3 times Arcade plans got our hopes up: Bingo hall, newspaper and amusement center

After decades of fizzled plans, another redevelopment opportunity is active for the Dayton Arcade. 

In 2016, developers Cross Street Partners and the Miller-Valentine Group purchased the complex and proposed a $75 million overhaul that creates housing, offices, restaurants, retail and other uses. 

Earlier this year the University of Dayton and the Entrepreneurs Center announced their plan to occupy more than 80,000 square feet of space inside the Arcade adding more energy to a potential revival. News followed that Warped Wing and the Boston Stoker, among others, were on board as tenants if plans came to fruition.

» Warped Wing, Boston Stoker, others committed to join Dayton Arcade
» University of Dayton could become Arcade anchor tenant, president says

Here is a look at three other proposals floated for the Dayton Arcade since its 1991 closure: 

Tony Staub, owner of the Arcade, is shown in a file photo with the Arcade rotunda in the background. Photo by Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

The threat of demolition. Arcade owner Tony Staub, who had taken the Arcade off former developer Tom Danis’ hands in 2004, announced in 2005 he would sell the Arcade for $6 million and had applied for a permit to demolish it. 

Staub, president of Brownfield Charities Inc., told the Dayton Daily News the building was draining his resources and he was frustrated by the lack of financial support for its redevelopment. 

A Dayton Daily News editorial stated it was a good idea to threaten to raze the historic building because it would “force us to tackle this issue once and for all.” 

» RELATED: The Arcade: Dayton’s crowing jewel

Later that same year, the Ohio Preservation Alliance placed the Dayton Arcade buildings back on its list of the state’s most-endangered historic sites. 

Several ideas to help resurrect the building were floated that year including moving the Dayton Daily News into the site, turning it into a bingo hall and converting it into a franchise of Oklahoma-based America’s Incredible Pizza Co. 

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The Dayton Arcade, which opened in 1904, closed its doors for good in 1991. Shops once lined this passageway that leads from the Third Street entrance to the center rotunda area. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

» PHOTOS: Take a tour of the Dayton Arcade

The New Arcade Square. At the end of 2006, Terry Collins, a local special effects designer, proposed turning the Arcade into a multi-faceted entertainment and attraction center. 

Collins was hired by Staub to come up with a redevelopment concept for the turn-of-the-century buildings. 

The $19 million plan, called New Arcade Square, would combine restaurants, amusements, museums, an art gallery and shops in the historic space. 

At the time, Collins said the development would create about 260 jobs and draw a million visitors a year. 

“This project is so unique for the area. That aspect alone, the publicity that it will generate, will do wonders for the city,” he said. 

» RELATED: Dayton Arcade: Photographs reveal landmark frozen in time

Workers board up windows at the Arcade complex's Commercial Building on Monday, April 22. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News

Dashed hopes. In 2009, a Wisconsin duo came on the scene with plans to save the historic complex of buildings. 

Gunther Berg and Wendell Strutz spotted the Arcade for sale on eBay. They purchased it at a Montgomery County sheriff’s tax lien sale for the minimum bid, $615,106.02. 

Their vision for the Arcade was mixed-use development —housing, offices, restaurants and commercial spaces — just as it once was. 

That vision never happened, and the Arcade continued to deteriorate, becoming a symbol of urban decline. In recent years, water pipes burst inside the complex and the windows were boarded up in an attempt to keep glass from shattering on the sidewalks.

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