Open-air art studio building lands port authority loan

The Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority Board of Trustees approved a $300,000 loan Monday to a commercial building that bills itself as “the largest community of artists and artisans in the Dayton area.”

The loan will cover just over half of the projected $510,077 cost of replacing a 45-year-old heating boiler at the Front Street Building, a former large industrial structure at 1001 E. Second St. in Dayton. The building is well known for it open-air art studios and outdoor markets, as well as its location east of North Keowee Street.

Another partner is expected to cover the balance of that amount, according to Jerry Brunswick, port authority executive director. But port officials declined to identify that partner.

If the balance is not somehow covered, port trustees may have to revisit the loan, said Joseph Geraghty, board chairman.

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A credit report from DiPerna Advisors supported the loan, saying that more than half of the tenants at the site — dubbed the “Front Street Building” — have leased space there for more than five years.

Structured as a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loan, the DiPerna report noted that the building is 100 percent leased even in its current condition, and it said the property should become more marketable with a new boiler in place.

First developed for homeowners, PACE financing allows borrowers to finance “energy security” without being forced to take on a new mortgage, said Michael DiPerna, president of DiPerna Advisors.

“It’s not a bad project,” DiPerna said. “It works from a pure numbers standpoint.”

A Port Authority loan in this case fills a niche that “regular capital markets aren’t going to fill,” Geraghty said.

One board member, Nick Comstock, said he is a tenant there and the building has a waiting list of those who wish to become tenants. (Comstock abstained from the vote on the loan.)

“You go over there, and you see this space has an interesting feel to it,” Brunswick said.

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