Hewitt Soap factory: Dayton’s ‘worst’ eyesore to be cleaned up

Crews work to raze and clean up the Hewitt Soap Factory property on the 300 block of Linden Avenue in East Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Crews work to raze and clean up the Hewitt Soap Factory property on the 300 block of Linden Avenue in East Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

One of Dayton’s worst eyesores is being cleaned up after the property owner was cited for public nuisance.

Robert Davis, who owns the old Hewitt Soap Factory property on the 300 block of Linden Avenue, has hired contractors to demolish structures, clear rubble and remediate asbestos at the site.

The soap factory property was damaged by massive fires in 2016 and 2017 and neighbors have complained about conditions at the site ever since.

Demolition crews work at the Hewitt Soap Factory site earlier this month. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Demolition crews work at the Hewitt Soap Factory site earlier this month. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Some people who live and work nearby say it’s outrageous it has taken this long to clean up the property.

“It’s been ridiculous,” said Tina Howe, manager of Glass Hat Bar & Grill, located across the street.

Last summer, Davis was cited with a third-degree misdemeanor count of public nuisance related tothe soap factory property.

The case was scheduled to go to trial this week, but Davis and the city agreed to continue the trial to give him time to complete demolition and asbestos removal at the site, according to Dayton Municipal Court documents.

Davis hired Bladecutter’s Inc. to demolish existing buildings and remove the concrete foundation and pad of a building that was demolished after being damaged by the earlier fire.

Bladcutter’s also will backfill the property with dirt, add topsoil and seed the area, according to a contract with the company that was part of municipal court records.

The Hewitt Soap Factory site back in January. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The Hewitt Soap Factory site back in January. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Bladecutter’s work is expected to cost about $213,770, and Rainbow Environmental Services Inc. will perform asbestos abatement.

The soap factory property consists of more than 3 acres and belongs to Accu-Jet Corp., which has the same Linden Avenue address listed as Davis’ business, First Tool Corp, according to Montgomery County Auditor’s real estate records.

Davis did not return a request for comment.

Many people who live or work near the soap factory property have complained about debris spilling into the street, the overall appearance of the property and how it invites other nuisance activities.

Howe, who lives and works in the neighborhood, said the soap factory fires damaged the Glass Hat.

“You see abandoned houses around Dayton ― that’s nothing compared to what you have to look at every day here,” she said.

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Mike Stacy, who owns Fiber Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning across the street, said the last fire at the soap factory property did about $10,000 worth of damage to his building.

He said he was worried that if the remaining structures caught fire, his business would be destroyed, because they are closer to his property.

“We were sweating it for a little bit to be honest,” he said, noting that he considered relocating his business.

Some emergency demolition took place at the site after the blazes were extinguished by fire crews.

AFTERMATH: Hewitt Soap Factory demolition
AFTERMATH: Hewitt Soap Factory demolition

But Stacy said the property was not cleaned up and remains an ugly mess and it is the largest eyesore in the city.

“It’s got to be the worst,” he said.

Stacy said he’s embarrassed that customers driving by his property have to look at that site, and the owner should have cleaned it up a lot sooner than now.

“If our building burned down now, I would feel obligated to clean it up,” he said. “We have insurance for a reason.”

Crews work to hose down parts of the former Hewitt Soap Factory after the Linden Avenue structure caught fire. CORY FROLIK/STAFF PHOTO
Crews work to hose down parts of the former Hewitt Soap Factory after the Linden Avenue structure caught fire. CORY FROLIK/STAFF PHOTO