UD, Premier health center plans on pause over push to save old church

A group of historic preservationist want to save the now closed South Park Church on Brown Street. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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A group of historic preservationist want to save the now closed South Park Church on Brown Street. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

A group of historic preservationists wants to prevent an unused church from being torn down for a new University of Dayton and Premier Health medical center.

The building partners planning the new health center -- the University of Dayton, Premier Health, Woodard Development, and Crawford Hoying -- have agreed to pause and consider the concerns.

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“The Brown Street medical building partners have paused the public approval process to engage in additional conversations with community members and explore how some of the discussion points that have been raised might be addressed,” the organizations said in a group statement. “That work continues; we hope to re-engage with the process this summer.”

South Park Methodist was built in 1925 and closed in May 2016 after years of shrinking attendance.

The former 11,000-square-foot church property sits along Brown Street between Sawmill and Stonemill Roads.

Preservation Dayton Inc., which advocates for the preservation of historically significant properties in the city, has been encouraging people to write or call University of Dayton and Premier Health leaders and urge them to preserve the church.

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Monica Snow, with Preservation Dayton, said the organization is encouraged by the partners taking a pause in their plans.

She said Preservation Dayton is also impressed with the other preservation work the different building partners have been involved with over the years, such as the revitalization of the Arcade and the newly renovated Avant-Garde building.

“So we’ve got a lot of hope and faith that the church can be utilized as part of the new proposed healthcare facility,” Snow said.

In April, the building project partners had first announced their plans for a new 30,000-square-foot medical building on the site. The building would have primary care and orthopedic physicians, imaging, lab and rehabilitation; a health clinic for UD employees; and after-hours urgent care for UD students and employees.

In the project announcement, officials had said they would remove the buildings on the site and begin construction this spring, with completion expected in summer 2022.

The church had been up for a potential redevelopment before.

A Dublin firm bought the building in 2016 for $550,000 but no development got off the ground. In 2018, the property sold for $850,000 to Redhawk Down LLC, which has a Columbus address.