Dayton’s new music pavilion is rocking. But time is running out for its notable neighbor.

Officials hope that downtown’s newest attraction, the Levitt Pavilion Dayton, will help lure new investment to bring some struggling commercial buildings back to life.

But its neighbor to the north, the Centre City building, could be in trouble if its owners cannot secure financing in the next three-plus months.

The new owners of the 21-story, vacant building are at risk of losing $5 million in state historic tax credits to help create new apartments if they can’t prove to the state that their project is making “sufficient” progress.

The loss of the credits could be a setback for efforts to remake the section of downtown around the Levitt into a thriving, urban neighborhood.

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The Centre City building is an office tower at 40 S. Main St. that has been vacant for about six years.

The building was purchased in mid-2016 by Centre City Partners, which was formed by members of Virginia-based American Investor Immigration Funds.

The company uses a special federal visa program to attract foreign investment in U.S. ventures.

Centre City Partners said it plans to spend more than $45 million to renovate the building into about 164 apartments and ground floor commercial space.

In December 2016, the company was awarded $5 million in state historic tax credits to help fund the rehab and adaptive-use project.

But time is running out for the project to make sufficient progress to keep the tax credits. The state rescinds tax credit awards if projects do not move forward in what it considers to be a timely manner, officials said.

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Centre City Partners originally had until late July to prove to the state that it had the financing necessary to complete the project.

The state has granted the company an extension to prove it has secured and closed on financing for the project. The new deadline is Nov. 30.

The Centre City building has been a highly recognizable part of Dayton’s skyline since it was built in the early 1900s.

But there’s been renewed interest in the building since it sits just north of the Levitt pavilion, which hosted its first concert on Aug. 9.

Centre City already has appeared in the background of countless photos posted online by concert-goers. Development officials have said the Centre City building would be perfect for new apartments, because many units would overlook the new music venue.

The Levitt Pavilion is supposed to become downtown’s living room — a public space where large numbers of people come together to enjoy free music.

The Levitt is a key part of creating the “The Nine,” a new, vibrant urban neighborhood that is spread across nine blocks. But the goal is to reactivate other nearby, empty buildings like the Dayton Arcade and Centre City.

“We’re really excited to have the activity going on in our central business (district),” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “I believe it will be a real positive impact for our future ability to attract investment to downtown.”

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The Levitt is off to a good start, judging by crowds.

“We had well over 4,000 people join us on the lawn for opening weekend, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said said Lisa Wagner, executive director of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton.

Wagner said officials want to see continued revitalization of the downtown corridor, especially given all the added foot traffic that the Levitt is generating four days a week.

The Levitt is hosting 34 free concerts through early October and will host at least 50 free shows each year.


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