Garden Station faces relocation

The city has turned the property over to a Kentucky developer who plans to build lofts on it.

Garden Station likely will have to find a new home as a plan to redevelop the property moves forward.

The community garden and art park, at Fourth Street and Wayne Avenue, leases its space from the city of Dayton.

The lease expired in December, but Garden Station has been granted access to the property through October.

The garden will need to relocate because a Kentucky developer plans to redevelop that area to make it an extension of the Oregon Historic District.

“The city understands the uniqueness and community efforts that went into creating and maintaining the space and would like to see them continue in a new permanent location,” said Shelley Dickstein, Dayton’s city manager.

The Dayton Circus Creative Collective, a group of local artists, helped establish Garden Station in 2008.

On Monday, Garden Station posted on Facebook that it has requested a meeting with the developers to discuss their plans for the property. The group said it wants to understand its options.

In a social media post, Lisa Helm, the garden’s founder, asked the community to recommend possible new sites and whether people were willing to volunteer.

“There will never be another space quite like Garden Station, but we can continue some of our community work in a different venue if we must,” the group said.

A group of volunteers cleaned up what was an abandoned rail yard that suffered from decades of neglect and had become a popular dumping site and ecological headache. The vacant property also had become a defacto homeless camp.

Volunteers used donations and scavenged materials to create a green space with elevated plots, planting beds and gardens to grow vegetables and flowers.

The garden benefited many urban dwellers who lack yards, including residents at the Cannery Lofts and in nearby South Park. The garden has murals, artwork and a hoop house.

The city owned the property. Garden Station signed a lease with the city in 2008 and then renewed it in 2010. The extension lasted until Dec. 31, 2015.

But last week, Dayton commissioners approved transferring the Garden Station property and the vacant industrial building across the street at 210 Wayne Ave. to City Properties Group, a firm based in Louisville, Ky.

City Properties Group plans on converting the Wayne Avenue property into 40 loft-style apartments with restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.

The firm wants to redevelop that area to create Oregon East, a lifestyle district that connects to and expands the Oregon District.

The city has offered Garden Station members a “right of entry” to the property through October, which will allow the completion of a full season of growing activities and host final events, officials said.

City officials said they will help Garden Station find a new home and will provide moving assistance.

“We have offered to partner with Garden Station to help them relocate,” Dickstein said.

Dickstein said Garden Station had a meaningful cultural impact on the community.

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