A development deal in the works could mean a local eyesore familiar to Interstate 75 drivers will soon be gone.
Under a tentative deal struck with Harrison Twp. trustees last month, Lexington, Ky.-based developer Garrett Wood, LLC, has agreed to pay to demolish the derelict Dayton Executive Hotel, located at 2401 Needmore Road, just feet from I-75’s northbound lanes.
If the Montgomery County Board of Revision approves an expedited foreclosure, which Harrison Twp. officials plan to request, the county and township would repossess the property and hand it over to the developer. The county would also eliminate more than $1 million in property taxes owed by the former 225-room hotel’s current and previous owners.
Mike Heitz, managing partner of Garrett, said he doesn’t have an end user lined up, but is interested in redeveloping the property as a commercial site, with another hotel being an option. He told the Daily News the property — which topped a recent WHIO-TV list of the area’s worst eyesores — has untapped value since it is about a mile away from the site of a proposed 119-acre racino.
Garrett has already begun touching up the site, hiring workers to take down the hotel’s 30-foot sign and to paint over abundant exterior graffiti. A contractor on Wednesday morning carted out a flatbed truck full of office chairs and other faded hotel furniture, and said he would return later in the day for more.
“It’s going to be right next to the new race track and casino down the road, and we just think it has a lot of potential because we believe in Dayton. That’s why we’re investing here,” said Heitz, who earlier this year agreed to redevelop three industrial sites in Dayton.
While the deal would mean Garrett would get the building for free, demolition of the hotel could cost $500,000 or more. That would still be a far cry from 1985, when the property sold for $4.3 million, county records show. It sold again in 1997 for $1.7 million. Another owner purchased it for $1.15 million in 2009, although that sale ended up being contested.
Assistant Harrison Township Administrator Kris McClintick relishes the prospect of the former hotel, vacant since April 2008, being gone. The lower level of the building, once a conference area, currently is under 6-to-8 feet of murky water, and the building’s interior is full of trash and has been visibly stripped of its wiring and metal fixtures [photos].
The site has been the site of numerous calls for the sheriff’s office and has been declared unsafe by the township.
“Not only is (the hotel) an eyesore, it’s a drag on the economy,” McClintick said. “This property hasn’t paid taxes in 10 years. We want to get it tax-producing again.”
There is no timeline for the demolition — the project’s clock would start ticking if the county’s board of revision were to approve the foreclosure. If and when that happens, Garrett must demolish the hotel within 12 months, under the agreement with Harrison Twp. The agreement requires Garrett to plant grass if nothing new is built within six months after the demolition.
In Ohio, county boards of revision, instead of courts, can adjudicate over tax foreclosure cases to speed up the process. The board of revision is made up of three people: one representative each from the auditor’s office, the treasurer’s office and the board of county commissioners.
“The board of revision decides if the property can be deeded over,” said Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith.
To be eligible for an expedited foreclosure, the property must be abandoned and the taxes delinquent. The foreclosure paperwork must be filed by the county prosecutor on behalf of the township or a county land bank.
“That hasn’t been done yet,” Keith said Wednesday.
Once paperwork is filed, it will take about one month to set a hearing date. If the foreclosure goes through, all property taxes are eliminated.
The current owner — Dayton Lodge LLC, 23300 Telegraph, Southfield, Mich. — owes $1.022 million in property taxes, according to the Montgomery County Treasurer’s Office. An additional 1 percent interest will be added Dec. 1.
But that tax will likely never be collected. Township, county and school officials said they are OK with that.
Paul Robinson, the county’s chief deputy treasurer, said school and other taxing authorities would not lose money if the taxes were eliminated because the unpaid taxes are “uncollectable.”
“Do we let the hotel remain and fester on the false expectation that we can collect the debt?” Robinson said. “We’re freeing the property for a more productive use.”
David Jackson, superintendent of Northridge Local Schools, said he supports the redevelopment, even if it means his school district will never get its share of the $1 million in unpaid taxes. In its heyday, the hotel brought in more than $100,000 annually to the district in property taxes, district treasurer Mary Hellyer said.
“We certainly had concerns (initially),” Jackson said. “More than a half million dollars is owed to us, and we would have loved to collect those tax dollars. But on the other hand, right now, we’re collecting nothing. We’re hoping this will help us generate tax revenue and bring jobs into the Northridge community.”
Built in 1961, the hotel closed in April 2008 after efforts to sell it failed. While county records show the current owner is Dayton Lodge LLC, Salam Said Shaja, who has no listed address, purchased the building in 2009 for $1.15 million following a sheriff’s sale, court records show.
Shaja delayed taking ownership of the property after legal issues arose with Harrison Twp. over fire code issues. By the time the property’s sale was finalized two years later, the building’s basement had flooded and the building was infested with black mold. Shaja eventually walked away from the property and got most of his $115,000 deposit back, said his attorney, Joe Lucas, of Dayton.
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