New Dayton library will be built at historic Wright brothers site

West Dayton’s new library will be constructed on the Wright Co. Factory site, bolstering efforts to preserve and redevelop the historic property.

The Dayton Metro Library announced Monday that it plans to spend about $10 million transforming seven acres near U.S. 35 and Abbey Street into a facility to replace the Westwood and Madden Hills branches.

The roughly 24,000-square-foot library will be centrally located and should be a catalyst for economic development and reinvestment, said Tim Kambitsch, executive director of the Dayton Metro Library.

“We think it will be an oasis in west Dayton that residents will take advantage of … and use as a community anchor,” he said.

Additionally, the project will assist the National Aviation Heritage Alliance’s work to preserve the Wright brothers’ airplane factory and make it a national park site. The alliance also wants to redevelop the surrounding property for commercial and industrial use.

The west Dayton facility will be twice as large as the combined square footage of the two libraries it replaces.

The library will be 20 percent larger than the system’s second-largest branch in Huber Heights. It will be about 80 percent of the size of the Northwest facility, the system’s largest branch.

The new branch will be equal distances from the current west Dayton branches, and it will be pedestrian friendly and will provide space for people to meet, gather and host programming, Kambitsch said.

“As a community gathering place, I think this will be a very vibrant library location, just like our Northwest branch has proven to be,” he said.

The library’s design and amenities will be determined using community input gathered at public forums.

The development will reflect and build on west Dayton’s history, culture and heritage, Kambitsch said.

The National Aviation Heritage Alliance wants to restore the Wright brothers’ airplane factory buildings, which sit on a 54-acre site that was formerly the Delphi Home Avenue auto parts manufacturing plant.

The group is working to raise money to acquire the Delphi properties from Home Avenue Redevelopment, a brownfields redevelopment company.

The alliance’s goal is to raise $4 million for property acquisition and site and infrastructure improvements. The group hopes to buy the parcels by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, Ohio lawmakers allocated $1 million to help with site acquisition and upgrades. The city of Dayton has committed $500,000 to help the current owners make improvements.

The alliance plans to sell the seven-acre parcel to the library and sell buildings 1 and 2 to the National Park Service.

The front half of Building 3 will be rehabbed into a work space for a Wright B Flyer replica. The final assembly should take place in one of the two historic buildings, said Timothy Gaffney, spokesman for the alliance.

The Wright Co. Factory currently is closed to the public, except for special tours held once a month.

Officials said they want to lure commercial and industrial investment to a 20-acre site west of Abbey Avenue and a 13-acre site south of the historic buildings.

The alliance hopes to find tenants for the buildings adjacent to the plane factory that are compatible with the vision for the site, such as aviation-education organizations, workforce training groups, and research and development or aerospace companies, Gaffney said.

The alliance has worked with federal, state and local agencies, business leaders and the philanthropic community to save these buildings, which are important to local history, but also to the story of the U.S. aviation industry, he said.

“This became the birthplace of America’s aviation industry,” Gaffney said.

Reporter Steve Bennish contributed to this report.

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