New West Dayton library project stalls

More than 20 months have gone by since the Dayton Metro Library announced plans to build its new West Dayton branch on the Wright Co. Factory site off West Third Street.

But things haven’t gone according to plan. That’s because the library has been unable to reach a deal to purchase the roughly 7½ acres of land it wants for the new facility.

Library officials say the land owner is asking for more money than they will pay for the property. A commercial real estate broker is marketing the property at $50,000 an acre.

Also, the library does not want to move to the industrial site on its own, because that would put it at risk of having incompatible uses move in nearby, said Tim Kambitsch, Dayton Metro Library executive director.

The library wants the National Park Service to have a presence at the site, that when combined with the library’s investment will attract new amenities to that part of West Dayton, Kambitsch said.

“Our intention is to turn that from an industrial site into a series of community assets,” he said.

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The Dayton Metro Library still hasn’t selected where it will put four of its branches: West Dayton, Northmont, Huber Heights and East Dayton/Riverside.

There are alternative site locations for three of the branches if the first choices are unavailable or cannot be acquired, Kambitsch said.

West Dayton community members have said they want a central location for the West Dayton branch, between the two libraries it will replace (Westwood and Madden Hills branches), Kambitsch said.

The land near the former Wright Co. Factory site is the ideal location, but the library will not overpay for the property, he said.

Community leaders “fully understand we are not going to spend excess money on acquiring the land because they want us to put the money into the building — not into the pockets of the property owner,” he said.

Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC owns the roughly 55 acres at 2701 Home Ave. The property, the former Delphi plant, is located between U.S. 35 and West Third Street.

Commercial real estate broker JLL is marketing the property locally, regionally and nationally and has been encouraged by the interest it has received from end-users and developers, said David Lotterer, JLL’s vice president.

The property offers the rare opportunity for a large infill site in close proximity to the city center and a strong labor pool, he said.

“With direct access to U.S. 35 and connection to I-75, the site is ideal for a wide variety of uses,” he said. “Because of its prior use, it has excellent utility infrastructure already in place.”

The National Aviation Heritage Alliance has been negotiating to try to buy the property, with plans to restore the Wright brothers’ airplane factory buildings.

The alliance’s plan was to to sell the seven-acre parcel to the library and sell buildings 1 and 2 to the National Park Service.

In June 2016, the alliance said it hoped to acquire the property within about six months.

Kambitsch said the library needs to get a fair price on the land, but it is equally important that the alliance move forward with its project. He said the library will not move to the site on its own.

The West Dayton branch project needs to get underway at the same time as the other remaining branch projects, he said.

“We still have time,” Kambitsch said. “I am seeing some progress … I don’t think we’re at an impasse.”

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