here at East End.”

About the Author